Next Tuesday, September 21st, the new hit comedy Glee will return to Fox for its second season.  As a fan of Glee myself, to celebrate the return of this musical phenomenon, I have decided to share my top five favorite performances from the show’s first season.

Song: Somebody to Love

Performed by: the Glee Cast

In the episode entitled “The Rhodes Not Taken”, New Directions moderator Will Schuster is forced to replace lead singer Rachel Berry when she abruptly leaves the glee club, claiming feelings of under-appreciation.  In a desperate attempt to save the club, Will enlists the help of April Rhodes (Kristen Chenoweth), a former glee club star who failed to achieve her dream of stardom, and gives her the lead spot opposite Finn Hudson.  At the end of the episode, upon realizing that her glee club days are over, April leaves in the middle of a performance, which encourages Rachel to reconcile with the group and join New Directions in performing the hit Queen song “Somebody to Love”.  While most fans of the show would cite “Don’t Stop Believing” as the cast’s best group performance, for me, “Somebody to Love”, with its powerful vocals and cheesy choreography, proved to be the perfect feel-good closing number to a very dramatic and conflict-driven episode.

Song: Sweet Caroline

Performed by: Mark Salling

In his first solo performance of the season, Mark Salling, in the role of football player turned glee club member Puck, sings “Sweet Caroline”.  During the episode entitled “Mash-Up”, Puck attempts to win Rachel’s affection by proving to her that he can hold his own in a song.  At the club’s next practice, Puck volunteers to sing for the group, which results in a guitar-based rendition of this Neil Diamond classic. For those who know me, it is no surprise that Salling’s cover made the list because Diamond’s version of “Sweet Caroline” is one of my favorite songs of all time and also the ringtone on my cell phone.

Song: Imagine

Performed by: the Glee Cast

In the episode entitled “Hairography”, along with their competitor for Sectionals, the Haverbrook School for the Deaf, New Directions performs a touching rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.   With a song as powerful as this one, skeptics of the show may easily assume that a Glee version of “Imagine” could never come close to the original Lennon recording, but out of all the group performances on the show thus far, I can honestly say that this one is my top favorite.  Not only does Glee stay true to the original in both the lyrics and melody of the song, but the feelings generated from the performance prove strong, as a bond is formed between McKinely High’s New Directions and the students from Haverbrook.

Song: Dream On

Performed by: Matthew Morrison and Neil Patrick Harris

For fans of the former child star, there was no doubt that a guest appearance by Neil Patrick Harris on Glee would be an ultimate success, but no one could of guessed that he would also team up with the show’s lead actor, Matthew Morrison, for a cover of the Aerosmith megahit “Dream On”.  In the episode appropriate titled “Dream On”, Harris plays the role of Bryan Ryan, a school board representative and a former glee member at McKinley High School.  In an effort to convince the students of New Directions that like him, they will never achieve their dreams of stardom, he threatens to disband the glee club, much to Will Schuster’s consternation.  As the episode progresses, the tension thickens, resulting in a full-out rivalry between the two men. To prove that they still have what it takes to be successful performers, Bryan and Will both audition for the same role in a stage production of Les Misérables, resulting in this unforgettable performance.   Even if you don’t love Glee or feel like your favorite songs have been butchered week after week by the show’s cast, it is impossible not to like this duet because one, it’s Aerosmith and two, it’s Neil Patrick Harris.

Song: Poker Face

Performed by: Lea Michele and Idina Menzel

Since her first appearance on the show midway into season one, Glee fans hoped that Broadway star Idina Menzel, who bears a striking resemblance to actress Lea Michele, would turn out to be the biological mother of Michele’s character Rachel.  After weeks of waiting and much speculation, their wish came true.  In the episode entitled “Dream On”, Menzel’s character Shelby Corcoran, the moderator and instructor of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline, reveals that Rachel is in fact her biological daughter.  In the following episode “Theatricality”, which features the music of Lady Gaga, Rachel learns of this news.  After several failed attempts to establish a relationship with her mother, Shelby and Rachel decide to part ways, but not before fulfilling Rachel’s one lifelong dream, to sing a duet with her mother.  In keeping with the episode’s original theme, the two characters perform an acoustic piano version of “Poker Face”.  I have never been much of a fan of the song, but when sung by Lea Michele and most especially, Idina Menzel, I absolutely love it.

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