Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Glee, Season 2: Spring Superlatives

Last night ended a rather rocky sophomore season for Glee. The writers consistently ignored, well, good writing and instead opted for a lot of stunts and silly subplots that were soon quickly forgotten (Emma's marriage, Artie's new robot legs and the character of Tina just to name a few).

I've spent much of the day discussing the downfalls of Season 2, and I promise that before Season 3 begins I will have a lengthy writeup about the show's journey thus far, but for now I'd like to remember the best of the best. Because at the end of the day, I will forget about how stupid it was that none of the parents showed up for the Night of Neglect fundraiser, but I won't forget the power of the "I Feel Pretty / Unpretty" mash-up or the quiet brilliance of Kurt's rendition of "Blackbird."

One of my favorite traditions here on Please Welcome Your Judges is the awarding of Glee Superlatives. Last year, I awarded Season 1 Fall Superlatives and Spring Superlatives, and the Season 1 Thunderclap Awards, and last fall continued with the Season 2 Fall Superlatives. Let's keep this thing going with the best of the Season 2 spring, shall we?

Best Group Number
  • Winner: "Loser Like Me" - The best of the Season 2 original songs, it took everything the show is about and rolled it up into an addictive, Regionals-winning number. Bonus points for the confetti slushies at the end.
  • Runner-Up: "Somewhere Only We Know" - Plain and simple, Blaine and The Warblers' farewell to Kurt reduced me to tears. The look on Darren Criss' face as he belted out those final notes both warmed and broke my heart at the same time.
  • Honorable Mention: "Born This Way" - New Directions sure knows how to do Gaga, huh? An excellent way to welcome Kurt back into the family, even if some of those shirts were a bit of a cop-out (looking your way, Mercedes).
Best Mash-Up
  • Winner: "I Feel Pretty / Unpretty" - A stunning combination of Bernstein and TLC. Quinn and Rachel are two very different girls, but, as we've seen time and time again, they both have incredible insecurities. Taking the joyous West Side Story song and changing it into a haunting chorus was absolutely brilliant.
  • Runner-Up: "I Love New York / New York, New York" - The excitement of New Directions exploring New York was infectious. The shot of them dancing around the Lincoln Center fountain instantly brought a smile to my face. And once again they take a classic Bernstein tune and expertly flip it on its side, this time with a Madonna dance track.
  • Honorable Mention: "Thriller / Heads Will Roll" - This zombie-filled halftime show was better than the Black Eyed Peas' attempt earlier that night in the actual Super Bowl by far. Artie wins the award for Best Football Zombie, and Santana belting out "Heads Will Roll" is another highlight of her rise to divadom over the course of this season.
Best Ballad
  • Winner: "Pure Imagination" - Yes, the chocolate fountain next to the casket was bizarre, but New Directions' rendition of this classic from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was heartfelt and gorgeous. No elaborate staging. No gimmicks. Just beautiful vocals.
  • Runner-Up: "Turning Tables" - Tackling this Adele power ballad was one helluva tall order, and Gwyneth handled it with ease. If there was any doubt that she should walk away with an Emmy for her role as Holly Holliday, this song squashed it.
  • Honorable Mention: "Landslide" - Another Holly Holliday number, this time with the wonderful addition of Brittany S. Pierce and Santana, who also happened to be in the middle of an emotional breakdown. With all of the fantastic female singers on this show, it's amazing there aren't more trio performances like this one.
Best Diva Moment
  • Winner: "Blackbird" - Want an example of Season 2's ridiculousness? Just look at the "death of Pavarotti the Bird" subplot. And yet, if this Kurt solo was the payoff, I'd say it was worth it. Not as flashy as some of his other solos (and, let's be honest, the Best Diva Moment category could just be renamed Best Kurt Moments), but it's one of the most memorable musical moments of Season 2.
  • Runner-Up: "Hell to the No" - Someone remind me why New Directions didn't use the song for Regionals? Mercedes tore down the house, even if she was singing about tots and diabetes.
  • Honorable Mention: "Firework" - Season 2 might as well be titled Glee: We Sing Katy Perry Songs Better Than Katy Perry. I guess that's a little lengthy, but you know it's true! No diva list would be complete without Rachel Berry, and this song proves exactly why.
Best Duet
  • Winner: "Take Me Or Leave Me" - It's amazing it took the show this long to sing some RENT, amirite? Yes, this song is originally about a lesbian couple hashing it out, but this "Battle of the Divas" between Mercedes and Rachel was pure fun.
  • Runner-Up: "For Good" - A lovely followup to Kurt and Rachel's "Defying Gravity" (which received Honorable Mention in this category last year). Like Glinda and Elphaba in Wicked, these two have gone from enemies to friends over the course of these two seasons—one of the relationship arcs the writers have managed to not mess up.
  • Honorable Mention: "Rolling in the Deep" - Some of Glee's best moments are when they strip down a song to almost nothing, and this is a prime example. I have a special love of Jesse St. James, and his reentry (though ill-conceived) gave me chills. The expressions on Rachel's face as she struggled with her ex's reappearance and the backup vocals from the AV Club brought the song to a new level.
Best Dance Number
  • Winner: "Friday" - I groaned big time when I heard Glee would be covering this Rebecca Black song, and yet somehow they turned it into an addictive dance number that, fine, is a great way to get yourself pumped out for night out on the town. Plus, Artie raps.
  • Runner-Up: "Tik Tok" - I promise this category isn't just "Times When Glee Covered Normally Horrible Songs." This was Brittany's biggest and hottest moment since the Britney Spears episode, and I would replace her with real-life "Kay - Dollar Sign - Ha" any day.
  • Honorable Mention: "Dancing Queen" - Kurt's coronation as Prom Queen was awkward at best, but he handled it with grace and a simple "Eat your heart out, Kate Middleton!" I encourage ABBA being played anywhere and everywhere, and this was a great way for the glee kids to finish out their prom, especially since I love whenever Mercedes and Santana team up.
Most Awkward Number
  • Winner: "My Funny Valentine" - Oh dear, oh dear. This is what Tina has been reduced to? Tina who auditioned for New Directions with "I Kissed a Girl"?! No... just... no.
  • Runner-Up: "Afternoon Delight" - This song was awkward in a completely different and wonderful way. Intentionally awkward is still applicable in this category! The Celibacy Club talking about hooking up in daylight? Brilliant. The Partridge Family-esque outfits? Genius.
  • Honorable Mention: "When I Get You Alone" - Blaine chasing his crush around GAP was so cringe-worthy. How did no one tell him this was a horrible idea?! How?!
So there you have it, the best moments of the spring. Did your favorites make the list? Did I snub the obvious winners? Are you outraged that not a single Will Schuester song is on the list? I doubt that last one applies to anyone.

I'll be back next week with the Season 2 Thunderclap Awards, highlighting the absolute best of this sophomore season. Stay tuned, Gleeks!

[Image Credit: IGN]
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