Glee: Journey First Impressions.

In this week’s season finale: New Directions (finally) goes to regionals (where Sue is a judge); Quinn gives birth; and the season ends!

Lead up to sectionals

Not that I’m belittling how hard they’ve apparently worked or how screwed they are by the fact that Sue will be one of the judges, but choosing your setlist practically the night before the actual regionals day ain’t exactly a mark of a champion club, y’know? I mean, they had like two years or something between sectionals and regionals to choose three songs!

And I don’t really understand how having chosen a (cheesy) theme and Rachel and Finn randomly hooking up, the mood in the club suddenly lifted. I mean, if all it took was choosing ‘Don’t Stop Believin” to get their spirits up, couldn’t they have just done that long ago?

Regionals

Hey! Aural Intensity’s Groban-Newton-John mash-up sounded pretty awesome! Wish we could have seen that in full.

And what kind of low class competition is there, where the judges don’t even have their own table?!

I’ll be leaving the actual songs and my reviews of them for the later part of this post (although I would just like to say that this version of ‘Don’t Stop Believin”, with more soloists, is pretty much one of the awesomest things the whole episode) but I have to say that whoever did the styling should be applauded. I thought the dressings were pretty snazzy (especially the guys) and for some reason they all looked pretty glam-ed up and really good, actually. Well, except for Brittany, who looked a hot mess and Artie, who I totally thought was some greasy-haired salesman/stunt double.

Oh and, I’m voting “Oh, Quinny, say something.” “My water just broke.” as the best exchange this whole episode.

Whoa, I can’t believe they actually played the entire ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’! And it’s such a long song too. Ok, so it’s mostly there just so they could dramatically juxtapose Quinn’s delivery with the various parts of the song (Mark Salling’s expressions in the scene are totally awesome, btw) but I think this is the first time they’ve actually played an entire song in full entirety on the show before!

Talking about the song, all the recaps and all were talking about how Vocal Adrenaline got “fired up” from New Direction’s funk performance from last week and thus came out with banging number but, if you ask me, this is totally their usual standard anyway, no? I mean, it’s theatrics and technical brilliance at its best, no doubt, but haven’t they always been good at that, anyway? I don’t see any added funk or anything (nor would I have wanted to, given the choice).

Post regionals

The whole thing about the judges suddenly turning on Sue for no apparent reason (well, other than the fact that it’s Sue, I guess) just felt a bit forced and random and was just there as a blatant plot device, as was Sue’s out-of-character defense of children right before that but, hey, Olivia Newton-John had some pretty fantastic lines there.

Whoa, the Glee kids managed to have Quinn have a baby and rush back to the theatre all in the time it took Vocal Adrenaline to sing one song (albeit a really long one) and for the judges to deliberate (and have a fit)? That’s fast. Plus, she got discharged so fast she could be there for ‘To Sir, with Love’?

Speaking of that, ew at the Schue love from the kids. What with the setting a bad example and asking them to go steal another school’s statue and basically the fact that Will has been pretty much the worse person ever, I don’t see how he has really been enough to make them all so weepy about it (although I guess his cheesy themes each week were supposed to have helped). And I really hope Finn isn’t using Will as a father-figure example. Although that might explain the whole Rachel-Quinn love triangle, at least. And and and, how are the guys comfortable being all emo and singing a song called ‘To Sir, with Love’ but refuse to touch GaGa? Pfft.

Songs of the week

Faithfully (original: Journey) – Y’know, this is a classic but I’m not actually familiar with Journey stuff so I had never heard this song till this episode. And I love it. It’s slow, beautiful and emotional without being cheesy or overly dramatic (although the ending sequences are pretty overwrought). Plus, while Lea Michele is obviously a better lead here than Cory Monteith, I thought his voice actually harmonized pretty well with hers. Maybe he should just stick with that. I thought even he sounded pretty good (and displayed a decently impressive range), though, and, maybe it’s just the song itself, but I love it. A

Anyway You Want It / Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ (original: Journey) – I think I think I’ve really got to start listening to more Journey. Just like how Faithfully was just the perfect type of big-voiced ballad for this show, this is the perfect fast, chirpy ditty for Glee. It’s energetic, has a pretty epic feel and loads and loads of thick, power vocal chords and is insanely catchy. I dare you to listen to this without singing along or at least bobbing your head to the beat. A

Don’t Stop Believin’ (original: Journey) – I actually thought the original version they did in the first ep was overrated (good, but overrated) but this one’s pretty much perfect. Each of the main players in the show had a solo (which made it sound much more interesting and diverse than the first recording, though I totally couldn’t tell Puck apart from Finn from the recording alone) and the overall arrangement and delivery from the singers felt way smoother (although the key change at the end felt a bit jarring, and that’s coming from someone who loves key changes at song bridges). A-

Bohemian Rhapsody (original: Queen) – I had actually heard the studio recording before the episode aired and I was actually a bit disappointed at that time. The arrangement was a total karaoke copy of the original and, while he might be the best guy singer on the show and have pretty big lungs, Jonathan Groff is no Freddy Mercury. Still, I think this is one of those songs that look better performed. Like I mentioned, this song wasn’t particularly funky or whatever Vocal Adrenaline was supposed to have brushed up on after New Directions but they pulled it off with pizzazz, with the insane amount of theatricality, drama and choreography that the song practically demands (and that is a surefire way to win such competitions). Still, it feels like Groff (or rather, Jesse) is basically doing a solo with minimal backups, instead of it being a group effort and his voice, while big, isn’t big enough to really do it full justice. Good effort, though, and one of the best songs this season. A-

To Sir, with LoveĀ  (original: Lulu) – I’ve actually loved this song for a really long time and, while the whole scene in the show was a tad cheesy and undeserved (for Will), I guess it was pretty appropriate for this show and everything. It’s nothing groundbreaking (which is okay, considering it’s neither a show beginner nor ender) but it was pretty well performed and, while the teary-eyed scene was a tad nauseating (not to mention inexplicable), at least there’re several solos! B+

Over the Rainbow (original: Judy Garland) – When I saw that Will was singing this (with Puck), I totally guessed it would be the ukulele-laden, more reggae-ish version of the song that’s been so popular this decade. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the arrangement (I prefer the beautiful, dramatic, wide-eyed simplicity of the original) but I guess the two of them did a decent, if not entirely exciting, cover of it. It ended the season on a happy note but with more of a whimper than a bang, which is sad considering the high quality of the other songs this episode. Still, not that bad of a performance in itself. B

I guess the episode was okay, especially considering the snoozefest that was last week. The songs were perhaps the best collection of the season in a single episode, there were several fits of awesome repartee and I was actually pretty surprised (and impressed) that the club didn’t win regionals, given the propensity of such shows for fairy-tale endings. Still, though, I thought the show copped out by randomly making Sue a softie and giving them a somewhat happy ending anyway. Definitely a B+, though.

As a season, I have to say I’ve been pretty impressed by the show. There were some draggy episodes which weren’t as great as some others and the show does have its flaws, but overall I thought it’s been very well done, with all the tongue-in-cheek, at times self-parodying humour and the general feel that the show isn’t taking itself too seriously, which makes for a great comedy.

Next season, I’d like to see better plot development, less random deviations (there were some episodes this season that totally didn’t do anything for any storyline at all), even better dialogue and scripting (i.e. give Brittany more lines!) and, while I’m pretty sure they won’t be messing with what appears to be a winning formula, I actually wish they would change up the song arrangements a little, and make it not so karaoke.

While I won’t say that Glee “changed my life”, like I’ve read some other people say, or that life would be empty without it in the next few months, it’s been a pretty good ride and I only hope that the next season would continue the standard and not sink into the usual sophomore mire.

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