Glee’s “Defying Gravity” disappoints

In a nutshell: I heard the Glee Cast’s version of “Defying Gravity” (from “Wicked”) on YouTube and was let down.

As you know, the Fox TV show “Glee” is one of the hottest new properties on television. (At least online.) The cast of relative newcomers, including Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Cris Colfer and my personal fave, BBBW Amber Riley, dish out new songs week after week in this show about a high school glee club. Some particular tracks, including Somebody to Love, Bust Ya Windows, and Can’t Fight This Feeling, were fresh and inspired. So when I heard they would be doing Defying Gravity from the Broadway musical Wicked, well, I just sat up and said this would be interesting.

Then I found a video on YouTube containing the audio of the song. And was disappointed.

I wasn’t expecting much, but I was hoping for some fireworks, knowing Lea Michele’s vocal capabilities. (I was also a bit puzzled as to why Cris Colfer was selected to do the duet with her, when I think a Diana Agron matchup would’ve been more appropriate, you know, the whole Elphaba-Glinda setup.) In the defense of the two, there’s no denying their vocals do mix together beautifully. I’m also tickled by how theatrical Kurt sounds (especially when he belts out “but ’til I try, I’ll never know). but I think the letdown here, at the end of the day, is a saccharine arrangement and too much auto-Tune. I’m curious as to what the full song sounds like – as you know, iTunes won’t let us download songs, and I’m really on the fence with the whole “download somewhere else” setup – but the lack of a bridge also makes it difficult to judge in its entirety.

Having said all that, I still think Lea’s voice is beautiful, and I say “nice try, but meh.” What do you think?

Update: I want to clarify that I am reacting to the duet version of Defying Gravity that is available for purchase on iTunes. I wrote this particular blog entry before seeing Wheels (the episode featuring Defying Gravity), and am making the comments based on this particular song. I am aware of the existence of individual versions by both Colfer and Michele, and while I still stand by my assertion that the song pales in comparison to the original, I admit that my love of the song and my enjoyment of Glee may have helped me warm up to the song. On November 14, Defying Gravity leaped from #4 to #1 on my personal top 10 chart.

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