'Glee' recap: 'What the World Needs Now'
The cast and writers of Glee celebrated a major milestone this episode, performing their 700th song in six seasons. Choosing the classic “What The World Needs Now Is Love” was the perfect selection for this moment. Since loving and showing support for others was the major theme of the night, it’s no surprise that Sue Sylvester was left out of the picture. Instead, we were treated to an unprecedented eight tunes from the legendary Burt Bacharach. For you kids out there, he’s the Taylor Swift of your grandparents’ generation. Cool, huh?
Rachel and Sam kick us off with “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.” Both feel bad about kind of liking the other, and equally bad about Mercedes potentially finding out. The only way they know how to cope is to lament through the halls of McKinley High and out into the courtyard. It’s important to note that high school kids today wear bright colors, short skirts, long knee socks, and carry sunflowers.
While Sam and Rachel wonder if they will ever fall in love again, Brittany preps her mom and dad (the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge and equally talented Ken Jeong) for a big announcement—she’s getting married! Brittany’s parents are over the moon! P.S. Brit’s real father is Stephen Hawking! The mathematical genius part of her brain now makes sense. Her propensity to use crayon as her choice of writing instrument is still a mystery.
Back at McKinley, Rachel’s secret weapon has just arrived. Mercedes drops everything to come and mentor New Directions during Burt Bacharach week. Mercedes’ other agenda is to mentor Rachel right back to Broadway and into the arms of a man, if there’s time. She even got her an audition in New York for a musical. Rachel isn’t ready to go back, so Mercedes inspires her with an old school ditty she’s put together in the auditorium. Even singing do-wop with Santana and Brittany doesn’t give Rachel the push she needs to fly the Lima coop. Mercedes is convinced Rachel will feel differently if they can make her homesick for New York.
Brittany feels the same about Santana’s abuela. They haven’t spoken in three years because she doesn’t support with Santana’s sexual orientation. Brittany takes it upon herself to wiggle her way into Abuela Lopez’s life so she can win her over by nursing her diverticulitis, watching telenovelas, speaking flawless Spanish (is her dad also Antonio Banderas?), and inviting her to be a guest on Queso Por Dos.
Over in the auditorium, Sam serenades Mercedes with a song that is a little too romantic for friends. She encourages Sam to date other people. And by other people, she means Rachel Berry. I’m personally not a fan of the Samchel, but I am curious about the Christian rock singer Mercedes met at the BET Awards. Raise your hand if you want to meet Tank?
Mercedes leaves Sam and rushes to the choir room where Rachel is in full freak-out mode as she preps for her audition. The “Make Rachel Homesick for New York” plan worked! Rachel is a nervous wreck, but finds strength by riding a bus, taking the Broadway stage, and nailing her performance.
NEXT: I didn’t see that coming
Auditoriums are all the rage this episode. While Rachel is busting out “Promises, Promises,” Santana is holding a private concert for her abuela at McKinley. She looks gorgeous, sounds beautiful, and holds her head high when Brittany explains that she is Santana’s fiancée. Sadly, Abuela is not happy at this news. Santana thanks Abuela for encouraging her to be a strong woman who is bigger than what the world will ever give her permission to be. I was immediately sucked into the assumption that we were about to experience a gentle reconciliation between grandmother and granddaughter.
That was not the case. Abuela tells Santana that she “loves her, but not her sin.” Santana explains that without Brittany in her life, she just exists. She wants to marry her and she wants Abuela to share the experience. Abuela will have none of it. And that’s when Brittany stands up for Santana, explaining that they are completely normal, but Abuela’s generation is simply annoying. Abuela leaves in a huff. Later, Santana confesses that she wants to believe that people can change, but she chooses to focus on all the love in her life instead. Then she asks Brittany if she wants to hear a bunch of tone deaf losers sing to them? To the auditorium! Here we go again!
Spencer escorts Brittany and Santana to their seats, and returns to the back of the auditorium with the other members of New Directions. The Old Directions take the stage, musically begging for invitations to the Pierce/Lopez wedding. Sam words it best when he says, “Family is like fudge—mostly sweet with a few nuts.” Mercedes takes the lead with Rachel by her side as everyone, including Mr. Schu, joins in for a lovey dovey rendition of “What The World Needs Now” as the current New Directions sway behind them.
Burt Bacharach may have penned a million songs that we all hear in the background at dinner parties, but you can’t deny the thesis of his most famous pieces of work. Love is the only thing that there’s just too little of. Thanks to Glee for reminding us to love one another well.
“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” most famously recorded by Dionne Warwick
Sam and Rachel’s duet followed the extremely mellow tone of the original. Unfortunately, this made the performance a bit on the sleepy side. I’m sure that’s why so many lovers in bright colors and random flowers were dancing and holding hands in the courtyard. The director didn’t want us to fall asleep. If I had to describe the song in one word, it would be pleasant.
“Baby It’s You” most famously recorded by The Shirelles
Mercedes and Rachel join Santana and Brittany for a fun production which paid homage to the girl groups of the ‘60s. Anything that stood still was covered in hot pink. All hair was six inches higher than normal. Mercedes was wonderful. I miss the sheer volume and presence that she can bring to the stage, and wish the current New Directions team had a female powerhouse. Oh yeah! There’s Jane! Remember when she sang in week one? Ah, memories.
“Wishin’ and Hopin’” most famously recorded by Dusty Springfield
Brittany adopted “heaven” as her wedding theme. She and Artie envision a musical number, complete with a spiral staircase, random girls in white gossamer dresses with wings, and Sam and Blaine each being pushed on a swing. Heather Morris’ voice is weak, but sounded much better when the guys (and a dancing Artie!) joined her. Had this song been a solo, it would have crashed and burned. Instead it limped along to the finish line.
“Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” most famously recorded by Christopher Cross
This song was made for Chris Colfer’s voice in my opinion, but the entire male side of the cast passed each verse off to another with musicality that followed the original to a tee. I did like the fact that each guy retained their individual style. I also kept confusing Mason for Blaine, wondering how he was able to saunter about the stage, when he was just at the piano. I continue to wait for Spencer to get his moment to bust out a solo. Roderick still managed to sound bluesy and cool while wearing a tuxedo. Amazing.
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” most famously recorded by The Carpenters
I absolutely adored Sam’s stripped-down acoustic version of this song. To put it simply: it worked. This is how I like to listen to Chord Overstreet.
“Promises, Promises” most famously recorded by Dionne Warwick
This is what we’ve come to expect at least every other week from Lea Michele. It’s a big number with a big note held at the end. It’s right in Rachel’s wheelhouse, and we’ve heard it a million times. And it’s always good. The girl has talent.
“Alfie” most famously recorded by Dionne Warwick
Someone we don’t hear a lot from is Naya Rivera. I think she is just as talented as Lea Michele. Her voice sucks you in, and then pulls you in further with genuine emotions. You know a song is good when all you need is a spotlight and a killer red dress. Here’s hoping she gets at least a few more solos before the season ends.
Kurt: Rachel and I want our champions to celebrate another champion.
Brittany: Katniss Everdeen?
Kurt: Close. Burt Bacharach!
Mercedes: If the Olympics had a gossiping medal, Hummel would be Mark Spitz.
Rachel: I don’t want all the kids singing Into the Woods and Paula Cole this week, so keep them in check, okay?
Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.