Glee: The Music, Vol. 4

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Don’t let the title fool you; Vol. 4 is actually the eighth release from Glee’s inexhaustible catalog of show tunes and revised pop songs. It’s also the show’s third album to appear during the 2010 holiday season. That’s more music than the average Gleek can possibly handle, but Vol. 4 has a few aces up its sleeve, including a trio of songs from the spot-on “Britney/Brittany” episode and several solos by Chord Overstreet and Darren Criss, the show’s two newcomers. Overstreet and Dianna Agron stumble all over each other during a colorless version of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” but they find their footing with Jason Mraz’s “Lucky,” a laid-back duet that may be Agron’s best vocal performance to date. Elsewhere, Heather Morris (Brittany) steps out from behind her ditzy cheerleader façade to perform a pair of Britney Spears songs, and it’s nice to see another member of the supporting cast enjoy a much-deserved turn in the spotlight. The album’s true highlight, though, is an a cappella version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” performed by Criss with backup from Tufts University group the Beelzebubs. The song topped the Billboard charts one week after its release -- the first Glee single to ever hit number one, and perhaps the first a cappella tune since Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” to hold that honor, as well -- and it’s proof that Glee hasn’t run out of inventive ideas. A lot of these songs stick closer to uninspired karaoke arrangements, though, and Auto-Tune still runs rampant on several tracks, even rearing its ugly head during the aforementioned a cappella number. Really, do the Beelzebubs need to be Auto-Tuned?

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