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Glee: The Music, Volume 1

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Glee: The Music, Volume 1
Photographs of ten people on a multicoloured background fill in a large Arabic numeral "1" to the right. On a yellow background, the word "Glee" is in lowercase white to the centre left, with the words "The Music" above and "Season One" below in lowercase red font. The word "Volume" also appears beside the 1.
Soundtrack album by Glee Cast
Released November 2, 2009 (2009-11-02)
Recorded 2009
Genre Pop, rock, R&B, hip hop, show tune
Length 60:13
Label Columbia / 20th Century Fox TV
Producer Dante Di Loreto (exec.), Brad Falchuk (exec.), Adam Anders, Peer Åström, James Levine, Ryan Murphy
Glee Cast chronology
Glee: The Music, Volume 1
Glee: The Music, Volume 2

Glee: The Music, Volume 1 is the debut soundtrack album by the cast of the musical television series Glee, which aired on Fox in the United States. It features cover versions from the first nine episodes of the first season and was released on November 2, 2009 by Columbia Records and 20th Century Fox Television Records. The album received mixed reviews from critics, with many praising large ensemble numbers, but comparing it to karaoke tracks. It went to number one on album charts in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and peaked at number three in Australia and number four in both Canada and the United States. Volume 1 has been certified platinum in these five countries.

All non-bonus tracks from the album have been released as digital singles. The cast's debut single, a cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", charted within the top five in many countries and has sold over one million copies in the US. Other high-charting and best-selling singles include the covers of Queen's "Somebody to Love", Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline", and "Defying Gravity" from the musical Wicked. Glee Live! In Concert! saw the cast tour the US in promotion of the series' first season and its musical releases. The album earned a nomination for Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for the 2011 ceremony.


Glee debuted in America on the Fox network on May 19, 2009.[1] Series creator Ryan Murphy planned to include five to eight musical numbers per episode, and to release accompanying soundtrack albums every few months. In the week prior to the broadcast of the pilot episode, Murphy stated that seven different companies had bid on the rights to the series' first soundtrack.[2] The contenders were narrowed down to four labels, with Fox ultimately signing a deal with Columbia Records as a result of chairman Rob Stringer's belief that Glee would be a success.[3] Stringer appreciated the series' use of both classic and contemporary pop music. He suggested that other record labels underestimated the potential of Glee's musical releases as they are all cover versions.[3][4]

Murphy was responsible for selecting all of the songs covered on the album, and strove to maintain a balance between show tunes and chart hits.[5] He was surprised at the ease with which use of songs was approved by the record labels approached, and explained, "I think the key to it is they loved the tone of it. They loved that this show was about optimism and young kids, for the most part, reinterpreting their classics for a new audience."[6] Music supervisor P.J. Bloom cleared the song rights with their respective publishers, and music producer Adam Anders rearranged the tracks for the Glee cast.[3] "Take a Bow" was offered for use at a reduced licensing rate,[7] which surprised Murphy, who had believed he would not be able to afford the rights given that it had been a number one hit for Rihanna.[8] Neil Diamond had some reluctance over licensing "Sweet Caroline" to the show, and retracted clearance after it had already been recorded. Bloom was able to convince him to reverse his decision, and Diamond went on to also license his song "Hello Again" for use on the show at a later date.[9]

Stringer did not expect the success of Glee Cast single releases, and estimated that four million copies would be sold by Christmas 2009. He was unsure whether the high sales figures would help or hinder the release of Glee: The Music, Volume 1, and as such, was eager for its release in order to gauge the physical and digital market response. The 17 tracks selected for the album were considered amongst the series' most popular, with Columbia and Fox aiming to attract casual buyers as well as Glee fans. Geoff Bywater, head of Fox's music department, anticipated considerable sales from impulse buyers in retail stores.[3] Instrumental versions of some songs were included as bonus tracks, based on a trend of fans recreating the musical numbers in tribute to the show.[10]

In May 2010, the Glee Cast undertook a US tour entitled Glee Live! In Concert!, performing tracks from the first season's musical releases. From Glee: The Music, Volume 1, "Don't Stop Believin'", "Push It", "Sweet Caroline", "Defying Gravity", "Bust Your Windows" and "Dancing with Myself" were included on the setlist, with "Somebody to Love" as an encore performance.[11]


Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 60/100[12]
Review scores
Source Rating 3/5 stars[13]
allmusic 3.5/5 stars[14]
Billboard 85[15]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[16]
Entertainment Weekly (B)[17]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[18]
IGN 8.2/10[19]
The Independent 2/5 stars[20]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[21]
The Times 2/5 stars[22]

Metacritic gave the album a Metascore—a weighted average based on the impression of eight critical reviews—of 60 percent, signifying mixed or average reviews.[12] Both Emma Wall of The Daily Telegraph and Christopher John Farley of The Wall Street Journal expressed approval of the choral arrangements, though Wall review observed that some of the ballads lack potency without their episodic context.[16] Farley appreciated the "emotional backstory" given to the album by the television series, writing that it would "evoke fond memories of favorite episodes" for Glee fans.[23] He found the better songs to be the ones which do not seem "too polished", giving them a karaoke appeal.[23] Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt wrote that the soundtrack is essentially a karaoke album, describing the songs as "unapologetically sincere"—lacking the series' subversive wit, but with "a giddy sort of 'let's put on a show' charm".[17] Billboard's Mikael Wood deemed the most successful tracks those which seem least suited to the series, such as the rock ballads "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Can't Fight This Feeling". Wood commented that "Take a Bow" and "Bust Your Windows" are also enjoyable, but "lack a certain revenge-of-the-nerds triumph."[15]

The Independent's Andy Gill was apathetic towards the album, which he too deemed "karaoke-pop".[20] He praised Riley's rendition of "Bust Your Windows", calling it the album's "most compelling moment", but criticized Morrison's rapping as "the least convincing [...] in recording history."[20] Gill found Agron's cover of "You Keep Me Hanging On" to be "irritatingly anonymous", but otherwise felt the album contained little of note, either positive or negative.[20] Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone shared Gill's sentiments with regards to Morrison's rapping and Riley's "Bust Your Windows", also deeming "Don't Stop Believin'" "a triumphal moment against which resistance is futile."[21] Dan Cairns of The Times described the album as "music of catch-in-the-throat, quick-fix, talent-show emotion" variety, calling it "undeniably effective" but "utterly nauseating."[22]

Andrew Leahey of allmusic opined that some of the cast members are better actors than vocalists, but gave particular praise to Michele's songs, suggesting that the soundtrack is largely a showcase for her talent, and that she outperforms most of the original artists.[24] IGN's Brian Linder described the album as having "an appealing irreverent spirit that tamps down the earnestness just as it begins to overwhelm."[19] Linder agreed that Morrison does not excel as an emcee, but still found his attempts at rapping enjoyable. He generally approved of the track list, but found the older songs such as "Sweet Caroline" and "Say a Little Prayer" lacking in resonance, and named "You Keep Me Hangin' On" as the weakest performance. Linder commended Riley and Michele's vocals, and most enjoyed the covers of "Somebody to Love" and "Keep Holding On", suggesting that the latter surpasses the original version.[19] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian commented that the album requires a suspension of disbelief, attributing some negative reviews from US critics to their inability to accept the fantasy of the series. Petridis reviewed "Dancing With Myself", "Sweet Caroline", "Gold Digger", "Somebody to Love" and "Alone" favorably, but as with Gill and Linder disliked "You Keep Me Hangin' On", which she deemed bland and boring. Petridis wrote that the album does not entirely work in its own right, separate from the television series, but concluded that for listeners prepared to accept the conceit, "Glee: the Soundtrack almost lives up to its title."[18]

The vocals of Lea Michele (pictured) were generally received positively.

Glee: The Music, Volume 1 received a nomination in the category of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media at the 53rd Grammy Awards.[25]

Commercial performance[edit]

Glee: The Music, Volume 1 debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, selling 113,000 copies in its first week of release.[26] The same week, the album also debuted at number two on the Billboard Soundtracks chart, going on to reach the top position on May 1, 2010.[27] On September 9, 2010, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales or shipments of 1,000,000 or more.[28] As of May 2011, 1.169 million copies have been sold in the US, and it has remained on the Billboard 200 for seventy-three weeks.[29][30] In the United Kingdom, the album entered the top 75 three weeks before its official release, on import sales alone. Following its official release, it debuted at number one with sales of 62,000 according to The Official Charts Company.[31] It was certified platinum for 300,000 copies sold by the British Phonographic Industry on May 21, 2010.[32] In Australia, the album peaked at number three,[33] and was certified platinum for 70,000 copies sold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) in 2009,[34] and received a 2x platinum certification from ARIA in 2011.[35] It peaked at number four in Canada,[36] and has been certified platinum with 80,000 units sold by the Canadian Recording Industry Association.[37] The album also peaked at number one in Ireland, eight in New Zealand, nine in the Netherlands, thirty-four in both Austria and Wallonia, thirty-seven in Mexico, forty-eight in Switzerland, sixty-nine in Spain, seventy-four in Flanders, and eighty in Japan.[33][38]


Each of the songs included on Glee: The Music, Volume 1, except for the bonus tracks, were released as singles, available for download.[39] The releases made the Glee Cast the tenth cast to have entries chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in its 51-year history.[40] Their debut single "Don't Stop Believin'" charted at number five in Australia,[41] number four in the US and Ireland,[42][43] and number two in the United Kingdom.[44] In the US, 177,000 copies of the song were sold in its first week of release. Its number four debut surpassed the Journey original, which peaked at number nine in 1981. The original rendition sold 42,000 copies in the week of the Glee Cast release, up 48% on the previous week.[45] "Don't Stop Believin'" was also the cast's best-selling single, and has sold 1,005,000 copies in the US, a combination of sales from the original release (921,000) and the rerecording for the season finale (84,000).[46] It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on October 13, 2009,[47] and platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association the following year.[48]

On October 22, 2010, Yahoo! Music published a list of the twenty most popular Glee songs, based on download data from Nielsen SoundScan. Of the twenty best-selling singles, eight are included on Glee: The Music, Volume 1: "Don't Stop Believin'", "Defying Gravity" (335,000 copies), "Somebody to Love" (315,000), "Sweet Caroline" (187,000), "Take a Bow" (181,000), "Keep Holding On" (166,000), "Taking Chances" (163,000), and "Alone" (159,000).[46] "Take a Bow" charted at number 46 in the US, with 53,000 copies sold in its first week of release.[49] Sales of the original Rihanna version increased by 189 percent after the song was covered in the Glee episode "Showmance".[50] Sales of the Queen version of "Somebody to Love" rose from 2,000 to 6,000 downloads following the release of the Glee Cast cover version.[3]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Original artist(s) Length
1. "Don't Stop Believin'"   Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry, Neal Schon Journey 3:50
2. "Can't Fight This Feeling"   Kevin Cronin REO Speedwagon 3:29
3. "Gold Digger"   Kanye West, Ray Charles, Renald Richard Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx 3:00
4. "Take a Bow"   Ne-Yo, Tor Erik Hermansen, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen Rihanna 3:35
5. "Bust Your Windows"   Jazmine Sullivan, Salaam Remi, DeAndre Way Jazmine Sullivan 4:19
6. "Taking Chances"   Kara DioGuardi, David A. Stewart Celine Dion 3:55
7. "Alone" (featuring Kristin Chenoweth) Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly Heart 3:40
8. "Maybe This Time" (featuring Kristin Chenoweth) John Kander & Fred Ebb Liza Minnelli in the film Cabaret 2:57
9. "Somebody to Love"   Freddie Mercury Queen 4:43
10. "Hate on Me"   Jill Scott, Adam Blackstone, Steve McKie Jill Scott 3:30
11. "No Air"   James Fauntleroy II, Eric "Blue Tooth" Griggs, Harvey Mason, Jr., Damon Thomas, Steve Russell, Michael Scala Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown 4:23
12. "You Keep Me Hangin' On"   Holland–Dozier–Holland The Supremes 2:40
13. "Keep Holding On"   Avril Lavigne, Lukasz Gottwald Avril Lavigne 4:04
14. "Bust a Move"   Marvin Young, Matt Dike, Michael Ross Young MC 4:24
15. "Sweet Caroline"   Neil Diamond Neil Diamond 1:58
16. "Dancing with Myself"   Billy Idol, Tony James Generation X / Billy Idol 3:10
17. "Defying Gravity"   Stephen Schwartz Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, and the cast of Wicked 2:21


Charts and certifications[edit]


List of sales certifications by country and provider
Country Provider Certification
(sales thresholds)
Australia ARIA 2x Platinum [35]
Canada CRIA Platinum [37]
Ireland IRMA 3x Platinum [69]
New Zealand RIANZ Platinum [70]
United Kingdom BPI Platinum [32]
United States RIAA Platinum [28]

Chart precession and succession[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
Crazy Love by Michael Bublé
Irish Albums Chart number-one album
February 18, 2010 – March 10, 2010
Succeeded by
Brother by Boyzone
Preceded by
The Element of Freedom by Alicia Keys
UK Albums Chart number-one album
February 21, 2010 – February 27, 2010
Succeeded by
The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga
Preceded by
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Chipettes
U.S. Billboard Soundtracks number-one album
May 1, 2010
Succeeded by
Glee: The Music, The Power of Madonna by Glee Cast

Release history[edit]

List of release dates by country
Country Release date Format(s) Ref.
South Africa November 2, 2009 Compact Disc (CD) [71]
Canada November 3, 2009 CD, digital download (DD) [72][73]
Netherlands November 3, 2009 CD, DD [74][75]
Mexico November 3, 2009 CD, DD [76][77]
New Zealand November 3, 2009 CD, DD [78][79]
United States November 3, 2009 CD, DD [80]
Australia November 6, 2009 CD, DD [81][82]
Belgium November 6, 2009 CD [83]
Brazil November 20, 2009 CD, DD [84][85]
Japan December 15, 2009 CD [86]
Ireland January 4, 2010 CD, DD [87][88]
Taiwan January 15, 2010 CD [89]
United Kingdom February 15, 2010 CD, DD [90]
Spain March 16, 2010 CD, DD [91][92]
Italy January 26, 2011 CD, DD [93]


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External links[edit]