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Top 10 Glee Performances on Season 1

Updated on September 15, 2014

Glee - Season 1

Favorite Glee performances
Favorite Glee performances | Source

Top Ten Glee Songs - Season 1

I have to admit-- never in a million years did I dream I'd like Glee. Oh, I'd heard of it-- it was hard not to, since it was making headlines and most of the young stars were always trending. But I thought it was going to be something more along the lines of the Disney channel and teeny-bopper pop remakes.

Then, I accidentally stumbled upon it, and boy-- was I surprised. Show tunes! As a musical theater fan, that caught my attention fast. And then-- no way, classic rock! Yes! To top it off, the characters were funny and the show was witty. I got hooked pretty fast and started marathoning that first season-- then I became a regular viewer.

Here are my favorite top 10 performances in season one.

Glee - Some Season One Cast Members

The Glee Club
The Glee Club

Glee Season 1 Cast and Guest Stars Featured in These Songs*

Played by
Will Schuester
Matthew Morrison
Rachel Berry
Lea Michele
Finn Hudson
Cory Monteith
Mercedes Jones
Amber Riley
Kurt Hummel
Chris Colfer
Artie Abrams
Kevin McHale
Tina Cohen-Chang
Jenna Ushkowitz
Noah "Puck" Puckerman
Mark Salling
Quinn Fabray
Dianna Agron
Santana Lopez
Naya Rivera
Brittany S. Pierce
Heather Morris
Mike Chang
Harry Shum, Jr.
April Rhodes
Kristin Chenoweth*
Bryan Ryan
Neil Patrick Harris*
Jesse St. James (Vocal Adrenalin lead)
Jonathan Groff*
* Guest Stars/recurring characters

Glee - Season 1

Glee: Season 1
Glee: Season 1

First season of Glee


10) Don't Stop Believin'

Original Song: by Journey, 1981
Episode: 1 - Pilot (originally, but performed many more times throughout the show)
Sung by: Rachel and Finn (leads) Back-ups: Mercedes, Tina, Kurt, Artie

Don't Stop Believin' was featured at the end of the first episode of the first season of Glee, and it became something of a theme song for the glee club kids. It began to stand for all those underdogs who keep trying and don't give up hope. The song recurs a few times throughout the series... but this first time will always be my favorite.

9) The Safety Dance

Original Song: by Men Without Hats, 1983
Episode: 9 - Dream on
Sung by: Artie

This song may never have been one of my favorite songs in the 1980s, but Artie's performance of it in Glee was spectacular. It was a delight to see Artie -- in his imagination, anyway -- get up out of his wheel chair to bust a move in a shopping mall. The kid is a great singer, but also a fantastic dancer! It really got me rocking in my seat. It reminded me of a flash mob, and I totally wanted to be in that shopping mall.

Artie Breaks Out of His Chair to Dance

8) Beth

Original Song: Kiss, 1976
Episode: 20 - Theatricality
Sung by: Puck (lead); guys of glee club (back up).

This is a beautiful song, and Puck sang it with a lot of heart in this episode. He's got a great voice, and signing it for his unborn child to his baby momma Quinn, both of them knowing they'll be giving their daughter up for adoption when she's born, just grabbed me in the heart. I felt for the young teen parents-to-be, and thought it was sweet that he wanted to give his daughter the name.

7) Bohemian Rhapsody

Original Song: Queen, 1975
Episode: 22 - Journey to Regionals
Sung by: Vocal Adrenalin

One of my favorite songs of all time was preformed brilliantly at regionals by the New Directions rival glee club, vocal adrenalin. Rachel's ex, Jesse, sang lead and did a spectacular job -- especially considering how it's not easy to live up to a performance by Freddie Mercury. One of the most interesting things about this song was the way it was intertwined with Quinn giving birth to her baby. This was a bold and interesting way to play out that particular scene.

The Brilliant Performance of Bohemian Rhapsody

6) Don't Stand So Close to Me & Young Girl (Mash-up)

Original Songs: 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' by The Police, 1980; 'Young Girl' by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, 1968
Episode: 10 - Ballad
Sung By: Will Schuester

Two great songs, and I love the way they sound mashed up together. Even though I'm not generally a big fan of mash-ups, and even though the message he was trying to send Rachel completely went over her lovesick little head, it was simply a nice performance. As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Schue needs to stop rapping altogether and just stick to show tunes and classic rock.

Glee in Concert

Glee: The Concert
Glee: The Concert

Beyond the TV show - live concert


Defying Gravity

Original Song: Broadway Musical 'Wicked', 2003
Episode: 9 - Wheels
Sung by: Rachel and Kurt each sing half the song, the camera cutting back and forth to each one's performance.

There are a few reasons why this is one of my favorite top 10 Glee songs for season one. First of all, it's from Wicked. 'Nuff said. Second, both Rachel and Kurt blow it out of the water (well, until Kurt's last note-- but that was intentional so it doesn't count). And third, because of the back story. Apparently this little competition was inspired by a real life event of Chris Colfer (the actor who plays Kurt). In his real-life school years, his drama teacher refused to let him perform the song because it was a woman's song in Wicked. This episode let Colfer, as Kurt, show the world that people should be given the opportunity to defy gravity if they want.

4) Maybe This Time

Original Song: Cabaret, 1972
Episode: 5 - The Rhodes Not Taken
Sung by: Rachel and April (on separate stages, cut together going back and forth)

Do I have to even say it? Kristin Chenoweth, man! I love her! This woman is an amazing talent. She can act, she's funny as hell, and she's an amazing singer. When I found out she would be on this episode of Glee, I knew for sure that there was going to be an awesome performance somewhere. I also am a big fan of the old film Cabaret. Both singers do an incredible job with this song in the show, and I love the hung jaws of the glee club kids after April finishes singing.

She's Awesome... I Can't Say it Enough

3) Dream On

Original Song: Aerosmith, 1973
Episode: 19 - Dream On
Sung By: Schuester and Bryan Ryan

This was another week when just knowing who the guest star would be told me that there would be a performance not to miss-- and sure enough, Neil Patrick Harris delivered! He and Mr. Schuester had something of a musical grudge match -- a culmination of a rivalry that had been going on since they were in high school -- as they auditioned together for the lead in a community performance of Les Mis. This was one of the best duets I've ever seen on Glee, and that final note was a memorable moment. I don't know how Schuester beat Ryan in the audition, to tell you the truth.

The Fabulous Mercedes Jones

Amber Riley has some voice.
Amber Riley has some voice.

2) And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going

Original Song: Dreamgirls, 1982
Episode: 13 - Sectionals
Sung By: Mercedes

The power of Mercedes voice is featured like never before in this amazing rendition of the famous Dreamgirls torch song, best known today for the 2006 version recorded by American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson. On Glee, Mercedes belts it out with so much feeling that I get goosebumps up and down my arms. Apparently the actress wanted to do a live performance to really get the feeling so they recorded the song, but then filmed her as she sang it live in the glee classroom. You can see her fellow students and performers as her audience, positively floored by her amazing performance-- and I bet they weren't even acting. This is the best version of this song I have ever heard, hands-down. Sorry Jennifer Hudson-- it's true.

1) I'll Stand by You

Original Song: The Pretenders, 1994
Episode: 10 - Ballad
Sung By: Finn

I don't know if I'd have picked this song as my number one choice a couple of years ago, but with the events that unfolded later it now stands out in my mind more than any other. I have always loved this song, and I loved the version Finn sang. I love that he sang it to (what he thought was) his unborn child. But after the actor Corey Monteith's untimely and tragic demise, the song has taken on a whole new, emotional level. It's almost as if the echo of his voice captured in his song is telling his friend's and loved ones that he'll always be with him-- perhaps he's telling that to Glee fans as well.

Grab a Tissue & Watch the Extended Performance by Corey Monteith

Your Turn!

Which is your favorite Glee performance from season 1?

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