Album: Various Artists, Glee: The Music, Volume 1 (Columbia)
As apparently the only person in the western hemisphere not to have seen an episode of Glee, it's hardly surprising I found myself neither angered nor elated by the karaoke-pop repossessions of rock history that comprise this soundtrack album.
For one thing, it's not my rock history they're repossessing: the 1980s AOR power-ballad schlock of Heart's "Alone" and REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling" is a quintessentially US phenomenon alien to British experience – but then, so are high-school musicals, of which Glee supposedly offers a mildly sardonic, soapy satire, by focusing on the misfits and outsiders ("Gleeks", in the show's parlance) of US high-school society; though not, one notes, the dentally challenged. As with all TV-sanctioned pop, the repertoire leans heavily on big ensemble show-stoppers like "Don't Stop Believin'" and Queen's "Somebody to Love", mingled with R&B-wannabe efforts such as Rihanna's "Take a Bow" and the powerful version of Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows", with which Amber Riley supplies the album with its most compelling moment. By comparison, the versions of Young MC's "Bust a Move" and Kanye West's "Gold Digger" by the club's teacher are surely the least convincing raps in recording history. But save for the irritatingly anonymous cover of "You Keep Me Hanging On", there's little here to raise either spirits or hackles.
Download this Bust Your Windows; Don't Stop Believin'