Glee. It has taken television by storm. It combines high school drama with catchy choreographed song and dance in an hour-long series on Fox. A few famous actors have roles in Glee, but the show mostly relies on less-famed individuals with incredible voices. The show was received well by many critics, and the episodes contain multiple covers of popular songs, both new and old.

According to Fox:

GLEE is a biting musical comedy that has quickly become a pop-culture phenomenon. This season's No. 1 entertainment series among Teens and a Top 3 series among Adults 18-49 and 18-34 boasts critical acclaim, a loyal fan base of "GLEEks," two Platinum and two Gold albums, two Grammy Award nominations, more than 16 million song downloads, the record for the most titles on the Billboard Hot 100 by a non-solo act (beating out The Beatles), the No. 1 soundtrack of 2010 ("The Christmas Album"), an incredible 19 Emmy and 11 Golden Globe nominations - earning it the distinction of being the most-nominated series of the year - and four Emmy Awards.

So the show is kind of a big deal.

Why is Glee so popular?
When it comes down to it, Glee is a typical television show about high school. There is the jock, the cheerleader, the tough guy, the gay guy, the fat girl, the mean girl, and pretty much every other mix of high school drama-inducing characters one can imagine. There is nothing new there. However, the characters also sing and dance, but hasn't that already been done before?

However, unlike High School Musical, Glee strives to add in the song and dance in a realistic manner. High School Musical was extremely popular among the teen groups, but the statistics clearly show that Glee is popular among even adults. Perhaps it is because of the more realistic feel of the show. Kids in high school do not just break out into song and dance. Glee incorporates a glee club (hence, the title), and with many of the main characters as members of the club, the show can effortlessly incorporate many covers into each episode in a realistic scenario. The singers are incredible, the songs are generally well-known, and the dances are well-choreographed, making the show a feel-good sing-along type of experience without being quite so cheesy.

Is everyone such a big fan?
No, it seems not all are true "Gleeks". Bryan Adams and Guns N' Roses refused to let their music be used in the show. Slash, the Guns N' Roses guitarist who made an appearance with at the Superbowl halftime performance with the Black Eyed Peas, said he "draws the line at Glee". And it seems that he is not the only one.

This is an image from a Facebook group of the same title. However, the largest equivalent page for Glee supporters currently has over 11 million fans. And this does not even touch the actual number of individuals who in the non-cyberspace realm watch this show. Executive producer Ryan Murphy said the music community has generally been quite supportive, with some artists even offering their songs for free.

Whether or not you like the show, they certainly are doing something right. Here is an example of one of Glee's many covers:

And yes, that is Gwyneth Paltrow.


  1. Chris-
    This is a great post, with great use of text, video and still image. Glee has really taken America by storm, at least the way I can see it. My friends are all obsessed with the show, watching religiously and downloading all the songs after each episode. I feel like Glee has been so successful because it, as a show, has combined drama and music, and might I add, very good music. We are going to start working on our multimodal essays soon and it seems like there is almost a parallel here with our presentations and Glee as a show in terms of the combination of multiple modes of presentation. Random connection but something that just came to mind.


  2. Chris,

    I know this is wrong, but you may want to check out Mora Harris (yes, there is a relation to Joe Harris) blogging on Glee at http://tvpartyglee.blogs.oberlinreview.org/.


  3. I, personally, really appreciate Glee as a show that produces both great covers and excessive drama. I think the singers/actors on the show are incredibly talented and give certain songs more life than when performed by the original artists. This might just be because I'm a young adult and the singers/actors on the show are young adults - I think that element of relatability is essential in entertaining/successive television. On a more tangential note, my personal favorite Glee covers are compiled in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDtwxT6oDj0&feature=related

    However, I also understand why some musical artists refused to have their songs performed on this television show. Allowing your song to be performed on Glee might be just one step above allowing Kidz Bop to cover your song - some artists just believe the their songs were meant to be sung by them, and only then, lest the sound be tarnished by singers who are primarily meant to be actors.

    Thank you for raising this point, Chris! It's an interesting topic and one that I'm sure, after Glee's major success, will remain an interesting point of discussion in the music and entertainment worlds.

  4. I agree with Catherine on a number of points. First, I am a huge Gleek myself. I love the Justin Bieber cover that Catherine mentions. My personal favorite is the mash-up between Halo and Walking on Sunshine, which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZorGm7Kcj4. I'm also a big fan of mash-ups too, like those by Girl Talk, as you mention in a different post.

    But I'll be the first person to admit that Glee succeeds at peppy, upbeat, family-friendly material much better than darker stuff. I sympathize with an artist like Guns N' Roses refusing to let their music be covered by the show. Glee is cute and kitschy - it's apart of the show's appeal - but it can destroy the artistic integrity of a song, at least according to the original artist. Think about Glee doing a cover of Mozart's Requiem (if such a thing was possible). It would be a travesty. There simply isn't the pathos there.

    There is obviously a gray area when it comes to determining the artistic legitimacy of a cover. Not all covers are good, but many strange and unexpected ones are. What does it mean to be true to the original song? Is it lyrics, instrumentation, or something more vague? And does the context in which the cover is performed (TV show, concert hall, strip club) important?

  5. A lot of people don't watch Glee for the story line (especially not after this past season where the dramatization was multiplied by 1000), but are mostly drawn to the musical talent. The abilities of the singers are not always utilized in the best ways, but when they are, it's done so well it's impressive. And the "a'cappella" effect they attempt every now and then is usually well done (not just vocally, but with the composition and key changes). I particularly like how they changed the key of "Hey Soul Sister" and they got me to download my first and last Katy Perry song, "Teenage Dream", even if it was a cover.

    This is not to say that there are artists I don't want to see on Glee. They covered an Adele song (or two) and I found that it paled in comparison to the original (in my opinion). They didn't put too much of a different spin on it, and thus it was competing with an artist I already loved in my mind. Needless to say, my loyalties still lie with Adele.