Recently, I rewatched the interview the original cast of Glee did with Oprah during their first season. I got really sad watching that interview because…it just made me realize how much the show has changed. Not trying to make a “Glee jumped the shark” argument, but it’s interesting how Glee went from being this super popular, high rated, smash hit with National tours and a young, fresh, cohesive cast to a show where many of the originals were gone and that wasn’t truly on the mainstream’s consciousness. Also…I miss the days when Oprah had a daily talk show. So much has changed in six years. But that’s what was great about the finale. It brought back all the originals, along with most of the newer glee club members. It was a celebration of 2009 and all the changes since then.
Anyway, that is my introduction. Here are the 20 songs that just missed my top 10.
30. “Never Can Say Goodbye” (Michael) – The Michael Jackson episode was filled with some great performances (including “Smooth Criminal” which didn’t make my top 60, sorry). But Quinn singing “Never Can Say Goodbye” is an underrated treat that perfectly captured her journey from Finn to Puck to Sam (not necessarily in that order).
29. “ABC/Control/Man in the Mirror” (Hold on to Sixteen) – The New Directions rightfully beat the Troubletones during season 3’s sectional with this fun medley of Jackson family songs. I also liked how most of the members had a small solo, especially during “ABC.”
28. “My Life Would Suck Without You” (Sectionals) – A fun performance that captured the iconic first half of season 1. Mr. Schue finally freeing himself from evil Terri by kissing Emma was the cherry on top.
27. “Defying Gravity” (Wheels) – Paris Barclay received an Emmy nomination for directing this episode. It’s especially deserved because this is the episode where Rachel and Kurt have their Wicked sing off. I only wish Kurt hadn’t screwed up that last note. At this point, I was already sick of Rachel getting all the solos.
26. “Bootylicious” (Hairography) – Just a fun, silly performance from a rival school choir. Featuring a few former contestants from So You Think You Can Dance, the choreography in this one is really impressive (probably too impressive considering the performance was only supposed to be good because of their hair).
25. “Bad Romance” (Theatricality) – The girls in the Glee club (plus Kurt), clad in Lady Gaga’s most famous costumes, give a performance of this song.
24. “Gangnam Style” (Thanksgiving) – I’m not a huge fan of the original music video, but I found this sectionals performance a lot of fun. This is also the performance where an anorexic Marley collapses.
23. “Hate On Me” (Throwdown) – Featuring Shaft, Asian, Other Asian, gay kid, wheels, Santana, and a belting Mercedes.
22. “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Sectionals) – This is probably Rachel’s most triumphant solo. Although…is this the show’s definition of a “ballad?”
21. “Poker Face” (Theatricality) – Does it make sense for a mother/daughter to be singing this song together? Nope. I think that’s been the hardest thing about making this list. I have to consider the actual track vs. the moment on the show. As a plot device, Rachel and Shelby singing this is weird. But it’s such an inventive cover featuring two great voices that it still remains among the best on the show. I wish, other covers had been this inventive and different from the original.
20. “Rather Be” (The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester) – I know this is strange…but I really dig this performance. One…just a great song. And two…there’s a simplicity and rawness in this performance that’s refreshing. No matching outfits. No crazily unrealistic choreography. This actually felt like a “rehearsal performance.” My favorite performance from the newest Glee club.
19. “Be Okay” (New Directions) – The Santana/Rachel “make up duet.” Mostly in the top 20 because I probably wouldn’t have discovered the original if the show hadn’t covered it.
18. “Just Give Me a Reason” (New Directions) – The very last song to be performed in the choir (before season 6 that is). Quinn and Puck don’t have the voices of the original artists, but there’s something sweet and satisfying about these 2 characters reconnecting with this song. Also, extra points for Rachel’s sad looks as she’s watching them.
17. “Roar” (A Katy or a Gaga) – When the show attempted to split time between New York and Lima, there were a lot of performances that tried to fit in both separate casts. This is one of the more successful performances. If it wasn’t for Adam Lambert and Demi Lovato, this one probably wouldn’t have made my top 20. Oh! Also Artie swinging from a vine in his wheelchair kills me.
16. “Womanizer” (Britney 2.0) – Unique is/was one of my favorite characters. Yes, she was involved in a lot of dramatic storylines (I liked the catfish plot more than other fans did), but she could also be sassy and hilarious. Trying to set Marley up with Jake was one of the funner moments from the fourth season.
15. “Because You Loved Me” (Props) – Some of my favorite early episodes include “Throwdown,” “Duets,” and this hilarious body-switching episode. The fun segment pretty much ends with Jenna Ushkowitz (as a Rachel-fied Tina) performing this Celine Dion ballad in front of all the other glee club members who have switched places with someone else (Quinn as Sugar and Sugar as Quinn is probably the one that made me laugh the most). Ushkowitz sounds lovely and this performance wouldn’t make my list if she didn’t. But, really, the comedy in this scene is what elevated it to my top 20.
14. “Halo/Walking on Sunshine” (Vitamin D) – The girls beat the boys, sorry. The yellow costumes. The manic dancing. The crazy hairography. Rachel’s abruptly cut off high note at the end. This is one that still engrosses me all these years.
13. “Let’s Have a Kiki/Turkey Lurkey Time” (Thanksgiving) – I think a small part of me would still prefer it if these two songs had been performed separately. But if we interpret this mismatched mash up as Rachel and Isabelle (Sarah Jessica Parker) competing for attention, then it works.
12. “Run the World (Girls)” (Asian F) – That moment when you realize the choreography (or even the whole video) from Glee is better and more engaging than the original. But, seriously, this girl power anthem had everything: fierce vocals from Santana and Brittany, funny editing, cool choreography, and great dancers (including Quinn in an adorable sun dress during her “trying to be a goodie two shoes” stage). But, really, this is my favorite Heather Morris-led production.
11. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (City of Angels) – Glee club 2.0 sang this during season 5’s nationals. The whole set list was a tribute to Finn’s favorite songs. But this one performance really deserves to be spotlit. From the vocals led by Sam, Tina, Artie and Blaine to even the background singing “ba ba,” it was a full, emotional, tender performance. However, the quick flash backs to early scenes of Finn really turned this into a tear jerker. Also Sam’s face as he’s about to pump up Finn’s drumsticks always get me. I know they had to lose Nationals for dramatic reasons…but they really should have won. There are only a couple “competition” performances that are stronger than this.
Oooohhh…we are down to the wire. The top 10. Check back later for my very important and objective picks. Thanks for reading!