Have you, like me, fallen for the joys of Glee? It may lack the gritty gravitas of The Wire or the seductive charms of Mad Men, but there is something quite compulsive about the latest US television import, from the pen of Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy.
For the uninitiated, this comedy-drama is set in a US high school and centred around a bunch of misfits who are part of the school's musical society, or Glee club, as such things are known across the pond. The show cleverly plays with the clichés of American schools -- there are cheerleaders and quarterbacks, nerds and nasty teachers for sure, but they are a long way from the sort that usually reach the small screen.
Besides the excellent acting and whip-smart screenplay, what really makes Glee so brilliant is the astute way that a glut of classic songs have been incorporated into the action and completely reinvented. Whether it's a hilarious take on Kanye West's Gold Digger, courtesy of cool teacher Will (Matthew Morrison) or most of the Glee cast getting jiggy with Salt-n-Pepa's Push It, the music and choreography never feels intrusive on the plot development.
Sony is releasing the soundtrack from season one on February 12 and the album features 17 tracks, including a marvellous cover of Journey's soft rock anthem to youth and freedom, Don't Stop Believin', with Cory Monteith (Finn) and Lea Michele (Rachel, right) indulging in some fantastic vocal gymnastics.
- Are you a midlands resident and fancy yourself as a DJ? Help is at hand courtesy of a pair of pros, Ronan Casey and Paul Gilbride. The duo have established something called 'Project Guest DJ', which gives rookies the chance to play their favourite tunes in one of Mullingar's best-known music bars, John Mac's.
"The night basically gives anyone -- experienced or not -- a chance to DJ in front of a packed house on a busy Saturday night," Casey says. "The chosen guest gets an hour to play their stuff, and the night is topped and tailed by a pro."
In order to drum up some publicity for the venture, a month-long stint of female DJs will be the order of the day, with Today FM's Alison Curtis on hand tomorrow evening to get proceedings under way.
Meanwhile, Casey tells me that he and Gilbride are planning on introducing the idea to another pub in the town, as well as venues in Athlone and Galway.
- Alan McGee's blog can be very hit or miss, but when the Creation Records founder really hits his stride, he's worth listening to.
This week, he has been bemoaning the lack of recognition afforded to one Angela McCluskey. Best known for her vocals on the Telepopmusik single Breathe, the Scottish singer has been labouring in the margins since then.
"Catching McCluskey live is a treat," he writes. "Slouched over, singing tortured ballads, she is the anti-diva, the anti-Leona Lewis, the anti-manufactured pop star. And her voice works live just as it does on record, an incredible juxtaposition of the greats: Beth Gibbons, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone."
Seven years ago, I attended a showcase in Paris where I got to see McCluskey work her magic for the bigwigs of EMI. Her performance was incredible and everyone who was there that night thought they were witnessing the ascent of an unlikely star.
Inspired by McGee's enthusiasm, I would urge anybody to check out her debut album, The Things We Do.
- Great news for Crowded House fans. Tickets for their two Irish shows go on sale this morning. Neil Finn and friends (above) play Castlebar's Royal Theatre on May 29 and Dublin's Olympia on May 30. The latter was the venue for their emotive reunion shows back in 2008 and it's good to see the band take the road less travelled to Mayo. The group's as-yet-untitled album will be released in advance of the shows, probably towards the end of March or the beginning of April.