It’s a tale as old as time — or at least a tale as old as however many years there’s been so much great TV available. Fans know the drill: You watch a show, you love a show, you fall off said show right around the time there’s a school-shooting plotline, among other less-than-brilliant ideas.
Good news: If you’re a Glee fan who hasn’t checked in with the McKinley alums in a while, we’ve got your musical catch-up guide right here, with the 10 best performances from the past season of the show to get you ready for Friday night’s (March 20) two-hour finale of the musical dramedy.
Grab a hairbrush and prepare to sing along.
The whole “new kids at McKinley” thing often provoked eyerolls (no one was warming up to Jake ever), but a brand-new addition this season, Jane (Samantha Marie Ware), gave fans a reason to be optimistic about Glee‘s final installments. Her Warblers audition song gave the Janelle Monae track even more upbeat energy, and — as is always ideal when it comes to matters of Glee — made us want to get up and dance.
9. “Somebody Loves You”
Is this the most technically proficient song Glee has ever cranked out? No. But A) We had to have some song on this last that was just two people behind the microphone, rocking out in a basement, because of how often that wound up happening on the show, and B) The Betty Who cover demonstrates the easygoing chemistry of so many of the cast members, which is responsible for elevating a ton of the numbers over the years.
8. “Hand in My Pocket”/”I Feel the Earth Move”
This song between the recently reunited (and engaged!) Santana and Brittany gets originality points by being one of the show’s more successful recent mash-ups (that classic Glee buzzword!). There is no other show on television that would think, “Hey, let’s put together Alanis Morissette with Carole King and see what happens!” yet Glee did that for a full episode, most successfully with the choir room installment below.
7. “At Last“
Amber Riley is one of the stronger vocalists of the Glee crew, and she got several opportunities to shine in the final episodes of the show. Most notably, she took on the Etta James classic (with an assist from Kevin McHale) during the Brittany & Santana/Kurt & Blaine double wedding. Bonus: Super-cute wedding footage while you suddenly tear up over the power of Riley’s voice.
6. “What the World Needs Now”
Cory Monteith’s presence is always missed on the show — never more so then when all the alums get together for a glorious montage about life and love set to a beautiful love song of years’ past. (This time, said celebration was centered on Santana and Brittany’s engagement.) The gang’s natural chemistry is on display, and the harmonies are stellar.
5. “Time After Time“
First things first: Cyndi Lauper‘s “Time After Time” is just a fantastic song, no matter where or when it’s deployed. The fact that it was used as background to such an emotional moment — with Rachel (Lea Michele) saying goodbye to her childhood home and moving on, along with her friends — well, this was a perfect example of the kind of excellent decisions Team Glee has been making with the specific song choices for years.
4. “It Must Have Been Love“
With a nice mix of Glee clubbers both old(ish) and new, this performance — as part of a genuinely stellar practice regionals medley — was a great ending installment that showed how inspiring and pretty the kiddos all sound together onstage. The tune was explained as “emotionally devastating,” so it’s OK if you suddenly find yourself with a ton of emotions you don’t really know what to do with. Kurt and Blaine also kiss during this song, if you’re into that sort of thing. (Sue clearly is.) The less said about creepy toy clown Sue, however, the better.
3. “I Know Where I’ve Been”
Even some hard-core fans might have some negative things to say about Glee‘s less-than-ideal handling of certain plot points or continuity issues. But occasionally, they hit on a social issue and the messaging behind the story is genuinely fantastic — an idea the show kept up in its final episodes. When Coach Bieste decides to transition and became a man, he was bullied by some students, so to make him feel better, Unique (Alex Newell) rounded up a chorus of hundreds of transgender individuals to sing a powerhouse rendition of Hairspray‘s “I Know Where I’ve Been.” No, you most certainly were not the only one who teared up and subsequently gave props to the positive imact this show has certainly had.
We can all agree that the Warblers are responsible for plenty of the best music moments on the show, starting with Blaine’s (Darren Criss) memorable debut singing “Teenage Dream.” While Blaine may have moved on from Dalton Academy (sort of), this perfectly choreographed, joyful Ed Sheeran cover is proof that matching uniforms should really be mandatory while singing poppy covers of poppy songs. (Also, you’re never too old to join in and take charge of the number, apparently.)
1.”Listen to Your Heart“
With this powerhouse duet, it’s easy to see why Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) was a fan-favorite guest star during his 14-episode (including Friday night) stint. As most people know, Groff and Michele were on Broadway together before Glee, and moments like this make fans hope that a return engagement may be in the cards. The pair’s voices complement each other so well, and their chemistry is palpable.