SOUND OFF: GLEE's Fits, Fights & Feuds
Elton John's "The Bitch Is Back" to N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" to Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" and even Marina & The Diamonds's "How To Be A Heartbreaker", last night's Glee was filled to the brim with attitude and - to crib a phrase from Stephen Sondheim's GYPSY lyrics - "fits, fights, feuds and egos." And a whole lot more, too, amigos.
The Bitch Is Back
"Sorry's not gonna cut it, so start coming up with some of the nastiest music feuds you can think of," and with that the gauntlet was set by Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) to the gleeks of McKinley high on this week's Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa-written, Bradley Buecker-directed episode of Glee - Schue's thereby directed musical arrow pointed right at the tender heart of Finn (Cory Monteith), following his stolen kiss with Schue's betrothed, Emma (Jayma Mays), last week. In a battle royale of epic proportions befitting only that of FOX's indescribable hit musical dramedy series, the many punches thrown in last night's show were largely not the physical kind - no, no; these strikes hit far deeper (an actual brawl or two notwithstanding, but, after all, boys will be boys; especially Finn and Brody). The titular feuds of "Feud" were mostly the musical kind; that is, arguments expressed, exercised - and, in some cases, exorcised - through song; and, in many cases, the real music history and attendant drama to go along with it all.
Case in point: the aforementioned mash-up of Elton John's rock classic "The Bitch Is Back" with Madonna's 80s jam "Dress You Up" - at once exhibiting the actual real-life feud between the two music titans as well as illuminating the rift between the star football player and the gender-bending diva supreme of McKinley High. A pretty inspired musical pairing as it fell on the ear, as well - the pulsating pop tune masterfully merging with the rock ode exuberantly. So, one down, how about another? Don't mind if we do - what, you got a problem with that?! Just joking - hey, nothing wrong with getting into the sparring spirit of things, right? Right? Right.
Next up: the ultimate boy band mash-up sing-off featuring N Sync versus the Backstreet Boys. For those who do not remember or are too young to recall, much of the major pop music making a mark at the dawning of the new millennium undoubtedly was dominated by the two mega-successful male-led musical groups of the moment, N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, so the men of McKinley merging to match-up against each other as the respective five-member groups made for a magical Glee moment worth remembering - batting near 1000 in the process in their covering of the two group's biggest hits; "Bye Bye Bye" and "I Want It That Way", respectively. Following that kind of boy-band explosion, all that's left to do is cue the ensuing shrieks of a million female fans around Ohio and the world - new and old; lapsed or die-hard; teenager and/or even the parent of one. Everybody (yeah, yeah).
Somehow managing to do those two well-matched mash-ups one better was gleek superstar Blaine (Darren Criss) with a rollicking Mariah Carey cover byway of "I Still Believe" with Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) unquestionably then stealing the show - and the entire episode, truth be told - with her blonde wig-bedecked sassy rapping, surprisingly mellifluous singing and sexy strutting around all set to the strains of Nicki Minaj's hit "Super Bass". And that's not even mentioning the blacklit neon-explosion scenery for the final verse of the mega-mash-up! Wow! What a knock-out! Nicki Minaj would even be impressed with the visual and audible audacity of it all - really. How could she not? GLEE mixed with Minaj is like bees and honey.
Kicking off the plot-packed episode in the NYC-set storyline of the newly-styled Glee 4.0, Brody (Dean Geyer) revealed that his seemingly unlimited cash supply heretofore by and large unexplained actually comes courtesy of a side cougar-centric escorting gig, not the drug-dealing that Santana (Naya Rivera) originally assumed. Hmm, so is that an upgrade or not? Dubious and difficult to determine, really, no? Nevertheless, Brody gave voice to his prostitution plight with a wittily interpolated cover of the current Marina & The Diamonds pop earworm "How To Be A Heartbreaker" - even allowing for an evocative and angelically-sung bridge section by Rachel (Lea Michele) as she dealt with the newly discovered negative news and contemplated her own future with the charming but callous, hard-hearted heartbreaker himself. Tough break.
Heart-melting, on the under hand, was Finn's frustratingly motivated exit from McKinley High - though, even the most ardent Glee supporter and Finn fan has to admit that the time had come for it to happen, however it had to happen. Marley's eleventh-hour advice to the misguided 2012 high school graduate was well-needed - and more than merely well-earned by the confused character at this late stage of the game (and season). As for any new developments insofar as Finn's apparent destiny, eventually presumed to end up with Rachel? Well, moving on from McKinley is a big step in the right direction - and one step closer to New York City, as it were, especially since he jetted off there to knock Brody off his preening pedestal (and his feet). Also: "Future wife?" As for the rest of the goings-on in the Big Apple, Santana offered two-timing Brody a piece of her mind, too - as well as served up a healthy dose of bitchiness to everyone around her in the process, as always, resulting in Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Rachel giving her the boot from their Brooklyn digs - and subsequently told him off to the sexy beat of Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted", with some ALL THE JAZZ-esque Air-o-tica-esque choreographic back-up.
Marley (Melissa Benoist) and Jake (Jacob Artist) further solidified their ever-blossoming romantic relationship, while Ryder (Blake Jenner) found himself flirting online with someone new and also in an unlikely feud with transgender Unique (Alex Newell) over a relatively innocent, if misplaced, comment - though, as Jake remarked, "in this room we can be whatever we want to be." That needs to be respected - by all and always. That's what the Glee club is about, after all - and that's what Glee is all about, too. "Friendships like this are tested all the time and the ones that are real are the ones that pass the test," said Marley, and so goes the moral of last night's show. Like Ryder said, "At this school the most special thing you can be is yourself."
Closing out the episode was a tender, moving and ultimately rapturous cover of Tegan & Sara's ingratiatingly strange and idiosyncratic recent radio winner, "Closer" - with Joe (Sam Larsen), Sam (Chord Overstreet), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Artie (Kevin McHale) joining in. Yet, a few questions remain: most importantly, what's next in the text-based flirtation between Ryder and his new paramour - and what was with that very oddly ominous ending? Furthermore, will the Spice Girls further spruce up Glee next week - and, are the rumors really true about Sam and Blaine? All of these and more questions will hopefully be answered on next week's show, the tellingly titled "Guilty Pleasures".
Moving closer and closer to the final stretch of episodes in Glee Season Four (only six left), "Feud" was a fun and entertaining entry in a consistently strong and pleasingly still always surprising new season of the most important and influential performing arts-based series on TV - now or ever.
Photo Credit: Fox.