Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friday Dance Party: He Stopped Believin'

This week's Dance Party, once again, stars one of the recently deceased.

Cory Monteith
Everybody knows this young actor died this week, from an overdosed mixture of heroin and alcohol.  Only 31, Cory had struggled with addiction since his early teens, and spent some time in rehab as recently as April of this year. 

Monteith and Lea Michele are Glee's central romantic
couple, both on and off screen.
It's sad and discouraging when someone so young is taken, though I confess that Monteith was not a particular favorite of mine.  But the Internet has been buzzing all week about this loss, and it will certainly affect the trajectory of that TV phenomenon, Glee.

Glee provided an earlier Dance Party, in which klutzy Jane
Lynch swing dances with hoofer Matt Morrison.  Go here.

Our hero is Canadian, and after he cleaned up his act the first time (in his mid-teens), he began appearing on the American TV shows which were being shot in his hometown of Toronto.  His audition for Glee was by videotape, and though his musical skills are suspect, his charming naivete is not. 
Kevin McHale as Artie. Glee will
be remembered for its positive
treatment of disadvantaged

I confess that I have not attempted an episode of Glee in many years, having become so frustrated with it in its second season that I dropped the habit, pardon the goulish pun.  But somebody saw something in Monteith, and he landed the role of the football jock turned glee club enthusiast which anchored the "student" cast of the show.  He has been one of the show's headliners ever since.
The idea that high school jocks would also be performing geeks is foreign to someone my age, but apparently, this crossing over of various high school cliques really does happen these days.
Glee, as I mentioned, is a bit of a phenomenon: after several years of sliding ratings, it was a surprise that it was recently given a multi-year renewal.  It's unprecedented, that a show with declining ratings be given a commitment by a network for two more seasons, but Glee received just that in April. 
Both Neil Patrick Harris and Gwyneth Paltrow have won Emmys for guest shots on Glee, but Jane Lynch is the only regular to win for her performance.  The tally of the show's Emmy nominations has been declining, as usually happens with aging programs.
The show these days is a messy hodgepodge with a huge canvas of characters;  the program has run long enough that the initial group of kids has graduated high school and gone on to adult life. 
Glee often devotes full episodes to a single artist's music.
Jane Lynch's Madonna-Vogue sequence is well remembered.

Glee attempts to cover them all, as well as new students joining the current high school's club, and I understand the show these days is bloated and unwatchable.
This shot reflects the cast of the first season.  These days, the show's canvas is even bigger, covering original characters as they begin professional show biz careers, as well as current members of the glee club.
But Glee is a phenomenon for another reason:  it has gained unexpected and spectacular success in the recording arena.  Producers have shrewdly released recordings of each episode's songs on I-Tunes, the day of each episode's airings, and the results have been nothing short of phenomenal. 
This scene from the pilot episode became a defining moment for Glee. The original six members of the glee club sing "Don't Stop Believin'" in an empty theatre, secretly observed by the teacher who is losing the fight to keep the club in existence. The song's recording became a million seller, and launched Glee's success in the record world.
In 2009, Glee placed 25 singles on the Billboard top 100, a number which was beat only by the Beatles in 1964.  The next year, Glee shattered that record, placing a whopping 80 singles on the Billboard chart, far outpacing any other musical act in history. 

Glee albums include compilations of love songs, dance tunes,
Christmas carols, and this soundtrack to their episode dedicated
to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
It must be noticed, however, that most of these singles dropped out of the top 100 after only one week.  But physical CD sales of the show's various compilations have also been strong sellers, and Glee's inaugural single, 'Don't Stop Believin'", which appeared in the pilot episode, has been classified as a platinum hit (selling over a million copies).
Alex Newell as Unique is an example of Glee's ongoing commitment to presenting characters of diversity.  The character, new last year, is a transgender teen.  The Glee canvas has always included those of differing races and sexual orientations.
This week's Dance Party is not one of those big sellers, but it's a very sweet scene.  It must come from season 3 or 4 of the series, I did not see its original airing.  The song brings to a close a story line which earned high marks from the LGBT community, and which earned Cory's costar Chris Colfer a Golden Globe. 

Monteith and Colfer have a sweet chemistry.
Monteith, as I said, played a jock, and Colfer plays a role written specially for him, a flamboyantly gay boy infatuated with his straight friend. 
Darren Criss and Chris Colfer broke some ground as Glee's first
gay romance.  The show also features a lesbian couple.

In this story arc, Monteith's single mother dated, and then wed, Colfer's single father, resulting in the two boys becoming step-brothers, and ultimately, friends rather than antagonists.  Cory Monteith inadvertently ended his own life this week, and in his honor, enjoy this sentimental wedding clip: