'Glee' Playback: A Touching Take on Faith - Rolling Stone
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‘Glee’ Playback: A Touching Take on Faith

The Beatles, Billy Joel and a dose of gospel make for an inspired episode


Glee turned semi-serious last night, after last week’s Britney blowout. Finn found God in a sandwich (the episode was called “Grilled Cheesus”), Sue Sylvester revealed her reasons for not being a believer and Kurt coped with his own lack of belief after his father (the always spot-on Mike O’Malley) fell into a coma after suffering a heart attack. Kurt remains the most genuine character in Glee‘s cast of archetypes, and his honesty this episode made it the most emotional one yet. But did the songs make us believe?

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“Only the Good Die Young”
Finn tells his grilled cheese he’ll honor it in glee club, but spirituality inspires debate among the New Directions. Puck jumps on board, explaining, “at this time I’d like to continue my streak of doing songs only by Jewish artists” (see also: Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and Kiss’ “Beth”) and breaks out the guitar for a charming take on the Billy Joel tune. It’s in line with the material Mark Salling is promising on his solo debut, due this fall.

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“I Look to You”
Mercedes shows her compassion to Kurt with this emotionally stirring tune “about being in a very dark place … and turning to God.” “Your voice is stunning, but I don’t believe in God,” Kurt says to her. He’s got the first part 100 percent correct — and the second half of his statement sets up the drama for the rest of the show.

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“Papa Can You Hear Me”
Surprise! Rachel Berry sings a Barbra Streisand tune (we’ve gone from Funny Girl to Yentl). She does it outside, with Finn, because Sue has banned spiritual songs from school. Also, “because I don’t want anything to get between us and God. And because Yentl was outside when she sang this song in the movie.” Overcooked drama aside, this song is Rachel’s way of helping Kurt, who became withdrawn because of his father’s condition. The scene quickly moves from painful to touching, as the glee club finishes singing the song around Mr. Hummel’s bedside.

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“I Want to Hold Your Hand”
Kurt tells the New Directions how his dad comforted him at Kurt’s mother’s funeral with a simple squeeze of the hand, and sings an effortless version of the Beatles tune as his way of praying. It’s slower than the original, and the Beatles’ coy flirtation is replaced with a simple, wistful plea that hits just the right note.

“Losing My Religion”
Finn has a crisis of faith after the three things he prayed to Cheesus for — the football team winning its game, getting to second base with Rachel and reclaiming his title of quarterback — all actually happened, but under suspicious circumstances. R.E.M.’s classic tune is angsty enough, but Finn strains to reach the notes, and the result is more awkward than inspired.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water”
Kurt apologizes for shutting everyone out — and for telling the New Directions to stop praying for his dad. He agrees to go with Mercedes to church, where she leads the choir in covering Aretha Franklin’s rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s famed tune. Mercedes hits this one out of the park (note to Ryan Murphy: bring back the Mercedes solos!). It understandably makes Kurt a believer.

“One of Us”
Kurt’s dad regains consciousness, so the glee club celebrates — and reflects on their individual spirituals journeys — with another gospel tune based on Joan Osborne’s 1995 hit. It’s a powerful, full-on chorus arrangement that converts even Sue Sylvester.

Bottom Line:
“Last week we were too sexy. This week we’re too religious, ” Tina said after Sue complained. “We can’t win!” Said Brittany: “Now I know what Miley feels like.” All we know is, Glee scored a win this week, deftly mixing heart and song. Next Up: Chord Overstreet’s Sam joins the gang, as they tackle “Duets.”


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