The world has gone Glee-crazy with this hit TV show – not because of the acting, but because of the excellent musical pieces in each episode where the Glee Cast performs their own re-make of classic and contemporary hits.
The show’s musical performances have been a commercial success, with over thirteen million copies of Glee cast single releases purchased digitally, and over five million albums purchased worldwide. In 2009, the Glee cast had 25 singles chart on the Billboard Hot 100, the most by any artist since The Beatles had 31 songs in the chart in 1964. In total, Glee has placed 104 songs on the Hot 100 weekly chart, second only to the 108 entries of Elvis Presley, though fewer than one-fourth have charted for more than one week. The cast performance of “Don’t Stop Believin'” was certified gold in November 2009, achieving over 500,000 digital sales. The series’ cover versions have also had a positive effect on the original recording artists, with sales of Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” increasing by 189 percent after the song was covered in the Glee episode “Showmance”. Their cover of “Forget You” was also credited for making the original song reach a new peak on the Billboard Hot 100 on the same week the Glee cover reached the chart.
In casting Glee, Ryan Murphy (the creator) searched for actors who could deal with the bustle of starring in theatrical roles. He spent three months casting on Broadway, where he found Matthew Morrison (Hairspray and The Light in the Piazza), Lea Michele (Spring Awakening), and Jenna Ushkowitz (The King and I).
When auditioning actors with no previous theatrical experience, they were required to show that they could sing, dance, and act; like Chris Colfer, Jayma Mays, Cory Monteith, Kevin McHale, Jane Lynch. The cast is under contract for three Glee films, though none have been planned yet.
Glee features fifteen main star roles:
Morrison plays Will Schuester, McKinley High’s Spanish teacher who becomes director of the glee club, hoping to restore it to its former glory.
Lynch plays Sue Sylvester, head coach of the “Cheerios” cheerleading squad, and the Glee Club’s arch-nemesis.
Mays appears as Emma Pillsbury, the school’s mysophobic guidance counselor who has feelings for Will.
Jessalyn Gilsig plays Terri Schuester, Will’s ex-wife who Will eventually divorced after five years of marriage because she faked being pregnant.
Lea Michele plays Rachel Berry, talented star of the glee club who is often bullied by the Cheerios and football players.
Monteith plays Finn Hudson, star quarterback of the school’s football team who risks alienation by his friends after joining the glee club.
Amber Riley plays Mercedes Jones, a fashion-conscious diva who resents having to sing back-up.
Colfer plays Kurt Hummel—a gay male countertenor.
McHale plays Artie Abrams, a guitar player and paraplegic.
Ushkowitz plays Tina Cohen-Chang, an Asian American student with a fake speech impediment.
Mark Salling plays Noah “Puck” Puckerman, a friend of Finn’s on the football team who at first disapproves of Finn joining the glee club, but later joins the glee club himself.
Dianna Agron plays Quinn Fabray, Finn’s cheerleader girlfriend, who also later joins the glee club.
Naya Rivera and Heather Morris, who portray Cheerios and glee club vocalists Santana Lopez and Brittany Pierce respectively, were originally recurring actors, but starting in the second season were promoted to series regulars.
Mike O’Malley, who plays Kurt’s father Burt Hummel, also became a series regular on season two.
Three soundtrack albums were released to go along with Glee‘s first season:
Glee: The Music, Volume 1, Glee: The Music, Volume 2 and Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers.
Two extended plays (EP) accompanied the episodes “The Power of Madonna” and “Journey to Regionals”: Glee: The Music, The Power of Madonna and Glee: The Music, Journey to Regionals respectively.
Glee: The Music, The Complete Season One, a compilation album featuring all 100 studio recordings from the first season, was released exclusively to the iTunes Store.
Two EPs accompany the second season: Glee: The Music, The Rocky Horror Glee Show accompanying the Halloween episode, and another which will feature songs from the Super Bowl tribute episode.
Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album, featuring Christmas-themed songs, and Glee: The Music, Volume 4 were both released in November 2010.
Another soundtrack volume is planned for the first quarter of 2011.