There’s something quite fitting about “Glee’s” love of Journey tunes. Given that in recent years, the classic rock/pop band has been fronted by a Filipino lead singer the group found on YouTube singing the band’s best-known hits. At it’s best, Journey songs were slick, hook-filled pop tunes, and that’s a perfect match for the joyfully peppy exuberance of “Glee.”
“Glee: The Journey To Regionals” is the show’s third musical release in six weeks, and it includes all six tunes performed in the season finale. Three of the EP’s six tracks are Journey tunes, and the results are mixed. “Don’t Stop Believing” was first performed on the show in the pilot, and it resurfaces here as a group effort dubbed a “regionals version.” The ballad “Faithfully” gets a solid reading and there’s a quirkier mash-up of “Anyway You Want It” and “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin.” The latter effort is led by Cory Monteith and Lea Michele and while I enjoyed the rendition when I watched the episode, it doesn’t hold up as well in the audio-only version.
Two of the remaining three tunes end up being stronger on the EP than they were in the show. “To Sir, With Love” (which was originally sung by Lulu to Sidney Poitier in the 1967 film of the same name) is a great tune, and it fulfills the same dramatic function in “Glee” that it did in its original outing. But while the song’s choice seemed a bit predictable when it appeared in the TV show, as a stand-alone track it has a drama and softness that gets lost on TV.
While “Bohemian Rhapsody” is rapidly becoming an over-worked choice on TV (most notably on “American Idol”), the nearly six minute “Glee” soundtrack version does give the cast a chance to show off their singing skills. Jonathan Groff (who plays Vocal Adrenaline lead Jesse St. James) is a solid singer and he does a good job capturing the power of the original Freddie Mercury vocals. I’m not sure it’s a track that I’ll be listening to in three months, but it’s been a joyful blast to listen to this week.
The final track on the EP is a pretty faithful rendition of Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo?ole’s version of “Over The Rainbow.” It sounds great, but in the scheme of things, it’s a bit of a throwaway track.
I would recommend just purchasing three of the six tracks on the EP, but given the fact that the individual tracks are priced at $1.29, but the complete package of six tracks is a discounted $5.99…well, it only makes sense to buy even the lesser efforts. Which I suppose is the point of the discount.
I don’t love every “Glee” track equally, but I have enjoyed listening to them all this season. I’m old enough to remember the days when you could buy albums of current hits recorded by soundalike bands. Like with “Glee,” the real joy was hearing a track that transcended the original version. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s well worth the wait.