Top 10: Glee song covers

By Brandon Lee Julian,

After three-going-on-four years, Glee continues to become a hit sensation for audiences around the globe. Their covers of many different genres contribute to their hit success and global phenomena. Below is a list of the top 10 Glee covers (group, duets and solos) of all-time.

10 – One of Us

This group cover of Joan Osborne’s 1995 original was melodically arranged to highlight and accent the climax of the episode--Kurt’s father dying in the hospital (he ultimately survives to see his son off to college).

This is just an amazing execution of a very topical Christian rock song, something we don’t expect from a national television show. It sheds light to various causes in which politics and religion are banned. The build-up of the song gives it an amazing flow and it's a powerful performance.

9 – Let Me Love You

This solo cover of Mario’s 2004 song written by Ne-Yo is sung as a love song from Jake Puckerman to Marley Rose in front of the entire Glee Club. Ryder Lynn, who sang Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” as a duet with Marley, is present in the room as well. There's a hidden romantic rivalry between two great friends who are delicately attempting to resolve the situation with love ballads. If “Let Me Love You” made the top 10, and “A Thousand Years” didn’t, we can see the clear winner here. I give props to the composer and arranger of this piece. If you listen to the original, the tones of each are extremely distinct, and I personally prefer this cover over the original.

8 – True Colors

This group cover of Cyndi Lauper’s 1986 original piece was beautifully arranged for a scene with all members of the original Glee cast singing in a moment of vulnerability. It’s a very uplifting song featuring Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) as the lead singer. With such a simple composition, but very impactful and meaningful to all, it brings back the famous Cyndi Lauper song and re-distributes the message of diversity.

7 – Borderline / Open Your Heart

This duet mash-up cover of Madonna’s two singles “Borderline” (1984) and “Open Your Heart” (1986) features Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith) professing their love to one another. I like that this is a unique composition of Madonna’s more mellow originals, as it transforming them into more fun and energetic versions of the hits. It’s much more playful, and I prefer it over the originals.

6 – Somebody to Love

This group cover of one of Queen’s most epic songs is only a performance of the Glee original cast. It doesn’t tell a story or highlight the event(s) of that moment or episode, however, it does help to foreshadow the events of later episodes. This number was probably the first breakout (aside from “Don’t Stop Believing”) of the show in season one. It showcases the vocal ranges of the cast, and is one of the first moments when we see them break out of their shells. This epic performance earned its way to the top ten list.

5 – I Look to You

This solo cover of Whitney Houston’s 2009 lead come-back single is a very emotional and heartening number that underscores the event of Kurt’s father in the hospital. Mercedes (Amber Riley) learns of Kurt’s father condition,(same episode as “One of Us” – Grilled Cheesus) and doesn't know how to react. But she offers hope for his sorrows by singing this uplifting rendition. One can only sit, watch and listen to her cover quietly, as it brings melodious justice to the late Whitney Houston's original.

4 – Roots Before Branches

This duet and group cover of Room For Two’s 2008 awe-inspiring single accentuates the moment when Rachel (Lea Michele) leaves Finn (Cory Monteith) as well as the rest of her past life behind as she makes her way to New York City. When she performs the song, we truly see how much she’s grown, and it reminds us of where she came from and where she's going. This song is arranged almost the same as the original, and the inspirational message it sends is a very personal one, which gives it a rank in the top ten Glee covers. It’s heart-breaking, but at the same time heart-healing.

3 – Man In the Mirror

This male group cover of Michael Jackson’s 1988 soulful single is performed at the Glee Club’s Sectionals competition. It incorporates the newer Glee members Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Blaine (Darren Criss). They perform this song with a similar but uniquely different tenderness than Jackson’s take. The harmonies of this performance by Glee shows how in sync they are with each other, which adds to the meaning and credibility of the song. It’s a justifying yet unique cover of the Michael Jackson original.

2 – Don’t Stop Believing

This classic Glee group cover of the 1981 Journey hit sets the tone for the rest of the show at the end of the pilot episode. It is revisited and re-covered again at the end of the first season (what an appropriate conclusion) with little tweaks here and there that add to the epic sound. The arrangement of the song is epic and seems very ambitious to break out of the show tunes and stereotypical sounds of a glee club. It broke barriers, created new levels for group choirs and glee clubs alike to diversify themselves and stand out, and to never stop believing.

1 – Rumour Has It / Someone Like You

I will have to give it all to the girls, as they brought the “POW” and dominated the stage with a spectacular performance mash-up of Adele’s “Rumour Has It” and “Someone Like You” from her 2011 album 21. It’s a powerhouse performance, and has a great music arrangement, execution, and choreography. I give this the title of Glee’s best cover yet.

Videos courtesy of Youtube



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