The first volume of songs from the hit Fox musical TV series may just be the cheesiest thing ever to have been immortalised on CD and digital formats. But don't take it seriously and you may just see the fun in it.
Musical comedy series Glee has become something of a phenomenon in the brief few months since it premiered in the US directly after last year's American Idol finale. In the wake of its success across the Atlantic, this first instalment of its soundtrack has been rush-released here, and no doubt it'll fly off the shelves. If we were taking ourselves seriously, it'd be very easy to be offended by cheesy, contrived or sometimes plain god-awful renditions of well known popular songs. Thankfully, it's difficult to be too serious when confronted with such frivolous, nonsensical novelty music. Even those tracks that are impossibly bad are entertaining in a 'comedy value' sort of way.
The Glee songs have been astutely chosen, ranging from older feel good classics to newer hits from across the pop, R&B and rap genres. And while a small number of the covers here would actually be passable in the charts without the strength of a hit show behind them, it's the ones that are so bad they're funny that make this a likeable album. Firstly, someone should tell Matthew Morrison (Will) that he can't pull off rapping. He's like someone's embarrassing Dad on 'Bust a Move', and is not at all helped by the politically correct censorship on the whitest ever version of 'Gold Digger'. The Glee cast have even managed to make their version of 'Sweet Caroline' naffer than the original. Who'd have thought it was possible? Luckily, it's all pretty hilarious.
For the most part, these songs sound enormously manufactured, but amazingly, Amber Riley (Mercezes) manages to inject some genuine personality into her versions of Jazmine Sullivan's 'Bust Your Windows' and Jill Scott's 'Hate On Me'. She's by far the strongest singer here, and though she's shamefully under-represented on the show, you can bet she'll be the one with the biggest career in the coming years. A close-runner up is Kevin McHale (Artie), who delivers a most surprising lounge-style rendition of Billy Idol's punk number 'Dancing With Myself'.
This is an unabashed, unashamed cheese-fest, and only the most humourless and cynical individual could deny the entertainment value in that. It's a shame the soundtrack can't quite get across the dark, self-aware sense of humour that makes the TV show strangely credible, but bear it in mind as you listen, and you might just enjoy it.