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New 'Glee' soundtrack comes up flat

Contain your Glee. The new compilation has a lot of duds.

Twice now, Glee music producer Adam Anders has taken an iconic song — Madonna's Like a Prayer, Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart — and made it far better than the original. By subtly altering inflection, layering vocals with Broadway gusto and tapping into our innate hamminess, Anders and show visionary Ryan Murphy have achieved postmodern karaoke glory.

Except when they haven't — and the show has lost great chunks of cheeky, Gleeky charm and made you wonder how long TV's hottest hit will actually last.

But first the good news, okay?

On the new Glee: The Music, Volume 3: Showstoppers — which is actually the fifth Glee comp to be released in just the first season — there are four fab reimaginings, two of which are from Tuesday's exceptional episode. Lea Michele and Idina Menzel go daughter-to-mother, diva-to-diva on the Kleenexian I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables. Matthew "Mr. Schu" Morrison and Neil Patrick "Bryan Ryan" Harris go hiva-to-hiva on Aerosmith's Dream On. The show's wee secret weapon, Kristin Chenoweth, adds to a gorgeous mashup of One Less Bell to Answer and A House Is Not a Home. And Total Eclipse is on the new disc, too.

Now the bad news.

For the first time, a Glee soundtrack — this one has 14 tracks — arrives with more duds than actual "showstoppers." All of the songs come from the season's second half, which doesn't bode well. Christina Aguilera (Beautiful), U2 (One) and the Beatles (Hello, Goodbye) are covered with straight-ahead readings, but therein lies the problem: If you're going head-to-head with giants, you better do something different. But that's another problem: Putting the twisted Glee touch on a song takes time and money. The show would be better off concentrating on two or three tunes an episode, instead of adding lackluster extra cuts. But more musical numbers mean more soundtrack albums, which are cash cows. When Glee excels, it does so mightily. But the show still has problems with tone and story, and now more numbers are falling flat. Sooner rather than later, Glee might wind up being a victim of its own success.

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The Intern Playlist

Most newspaper internships are nothing but sorting and shuffling, coffee-fetching and yes-sir-ing. But the 2010 Sean Daly Mentor Program is a hellzapoppin' descent into the world of hard-core journalism and/or whatever it is I actually do. Tampa Prep senior Gytis Garsys, 18, is my current star pupil. The future Florida Gator is so good, I gave him the keys to this week's playlist. Unload the teen angst, Gytis . . .

I'm exhausted. I spent last night chauffeuring my slacker friends from house to house. Then, while lying in bed, I fought off sleep so I could text some lucky lady — my eyes half open, my phone on vibrate on top of my face to ensure I didn't fall asleep. Which I did: at 3 a.m. Jealous that all of my friends have people lazily signing off on their internship hours, I'm now at the St. Pete Times, researching the late Ronnie James Dio and apologizing to the girl I was texting last night for falling asleep because my phone didn't stick to my face. It's no party, but at least I get to hang with Sean Daly. In between reporting, Facebooking and bantering over cubicles, I'm writing this playlist. While I mull theme ideas, Sean asks what's going on in my life. I tell him I'm thinking a lot about graduating at the end of the month. And when I think about graduating, I think about going to college. And when I think about college, I think about getting a job. And when that gets overwhelming — and it does — I think about upcoming grad parties that will almost certainly get me into trouble. But I'm ready for the fun. I'm ready for college. I'm ready for it all. Sean tells me to write about that. So I do.

1. The Graduation Song (Friends Forever), Vitamin C

2. Ready for the Weekend, Calvin Harris

3. (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!), the Beastie Boys

4. Party Hard, Andrew W.K.

5. Party and Bulls--- (Ratatat Remix), Notorious B.I.G.

6. Sleepyhead (Passion Pit Cover), Run Toto Run

7. Kiss Me Thru the Phone, Soulja Boy feat. Sammie

8. Going Away to College, Blink-182

9. Why Don't You Get a Job?, the Offspring

10. The Future Freaks Me Out, Motion City Soundtrack

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Album: Charice (Reprise)

In stores: Now

Foster's child: Whitney Houston may no longer be able to belt I Will Always Love You with effortless choir-goosing verve, but 18-year-old Charice sure can. The 5-foot-1 Filipino was a YouTube sensation, then a beneficiary of Instant Oprah Fame. When producer David "Hit Man" Foster came to Tampa, he brought Charice with him; her octave-spanning impression of Whit-Whit had all the roar of a rocket launch. Sure, it seemed like a bit of a freak show: such a HUGE voice coming from a walking can of Sprite. But what Charice lacked in stage presence she made up for with blow-your-eyebrows-off raw talent. Unfortunately, on her dismally dull debut, produced in large part by Foster, the gnomish lass is hardly allowed to sing at all. Instead, she's buried under a glossy pile of bargain-bin synths, stiff beats and, for some bizarre reason, AutoTune. Her songwriters (Diane Warren, Carole Bayer Sager, OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder) apparently thought they were writing for a past-her-prime 58-year-old, not a kid who craves natural spaces to show off her skills. I blame schmaltzmeister Foster. In this case, he isn't a Hit Man; he's an assassin.

Download this: Note to God

Grade: D


Tune in

Glee airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox.

New 'Glee' soundtrack comes up flat 05/21/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 21, 2010 5:21pm]
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