Welcome back to our week long celebration of glee’s 500th musical number!!!
Just be sure you don’t party too hard folks.
Rachel knows what I mean.
And you know what is really really hard about writing a top ten list? I have to cut so many amazing songs. I had to make a lot of really legitimately painful decisions when making both of my first two top ten lists otherwise I would have just doubled up on ALL of the songs. So before I start with season three I figure I would mention several honorable mentions from season one and two!
Season One Honorable Mentions: “Rose’s Turn” (Episode Eighteen “Laryngitis”), “Somebody to Love” (Episode Five “The Rhodes Not Taken”), Maybe This Time (Episode Five “The Rhodes Not Taken”), “Hello I Love You” (Episode Fourteen “Hell-O”), “4 Minutes” (Episode Fifteen “The Power of Madonna”), “Like a Virgin” (Episode Fifteen “The Power of Madonna”), “Give Up The Funk” (Episode Twenty-One “Funk”), “Defying Gravity” (Episode Nine “Wheels”) “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (Episode Nineteen “Dream On”), “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” (Episode Twenty-One “Funk”), “Jessie’s Girl” (Episode Eighteen “Bad Reputation”), “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” (Episode Thirteen “Sectionals”), “Any Way You Want It/Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin'” (Episode Twenty-Two “Journey”), “Beth” (Episode Twenty “Theatricality”), “The Lady Is a Tramp” (Episode Eighteen “Laryngitis”)
Season Two Honorable Mentions: “”Blackbird” (Episode Sixteen “Original Song”), Empire State of Mind (Episode One “Audition”), “I Love New York/New York, New York” (Episode Twenty-Two “New York”), “Candles” (Episode Sixteen “Original Song”), “For Good” (Episode Twenty-Two “New York”), “Just the Way You Are” (Episode Eight “Furt”), “Marry You” (Episode Eight “Furt”), “She’s Not There” (Episode Eleven “The Sue Sylvester Shuffle”), “Me Against the Music” (Episode Two “Brittany/Britney”), “River Deep, Mountain High” (Episode Four “Duets”), “I’ve Gotta Be Me” (Episode Eighteen “Born This Way”), “Born This Way” (Episode Eighteen “Born This Way”), “Don’t Stop” (Episode Nineteen “Rumours”), “Pure Imagination” (Episode Twenty-One “Funeral”), “Songbird” (Episode Nineteen “Rumours”)
So you see my dilemma right? Glee‘s picks out really good music a lot of the time. And some of them are missing up there because I still have a couple other lists that will incorporate from all seasons! But consider those the runner’s up and it was really very close.
With that in mind let’s take a look at the Top Ten Songs of Season Three!
10) “We Found Love” (Season Three Episode Ten “Yes/No”)
Okay future wife/husband to be if you are thinking of proposing to me watching “We Found Love” multiple times and take notes because this is how I want it to happen if you want to go big in proposing. This whole number pretty much constitutes the best proposal number ever on glee. Good luck trying to top yourself in the future show. Alright so why is it so epic? Dude synchronized swim/dancing with New Directions in retro swimsuits. Mister Schue literally WALKS ON WATER (okay a platform of sort). Santana and Rachel singing together and sounding absolutely gorgeous. I…Seriously! It’s the most epic, over the top proposal I’ve ever seen on television and I loved every minute of it. Emma would have had to be made of stone not to say “yes” after that bit of epic.
9) “Run the World (Girls)” (Season Three Episode Three “Asian F”)
This is Brittany’s crowning moment of glee. I can’t even think of another instance where she has ever come close to topping herself here. I mean her vocals, which can falter, are perfectly on point here. Her dancing is just a-fucking-mazing. God her costume. That was so hot that I still can’t get over it. This was her moment of standing up for female empowerment. This was her crowning glory in Brittany and of course you do it with the Queen B (that’s Beyonce y’all). Everytime I hear this I feel so proud for having two X chromosomes that I just want to go out and kick patriarchal society in the balls. I love it.
8) “Glory Days” (Season Three Episode Twenty-Two “Goodbye”)
It makes perfect sense that “Glory Days” was sung here and by Puck and Finn. According to Wikipedia it’s “a seriocomic tale of a man who now ruefully looks back on his so-called glory days and those of people he knew during high school”. It’s ironic that it is being played at a high school graduation and simultaneously oddly fitting that is being played at THIS high school graduation. Because honestly the real question is are these there glory days? Don’t they have better times coming then this? And maybe this is a subtle question to ask the fans who wanted to keep them in the choir room forever. That they can’t relive these days year after year after year because they would just be stuck there. Or maybe not. Either way it’s a great song. Cory Monteith and Mark Salling sound great together. Plus it looks like a fun graduation which is what we wanted from them ultimately.
7) “I Will Always Love You” (Season Three Episode Thirteen “Heart”)/”Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (Season Three Episode Seven “I Kissed A Girl”)
“I Will Always Love You” wasn’t even a tribute to Whitney Houston. The episode itself had the spooky timing airing immediately following the tragic death of Whitney Houston. So it will always make this song even more haunting. I still get goosebumps listening to it all the way through. Amber Riley just shines here. This is her crowning achievement vocally on the show. I just wish it wasn’t wasted on the whole Samcedes thing that just felt like a haphazard plot and pairing. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the couple but well looking back on it now it does feel a bit “Pair the Spares” which is a shame because Sam and Mercedes had chemistry. I just wished we got to see more development from the relationship. Sorry the song. It’s beautifully put together starting up in the choir room but at the same time not in the choir room. You can tell the moment she starts singing from the sound work that Mercedes is somewhere else in her mind. When she appears in that red dress at the biggest and most difficult parts of the song you can’t help but have your attention solely on her. It doesn’t rely on tricks or choreography just the music, the voice, and some spectacular lighting to make it shine.
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” shows the creativity of the arrangements on the show. Changing a very charged, poppy ballad into something very slow and emotional is just amazing to listen to. It also shows another facet of Cory Monteith’s voice that is very nice to listen and hear. But more importantly it is a song that emphasizes feelings of connectedness, friendship, apology and reaching out. Finn sings this as an apology to Santana for outing her accidentally. He also sings it to extend a hand of friendship that has been severed by the Troubletones vs New Directions arc. And it’s nice to see Santana ultimately forgiving him for something he does clearly feel bad about. Honestly Santana is just as much of this as Finn. Naya Rivera’s face during the song says everything that she cannot say/sing back to Finn. It’s almost a duet with only one person singing and that’s what I love about it so much.
6) “Jolene” (Season Three Episode Seven “I Kissed a Girl”)/”Mean” (Season Three Episode Twenty “Props”)
This has everything to do with how awesome Coach Shannon Bieste is. She is like my total adult shero on the show. If I grow up to be half as a BAMF as she is then well life well spent. And you can tell Dot Marie Jones I said that.
“Jolene” is Coach Bieste’s first and only single and it is amazing. Her rough voice is perfect for this country melody of longing and pleading. Granted it’s over the sack of shit Cooter but put that aside and just enjoy the beauty of it. Plus it’s kind of amazing that the person who she is pleading with is Sue Sylvester who doesn’t fit the traditional definition of beautiful either. Though I do think it’s telling that Quinn makes an apperance at one point in what I think is a symbolic scene of the girls/women Coach Bieste has been compared to her whole life. It’s actually a very psychological song as it is one that takes place in her head. So a song that causes character development in addition to being a very heartfelt, sincere song that is beautifully shot? Yeah. Hell yeah. That is why this is on the list.
“Mean” I have to admit was a surprise at first. I always assumed maybe Kurt would sing it? I never thought I would hear Puck and Coach Bieste do a duet together on a Taylor Swift song. But yeah it’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing. It makes perfect sense for the two “toughest” characters on the show who has been given a raw deal in life to duet together. It also makes sense to duet together on “Mean” which essentially is a fuck the haters country song. Again it’s not a fancy song. It’s Puck on his guitar and Bieste. Both of them have very rough yet sincere voices and they’re just sitting on a stage together singing. It’s a believable moment of bonding between the two as they lay out that life has dealt them a shitty hand and now they have to rise above it. It’s one of the sweeter moments of the end of season three between two characters who have been through hell and who deserve to have a quiet and happy life.
5) “Because You Loved Me” (Season Three Episode Twenty “Props”)
This may be my own personal tastes speaking here. Hell most of these choices are my own personal tastes speaking. But this choice probably speaks for me the most out of all of them.
It’s Tina as Rachel singing a Celine Dion song to a body swapped version of New Directions. …This was the most awesome fucking thing I have ever seen on glee EVER! And I will fight anyone who disagrees with me because this was just an amazing bit of surrealist, absurdist humor ever. It was the best kind of mindfuck. It also gave Tina a chance to shine and kill the song. She was really really good here! The added hilarity was second to how she proceeded to blow the song out of the water with her passionate performance. It was amazing. Hands down.
4) “Smooth Criminal” (Season Three Episode Eleven “Michael”)
“Smooth Criminal” is the best duet of season three. Possibly the best duet of the show. EVER. It’s goosebump giving each time you listen to it. You have the 2Cellos providing the phenomenal cover of the song with Naya Rivera and Grant Gustin’s voices cascading over it. Santana and Sebastian stalk each other like how I imagine lions or cheetah or jaguars stalk their prey. There’s just all this effortless grace and a grace all of it’s own. Plus Santana looks sexy as all fuck in her noir PI get up. “Smooth Criminal”, the original version, is credited as being one of the best music videos of all time. It’s only fitting that the cover that the glee cast provides rises in its own way. This is a performance that will be talked about by fans for years.
3) “Cough Syrup” (Season Three Episode Fourteen “On My Way”)
WARNING! THE FOLLOWING VIDEO CONTAINS A PROCESS OF AN ATTEMPTED SUICIDE!
When I look at songs for my top ten song list, I clearly am not looking at just the songs. These lists would look very different if I did just straight up audio recordings. No. These lists look at the top ten songs in terms of how they are presented and viewed. “Cough Syrup” is the showcase for one of the most impactful, gut wrenching, heartbreaking, tear jerking scenes ever to be seen on glee. Every single part of this sequence was treated with the upmost respect and showcases a harsh reality. Darren Criss provides very dreamlike vocals that enhance the scene. It is not about the song. No this is about what happens while the song plays. Music in television and movies serves as an enhancement to something on screen and if it works well then you get “Cough Syrup”. This episode started out with its strongest foot forward and left us all in states of emotional wreckage by the commercial break. I couldn’t listen to this cover for the next couple months without getting teary eyed. And that is the sign of something truly astounding.
2) “Rumour Has It/Someone Like You” (Season Three Episode Six “Mash-Off”)
Remember when I said it took glee awhile to top “Like a Prayer” in terms of closing numbers for an episode? This is when they topped it. This is widely considered to be one of the best mash-ups, if not the best mash-up, ever in the history of the show. It’s also considered to be on the best songs ever done in the show. Naya Rivera and Amber Riley truly shine here. The choreography is stunning. The mood is stunning. The set up to this song makes perfect sense. The costumes are gorgeous. The lighting is perfect. This was when The Troubletones established themselves as a real legitimate threat. Soooo why is it not number one? It’s representative of New Directions divided. It’s a gorgeous heartbreaking song but there is also an ugly element to it like in many Troubletones songs. This is them trying to show New Directions up again and again. Hell it’s not even New Directions. This is them trying to show Rachel up. This is them trying to prove that they are better then everyone else. And I guess these thoughts do cast a very ugly color on the song for me. It’s gorgeous and lovely and beautiful but there’s always that little bit of taint of what the Troubletones arc represented to me. It’s still one of the best numbers that glee has ever produced.
1) New Directions Sectionals Performance (Season Three Episode Eight “Hold On To Sixteen”)/New Directions Nationals Performance (Season Three Episode Twenty-One “Nationals”)
(Sorry about the bad quality on “Control”)
Be angry with me. I don’t care. These two are the best competition performances that New Directions has ever done. Period. Asking me to choose one part of either of these numbers or just ONE of these two is like asking me to choose a favorite child. I can’t. It’s an impossible choice both of them just are stunning.
Sectionals: A tribute to Michael Jackson pre-Michael Jackson tribute episode. Now I know what I said about New Directions being divided in my number two pick for the Troubletones. However, I will maintain and argue later that Rachel is the main part of their separation from New Directions. This is a New Directions competing without them and without Rachel and winning. This is just that good. I can find nothing wrong in this performance. It starts off strong in “ABC” with Tina’s vocals carrying the way and some amazing fun dancing. “Control” has tight vocals from Artie and Blaine with some of the trickiest choreography I have ever seen on glee. “Man In The Mirror” is a quiet but very strong finish to an amazing set with the song divided up to match each soloist perfectly. I love the costumes here! I love the lighting! I love everything about it. Compare this to the Troubletones performance and you can see why they lost in the face of just such stellar, killer, amazing preparation and performance from New Directions.
Nationals: To get this out of the way, I could not put this one anywhere else but at number one. It’s what won them Nationals for God’s sakes! I’m not made of stone here people! “Edge of Glory” gives the former Troubletones their moment in the sun but also shares the stage with members of New Directions. It shows the full integration. This victory will be shared by all parties involved. “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” is Rachel’s big moment and even though I pretty much was over her as a character at this point. I did love the strength and passion she put into her voice. She owned her moment at Nationals. “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” kicked utter ass! Cory Montieth has never sounded better. Lea Michele has never sounded sexier. Everyone who sang in that song sung it at their absolute best. And those dresses! OhmyGod I can’t even deal I want one so bad!
NEXT ON THE GLEE REWATCH PROJECT: The Top Ten Guilty Pleasure Songs!!!
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Notes: What are you favorite songs of season three?!
Credits: Glee Wiki (glee.wikia.com)