The Music of Glee: Episode 1×5 – The Rhodes Not Taken

This episode gave us our first big guest star, Kristin Chenoweth, as the unstoppable April Rhodes. She performs on three of the show’s six singles, which made a statement, and a challenge, for all guest stars to come.

“Maybe This Time”
Written by Kander and Ebb
Performed Most Notably by Liza Minnelli
Performed on GLEE by Kristin Chenoweth

From one of GLEE’s favorite musicals, “Maybe This Time” wasn’t featured in the original production of the musical. It was added to the film, having been written previously by Kander and Ebb for their unproduced show, “Golden Gate,” and subsequently added to the play after the film won 8 Academy Awards, losing Best Picture to The Godfather.

Josh Note: There’s been plenty of debate on the podcast about Kristin Chenoweth’s performance and her character on the show. She was the first guest star and made a precedent for actors coming onto the show and derailing the plot, as April does for this episode. But, looking back, this one is a lot of fun to watch. I can’t complain. And, it was the first time the kids on the show got schooled by a serious, world-class performer, which, I think, raised their game for a while afterword.

“Alone”
Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly
Performed Most Notably by Heart
Performed on GLEE by Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Morrison

Heart had a #1 song with “Alone” in 1987, where it appeared on their ninth album, Bad Animals, during their 80’s rock phase. However, it was actually previously recorded by John Stamos (yes, that John Stamos) on the CBS Sitcom Dreams, in the role of Gino Minelli. The song became Heart’s biggest hit, spending three weeks at number 1, and peaked at number 3 in the UK, while the video ran constantly on MTV (back when they did that kind of thing).

Josh Note: This song has really ruined every American Idol performance since 2005, when it was performed by Carrie Underwood. The judges constantly say “You need a moment like Carrie Underwood with ‘Alone.'”

Other Josh Note: A year ago, I found an LP of the Dreams soundtrack in a thrift store in Morro Bay, California, but I didn’t buy it, because I didn’t have a turntable.

“Last Name”
Written by  Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey and Carrie Underwood
Performed Most Notably by Carrie Underwood
Performed on GLEE by Kristin Chenoweth

A monster hit for the former American Idol, it went to #1 in the US and won Underwood the award for “Best Female Vocal Performance.” It’s been described, as the music video portrays, as a prequel to “Before He Cheats.”

Josh Note: I detest “Before He Cheats.” I’d quite like to never hear that song again. Here’s my issue: If I sang a song about trashing my lady’s stuff because she cheated on me, it’d be called whining and childish, if not out-and-out domestic violence, but when a woman sings it, all the girls cheer and say “You go girlfriend!” How is it empowering to rant and rave like a crazy person? It’s not like “Gunpowder and Lead,” about the singer preparing for her drunk, abusive husband to get home, saying “If he wants a fight, when now he’s got one.” She’s not making trouble, just ready to put it down if it comes up. That song is fucking empowering.

“Somebody To Love”
Written by Freddie Mercury
Performed Most Notably by Queen
Performed on GLEE by the Glee Cast

The first single from Queen’s “A Day at the Races,” “Somebody To Love” was another classic example of the band’s mixture of gospel, opera and hard rock. And, it all runs over lyrics about the existence of love and God. It was one of the few Queen songs that featured vocals by all four members, while the recorded version had the band’s three main vocalists multi-tracking their voices to create the impression of a 100-voice gospel choir.

Josh Note: How freakin’ amazing is Queen?! They weren’t a great album band, when they sucked, they sucked. But, when they were great, seriously, there’s never been anyone like them. Freddie just… that voice, man, it’s still as potent as the day it was recorded. Seriously, his voice was so incredible that people actually saw those teeth and that mustache and thought it was sexy. That’s a great damn voice.

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