Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Last Night’s ‘Glee’ A Hit: One Less Beautiful Home to Sing

“Glee”  is a hit, really.  Last night’s episode was no different.  The unique musical choices and arrangements are like none other, including "Home," from the Wiz, made popular by Stephanie Mills, who was on The Monique Show last week, "A House Is Not A Home," by Luther Vandross, Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," and "One Less Bell to Answer" (The 5th Dimension).

There’s nothing even remotely similar on television today, believe me.  I searched.  To come even close, you’d have to create a mash-up of something from the 1950’s, morph it into a whole lot of somethings from the 1980’s, snatch up some 1960’s flavor, and top it all off with a mock-up from the 1990’s and beyond.  I know something like a replica of Lady Gaga would have to hang out somewhere in that funky mix, just to hold it all together. 

Not only was last night’s episode beautiful, with its numerous highs and lows in emotional tugs, but also in sheer talent.  The music was off the grid in terms of originality and truth, from the characters’ perspectives.  Every word that was sung last night was not only believable, but appropriate for each character to say.  Not that I’m at all one who believes that everything that we watch on television has to be realistic, but the word that sticks out in my memory of last night’s “Glee” episode most, is undoubtedly, “Believable.”  I loved it!

Kristin Chenoweth
Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth’s character, Little Miss alcoholic herself, played by April Rhodes, was wonderful in her portrayal.  She was so splendid that I’m even sorry for referring to her as an alcoholic.  She’s evolved some and changed for the better, as she seems to be willing, ready, and able, to do so much more.  April appeared stronger and more ready to make positive changes in her life.  Not only that, but she went out of her way to prove that she really is capable of being a friend to Will, played by the handsome, Matthew Morrison.

Matthew Morrison
Matthew Morrison

The duet they sang together all, but had me in tears of delight.  They sang a medley of Luther Vandross’ “A House is Not a Home,” and “One Less Bell to Answer,” by The 5th Dimension.  It was simply fantastic!  Who can discuss the show itself, absent of the wonderful music that is so new, now, next?  It’s absolutely impossible and aren’t we all so fortunate because of it?

Other show-stoppers from last night’s episode of were two stand-out performances.  One was by Kurt, played by Chris Colfer.  This young star gave us a most interesting and lovely version of “A House is Not a Home,” by Luther Vandross.  Colfer’s voice is pristine, to say the least.  The particular version of the song that he sang was absolutely unfathomable, prior to listening.  His arrangement can only be described as Luther meets Bing, with loveliness sprinkled all about it!

My ears were in absolute Heaven and disbelief at what I heard.  It was awesome.  The song is usually sung with more of a soulful presence and it’s what is expected for the most part, but Colfer definitely did the song justice.  No doubts and no qualms, even from the most die-hard Luther fans.  He gets a lot of credit for having the courage to not only try such a feat, but for accomplishing it. 

Let’s put it in context.  Singing a Luther Vandross song while the soulful singer was still alive was akin to singing gospel at the world famous Apollo Theater in New York.  To get away with this and not get booed or defamed, you must have a firm grasp and understanding on not just how to sing gospel music, but you must have a deep respect for it.  It doesn’t stop there.  It must be perceived by the audience that all of the aforementioned is true!  This can neither be taught in school, nor faked.  It must be a genuine and deep full buy-in on the part of the audience or you’re out.  Now, Luther Vandross is no longer with us.  (See how carefully I had to say that?  People don’t play around with Luther-- and I’ve had soul my whole life!)  But now that he is gone, you’ve got to kick it up a notch and just imagine!  All I can say to Colfer is kudos!  Job well done.

Amber Riley
Amber Riley

Lastly, I’ve got to bring up Mercedes’ Jones, played by the lovely Amber Riley.  Her song was “Beautiful,” by Christina Aguilera.  She too brought tears to my eyes, as she defied her evil cheerleading coach, Sue, portrayed by Jane Lynch, by standing up for herself and calling all the other students to join her in song.  Mercedes invited her classmates to come up to the front of the gymnasium if they had ever been hurt or felt badly about themselves, as most adolescents do at one time or another. 

As a mom, I love the fact that Mercedes always makes the choice to acknowledge her beauty and stand up for herself, despite descriptive words like, “fat.”  She goes on to ask her peers, “How many of you at this school feel fat, or you’re ugly, or you have too many pimples and not enough friends?  Well I’ve felt all those things about myself at one time or another.”  She begins singing, “I am beautiful no matter what they say and words won’t bring us down.”  Who doesn’t love Mercedes?  Every school needs a girl just like her to help boost every kid’s self-esteem.  What a fantastic role-model for kids and adults alike.

I’m a great fan of Mercedes, as she always seems to steal the show.  I love her strength, yet her innate ability to be vulnerable in the face of adversity, and in such an unashamed and courageous manner.  Hear her roar.  Her character’s courage really brings it all together for the entire cast and what I think the show is truly all about; truth, love, compassion, strength, courage, and standing together as one, for the benefit of all. 

We can all learn from Mercedes and her unique ability to remind us all that we’re only human.  What I love most about this girl is that she reminds me to be strong enough to accept my own personal weaknesses and vulnerabilities enough carve out a way to thrive and find strength within them, to essentially be strong enough to be weak, yet weak enough to be strong. 

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