IDOLS VS GLEEKS
I've never watched a full episode of American Idol. But, being the diehard Aerosmith fan that I am, I felt curiously compelled this season to check out my favourite front man Steven Tyler sweetly emote his constructive criticism to today's youthful talent.
One of the early audition episodes struck a chord with me when a 15 year old said it was her life long dream to be on American Idol. At first I thought the comment was a ploy to get sympathy votes. But then I realized the show premiered when the girl was barely starting kindergarten bringing the "life long dream" statement new resonance. There's a whole generation out there that doesn't know what the music industry was like "Before Idol". The B.I. generation doesn't seem to have much interest in being original. I don't mean to make a blanket generalization about a whole generation. One era commenting about how unoriginal the next era is hardly original itself. Every generation has its iconoclasts. But for every aspiring Lady Gaga, there's about a dozen Justin Bieber wannabes. And for every original singer songwriter paying their dues somewhere right now trying to stand out from the rest, there are a dozen aspiring stars who can't wait to be famous for being just like their favourite pop tart. And they prove it every year by singing their songs in a televised Karaoke tournament. (Or posting it on You Tube, but that's a topic for another article!)
Which brings me to this week's episode of Glee and the highly touted debut of original music by the New Directions. This will mark a turning point in the show and the Glee culture as a whole. As every generation learns from the previous, Generation Glee is picking up where Generation Idol leaves off, with a few improvements. Gleeks have never tried to be something they're not. They've never aspired to be someone else. But rather, by relating to someone else's art, Gleeks are able to discover and express who they really are. When you do find out who you are, you stop trying to be someone else. Thus, after two years of being Madonna, or Michael Jackson, or Journey, or Lionel Ritchie, the Glee class of McKinley High are finally ready to just be themselves. And what better place to show off themselves than at Regionals?!
Growing up is about discovering who you are and deciding what kind of adult you want to be. Helping you discover this are all the people who have come before you. Your idols if you will. Parents, siblings, teachers, world leaders, clergymen, rock stars, movie stars, pro athletes, writers, etc.
When I was six, I wanted to be Hulk Hogan. When I was ten I wanted to be Wayne Gretzky. When I was sixteen I wanted to be Woody Allen. At 22, I aspired to be my father. At 27, I dreamed of being Roger Ebert.
Now 31, I don't wish to be anyone but myself.
When you don't want to be anyone else but yourself is when you finally do grow up. No matter who you are: a pop star, a high school student, or a novice writer, sooner or later you have to find your own voice.
Everyone's in a huff because Regionals are just around the corner. The Warblers decide to put more emphasis on ensemble while New Directions find out they can't use My Chemical Romance (Damn you Sue!) so they turn to creating their own material.
The halls are awkward for Brittany and Santana now since their "breakup". The FQ romance goes mainstream when Quinn spills the truth to Rachel. But what's really in that pretty little sinister mind of Quinn is her obsession with achieving the goal of Prom Queen. She'll need help from Finn who's a shoo in for Prom King but Quinn is concerned that he still has feelings for Rachel. So, taking a page from Sun-tzu, Quinn decides to get close to Rachel while working on songs for Regionals in an attempt to sabotage her friendship with Finn, thus elevating her to Queen front runner.
In healthier relationship news, another romance goes mainstream but with less complications. Blaine has an "a-ha" moment with Kurt after watching him sing about his dead pet bird so he asks him to go steady with him; re: perform a duet at Regionals. Remember, in Glee, those who sing together, sleep together.
That's right Gleeks after weeks of teasing us, we finally see some action out of these two. Don't get too excited yet, it was just a kiss!
Back to New Directions. Glee class has now become Song Writing 101, and it's far from smooth. Apparently "Trouty Mouth", Santana's serenade about her favourite part of Sam's body and "Big Ass Heart", Puckerman's homage to his BBW Lauren, just aren't Regional material. So Mr. Schuester gets the kids to dig down deep inside themselves and find some inner pain to overcome. They all collectively agree that pain is spelled S-U-E so they get to work on an anthem that screams "FU Sue!"
Meanwhile, after Quinn expresses her vision of Rachel's Finnless future (boy, that sultry voice can sure say some mean things!) Rachel channels that heartache into a kick ass ballad.
And off to Regionals they go!
The competition for New Directions at Regionals this year was surprisingly pretty tame. Oral Intensity's "Jesus Is My Friend" was quite funny and Blaine and Kurt's duet of "Candles" was awfully sweet, but nothing was particularly extraordinary. The door was open for McKinley's class of originals.
And they sure got it right. First with Rachel belting out her self-penned ode "Get it Right" about her complicated love triangle with FQ. Then, with the whole gang culminating years of pent up outcast feelings with the I'm proud of who I am opus "Loser Like Me".
The keeping it real anthem was enough to win the championship as New Directions moved on to Nationals, and Rachel Berry was voted MVP by her peers.
Best Song – My guilty pleasure was "Trouty Mouth" especially with hilarious reactions shots of everyone in class. But I like the theme of "Loser Like Me" and figure I'd be missing the whole point if I didn't select this as the best song.
Best Line – Clearly no contest this week:
"The convent is the one place I knew I could stay off the pole." – Exotic dancer turned nun and Regional Judge, Sister Mary Constance