Glee's Lea Michele took her first jump into a mainstream pop career today with the release of "Cannonball." It's the first single from her debut album, Louder, which is due next year.
The track is instantly memorable, not surprising considering the number of top hit-makers behind it, including cowriters Sia (Britney Spears, Katy Perry) and Benny Blanco (Perry, Maroon 5). Production comes courtesy of the Norwegian duo Stargate (Rihanna, Beyoncé). Still, it's Michele's powerhouse vocals that take center stage on "Cannonball" as she deftly switches between her Broadway-trained belting and Glee-honed pop chops.
While Michele's pop career is preparing for lift-off, she remains a crucial part of the Glee team. Creator Ryan Murphy is reportedly working on a new spin-off that would center around her character, Rachel Berry.
Glee is currently in its fifth season, though it was forced to alter course following the sudden death of actor Cory Monteith – who played football star-turned-singer Finn Hudson – from a heroin and alcohol overdose this July. A month later, Michele won the Teen Choice Award for Best Actress in a TV Comedy and dedicated her award to Monteith, saying, "We were very lucky to witness his incredible talent, his handsome smile and his beautiful, beautiful heart. So whether you know him personally or just as Finn Hudson, Cory reached out and he became a part of all of our hearts."
While Glee tackled Monteith's passing in a mournful episode earlier this season, exploring the aftermath of Finn's death without revealing the cause, the show was forced to pause production so that it could regroup and plan for the future (including next year's series finale). Following its holiday spectacular/mid-season finale, Glee began a brief break and will return with new episodes on Tuesday February 25th, 2014.