Musical TV series don't have a great track record (see: Viva Laughlin and Eli Stone). But Glee, Fox's new dramedy about a high school glee club and the cheerleading coach determined to take them down, is laughing in the face of the industry's low expectations. The cast's recordings of songs like Queen's "Somebody to Love" and an "It's My Life/Confessions Part II" medley (Bon Jovi and Usher, respectively, see below) shot up the iTunes top 10. The series got the summer's biggest buzz and was one of the first new shows of the season to get a full season pickup.
So what is it about this band of misfits that has viewers busting out their choir robes? Jane Lynch's brilliant deadpan delivery as megalomaniac Sue Sylvester certainly doesn't hurt. It seems she was born to utter lines like "Not everyone is gonna have the walnuts to take a pro-littering stance." But more likely is that the fresh-faced cast's excitement is contagious. Other than Lynch, the gang is fairly new to Hollywood (though some have put in their time on Broadway) and their doe-eyed wonder at what they've wrought is palpable. "As much fun as we look like we're having on TV, it's much more fun on the set," says Amber Riley, whose rendition of Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows" hit number 4 on iTunes the week it was released. Riley, who plays the very sassy Mercedes, is still pinching herself. "We're literally living our dreams," she says. "I keep thinking I'm going to wake up."
The show's been so successful that it's already releasing a soundtrack and rumors of a concert tour have Gleeks everywhere (that's what we call Glee fans, of course) bursting at the seams. Until those plans are finalized, fans will have to make do with the onscreen musical numbers. "One of the songs we're doing is John Lennon's 'Imagine.' That was really special because we did it with a deaf choir," Riley says. "We also got to do 'Proud Mary.' I don't know if it's the dream of every singer to do Tina Turner, but that was my dancing in the mirror song." Safe bet is that viewers will be dancing right along with her.