This was our first competition show. They’re practically cliche at this point, or at least comfortable, but this one will always have a special place. The New Directions broke up, rose up, and knocked it out of the park. Great television. And, it has one of the best closing numbers in the series with “My Life Would Suck Without You” re-visiting choreography from the first 13 episodes. Great television.
“And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”
Written by Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger
Performed Most Notably by Jennifer Holliday
Performed on GLEE by Amber Riley
The enduring torchsong from Eyen and Krieger‘s Dreamgirls, the song premiered with the show in 1981 with Jennifer Holliday originating the role of Effie that Jennifer Hudson would win an Oscar for playing in the 2006 film adaptation. It is sung by Effie to her manager when she’s told that their romantic and professional relationship is about to end. It won Holliday a Tony in 1981 and went #1 for her the next year, and scored a Top-20 hit for Hudson in 2006 and a #1 with the dance remix.
Josh Note: I’m not proud to say that I first heard this song when Bianca Ryan sang it to win America’s Got Talent. I wasn’t a huge fan of her’s, but the song knocked me out and it sent me on the hunt. It was a diva staple before, but you can’t get away from it, now. And, that video of Holliday and Hudson “dueling it out”? Not a proud moment for either, but it’s certainly internet gold.
“Don’t Rain on My Parade”
Written by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne
Performed Most Notably by Barbra Streisand
Performed on GLEE by Lea Michelle
We go back to 1964’s Funny Girl for this one, made famous by Barbra Streisand, as it would become of her signature songs. The version performed on GLEE was featured in the show and film and was performed by Streisand in concert for years. A “Reprise Version” of the song, with alternate lyrics, which served as the finale of the stage show, was cut from the film. Streisand brought it back as an encore for her 2006/07 tour.
Josh Note: I’m out of things to say about Streisand and Funny Girl. So, let’s listen to some other versions of this classic: crooner Bobby Darin, torch singer Shirley Bassey, the rock band Japan (none of whom are asian), American Idol contestant LaToya London and show choir Only Men Aloud! (That’s their exclamation point, not mine.)
Other Josh Note: Did you know the BBC did a show in 2008 called “Last Choir Standing”? Neither did I! Somebody’s got some Googling to do.
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
Written by Jagger/Richards
Performed Most Notably by The Rolling Stones
Performed on GLEE by New Directions
Written primarily by Mick Jagger, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was recorded in 1968. It features the London Bach Choir on the intro and throughout. The song’s producer, Jimmy Miller, actually plays drums on the original track, rather than the Stones’ drummer Charlie Watts. Though it was, originally, a B-side to “Honky Tonk Women,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” became one of the Stones’ most popular songs.
Josh Note: There’s a story, most consider an urban legend, that in 1964, Mick Jagger was standing in line to get a prescription filled at a drug in Excelsior, Minnesota. A local named Jimmy Heutmaker was rambling nearby about how much he loved Cherry Coke, but that that morning he’d been given another flavor and “Y’know, Mr. Jagger, you can’t always get what you want…” Whether or not it’s true, I quite love that the man’s last name, pronounced with the right accent, sounds like “Hit-Maker.”
Other Josh Note: Last Choir Standing was a 2008 BBC talent-show, like American Idol for show choirs. The Judges were tenor Russell Watson, actress Sharon D. Clarke and conductor/teacher Suzi Digby. 27 choirs made it through callbacks and Only Men Aloud! took the title.
“My Life Would Suck Without You”
Written by Max Martin, Dr. Luke and Claude Kelly
Performed Most Notably by Kelly Clarkson
Performed on GLEE by New Directions
Performed by the once-and-future American Idol on her fourth album, All I Ever Wanted, “My Life Would Suck Without You” was intended to be her “return to form” after the critical and commercial failure of her previous album, My December. The song brought the writers of “Since U Been Gone,” and became her first #1 hit since 2002’s “A Moment Like This.”
Josh Note: This is one of those annoyingly pop-perfect songs that I can only enjoy with one ear closed. The popping melody, quick tempo and epic soar in the hook are pure joy. But, it’s only barely enough to overcome how dippy that title is. “My life would suck without you?” It’s a lyric that should start with a has tag.
Other Josh Note: Check out that cheesy 80’s synth-drum roll at 2:57. Always makes my ears cringe.