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'Glee': Come on, 'Vogue'


Madonna. Madonna. Madonna.

“Simply saying the word out loud makes me feel powerful, even in voiceover,” Sue says as she writes in her journal emblazoned with the Material Girl’s name. It's a great setup to the most anticipated hour in television in recent memory.

While it’s a bit far-fetched that Sue of all people would be inspired by the massively successful pop star – I always imagined she’d reach back in history and use Hitler or another dictator as her muse for all things evil – I loved how she was used as the anchor for an episode chock-full of tracks.

It was a simple plot really: her obsession with Madge leads her to demand that the school pump her idol’s greatest hits over the intercom system -- quite loudly -- during the school day (I wish my high school was that cool, and I even went to the best performing arts school).

Figgins, keeping in mind that little sexual blackmail looming over his head, gives in to her request that he blast her “delicious hooks” for the students – and mainly Sue and her Cheerios to get inspired by. But once the power of Madonna takes over McKinley High, it was hard to escape. So let's grade the music, shall we?

115GLEE-_Sc55_2183 "Faster than the speeding light she’s flying"

We get a taste of the Cheerios in action, something we don’t get too often. The girls – and guys on killer stilts – do a rousing routine to “Ray of Light.” Sue, wanting her Cheerios to be nothing short of perfection, calls it a “sloppy freak show.” Really, I’m no expert, but based on the hundreds of hours I’ve logged watching “Bring It On,” I thought the routine was quite excellent, though those stilts got a bit distracting, even for me. It was enough to inspire Will to steal the idea of using Madonna as a source of inspiration when he challenges the kids of New Directions to come up with a number from her vast catalog – uh FYI, Finn, Pantera is not the guy version of MadonnaB-

"Come on girls, do you believe in love"

There are no words to describe my elation as Rachel launched into “Express Yourself.” Rachel, who I must point out has found a stronger confidence in herself – thanks in part to this new romance with Jesse, even if he is just itching to get inside her cookie jar. The song is kicked up a notch when she is joined by the girls in brightly colored “va-va-voom” bustier corsets and yes, fingerwaves. The girls', or should I say divas', fierceness was jaw-droopingly spectacular as they put the boys in place. Oh, how I’d pay just to be one of the spotlights or even a strand of hair. Is it possible to top this? A+

"Set me free, open your heart"

Finn and Rachel. I’m beginning to enjoy this little tug-of-war the two are displaying. It’s a classic case of wanting what you can’t have. Now that Rachel has moved onto Jesse, Finn wants to get back in, despite the distractions and overt come-ons from Santana (comparing Rachel to a cat in heat was every bit as naughty and hilarious as the show could slide in under the radar). The two offer up a mash-up of “Boarderline” and “Open Your Heart,” two songs I would have never pictured together. I live for duets between these two but I wanted to strangle the producers for having them romp in the hallway amid students dressed up as Madonna – that was a bit more cheese than necessary, don’t you think? I loved the subtle references at the beginning (Brittany’s bow, Santana’s glove) but full-on garb from different videos that weren’t even referenced was a bit much. B

"Strike a pose"

“Mercedes is black, I’m gay – we make culture,” Kurt assures Sue as they pitch a way to help her find her inner confidence (she finally breaks down her hate of Will’s hair, and again it’s based on her own issues) – and ask for a collaboration with the Cheerios. While Sue taking on “Vogue” was sure to be the moment fans were certain to talk about for days, Fox completely ruined the surprise by showing it a week early, leaving nothing for the episode. You can tell producers wanted this to be the highlight for viewers as it has the most lavish treatment, and it is one of those moments that you hear the judges talk about on "American Idol." It fits so well in the episode, but I still can't get over Fox letting this air earlier. Doesn’t change the fact that Sue absolutely went to work on this number – Kurt and Mercedes, I see you in the background getting your shine.  A+

"Touched for the very first time"

Madonna is the epitome of strength, independence and confidence. But let’s be honest, it’s hard to think about her without thinking about s-e-x. She’s never been one to shy away from the topic and has always demonstrated her power to control her sexiness and her own body. Those themes were pulled into the episode with Rachel, Emma and Finn taking control of their bodies – with a bit of coaxing – and deciding to give up the big V. One of the most artistic offerings of the episode, obviously second to "Vogue," showed all three couples (Jesse, Will and Santana, respectively, are the would be V-card takers) indulging in “Like A Virgin.” While my cheeks were turning red at all the hotness -- as I promised the other week, Emma turned up the heat -- I have to applaud the writers for tackling high school sex in a more realistic way, minus the whole duet vibe. Finn and Rachel (though her nightgown so Amish-y it was a turn off, no offense to our Amish readers) faced a great deal of pressure from their partners and they didn’t offer a caricature of the topic. As opposed to jumping all "After School Special" deep in taking on the consequences of teenage sex, they let it be what it really is -- a decision that only both partners should make. Kudos to the girls for staying true to themselves and deciding they weren’t ready. Sorry Finn, I can’t “justify your love” … but I had to clutch my pearls as I watched he and Rachel lie to one another. A

"Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock"

By the time I heard the blaring intro horns of one of Madonna’s most recent smash hits, “4 Minutes,” I was already outta my seat dancing. And I imagine so were you. While I assumed the resident Justin Timberlake of McKinley -- Will -- would take on the Justin Timberlake-assisted cut, I was surprised and excited to see it as a duet with Kurt and Mercedes. Backed by the Cheerios, which they’ve now joined, it was an in-your-face sassy kiss-off that proved these two deserve more solo time in New Directions. Threatened by Jesse being in the mix, they stuck it to Will big time by getting the shot they deserve, and in the process made the Cheerios look pretty darn good. Yet another highlight in an already jampacked episode. A+

"But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like"

As my faithful Gleek Show Tracker readers know, I’ve mentioned before that this is one of my favorite Madonna songs, and I was floored to see it made the cut for the episode. Of course I had my reservations as to who’d sing it – given its more soulful undertones, yes of course I assumed Mercedes, which was foolish. But I realized the boys hadn’t gotten a taste of the Material Girl, though how would they dig into this track? Thankfully, they kept the soulfulness there – and please, please, please someone, I’m begging you, more Artie -- his solo got a few rewinds and the full track is heavy on his vocals! Though Puck was against taking on Madonna, it's hard to ignore that the boys sounded incredible. And hey, they got a much-needed lesson out of it all. A

"I hear you call my name"

Sorry if you’re Madonna’ed out - though we doubt it - but of course there is the ending group number. New Directions takes on “Like A Prayer,” and brings out the gospel roots of the song with a very necessary choir – impressive given they are a small team compared to Vocal Adrenaline. It was the perfect way to end the episode. My main complaint is given they squeezed in an impressive number of selections, some, including this one, fell short. I wanted much more of the group number. Guess that’s what the soundtrack is for. C

I’m sure my fellow Gleeks will agree and disagree with my grades. So I hope you weigh in. Were there songs you wanted the kids to take on instead? Was the episode worth the wait? What did you think of our grades?

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy (Follow me on Twitter @GerrickKennedy)

Photos: From top, the girls express themselves.; Sue hopes to pay tribute to Madonna. Credit: Fox


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Comments () | Archives (15)

Got excited just reading your review and grades ... I will watch tonight from iTunes.

I agree with your assessment Gerrick. It was a great episode, but as you pointed out, Like a Prayer basically got shafted, which was a grave disappointment in an otherwise great episode. I can't understand why they would do that, it's such an incredible song, it should have gotten the full five minute treatment. As always, Rachel knocked it out of the park with her incredible vocals, Kurt sings like an angel and Mercedes is a powerhouse all by herself. Who know Santana and Sue could actually sing and do a great job? I think most of the Glee cast are talented singers, but I would really like them to give Artie more to do. He is a great singer, there's no reason he shouldn't be getting more solo's. I'm glad that Kurt and Mercedes joined the Cheerios. In a way that is a wake up call to Mr. Shue to give them a few more solos. Although I have to say, I'm in love with Lea Michele's voice. She really is an incredible vocalist and she always delivers on her renditions. I think her rendition of "Don't Rain on My Parade" was stunning.

Unfortunately the show seems to be losing it already. At first the narrative was in charge of the musical numbers...or they were closely connected. The show used to still have some connection with reality..and this is what is the most important thing about this show--it needs to stay a little bit grounded in reality, otherwise it just becomes a big music video. It is falling into that category of...'no school would evar...." For example

No school would evar, pump Madonna music all day long.
...would evar have that many skilled stilt dancers (have you even tried to walk in those things?)
...would have a full gospel choir for a glee club musical number.
...would have the equipment to do a Madonna video with those sets, lighting, extras, editing.....

To the creators of Glee...please...I know it is fun and satisfying to gild the lily here...but I fear too fast and too soon you've become intoxicated by the kudos you get from the musical numbers....and you know that each and every show you must try to top yourself. This episode had almost no story, very little plot development...it is still a show about characters. Please don't lose sight of that.

I almost completely agree with Dave's comments except for the fact that I went into the episode expecting it to be filler. He's totally right with wanting the show the stay semi-grounded in the high school atmosphere but I'm not tuning in to watch another updated version of Fame or HSMusical. Honestly, the first vol. got me watching for 60% Comedy (aka Jane Lynch), 30% plot and character development, and 10% music, since DVR has allowed for fast forwarding through most songs you don't care to see. Let's pull back the reins on the over glamorizing it with music...an ep. like this could be put anywhere in the season, but def. shouldn't've been so close to the premiere/return of the show after such a long hiatus...let stay focused on the upcoming competition and letting Jane Lynch overwhelm the script with hilarious one-liners.

You're right, Pantera isn't the guy version of Madonna, but that's the joke. It was meant to reflect Finn's character's thoughts/choice in music not a comment on what the episode saw as the actual guy version of Madonna.

I agree almost with everything...I thought Like a Prayer was amazing. Not an A but a B+...C was a little harsh, it was great if just for the verses sang by individuals such as Kurt.
In my opinion Glee keeps getting better...the writeers are above par and Madonna numbers only enhanced the always hilarious and well placed one-liners and quotes. This show is awesome and now the anticipation is up for the Lady Gaga episode. Can I just also add that Jonathan Groff is REMARKABLE!!!! Love, love, love him!!
I would have loved a Glee version of Take a Bow or Live to Tell!

I agree with Dave and TheDayAfter...

This show is still great, but I feel it losing it too. The show seems like it is becoming self-conscious of itself and it is at that point that many shows verge on becoming self-parodies.

I found the musical numbers were well done, but as Dave said, it felt like a string of music videos. There wasnt very much story there and I found myself bored between musical segments. I also felt the network shot their wad too early by showing the Vogue segment last week. When Vogue came on last night, I found it anti-climactic.

The publicity department really needs to pull back a little bit. They are hyping up this show so much that there is no way it can deliver. Showing Glee viewing parties on the news, it looked so staged.

Glee is still one of the best shows on tv, but I'm afraid of what will happen if it continues on this path. Fans are still filled with glee on Glee but the brilliance of season 1 is so far missing from the first two episodes of season 2.

Oh please, now comes the backlash against Glee but it's masked in this "Glee used to be so much better" cover. Now, the preferred criticism is that Glee isn't realistic anymore. What show has Dave et al been watching? In the first half of the season - no, the first EPISODE of the show - Glee featured:

1) a high school teacher who planted drugs on a student to extort him into joining the show choir;

2) a white student with black and white parents who claims she isn't sure which one is her biological parent;

3) a band of misfits, some of whom can barely sing, but who manage to create an inspiring version of "Don't Stop Believin" on the fly that convinces their music teacher not to quit;

4) a dim high school boy who thinks he impregnated his girlfriend through his swimsuit in a hot tub; and

4) a wife who fakes a pregnancy, fools her husband for months and extorts her gynecologist to play along.

Which of these characters and scenarios was in any way remotely plausible or realistic? Glee has never pretended to be realistic or plausible in a documentary sense. Where it has been true-to-life has been to the emotions and sentiments of its characters, even if the scenarios they find themselves in are often outlandish and over-the-top.

I loved this episode! I've struggled to enjoy Glee in the last 10 episodes or so as much as I did in the first few. It felt like it nosedived downhill shortly after the Single Ladies one...but it really came back in my opinion last night. I know some are complaining about character development, but I actually thought we got real movement on Shu and Emma both last night. I love that they're both playing her issues for humour, but also taking them seriously - it's the perfect encapsulation of what the whole show has finally managed to settle into: absurdist play with a beautifully dark and poignant undercurrent.

I review this episode at http://themothchase.wordpress.com - check us out!

Completely addicted to Glee. The first time I watched Glee I thought it ll be another H SM, thankfully I was wrong, with all the irony, the music and a great cast this show is amanzing , the best thing on tv .
I was very happy to watch such incredible talent people such as Jane Lynch, newcomer( on tv) Lea Michele and Mathew Morisson. I became a huge Lea fan and I think she'll have a great future ahead if she stays focus. She can sing , act in drama and comedy and shes a beatiful woman .
Being a theater fan I'm glad to see so many theatre people on tv , and they're really showing how it does!
Congrats to u all from Glee!

Peter, you have a point in that where Glee" has been true-to-life has been to the emotions and sentiments of its characters, even if the scenarios they find themselves in are often outlandish and over-the-top."

That's what people are saying, although the episode was fun, there's no denying that, there was a lack of emotion and sentiment with the characters. Of course it was just one episode so time will tell how the rest of the season pans out.

If next week's episode returns true to form, no one will be complaining. I think some fans are worried that the show may jump the shark way too soon. That's a legitimate concern. It's not a backlash, concerned fans want the show to last.

loved how you graded them but i have to disagree on you when you gave like a prayer a C becuz that no, was epic for me . when express yourself was on, it was awesome becuz it showed me how madonna really moved sexual empowerment of women.
love your review and GLEE IS EPIC!

When I heard Madonna agreed to allow her songs to be used on the show I was happy. I was less happy with the fact that the episode used only her songs. I love Glee too much to see it turned into a sort of tribute commercial with an artist of the week theme. It's so much more interesting to mix songs of differents singers, eras and genres. However, the songs were plot propelling and it turned out quite well. I'm really glad to see Sue sing since I know Jane Lynch has a great voice.

"No offense to our Amish readers"... yes, because the Amish are well-known for their perusal of the internet :P

I feel like "Glee" has come a long way from the first couple of episodes, when the plot still felt awkward and the highlights were the songs. Now, the plot definitely holds my interest and is only enhanced by the music, a definite improvement, and I'm glad to see the show I've been rooting for finally come into its own and demonstrate that it deserves all the kudos, Rolling Stone and other haters be damned. Definitely no more theme episodes for a while though, please - even though this one was amazing, I would hate for the show to devolve into a "flavor of the week" ordeal and basically fall into the "American Idol" downward spiral.

wow, it is great artical. i am very inpressed . thanks for share it.


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