The Glee finale was exactly one year ago today, but if the show was still running, they definitely would have featured these songs by now.
Can you believe that it’s been a year since we said goodbye to Glee? But it’s true — on March 20, 2015 we bid farewell to Rachel Berry and co in the show’s semi-satisfying season 6 finale. There’s no denying that Glee was one of the biggest entertainment phenomenons of the 21st century, and now it’s just… gone. Sometimes it feels like it was never even here, just a collective fever-dream that we all lived through together.
Right after the show finished, I wrote about the songs that Glee should have covered but never got to, but on the one year anniversary of the Glee finale “Dreams Come True,” I’m thinking about all that’s happened since then that the Powers-That-Be would have loved to get their grubby, glittery little hands on.
Whenever something significant happened in pop culture, it was instantly assumed, for better or worse, that Glee would feature it in some way. Looking back on Glee in the years to come will be a pretty weird experience, because it tried so hard to be a product of the precise moment, battling to keep referencing the latest memes, spotlighting the latest social issues, and, of course, covering the latest hits. Sometimes this worked out in their favor, and sometimes, it must be said, it really did not. But either way, Glee was a time capsule of current events, so I got to wondering. In these past 12 months, what were the big moments in music that would have had us saying “oh God, I wonder if Glee is going to do this?”
Here are 10 musical moments since Glee’s finale that the show would have taken on if they’d gone into season 7 and beyond. I’m not saying I would have wanted all of these to happen — I just bet that they would have, like it or not.
An absolute no-brainer. Glee freaking loves Adele, and they clearly had the rights to her music, having covered six of her hits in the past. The world stopped when Adele released her first single since 2012, and there’s no way Glee would have passed up the opportunity to have a sad McKinley alum belt out this simple, powerful ballad about reconciling with a past love. They probably would have made up a random plot purely to get to use this song.
Two beloved artists releasing songs about making phone calls at around the same time has lead to many a meme, with even the singers themselves speaking of collaborating. If Glee was still around, they probably would have attempted the “Hello”/”Hotline Bling” mash-up, or at least used the songs back to back in an episode. Even without the Adele factor, “Hotline Bling” in and of itself has instantly recognisable visuals that have been the subject of endless parodies — it would have been featured for sure.
Glee loved trying to prove that their kids were hip and with it and caring about things that real teens cared about, so it always surprised me that they didn’t ever focus much on One Direction. They’ve done a few songs, yeah, but they never really name-dropped them or anything. However, what with Zayn going solo after initially claiming to want out of showbiz altogether, and the band’s announcement of a hiatus, a hypothetical season 7 of Glee should have definitely included a 1D episode, possibly focused around the kids being divided in a feud of Zayn vs the other four, with arguments being made for both sides.
One of the most interesting collaborations in recent years, this stripped-back tune by Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney was an early 2015 release — just a little too late to have made it into Glee’s final season. I bet they’re kicking themselves that they never got to use it as a “teaching moment” in an episode about mixing genres and unusual songwriting partnerships.
Glee did occasionally make a habit of featuring artists that were a little bit out of left field to mainstream audiences, and U.K. synth pop trio Years & Years are a group I feel like Ryan Murphy would have patted himself on the back for “discovering.” Singer Olly Alexander, one of the youngest openly gay male popstars currently in the spotlight, is a tiny white boy who sings like a black lady, and Glee probably would have wanted Kurt to attempt one of his songs. “King’s” a great break-up song, and y’all know I’m always rooting for Klaine’s demise, so, yeah.
You just know that Glee would have done everything in their power to hitch their wagon to the Hamilton hype. I have no idea what Lin-Manuel Miranda thinks of the show — whether he would have welcomed the idea or fiercely guarded his baby, but he did give permission for pop-punk group We The Kings to cover “The Story of Tonight,” so there’s a chance that we would have had to sit through Mr Schue (a history teacher, groan) attempting to rap his way through “Cabinet Battle #1,” probably against Sue. Maybe Mercedes, Santana and Rachel could have pulled off “The Schuyler Sisters,” but all things considered, we’re kind of grateful Glee died before Hamilton was born.
Taylor Swift’s last album came out in late 2014, but “Wildest Dreams,” the album’s sleeper hit, started charting in the fall of last year, becoming inescapable and cementing the fact that we will, in fact, be stuck in 1989 forever. Taylor has never really allowed Glee access to any of her current hits, so I can’t imagine they’d ever get their hands on this, but if they were able to do one song from that record, this is the one that would work best. “Welcome To New York” would be way too heavy-handed and they’d try way too hard at re-creating the “Bad Blood” video. This one might have held up as an important character moment.
‘Shut Up and Dance’
Walk The Moon’s breakout single “Shut Up and Dance” was also initially released in late 2014, but it wasn’t until after Glee finished production that it started to rise up the charts. By the summer of 2015, it had become iconic. This 80s-inspired hit — it’s based on the sound of “Jessie’s Girl” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” two songs Glee did a fairly good job on — would have totally ended up as a New Directions end-of-episode group number.
‘Cool for the Summer’
How on the nose would it be for a show to feature a song about lesbianism by an artist that starred in the same show as a lesbian fictional character? Glee has never had a good grasp of the boundaries of its own reality, so it probably wouldn’t even think twice about covering this Demi Lovato song that explores the blurring lines between friendship and romance — Glee could offer a new take on more fluid female same-sex relationships, perhaps, after the high-stakes internalized homophobia surrounding Santana’s coming out.
No celebrity death within my lifetime has ever caused such a united worldwide outpouring of grief and love as that of David Bowie in January of this year. Bowie made a career out of being many things to many people — both the ultimate artist and the ultimate canvas for anyone a bit out of step with the rest of the world to project their feelings of freakishness upon and feel embraced. That’s exactly what Glee tried to tell us that it was about too. The show never covered much Bowie, for which I was always pretty grateful, actually, but a tribute episode after his death would have been unavoidable, with different characters presenting performances from all his different eras and identities. Whether it would have been tragically beautiful or insultingly terrible is something we’ll never know.