The music of “Glee”: Wheels

We haven’t seen a new episode of Glee for a while, so we’ve really been looking forward to “Wheels.” In the time the show has been on hiatus, a soundtrack album was released (for the full tracklist, scroll down to the bottom of this post) and the series surpassed the two million download mark.

Artie (Kevin McHale) gives “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol the John Mayer treatment, crooning over a lazily strummed acoustic guitar. We’ve noticed from earlier performances that he’s got a surprisingly soulful voice, and the song is an interesting choice, considering that the original is a manic, punky pop song. Artie gives a 180-degree turn, and it works. Whereas Billy Idol sang it as an anthem about self-pleasure, Artie’s version symbolizes the isolation he feels as the result of being “different” from the rest of the members of glee club, who are less than sympathetic to his situation. It’s touching without being melodramatic, and it gets the episode off to a fine start.

Next up is the diva off between Rachel (Lea Michele) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. Kurt goes first, and his dad is right: He sings like a girl … in a good way. His voice is clean and clear, but as he trades lines with Rachel, it’s clear that she’s got the star quality he’s lacking, even before he misses the high F. We find out later in the episode that he blew it on purpose, but our vote would have gone to Rachel either way. As for the song as a whole, it comes off less as a competition or a duet and more like the cohesive performance. The two voices are startlingly similar in tone, to the point where if you closed your eyes and listened as Kurt’s dad suggested, you might not be able to tell who was singing at any given moment.

The final performance of the episode is a group performance of “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (although it seems to be more inspired by the Ike & Tina Turner version), with Mercedes (Amber Riley), Artie and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) trading lead vocals, and everyone still in their wheelchairs. It’s a fun, raucous performance, and a nice uplifting way to finish an episode that had a few heavy moments. Most of all, it made us thankful to have Glee back after a few weeks off.

As promised here’s the full track listing for Glee: The Music, Volume 1, which includes “Dancing With Myself” and “Defying Gravity” from this episode and 15 other songs:

1. “Don’t Stop Believin'”

2. “Can’t Fight This Feeling”

3. “Gold Digger”

4. “Take a Bow”

5. “Bust Your Windows”

6. “Taking Chances”

7. “Alone”

8. “Maybe This Time”

9. “Somebody to Love

10. “Hate on Me”

11. “No Air”

12. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”

13. “Keep Holding On”

14. “Bust a Move”

15. “Sweet Caroline”

16. “Dancing With Myself”

17. “Defying Gravity”

1 Comment

  1. Didn’t really care for the episode, but the songs were nice. Gotta say, Sue’s sister better not be one of those characters we never hear from again, lest a more cynical person might conclude she was introduced solely to wring some cheap drama from the situation.

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