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Christmas Music Playlists with Glee Songs
Now You Know How To Get All Gleeful And Triumphant
Factfile - Glee
- The original Glee holiday album, Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album, was released in 2010 and included many of the songs that appeared on a 2nd series episode called A Very Glee Christmas. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard-200.
- K.D. Lang duetted Matthew Morrison on the track You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch and Darren Criss made an appearance on Baby, It's Cold Outside.
- The original album was followed by Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2 in 2011 and Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 3 in 2012.
Given the enormous popularity of the Glee TV series and the well-known songs that the William McKinley High School troupe fashion in their own inimitable style it wasn’t too much of a surprise when the producers of the show threw their energies into producing a Christmas album. In fact such was the success of the 2010 original ‘Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album’ that it was followed up by 2 further volumes of Christmas songs in 2011 and 2012.
The first Glee Christmas album came about as a result of an episode in the 2nd series of the show called ‘A Very Glee Christmas’ which featured many of the songs which would appear on ‘Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album’. Like most of Glee's back catalogue many of this albums 12 tracks were covers of well aired standards like ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ and ‘Last Christmas’. As is their want many of these familiar favourites are moulded into Gleesque devices that espouse rich production values and an energetic momentum befitting the youthful performers. Thankfully Matthew Morrison retains the restrained solemnity on the historically quiet number ‘O Christmas Tree’ as does Lea Michelle on album closer ‘O Holy Night’. For the rest of the time, however, there is a sense of theatre and extravagance. On ‘We Need A Little Christmas’ the cast of Glee pitch it perfectly given its origins in the Broadway show ‘Mame’ as sung by Angela Lansbury. ‘Deck The Rooftop’ is less successful, appearing overly busy when a simpler formula would have worked much better. Thankfully it is followed-up with a reverential rendition of the Carpenters ‘Merry Christmas Darling’ which doesn’t try to be too clever and retains the glory of the innocence in the 1970 original. Another highlight features K.D. Lang duetting with Morrison on ‘You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’, a song that was originally part of an animated TV short from 1966 called ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, which has comedic overtures and is delightfully paced. In a move that was representative of the boundaries being pushed on the TV show ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ features 2 male vocalists (Chris Colfer and Darren Criss). The duet was elegantly dispatched and with Colfer’s feminine sounding vocals it made for a pleasant addition to the multitude of covers of this Christmas classic from 1944, even for hardened traditionalists.
Somewhat expectedly ‘Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2’ arrived one year after the original Glee Christmas album but this time the release was not tied to an individual episode from Series 3. In a slight departure the usual cast members were joined on vocal duty by several participants from the reality TV programme the Glee Project. This album also differed from its predecessor because it included 2 original Christmas songs. ‘Extraordinary Merry Christmas’ is hugely upbeat but overly saccharine laden and proves not half as impressive as ‘Christmas Eve With You’. Of the 10 covers Eartha Kitt’s ‘Santa Baby’ comes off best as Naya Rivera gives it her own stamp of individuality without radically changing the perfection of the original. Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ is dealt with in equally respectful tones, this time sung by Lea Michele. This volume of Christmas songs illustrate that the Glee cast are not afraid to move beyond the comforts of the bigger festive numbers as they give the Waitresses ‘Christmas Wrapping’ a not before time contemporary coat of paint.
‘Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 3’ arrived in December 2012 and although it was shortened down to just 10 tracks the Glee participants showed no sign of flagging in their enthusiasm for Christmas music. If anything it showed a maturity entering into the performances and where once they would have gone gung-ho into the theatrics they now appeared a little bit more contemplative. The result is perhaps the most enjoyable Christmas album in the series. Highlights this time included ‘White Christmas’ which was turned into a loungey duet that sounds not all that Glee like. ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ is as close to special as you can get without encroaching on Judy Garland’s untouchable original. ‘Feliz Navidad’ also deserves mention because it accomplishes something that not many versions of that song achieve and that is that it sounds altogether tropically Christmas.
Everyone knows that Christmas is a time for forgiveness, so I have decided to forgive you for having no talent and ruining the American songbook one mash-up at a time.
Glee, Sue to Artie, Kurt & Blaine
Glee Christmas Album & Single Covers