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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
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The Top 10 Songs Ever Performed On ‘Glee’

By Carson Blackwelder
Television Contributor


Fox’s hit dramedy Glee returns tomorrow after its long winter hiatus.

After combing through the archives, I’ve chosen the 10 best covers throughout the show’s four-season run.

One of Glee’s best attributes is its ability to put a story with a song, giving it more power than a radio can. If a song gets the appropriate arrangement, a compelling back story and powerful pipes, the combination can be overwhelming and memorable.

Take a look — and a listen — to the top 10 best Glee songs ever. Consider this your essential Glee playlist:

10. Flo Rida’s “Whistle” (as performed in season four, episode eight: “Thanksgiving”)

The most recent song on the list, “Whistle” shows us that The Dalton Academy Warblers can exist without the beloved Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) at the helm. This rendition of Flo Rida’s overtly sexual ditty at Sectionals appropriately displays the built-up tension one might find at the all-boy school — and with the group being led by Hunter Clarington (Nolan Gerard Funk), the crowd isn’t complaining.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f05yvArxV8Y&w=450&h=300]


9. Taylor Swift’s “Mine” (as performed in season four, episode four: “The Break-Up”)

In the emotional episode “The Break-Up,” Glee fans watched nervously as every single major couple on the show displayed signs of breaking up — and most followed suit. In this clip, Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) sweetly ends things with her girlfriend, Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris). Using Taylor Swift’s song “Mine” in a conversational setting, the emotion is heightened and entirely sincere.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jacnFl4CP6U&w=450&h=300]


8. Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” (as performed in season one, episode 17: “Bad Reputation”)

All the way back in season one, Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) wasn’t a New York diva and had yet to truly date Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith). In fact, Bonnie Tyler’s powerful ballad puts Rachel right in the middle of a love square — that’s right, not a love triangle — sung between herself, Finn, Puck (Mark Salling) and Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff). Rachel is caught between almost every hunk on the show, and this moment saw her official breakup with the egotistical Jesse.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtrp4lMdD10?feature=player_detailpage&w=450&h=300]


7. “Crazy/’U Drive Me Crazy” (as performed in season four, episode two: “Britney 2.0”)

Ah, teenage romance. This mashup of Aerosmith and Britney Spears saw two new lovebirds testing out the water: the rebellious Jake Puckerman (Jacob Artist) and the sweet Marley Rose (Melissa Benoist). Performed on none other than the football bleachers, this well-choreographed number builds the tension between two of McKinley High School’s new arrivals. The playful moments between these two characters is complemented by the amazing, and unexpected, mashup.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YwPv0tUFf4&w=450&h=300]


6. Halestorm‘s “Here’s To Us” (as performed in season three, episode 14: “On My Way”)

Closing out New Directions’ Regionals setlist in season three, Rachel performs one of the best solos to be featured on the series. Singing Halestorm’s “Here’s To Us,” it’s thought that the emotional song is about the glee club, though Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) quickly points out it’s really for Finn. Anyone going through an emotional time in life will find a positive moment in the song, which assures you that everything will be okay. Rachel steals the show with this tune and proves that she can be just as good with an obscure song as she can with a Broadway hit.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p22BfALgJpw&w=450&h=300]


5. Imagine Dragons‘ “It’s Time” (as performed in season four, episode one: “The New Rachel”)

Here’s one of my personal picks. Blaine sings this song for Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), assuring him that it’s time to move on and chase his dreams in New York. This song by the incredible group Imagine Dragons is accompanied by choreographed cups and lots of movement. I can’t listen to this song without getting emotional, and I think Criss’ rendition is better than the original — though the original is still very good. With lyrics like, “I don’t ever want to let you down, I don’t ever want to leave this town,” how can it not create goosebumps for anyone faced with a big, life-changing event?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArW6SvANU-0&w=450&h=300]


4. Billy Joel‘s “New York State Of Mind” (as performed in season four, episode one: “The New Rachel”)

This song, written and originally sung by Billy Joel and popularized by Barbra Streisand, acts as a torch-passing ceremony between Rachel in New York and Marley back in Lima, Ohio. Combining Rachel’s booming voice and Marley’s sultry style, this song features the two girls auditioning for the next big moment in their lives — New Directions for Marley and NYADA for Rachel. Using intercuts to bounce back and forth between the two, this elegant performance kicked off season four in the best way possible.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooTzpVGPhr0&w=450&h=300]


3. “I Feel Pretty/Unpretty” (as performed in season two, episode 18: “Born This Way”)

The first real notion that there could be a friendship between Rachel and Quinn, this mashup combines the Broadway tunes of Rachel’s beloved West Side Story and TLC’s soulful, Quinn-friendly lyrics. In this episode, Rachel considers undergoing Rhinoplasty, and the two ladies bond over their mutual envy of each other — be it in looks or the adoration of the hunky Finn. This beautiful and raw portrayal of talent and humility shines throughout, making this a memorable Glee hit.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdqUJT-nPes&w=450&h=300]


2. “Rumour Has It/Someone Like You” (as performed in season three, episode six: “Mash Off”)

Just as Adele topples charts, this mashup during the third season of Glee comes at a very stressful time for New Directions. With Santana’s attraction toward women about to become public knowledge, The Troubletones — consisting of Santana, Brittany, Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) and Sugar Motta (Vanessa Lengies) — rally around her in this memorable hit. Combining two of the British singer’s most popular songs and bursting with girl power, this is a must for all Glee fans.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQCVMkMlufI&w=450&h=300]


1. Florence and the Machine‘s “Shake It Out” (as performed in season three, episode 18: “Choke”)

The best songs on Glee are those appropriately poised at highly emotional moments and given the best arrangements possible. Santana, Mercedes, Sugar, Brittany and Tina Cohen-Chang’s (Jenna Ushkowitz) rendition of Florence and the Machine’s thoughtful, powerful song is paired with the tragic storyline surrounding Shannon Beiste’s (Dot Jones) domestic abuse by her husband, Cooter Menkins (Eric Bruskotter). The New Directions girls sing this to Beiste, who, just before the song begins, tells them she broke things off with her husband. By the end of the performance, the audience learns she gave him a second chance, making this song even more haunting. It’s hard to end this playlist on a low note, but this is, by far, my favorite cover on Glee, especially given the combination of the vocals and the story behind the song.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkOiIsEpehc&w=450&h=300]


Did I miss your favorite Glee jam? Sound out in the comments below!

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  • I’d put the understated but nonetheless sublime cover of “Never Going Back Again” before “It’s Time” if we’re talking about male solos.

  • Charli

    I was SO happy to see such a balanced list, and one that I wholeheartedly agree with. I do think that Somebody to Love (Queen) had a place here somewhere, but Shake It Out is my favorite by far of any of the Glee reinventions. The arrangement and emotional impact were both very powerful and poignant.

  • Sierra

    Some nights!!

  • pamela

    I love hunter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nora

    It’s become so ubiquitous now that it seems almost hackneyed but Season 1, Episode 1’s finale of Don’t Stop Believin’ is the cover that put Glee on the map. It launched a global phenomenon of karaoke adults and high school singer gleeks by invoking the “choose love over coolness” credo for Rachel (don’t be ashamed of loving a man you think you can’t have), Finn (don’t be afraid to let your dorky side come out as a Glee Club member even if the football team disapproves) and Will Schuster (trust that things will come out right if you follow your passion for teaching instead of becoming an accountant) that defines Glee to this day.

  • yohann C.

    You just forgot “Don’t stop believing” from the Pilot !

  • GleekAnna

    I feel like ‘Defying Gravity’ from Rachel and Kurt’s diva-off in the first season should have made the list. It’s still my favourite Glee performance to date.