Although only a half-season has been aired so far, the TV phenomenon that is Glee has already spawned two soundtracks. The show that made school choir cool features such a wide range of music that, whatever genre you enjoy listening to, there is almost certain to be an example of it here. If there isn't, perhaps that's a clue as to what's yet to come.
Volume 1 opens with an anthem which defines the whole tone of the show, Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. While the purists may take offence at the fact vocals replace the original wah-wah pedal, the song is a brilliant example of how versatile an instrument the voice is.
Lea Michele, who plays the lead female, may be trained to perform onstage, but she proves her pop chops on numbers like Rihanna's Take a Bow and the Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown duet No Air, offering less convoluted versions than the originals. But it's on show tunes, like Maybe This Time, from Cabaret, and Wicked's Defying Gravity that she really blows the listener away.
The ensemble cover of Queen's Somebody to Love is a deliciously slick and fun reminder of why the glam rock band is still relevant, while Amber Riley's renditions of Jill Scott's Hate on Me and Jazmine Sullivan's Bust Your Windows suggest that Aretha Franklin may have yet another heir if Jennifer Hudson is too busy being a mum.
The only possible faux pas is putting Matthew Morrison on lead vocals in hip hop numbers. He's a hugely talented singer, but it's embarrassing when he raps ?la Kanye West on Gold Digger.
Disc 2 starts with a cover of the Tina Turner Proud Mary (on the show, the cast performs in wheelchairs, echoing the famous "rolling" line), which is a brilliantly frenzied group piece. Then Morrison redeems himself on the 'mash-up' of Don't Stand So Close to Me/Young Girl, belting out lyrics made famous by Sting.
Always glorious, the cast's version of Lean on Me is uplifting and inspiring, although Kevin McHale's voice is no match for Riley's massive sound.
He may have the weakest voice of the bunch, but Cory Monteith's I'll Stand By You is sung so tenderly, you have to forgive him his vocal failings. Luckily, his solos are kept to a minimum - his opening of the Rolling Stone's You Can't Always Get What You Want is surprisingly powerful.
It would have been nice to hear more of Jenna Ushkowitz's sweet vocals - she solos on True Colours. But the fact Riley's version of And I am Telling You and Michele's Don't Rain on My Parade - examples of when typecasting is a good thing - are here makes up for any shortcoming s.
A brilliant double bill of songs that's not just for Glee lovers.
YP rating: 4/5