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"Glee" Tribute To Michael Jackson: Taking On The King Of Pop

Laura Fairchild |
February 1, 2012 | 6:36 p.m. PST

Contributing Writer

This week, the Glee class tackled songs from the ultimate King of Pop- Michael Jackson. Did this episode live up to all of its hype? 

Daren Criss takes center stage with the New Directions, featuring many of MJ's iconic dance moves. (AcesShowbiz)
Daren Criss takes center stage with the New Directions, featuring many of MJ's iconic dance moves. (AcesShowbiz)

While the futures of many of the graduating seniors were revealed, the songs are better left to MJ himself. It seems as though the Glee cast did not quite measure up to the legend. 

Since the entire episode is dedicated to MJ, the goal seemed to be to include as many songs by him as possible. The pop star’s image was glorified, which was well deserved. However, the songs sung by the show choir were such defining moments for MJ that they often came off as weak mimics. 

Let’s take a look at all nine numbers. 

Starting off with a bang, Blaine and the New Directions blast out a showy version of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”. Although Daren Criss got to show off his incredible pipes and crotch grabbing, he still did not seem to measure up to Michael Jackson. 

The next number, “Bad,” featured an all out duel between the New Directions and the prep school Warblers. Fortunately, this number highlights many of the Glee characters that do not often get solos. However, the slushie attack by Warbler leader Sebastian which injures Blaine seems too absurd. Couldn’t he have just gotten punched in the face?

Next came a homage to “Scream” by Artie and Mike, which featured excellent dancing by Kevin Mchale and Harry Shum Jr. If you’ve ever wondered how to make a man look almost like a woman, simply check out the eyeliner on Mike. The quirky outfits and hypnotic camera action is still not enough to live up to this ‘90s Jackson hit. 

After telling of her plans to go to Yale, Quinn belts out an exceptional version of “Never Can Say Good-bye.” This seems to work well, at least better than the preceding songs, because it is simple and elegant for Quinn. She does not try too hard to out-Jackson the King of Pop. So, her Glee version does just fine.

The ballad “Human Nature” adds more fire to the flames of Mercedes and Sam’s rekindling romance. The slow, jazzy feel does well for them. I become distracted by the young love looks in their eyes for long enough that I can admire their interpretation of the classic song, even if it is a bit cheesy. 

I could not stop laughing when Kurt, Finn, and Rachel keep straight faces while serenading Blaine with “Ben." The ‘boy who survived a rock salt attack’ was too ridiculous for me to actually take this number seriously. Instead of focusing on the song, it seemed as though the show was just ready to get Blaine out of the way (for those of you who don’t know, Daren Criss had to breifly leave the show for a stint on Broadway in ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’). 

The impending battle between sly Santana and evil Warbler Sebastian was brought to its peak with “Smooth Criminal.” Though the vocals were exceptional, the fight would have been much more juicy had Santana and Sebastian not been hiding behind conference room chairs. I think the great MJ would have appreciated his song being tackled in a more aggressive manner. 

Finally- Rachel answers Finn’s proposal. After receiving the news that Kurt is a NYADA finalist, Rachel realizes she may have no other future except for one with Finn. After singing a lovely version of “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” Rachel agrees to marry Finn with tears in her eyes. This number was so touching that it worked for them.

The grand finale comes with the New Directions proving their morality over that of the Warblers. The New Direction decide to forfeit the fight for the right to sing MJ at regionals.  Singing about peace and harmony, the Warblers end up joining the New Directions in their very much glee-ful rendition of “Black or White.” That is, everyone except Sebastian of course. 

The episode ends with Rachel receiving her NYADA finalist  letter. So, next week we can look forward to Rachel telling Finn about NYADA (and how that will affect their engagement!), hopefully Mercedes fully realizing her feelings for the ever-so-adorable Sam, and the Gleeks heading further down the road to sectionals. 

At least they have the often disappointing renditions of “Michael” behind them. Hopefully they’ll bring us some more Glee-appropriate pop next week! Can’t wait to see the graduation of some of the iconic Glee characters of the past three seasons. It’s time for some new superstars. 

Reach reporter Laura Fairchild here



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