Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Entirely Gleeful

According to the Thesaurus on Microsoft Word, we're talking about delight, hilarity, merriment, laughter, excitement, amusement, joy and happiness. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we're talking Glee!

If you've read my previous posts about my favourite, "guilty pleasure", TV shows, you may know that I do not require much class or sophistication in my TV viewing. Okay so I do not like to dwell in the very depths of trash with those who watch Kerry Katona or Jordan's latest "reality" shows and Tool Academy (yikes!), but I have been known to watch the likes of 16 and Pregnant on MTV when I'm home alone (with no-one around to judge me!). And then, of course, there is Glee.

I've been in choirs since I was about 8 years old, mainly at school but then later in mass choirs taking part in things like the opening ceremony of the Odyssey Arena, Les Misérables and One Enchanted Evening. I don't have a great voice but I can hold a tune and that's thankfully really all that matters when you're in a choir. Unfortunately when I moved to Yorkshire I cut my ties to the Belfast choir world and I haven't sang in one since. I must admit it makes me a little sad because there's nothing quite like the feeling of being one voice among many, all sounding so different but yet working together to create beautiful harmonies. I know that all sounds a bit hippy-like, but I just love it. To understand it you just need to listen to something like Handel's Messiah, close your eyes and picture your voice soaring amongst all the sopranos, altos, tenors and basses, creating such a powerful sound, rising and falling, louder and quieter, higher and lower... *sigh*

In the absence of any decent choir action in the last seven years or so, I get my kicks singing along to the mp3s on my mobile phone at bus stops (only when there's no-one else around!) or occasionally playing SingStar. However, when I heard there was a new American TV show coming to the UK about a glee club, it sounded right up my alley. Singing and rubbish TV - joy! (or indeed, glee!)

I know there is a difference between a choir and a glee club. In a choir you kinda just stand there and sing, whereas in a glee club you need to be an all-round entertainer, with amazing vocals and funky dance moves. It's a lot more energetic but I would love to have a go! Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't pass the audition stage in the majority of schools, especially if the documentary Gleeful: The Real Show Choirs of America is anything to go by. Wow, those kids are talented. But I would love to do it just for fun. Someone should start up a Belfast Glee Club. We might be rubbish but we'd have great fun!

As for the show itself, I completely love Glee. I actually think it's one of the best shows to grace our screens in the last couple of years. It just has everything: great singers, great dancing, weird and wonderous plots, themed episodes, characters you simultaneously want to hug and bitch-slap, humour and a big old dose of tongue firmly in cheek, which I think is what makes it. That and the character of Sue Sylvester, who I completely adore. Oh and also Britney, who comes off with some of the funniest one-liners ever.

A lot of people disparage Glee because it's so cheesy but that's entirely the point. People draw comparisons between Glee and High School Musical but there is one big difference. They are both big balls of cheese but where High School Musical took itself completely seriously, Glee not only knows that it's cheesy - it's shouting it from the rooftops. You're not supposed to take it seriously - just sit back and let the teenage melodrama and candyfloss swirl around your brain. It's pure escapeism.

As for the music, I have to say there are a few of their covers that I think are brilliant. I loved Don't Stop Believin', even though Journey's version was already up there amongst my favourite songs ever, and that never happens for me - I tend to cringe when people cover my favourite tunes. Like A Virgin and Vogue from the Madonna episode were also great fun, especially with the different plots that were going on in that episode, and the slowed down version of Poker Face from the Lady Gaga episode was a triumph. No matter how many times I hear them, I can't seem to get enough of Alone and Maybe This Time from the first Kristin Chenoweth episode and Defying Gravity still makes me tingle about a hundred plays on. The duets-themed episode screened yesterday on E4 was also excellent.

If you're not really into pop music, musical theatre or the ins and outs of imaginary teenagers' love lives, it may not be the show for you, but I would say give it a try. Where can be the harm in submerging yourself in an hour of pure and unabashed superficiality and letting your inner Gleek out to play (or indeed sing!)? All together now: "Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world…"

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