A "Glee" album is always something to get excited about, yes? A physical release showcasing the talents of all of the cast; the collection of songs that have thrilled you ever since you first heard them on your television x months ago.
This "Glee" album is good enough, as you'll see. However, what it significantly lacks (as other reviewers have noted) are a few of the truly stand-out songs of the season.
For example, "Don't Cry For Me Argentina": both actors (Kurt/Chris Colfer & Rachel/Lea Michele) gave truly, TRULY wonderful performances of this Evita classic. They both injected just enough of their own divaness into this song to capture the audience and I think it was a crime it was not included.
On that note: so little showcasing of Rachel! We understand she's the best vocalist, you don't need to hide her! More on that. Anyway, below, song by song review with covered artists:
1. Empire State of Mind (Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys). Sort-of necessary as it was the anthem that brought us back to season 2. No huge performance, but decent enough.
2. Billionaire (Travie McCoy feat. Bruno Mars). Again necessary as the song that introduced Sam Evans/CHord Overstreet. Charming if unremarkable.
3. Me Against the Music (Britney Spears feat. Madonna). The Brittana duet we've all been waiting for! It wasn't vocally awesome but it was incredibly fun and incredibly worthwhile.
4. Stronger (Britney Spears). Another Britney song is understandable, especially as they didn't release an EP. Artie's vocals contribute a twist to this song.
5. Toxic (Britney Spears). As wonderfully creepy as it was having Will Schuester/Matthew Morrison sing this overtly sexual song with the students; this has charted well because it is probably the best cover of her songs. I enjoyed this.
6. The Only Exception (Paramore). Completely un-Britney, Rachel's only solo! Why, why, why? This is a great song; it's a great solo but it's by far NOT her best performance of the first ten episodes! Enjoy, if only for the fact this is the only time you're hear Lea Michele's powerful vocals completely unpolluted.
7. I Want to Hold Your Hand (The Beatles). A classic and this succeeds by turning that on its head; Chris Colfer shines as ever, and delivers a truly worthwhile and heartfelt performance.
8. One of Us (Joan Osborne). Simple and effective enough if not particularly memorable. Not quite sure if it deserves inclusion on album.
9. River Deep, Mountain High (Tina Turner). Brilliant and well deserves its inclusion. Naya Rivera and Amber Riley's voices do go together well and this song manages to showcase them both at their best.
10. Lucky (Cobie Caillat & Jason Mraz). Sweet, soft, cute version of an endearing duet. Agron & Overstreet's voices blend nicely; but (brace yourself for a rant): Why this and not the Finchel duet? "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was every bit as wonderful. I don't dispute "Lucky"'s inclusion in this album, except to the point of excluding that duet? Be serious, Fox/Ryan Murphy could easily have included "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" from "Duets" alongside. Oh, well.
11. One Love People Get Ready (Bob Marley & The Wailers). Some people have moaned about this being too unremarkable to include. I don't. It's so sweet. It's so lovable. And a lot of the time, that's how Glee should be, yes?
12. Teenage Dream (Katy Perry). I'm not quite sure how /they/ would've gotten away not including this song. It's like missing "Don't Stop Believin'" off Volume 1. It's every bit as popular, every bit as endearing and (I hear) every bit as successful. We love you, Darren Criss. Even if you did cut off your hair and slick it back.
13. Forget You (Cee Lo Green). Who knew Gwynnie could sing? I didn't. This cover is amazing; so amazing, in fact, it persuaded Cee Lo to get Gwynnie to duet with him at the Grammys. Unfortunately, what Cee Lo failed to realize was their voices don't go well. At all. Oh, well. THIS COVER IS AMAZING.
14. Marry You (Bruno Mars). Again, a fun, fun cover. That scene of them dancing down the aisle is indelible, now. It was awesome. It was so fun. This song is a much needed addition to the album.
15. Sway (Michael Bublé). For some reason, I get irritated when Will sings. Unless it's with Kristin Chenoweth. Then it's amazing. Obviously. Yes, this cover irritates me. Moving on.
16. Just The Way You Are (Bruno Mars - that name again, you say!). On watching Furt, I dare you not to weep. If only for the fact that you know Santana's scheming b---- eyes will soon rip apart the harmonic and zany coupling that is Finchel. NO. Weep, (despite that) because this cover was beautiful. As one YouTube poster said, Finn manages to sing this to his mother, Rachel & Kurt all at the same wonderful time. *Sob*.
17. Valerie (Amy Winehouse). Naya Rivera's first, real big solo and Will/the people at Fox 's decision to shake things up beyond what Emma says they always do (and I really, really want to see what the original 2010 Sectionals list was!) works well here. A worthy inclusion.
18. The Time Of My Life (from Dirty Dancing!). I can't say I wasn't imagining Cory Monteith and Lea Michele singing this song. They would've killed it. Still, Agron & Overstreet do a fair job.
BUT: Where is Dog Days? That Florence + the Machine cover was epic! Yes, it was. They really should've sung it at Sectionals. And "Hey Soul Sister"? Also wonderful. Also worth considering inclusion.
So yes, Ryan Murphy/evil people in suits at Fox. You have failed me, a little.
But your album was still awesome, so that's okay.