Whether you loved it or hated it, there is no denying the cultural phenomenon that was Glee. The show about a small town high school’s choir club took the world by storm as audiences tuned in week after week for the latest performances and wacky storylines.
While many of us at The Workprint stopped watching Glee at one point or another, we all agreed that there were certain performances in the series that stuck with us long after we stopped watching.
With Glee coming to an end tonight, the Workprint staff compiled a list of our favorite performances from the series. It’s been a long and bumpy road Glee, but we’ll never forget you and the lessons you taught us – Dolphins are just gay sharks.
Disclaimer: No writer was allowed to choose Don’t Stop Believing. The performance alone kickstarted the series into an unstoppable force months before the series even began.
Geoff Peel: Dream On – Aerosmith (Season 1, Episode 19)
Oh it’d have to be when Neil Patrick Harris serenades Vinnie with “Mr. Sandman”. What’s that? That’s not Glee, that’s Doogie Howser? Huh. Okay. Well I’m still sticking with my boy NPH. Shuster vest excluded, when those two battle-sang Aerosmith’s “Dream On” it was, dare I say, legendary. (See what I did there?) And even though this scene had less fog machine action than his foray into The Chordettes catalog, the entire spectacle feels like a karaoke fever dream.
Terence Chen: Somebody to Love – Queen (Season 1, Episode 5)
The first two movies I remember seeing as a kid were The Lion King and The Sound of Music. As such, I can really never say no to a musical. Mix that with a glaring weakness for pop music and I was just a sucker for Glee. Sure, I’ve stopped watching now because the storylines have gotten so weak and convoluted, but I remember watching the first episode and completely buying into the show especially after ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. For me, one of my favorite songs they ever did on the show was Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’. Glee took an iconic song and did it justice, but also in a way that reintroduced it to an audience that may have never heard it before. They featured Lea Michele and Amber Riley, who easily topped the vocal talent and were spotlighted on that show back when they didn’t have to service all the characters songwise. Add that to the message of the song and the way it brought together the episode, ‘Somebody to Love’ was a number that I loved from Glee.
Nicole C: Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson (Season 3, Episode 8)
As the final song that the New Directions sang during Sectionals in Season Three, it’s my personal favorite because of soulful solos that Finn, Artie, Puck, Blaine, and Sam gave. It’s nice that the boys are featured this time around with Rachel in the audience to let other talent shine. Also it’s a Michael Jackson classic and hearing it never fails to make me want to sing along.
Matt DeGroot: Rumor Has It/Someone Like You Mashup – Adele (Season 3, Episode 6)
Ever since we got our first real taste of Naya Rivera’s powerful voice during “Like a Virgin” in Season One’s Madonna-themed episode, Santana Lopez became my favorite character of the whole series. Her wicked tongue and fantastic singing chops delighted the evil diva inside of me to a point where I was pretty much dancing on the ceiling when she became one of the most prominent characters in the seasons that followed.
But never have I loved her more than when she joined the short-lived, all-female glee club, The Troubletones, to sing this mashup of two of Adele’s biggest hits at a time when was coming to terms with coming out and professing her love to Brittany. This mashup has become more iconic than the two original songs for me and when Santana wails, “Don’t forget me!” all I can think is: Don’t you worry, honey. We definitely won’t after that performance.
Trisha Leigh: Poker Face – Lady Gaga (Season 1, Episode 20)
I haven’t watched Glee for what seems like forever, but this performance stuck with me over the years. It’s one of the numbers I downloaded to on iTunes and one of the only one of those I still listen to when it pops up on shuffle. The song (and Lady Gaga) are obviously fabulous to start out with, but the combined girl power (and vocal chords) of Lea Michelle and Idina Menzel is really something to witness. For what it’s worth, it IS a little awkward that they’re mother and daughter and the song is about tempting juicy man-meat into one’s bed but what the hell. It’s fun, they sound amazing, and while I won’t go so far as to say it’s better than the original, I do think it’s equal.
Kelley Lynn: Don’t Rain on My Parade – Barbra Streisand (Season 1, Episode 13)
This is one of my absolute favorite Broadway songs. Ever. Like, ever. Of all time. Add that to the fact that the song is sung (in “Funny Girl”) by the incomparable Barbara Streisand, and it seems virtually impossible that anyone on earth would ever be able to do the song justice ever again. Enter Lea Michele. Not only is her voice “like buttah” and kind of mind-blowing in the extremely challenging vocals of this tune, but because of her perfect combination of overly-theatrical and somehow genuine as the super-talent Rachel Berry, she is able to sell this song like nobody else ever could.
Rachel sings this number as her solo performance in the Sectionals competition during Season one. What makes it work even more for me, is that, during that episode, New Directions is blindsided when their competition, Jane Adams Academy, steals their signature number “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going.” Forced to come up with a brand new set list in minutes, the gang goes to their big guns – Rachel – to bring out THE performance of the competition. It is awesomeness in every form, and it is a huge part of what made the early seasons of Glee so damn good.
Jen Stayrook: If I Were a Boy – Beyonce (Season 5, Episode 5)
Confession time: I haven’t watched Glee since the beginning of season two. Because of that, my mind defaulted to choosing “Take a Bow”. While I still ADORE Glee‘s cover of the song, it does come second to another. Even though I couldn’t get past Glee‘s insane plot lines, I didn’t stop listening to the songs, because let’s face it, that’s why people watch Glee anyway.
I came across the fifth season’s cover of Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy” and perked up. I *love* the original, so I wasn’t sure how Glee could possibly improve on it, but Unique proved me wrong. The only thing I knew about the story was what I saw in the above video, and still without any knowledge of this character, holy.mother.of.god did she broke my heart. Usually I cannot help but giggle any time I see all the Glee students watching someone sing solo because WOW that must be weird, but this time, I shut my mouth and took it all in. Way to make me feel feelings, Glee.
Bilal Mian: Keep Holdin’ On – Avril Lavigne (Season 1, Episode 7)
There is a moment in every television series when everything comes together and clicks into place. For me that moment in Glee happened in the seventh episode. After Sue forces Jacob to run the story of Quinn’s pregnancy, Quinn comes clean to the club about being pregnant. To show their support for her, the group performs Keep Holdin’ On. Even after all these years, the performance still manages to pack an emotional punch.
The two-hour Glee series finale airs Friday, March 20, 2015 at 8:00 PM.