In honor of today being the highly anticipated Cory Monteith tribute episode on Glee, I decided to do a Glee edition of Cover vs. Original. I have selected a few of my favorite songs that have been performed through the seasons and compared them to the original to decide who gave the better version? Now my vote may be a bit bias due to being a long time Gleek, but I’ll try to be as fair as possible.
1-Somebody to Love-Queen
Released in 1976 as the leading single off of Queen’s fifth studio album, “A Day at the Races,” “Somebody to Love” was an instant hit for the band. The song peaked at number 2 in the US and has received rave reviews by fans and critics alike.
The song was written and recorded by lead vocalist, Freddy Mercury, who I will admit is a vocal legend. The song has a nice little upbeat with amazing vocals, I mean when Mercury hits that high note towards the end that sweet, sweet sound captures and makes love to your ear. I mean why wouldn’t you love this song?
In 2009 as part of its first season Glee offered up their rendition. Giving lead parts to Cory Monteith, Lea Michele, Amber Riley, and Kevin McHale. Their version of the song showed to be very well done because it remains to be one of Glee’s best selling performances. The cast has even gone on record saying it’s their favorite song to perform.
With Lea’s crisp beautiful, effortless voice, and Amber’s amazing end note I don’t think I could have set up a better cover. My vote here is definitely hard to give out and for safety reasons my vote stays quite, but definitely take a look at both versions and see what you think.
2-I Look to You-Whitney Houston
The title track off of Whitney’s last studio album was released in July of 2009 receiving mostly positive reviews. The song was written by R. Kelly and was made an instant Gospel and R&B hit. It’s an uplifting song about turning to God when you are in trouble or going down a dangerous path, this song was held dear and relatable in Whitney’s life.
As part of Glee’s second season Amber Riley covered the song as a tribute to Kurt’s dad who was in the hospital cause of a heart attack. I remember this performance very much and it will always have a place in my heart because it was so moving. It was probably the first time I cried watching Glee.
When comparing these two songs my vote is always going to go to Amber. Unfortunately this song was released later in Whitney’s career after she had damaged her beautiful soft R&B voice. To me this song was better done by Amber. The smoothness of her voice, the amazing notes she hits, the ever so sweet high notes found in the chorus, and the way you could feel the song is amazing.
I love Whitney and may she rest in peace, but this one goes to Glee.
3-Roots Before Branches- Room for Two
“Roots Before Branches” comes from the band Room for Two. The song is an inspirational song that talks about growing up and the journey we must take to find out who we are. The song is delivered as a power ballad with great vocals from Room For Two’s lead singer, with a nice symphonic back beat.
As part of the season 3 finale, our precious Rachel Berry sang the song as her goodbye to glee club and her boyfriend Finn. I remember watching this scene and bawling like a baby. What didn’t help matters was I was also on the verge of graduating and leaving the state for college, so I too felt like I was going through it with Rachel.
The two songs aren’t too far off vocally. Both women do an amazing job with the song and both are very moving in tone and emotion. I’m torn again on this one. Definitely listen for yourself and you decide who you think takes the cake for this round.
4-New York State of Mind-Billy Joel
Originally recorded by the infamous Billy Joel, New York State of Mind was inspired by missing his beautiful town of New York.
The song comes from Billy Joel’s fourth studio album, “Turnstiles.” Now the song was never released as a single nor was it ever really a hit, but the song has become such a fan favorite that Joel continues to play it wherever he performs. The song has been used as a tribute for several occasions such as; 9/11 and the concert for Sandy Hook.
The song is a very soft, beautiful song about being home sick, and the feel of the jazzy saxophone and nice piano beat gives it a very calm feeling that you can’t help but fall in love with. Sometimes I feel like an old soul, I swear I love Billy Joel.
For Glee’s season 4 premiere leading lady Lea Michele and new comer Melissa Benoist took on the song as a duet. The two ladies I believe smashed the song and made it amazing. Between Lea’s belts and Melissa’s beautiful soulful voice I was in love. I remember thinking that’s how you start off a season.
My vote here is yet again torn, but I would have to say Glee gets my vote, only because of Lea. She really knows how to win me over with her vocals. Now you will never beat the original, but I do appreciate Glee’s version very much!
5-Make No Mistake (She’s Mine)-Barbara Streisand and Kim Carnes
Originally written and performed, as a duet, by Kim Carnes & Barbara Streisand, “Make No Mistake (He’s Mine)” was released in 1984 by Barbara on his album, “Emotions.” The song was a hit, reaching number 8 on the Adult Contemporary charts, but only reaching number 51 on the Billboard hot 100.
It wasn’t until two fellows by the name of Kenny Rogers and Ronnie Mislap covered the song with the name, “Make No Mistake (She’s Mine)” that the song saw a number 1 spot. The song hit number one on the country charts and also on the Canadian country charts. Once again only seeing number 41 on the Billboard 100.
The song is a power rock ballad, that takes the story of two women, or two men, or in Glee’s case a man and a women, who are fighting over a lover. They are each telling the other that no matter what the girl or boy is theirs. It’s kind of like “The Boy is Mine” before Monica and Brandy.
The song is beautiful and I believe it’s relatable to almost every person who has been in a relationship where the ex won’t go away.
Glee covered the song during the season 4 episode “Diva.” Ms. Naya Rivera and Mr. Chord Overstreet took to battle when their character’s, Santana and Sam, both fall in love with Britney. The two give a vocal battle to remember along with a fierce exchange of words too.
I completely love the Glee version, as a matter of fact it reached 189 plays on my Ipod the week I downloaded it. So I would have to say that my vote definitely goes to Glee. While Barbara Streisand is an amazing vocalist I think Naya and Chord knock this one out of the park, but don’t take my word listen to them both and you decide.
Now I was going to bring it full circle and end with a song from season 5, but we are only 2 episodes in and I wasn’t a big fan of the Beatles covers so I think I’ll wait for this season to end before I compare a cover to an original. I hope you enjoyed this little battle and be sure to tune in to Glee tonight at 8/9c on Fox to watch the moving tribute to Cory.