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'Glee' Goes to Prom With Help From Adele, Stevie Wonder and Rebecca Black

A well-rounded episode marks McKinley's big night

May 11, 2011 11:50 AM ET
Artie and Brittany on the 'Prom Queen' episode of 'Glee'.
Artie and Brittany on the 'Prom Queen' episode of 'Glee'.
Adam Rose/FOX

It's the day everyone's been waiting for — no, not nationals. McKinley's junior prom has finally arrived. Figgins is crushed after his favorite band, Air Supply, cancels its prom performance and he invites the New Directions to be the entertainment, much to Sue's chagrin (who is somehow prom coordinator). As we waited to find out who among Quinn/Finn, Santana/Karofsky and Lauren/Puck will become "prom king and also prom queen," as Figgins puts it, here's how the entertainment broke down:

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"Rolling in the Deep"
Rachel starts rehearsing in the auditorium, asking the A/V Club for its opinion. She's but one line into the song when Jesse St. James returns from the grave of scorned ex-lovers to duet on Adele's song about that very topic. Naturally, these two would sort out their differences via song. The arrangement leans more toward John Legend's a cappella cover than Adele's lush arrangement and — despite some oversinging from Glee's musical theater champs — it's a passion-filled winner that earns Jesse a spot in Rachel, Mercedes and Sam's prom-on-a-budget group.

Listen: 'Glee' Takes On Adele's 'Rolling in the Deep'

"Isn't She Lovely"
Artie interrupts Brittany's home ec dilemma ("[An egg] is a baby chicken's house!") to try to win her back in order to go to prom with him, and kick-starts an a cappella version of Stevie Wonder's song that's truly lovely despite Mercedes' accurate concern ("I thought this song was about a baby"). But then, as has become par for the course with Artie's songs as of late, the glee guys walk in on backup (Puck and Sam on guitar, Finn on tabletop drums and Mike on . . . cheese grater/washboard?). Brittany's simple morals win over despite her enjoyment of the tune: "I'm going to go to prom by myself and work on me and dance with other people's dates," she tells him.

Meanwhile, Kurt debuts his prom look, inspired by the royal wedding and the late designer Alexander McQueen. Finn diggs it ("It's like gay Braveheart!"), but Kurt's dad expresses concern over his son's obvious attention-getting wardrobe, and prom date/boyfriend/previously bullied Blaine agrees. A bravado-clad Kurt has a candid moment with Karofsky while being escorted to class, which ends in Karofsky breaking down and re-apologizing for his bullying.

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"Friday"
In which the Glee version of Rebecca Black's attention-getting hit is more Auto-Tuned than the original. But the boy band swagger of Puck, Sam and Artie adds an irresistable charm, and it serves as a great kickoff to the McKinley junior prom.

"Jar of Hearts"
Rachel obviously sings a ballad, adding depths of emotion to her take on Christina Perri's surprise hit that were unheard in the original. But, for junior prom performance, it reeks of too much bitter lover and not enough "we're in high school and we're in love at prom, isn't life great?" It's hard to tell if she's talking about Jesse or Finn or both.

"I'm Not Gonna to Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance"
Brittany and Tina sing backup as Blaine sings a spirited (and fitting) Black Kids cover that manages to be even more synth-happy than the original. Everyone's having a blast with their Eighties moves until a jealous Finn interrupts Rachel and Jesse, and instigates a fight that results in Sue kicking out both boys ("Prom is over for you, Sugar Ray! You too, Marvelous Marvin!").

The drama isn't over: Figgins reveals the junior prom king is Dave Karofsky, while — in an unexpected turn of events — prom queen is Kurt Hummel via write-in votes. Everyone is shocked into silence and a distraught Kurt has to come to terms with the fact that things haven't changed.

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"Dancing Queen"
In the aftershocks of Figgins' announcement, Quinn slaps Rachel in her own jealous rage after coming to terms with the reality of Finn's feelings for Rachel, saying she wants to transfer, while Santana can't handle the school anymore, either. ("As soon as we get to New York, I'm bailing to live in a lesbian colony. Or TriBeCa.") With the help of Rachel and Brittany, respectively, Quinn and Santana buck up and Kurt pulls himself together with a resolve to change things.

Kurt's one-sentence acceptance speech earns him a huge round of cheers from the very people who voted for him: "Eat your heart out, Kate Middleton." An oblivious Figgins encourages them to dance, but Kurt's pleas can't make Karofsky come out. Instead, Blaine takes Kurt for a spin on the dance floor while everyone else relishes in the enjoyment of the moment (except for Finn and Jesse, whom we don't see again). Mercedes and Santana take the stage for the big number, but the "Dancing Queen" arrangement waters down power vocals, giving them the thin sound of Abba's original even though they're both much better than that.

Bottom Line: "Prom Queen" was a fine episode, mixed with thinly veiled social commentary (Kurt's storyline, as usual) and plenty of divadom, drama and wit to go around.

Next Week: It's "Funeral" time. The glee club arrives in New York — but before they hit nationals, Mr. Schuester hires Jesse ("I flunked out of college because I didn't know I had to take classes other than Show Choir") St. James as New Directions' show-choir consultant and Quinn tells Finn they need to quit glee club.

Previously: Rumour Has It: 'Glee' Takes On Fleetwood Mac

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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