'Glee' wins over popular artists -- Madonna, Usher, and Rihanna are among those lending songs to the hit show

By Tim Stack
Updated October 23, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Now that the Glee music is burning up iTunes, artists like Madonna are happy to get the choir treatment

Conventional wisdom says that a scripted series shouldn’t include regular musical numbers. (Hello — and goodbye! — Cop Rock and Viva Laughlin.) But Glee has debunked that rule by making music so catchy and addictive, it’s taken on a life — and a revenue stream — of its own. The audience’s weekly appetite for Glee songs on iTunes bodes well for the multiple soundtracks in the works from Columbia Records, the first of which is due out on Nov. 3.

The song choices are generated in the writers’ room, under the watchful guidance of Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy: ”We write the episode and then we’re like, ‘What will express what this character’s thinking here?’ It’s my favorite part of the job.” With sales of the music far exceeding expectations, it’s getting easier each week for the show to secure the rights to hit songs. After all, a plum spot on Glee can mean success for not only the cover version but also the original track. Rihanna’s ”Take a Bow” and Usher’s ”Confessions Pt. II” saw a 189 and 221 percent sales boost, respectively, after they were covered on Glee. ”People dig out the originals,” says Columbia’s Rob Stringer. Billy Joel has offered his songs to the show, and EW has learned that Madonna has agreed to let the Glee kids take a crack at her catalog for an all-Madge episode this winter. Of course, there are still a few holdouts — producer Adam Anders, who’s responsible for transforming original hits into glee-club arrangements, says that Coldplay and Bryan Adams are among the artists who have refused song clearance.

Producers are considering venturing into original music as well. ”I think we are going to do an episode in the back nine called ‘Original Story,’ where we’re going to write six original songs with some of the world’s biggest songwriters,” says Murphy. The other huge goal: bagging the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. ”My musical tastes begin and end with him, basically,” says exec producer Brad Falchuk. Adds Murphy, ”I think Bruce is our next holy grail.”


”Don’t Stop Believin”’ Journey (Episode 1)

”Somebody to Love” Queen (Episode 5)

”Alone” Heart (Episode 5)

”It’s My Life/Confessions Pt. II” mash-up, Bon Jovi/Usher (Episode 6)

”Hate on Me” Jill Scott (Episode 7)

All available on iTunes

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