The music of “Glee”: Acafellas

Last night’s episode of Glee brought three new musical performances and we’re going to examine each one to see what worked and what didn’t. (If you don’t want to take our word for it, all three performances can be seen in the full episode video that appears at the end of this post.)

We start with the original lineup of Acafellas doing “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe (aka BBD, as in “Boyz II Men, ABC, BBD: East Coast Family”). First of all, who doesn’t love this song, at least ironically? That said, the performance — outside of the boy-band swagger of Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester — is amateurish at best. The rest of the group simply can’t keep up with their leader. Let’s just say, Coach Ken Tanaka is no Ronnie Devoe. Still, even when Howard Bamboo delivers it, there’s wisdom in the line, “Never trust a big butt and a smile.”

Next, we see Mercedes (Amber Riley) take on Jazmine Sullivan’s semi-hit single “Bust Your Windows.” We confess to not really being familiar with the song before the episode — and after hearing it for the first time, we were hardly inspired to add it to our iTunes library — but it certainly seemed apropos after Mercedes smashed the windshield of Kurt’s car. Plus, it’s nice to see Mercedes step to the forefront for once. She’s got a big voice, and it shouldn’t always be relegated to the background as it has been in the past.

The big finale this week is Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up.” Wait … seriously? At this point, we’d like to echo Sandy Ryerson’s sentiments and say, “I know you’re not gonna to sing that song.” We’ll start with the good news: Adding Puck and Finn, and subtracting Howard and Henri more than makes up for Sandy’s presence in the newly constructed Acafellas. Puck has a little grit to him, which provides a nice counter to Finn’s smooth, soulful voice. In fact, we’re hoping to see more Puck/Finn collaborations in the future. (Maybe they can build a raft together or something.) But all this cheesy ’90s R&B is starting to make us wonder if Glee will ever match the magic of New Directions’ take on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” in the series pilot.

Let’s hope that next week the show leaves the “white hot new jack swing” behind and throws in a more contemporary track or two — or at least a song that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be caught listening to. Either way, we’ll be back to offer our thoughts.

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