I read one of those stupidly gossipy “news” articles today that said the creator of Glee was upset and went on this angry rant about the Kings of Leon refusing to sign off rights for their song “Use Somebody” to be used on an episode of Glee. I knew that Kings of Leon had refused a long time ago, and thought that should be that. So this little rant comes a little out of nowhere to us lowly, normal folk. Anyway, Ryan Murphy (the creator of Glee), gave a huge “F– you!” to the band and said, “They’re self-centered a–holes, and they missed the big picture. They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument. It’s like, OK, hate on arts education. You can make fun of Glee all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music.”
Kings of Leon, meanwhile, apparently didn’t mean to snub Glee so much. They said, “This whole Glee thing is a shock to us. It’s gotten out of hand. At the time of the request, we hadn’t even seen the show. It came at the end of that record cycle, and we were over promoting [“Use Somebody”]. This was never meant as a slap in the face to Glee or to music education or to fans of the show. We’re not sure where the anger is coming from. We just said no to a license for a TV show, which we do a lot.”
Now, I’m not trying to become a gossip site myself. Just want to give you some background as I go on to my main point.
Is Glee really about promoting music education?
For me, Glee is a guilty pleasure. I loved the first episode. So did Ches. He hasn’t loved it since then, so he doesn’t watch it anymore. I love love love the musical numbers, and yeah, I even get into some of the outlandish story lines. I adore the interaction between Kurt and his his father. Those are often my favorite scenes. I don’t want to like Glee, but I do. It’s that musical geek in me.
I don’t know that it is a show that should be saying it’s promoting musical education. Of all the “agendas” of the show, that seems to be the bottom of their list. Their story lines are full of teenage angst, pregnancies (fake ones, teenage ones…), falling in love (seriously, is there anyone on the show not in love with someone?), and this crazy rivalry between Mr. Shue and Sue Sylvester. Their musical numbers all further the story lines. They have nothing to do with actual musical education.
There were a few things about the actual music education idea that always bothered me. First of all, they aren’t a glee club. They are a show choir. But I guess the title sounds better as “Glee” than “Show” or something. Anyway, there is a huge difference between glee clubs and show choirs. Quit calling yourselves a glee club already!! Second of all, not choosing your set list until the week of whatever competition you are in? Ummm, no. I know it’s not realistic for the show and would be boring if they show us what it’s really like. You work on the same few pieces of music for 6 to 8 weeks, then go to competition or festival. Because I don’t care how good you are, no one is going to be able to pick up a piece of music and suddenly the entire group can harmonize and know their choreography on the first shot. I just hate what a big deal they make of it, making it all “Oh no! We have regionals in two days and we still don’t know what to sing!” Whatever. Third, give the instrumentalists some due, please! These are supposedly also high school students. They can just come in at the beck and call of Rachel Berry and do a quick little number for Finn? Yeah, right. Personally, having been in band and knowing all the soap opera-ish drama that goes on there, I’d like to see the band members getting some lines and screen time. There’s a whole show on their own!
Anyway, if you want to push music education, then do so. But don’t try to pretend that the point of your show is give young kids something to look up to when it’s not so much about the music. If you want to send an anti-bullying message… yes! You are doing your job! If you want to send the message that being different is good… yes! You are doing your job! If you want to send the message that arts education is great and extremely important and everyone should try it… Sorry. I’m just not getting that message from the show.
Then again, maybe it’s working. A show choir has been started up at the high school where my husband teaches. Why? Because these kids all watch Glee and they asked for it. So maybe I’m just a stodgy, boring adult who doesn’t “get” it.