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October 1, 2009

"Glee": An A Cappella Reality Check

Wall Street Journal:

I must preface this post by saying that I love “Glee” unabashedly. Along with the 6.6 million viewers who tuned in last week, I think it’s a fun, sometimes-witty, makes-you-want-sing-like-”Center Stage”-made-you-want-to-dance show.

But coming from a school where a cappella is arguably bigger than most sports teams combined (A personal shout-out to the Penny Loafers, Penn Masala and Penn Six!), I have to make a case against the songs we’re forced to endure on the show each week. Instead of the soaring we’ve come to expect from “High School Musical,” these musical numbers are riffs –- and bad ones –- on the Top 40 of today and 1972. (Though likely chosen by producers and music execs for appeal; it’s important not to forget a soundtrack will be released Nov. 3).

I was also excited about the notion of someone other than Lea Michele, who plays uberbrat Rachel, singing, especially when her soprano starts grating and you pray for Cory Monteith’s Finn to finish the rest of “Don’t Stop Believing.” But giving Jenna Ushkowitz’ Tina the song “Tonight” from “West Side Story” did absolutely nothing to show off her voice. And while this is controversial, I think Amber Riley’s Mercedes is the most talented one there, far outshining Rachel. Unfortunately, the song “Bust Your Windows” hardly showcases her incredible range. It’s “Dreamgirls” Part II, where no one is allowed to (overtly) outperform Beyoncé.

The show needs to ditch the lackluster lineup and take a cue from real a cappella groups. Below, some suggestions that would make Rockapella proud.Read more.

Posted by acapnews at October 1, 2009 12:00 AM


This article is crap. Nothing is more annoying than amateur musicians cracking on professional musicians' productions while demonstrating a complete ignorance of the business of creating and producing music for television (and in Glee's case... for itunes as well).
The mere suggestion that "college acappella buffs" are somehow appalled or unimpressed by the music being produced on shows like Glee is laughable, particularly when compared to the music that college acappella is producing and subjecting all of us to.
Maybe at some point these genius college vocalists will figure out that tv shows featuring musical productions create JOBS for dorks like them (and me)!!!

Posted by: David Michael Loucks at October 1, 2009 12:06 AM

Having taught show choir and having the tail wag the dog for almost 30 years, I think I have the perspective to say that the quality of the songs doesn't matter. The genius in "Glee" is that they make an incredibly on-point comment on all the schlock that is show choir. All the "bad riffs" are there on purpose.
The choir I directed was very much like the one on "Glee" - we were always competing with choirs from better funded, lily-white schools with identical corn-fed grinning-robot performers. Give me diversity any day - it may not win trophies, but it's so much more interesting!

Posted by: Vicki Hogan at October 3, 2009 5:50 PM

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