By Michael Slezak
Updated October 22, 2009 at 06:26 PM EDT

There are advantages and disadvantages to being EW’s designated recapper for Modern Family and Cougar Town. On the down side, my duties force me to relegate Glee to my DVR, and watch it on Thursday evenings. But the good news is, I can listen to iTunes versions of the week’s musical performances on their own merits, without the overwhelming feeling of “that scene was so freakin’ awesome, I need to download the related music immédiatement!” It is in that spirit that I’m grading the three available tracks from last night’s eighth episode, “Mash Up”:

* “Bust a Move” (performed by Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester): Riddle me this: Seeing how Morrison does little more than offer a pale imitation of Young M.C.’s 1989 smash, why isn’t iTunes charging half-price for it compared to the original? From the unconvincing aggression on that opening “bust it!” to the neutered backing vocals to the sanitized lyric about our protagonist’s response to a hottie bridesmaid (Morrison spits “you’re feelin’ really fine” instead of “feelin’ really firm“), this performance has all the swagger and authority you’d expect from a high-school Spanish teacher. (And I don’t mean that in a good way.) Bottom line: No reason for this one to exist outside the Glee universe. C-

* “Thong Song” (performed by Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester): I’ll admit, I feel deeply uncomfortable every time I listen to Morrison’s spoken-word intro — “This thing right here, is lettin’ all the ladies know what guys talk about. You know, the finer things in life” — especially that lascivious little laugh at the end. But unlike Sisqo’s 2000 original, I can understand every single word of this ridiculous ode to beach-ready badonkadonks. Whether you consider that a plus or a minus, you’ve at least got to give Morrison credit for a slightly less overwrought vocal than Sisqo’s; after all, dude is singing about “dumps like a truck,” not life-altering instances of love and/or global politics. B

* “Sweet Caroline” (performed by Mark Salling as Puck): At an abbreviated 1:58, you’re not exactly getting the best bang for your buck on this one — hello, 1.09 cents per second? — but Salling does more than a serviceable job on Neil Diamond’s karaoke-bar favorite. You can feel some emotion stirring in Salling’s voice as the track crescendos, and though I’d have hoped for some jaunty “whoa-oh-ohs” from Puck’s backup buddies, at the very least, I’m eager to hear the kid get a more substantial (and original) number in a future episode. B-

* Bonus review: “Halo/”Walking on Sunshine” (Lea Michele and the glee-club ladies, from episode 6): Can’t. Stop. Hitting. Repeat. More mashups, please. Thank you. That is all. A-

What do you think about this week’s Glee downloads? Are you the kind of Gleek who purchases every track from the show indiscriminately, or do you take a pick-and-choose approach? And finally, what are your favorite Glee musical numbers to date? Holla back in the comments below, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.

Image Credit: Glee: Fox; Young MC: Bernhard Kuhmstedt/Retna UK

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