I’ve been a Gleek from the very beginning. Glee isn’t always a great show (sometimes it can’t even be considered good), but when the show gets it right the results can be incredible. On Tuesday the seniors of glee club graduate, so the show bids farewell to Finn, Rachael, Santanna, Mercedes, Puck, Quinn, Kurt and Mike.
To celebrate graduation, I decided to look back across three seasons and more than 250 songs (I’ve got 205 of those songs in my own library) to call out my top 20. These were not easy choices, but these are the performances that I think represent Glee.
I didn’t try to rank these. Instead they are in the order in which they appeared in the series (and it’s possible if something stupendous happens in Tuesday’s graduation episode, I may have to make an addition). In each case I’ve gotten the best video I could find from YouTube (hopefully they won’t disappear). For all but one song I’ve got the performance clip from the show.
Enjoy! (And leave a comment to let me know if you agree with the list, or if I’ve left out something you think should be included).
Season 1, Episode 11 “Hairography”
This was the first time Glee brought me to tears. To prepare for Regionals, Mr. Shu arranges for the competitors to watch each either perform. A club of deaf students performed an amazing, and emotional, version of “Imagine.”
“Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Season 1, Episode 17 “Bad Reputation”
One of my very favorite songs getting the Glee treatment. Here Rachael deals with the triangle she’s made between Finn, Puck and Jesse.
Season 1, Episode 19 “Dream On”
Artie’s dream is to get rid of his chair… and to throw down in a flashmob!
Season 1, Episode 22 “Regionals”
Jesse went back to Vocal Adrenaline just in time for regionals and delivered this outstanding take on Queen. I’ve had a crush on Jonathan Groff, the guy playing Jesse, even before this and he looked positively stunning here.
“To Sir With Love”
Season 1, Episode 22 “Regionals”
The kids thank Mr. Shu for all he’d done for them in their first year in the club with this beautiful song.
“I Wanna Hold Your Hand”
Season 2, Episode 3 “Grilled Cheesus”
Kurt’s dad had a heart attack and this song summed up how he was feeling while delivering huge emotional impact.
“River Deep, Mountain High”
Season 2, Episode 4 “Duets”
Santana and Mercedes rock with this Tina Turner classic.
Season 2, Episode 8 “Furt”
Kurt’s dad and Finn’s mom got married, so of course the glee club provided the tunes. This was a great way to start a wedding.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
Season 2, Episode 10 “A Very Glee Christmas”
One of the first times Kurt and Blaine sang together. It was just a sneak peek of how cute they’d be by the end of the season.
“Thriller / Heads Will Roll”
Season 2, Episode 11 “Sue Sylvester Bowl Shuffle”
My favorite mash up the show has ever done. It’s a great song and a great production number.
“When I Get You Alone”
Season 2, Episode 12 “Silly Love Songs”
I’m very disappointed I couldn’t find the performance clip for this. Before Blaine and Kurt got together, Blaine had it bad for a guy that worked in The Gap. The Warblers helped Blaine try to woo him with this song, performed at the store.
“Loser Like Me”
Season 2, Episode 16 “Original Song”
To get a leg up in competition, the kids wrote their own song. This one was outstanding, and sums up being a high school outsider so well.
“Born This Way”
Season 2, Episode 18 “Born This Way”
Glee has done a lot of Lady Gaga, but this one was perfect with the t-shirts saying it all.
Season 2, Episode 19 “Rumours”
Santana sang this heartfelt Fleetwood Mac song to Brittany and my heart melted.
“Rolling in the Deep”
Season 2, Episode 20 “Prom Queen”
Jonathan Groff made a return appearance and rocked it with Lea Michele on this Adele song.
“It’s All Over”
Season 3, Episode 3 “Asian F”
“Asian F” is one of my all time favorite episodes for a lot of reasons, including this take on Dreamgirls, which was simply sublime.
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
Season 3, Episode 10 “Yes/No”
Mr. Shu was looking for the right song to propose to Ms. Pillsbury with and the girls came up with this beautiful one.
Season 3, Episode 11 “Michael”
2Cellos guested on this musical war between Santana and Sebastian. The cellos and the vocals work so perfectly here to make a knockout number.
“Somebody That I Used To Know”
Season 3, Episode 15 “Big Brother”
White Collar‘s Matt Bomer guest starred as Blaine’s older brother. Their tense relationship yielded this song.
Season 3, Episode 16 “Saturday Night Glee-ver”
Meet Unique, star of the 2012 Vocal Adrenaline. A great song, and a great message about being true to yourself all rolled up in one.