Undeterred by the sad box office flop of Country Strong, a mildly underrated film featuring a tensile performance by its star, Gwyneth Paltrow seems determined to secure a footing as some sort of pop star. Thus her brassy, wobbly performance with Cee Lo Green on the Grammys, and thus Tuesday night’s return visit to TV’s most efficient music-hitmaker, Glee. Reprising her role of substitute teacher Holly Holliday in the episode titled “Sexy,” Paltrow had no fewer than three musical moments: a power-pop version of Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me,” a tango-choreographed cover of Prince’s “Kiss,” and a banjo-and-steel-guitar country rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”
In each case, Paltrow put the songs across with a thin, delicate trill that only emphasized the songs’ very different strengths, combined with a wicked way with any sarcastic line given her by writer Brad Falchuk. Invoking Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, making like Jane Fonda as a Jazzercise instructor, and bemoaning her “disaster” of a “sex tape with J.D. Salinger,” Paltrow was as exuberantly dirty as 8 p.m. network allows. In the context of Glee, her Holly also exerted a logical allure for Will — a lusty vanilla-ice blonde is right up the alley of a man whose ex-wife was an emasculating whippet and who attracts a frigid widget like Emma. Not that Glee cares a bit about logic, of course.
(Paltrow wasn’t the only amusing guest star this evening: Seeing John Stamos do his lost-Beach-Boy accompaniment to the Starland Vocal Band’s masterpiece of unlistenable crap “Afternoon Delight” was, well, delightful.)
I can see how anyone who’s watching Glee to see who wins Regionals might be disappointed with this week’s episode, and there’ll be an excellent Glee recap for you. For the rest of us, “Sexy” was fun.