30 years ago today, FOX Network began its broadcast. During the past three decades, it has brought us many shows we love, breaking barriers and taking on series that most networks would most likely have passed on. FOX green-lit and aired many groundbreaking shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, Married... With Children, Glee, The X-Files, Fringe, Firefly, American Idol and Beverly Hills 90210, among many, many others. While other networks stuck with typical sitcoms and one-hour procedurals (we're looking at you, CBS), FOX gave TV fans something different and much needed. To show our appreciation, we have chosen to write about some of our favorite FOX series for the next few days. Happy 30th, FOX!
We start our FOX appreciation days with Glee, one of the best shows aired by the network, which was broadcast for six seasons starting in 2009. While it’s true that some of the initial magic was lost during the last seasons of the show, especially with the passing of its beloved star Cory Monteith, Glee was a force to be reckoned with. Not only was it a huge hit ratings-wise for FOX but the show also sold really well abroad, it was critically acclaimed, its merchandising was everywhere and the cast made records, toured the world and even made a movie. Glee wasn't just a show about the power of dreams, acceptance, tolerance and love; every week, it also taught its audience musical literacy, with many teens hearing Broadway musical classics for the first time (and loving those songs!).
During the six seasons Glee aired, the phenomenon also caught the eye of many famous stars who were invited (and some even asked) to be part of the show. Neil Patrick Harris and Gwyneth Paltrow got Emmys for their guest roles. The list of Glee guest stars is something to be admired and probably much envied by other showrunners: singers (Britney Spears, Ricky Martin, Demi Lovato, Gloria Estefan), Broadway icons (Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Patti Lupone), TV actors (Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Bomer, John Stamos), movie stars (Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, Jeff Goldblum) and bonafide legends (Carol Burnett, Shirley MacLaine, Helen Mirren) were part of the Glee family. Most of these stars also performed on the show, and we have chosen our favorite performance from our 15 preferred guest stars.
Here's our Pop15 Best Glee Guest Stars’ Performances:
15. Carol Burnett (Doris Sylvester): “Ohio” – Wonderful Town; and Shirley MacLaine (June Dolloway): “Piece Of My Heart” – Janis Joplin
We paired up these two legends because we couldn’t pick just one, and, although their performances were not the buzziest Glee has had, the fact that actresses of this caliber went on Glee and sang their hearts out is quite an achievement. Burnett’s take on “Ohio” is the one we like the most probably because of the comedic icon's impressive vocals, but Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart” is one of our favorite songs ever. So it’s a tie, and you get to check out both performances and pick the one you like the most.
14. Demi Lovato (Dani): "Here Comes The Sun" – The Beatles
Lovato’s Dani only got one solo during her short time as Santana’s girlfriend on Glee. Poor Dani was completely forgotten by Santana (and some Glee writers as well) when the latter got back together with former love Brittany, thus making Dani disappear faster than Houdini. What wasn’t forgotten though were her sweet vocals on one of our favorite Beatles’ songs, “Here Comes The Sun.” Really beautiful and subdued singing by Demi Lovato.
13. Charice (Sunshine Corazon): "Telephone" – Lady Gaga
Yes, probably the best performance by Charice’s Sunshine Corazon on Glee was Beyoncé’s "Listen." It really is an impeccable rendition, but we couldn’t help picking “Telephone” instead. The reason is the laughs we got from the duet between Sunshine and Lea Michele’s Rachel. Rachel is clueless about how perfect Sunshine’s voice is, and her face when she hears her sing for the first time is flawless. Bonus points for Sue shouting “Shut up!” at the end.
12. Sarah Jessica Parker (Isabelle Wright): “Let's Have A Kiki / Turkey Lurkey Time” - Scissor Sisters / Promises, Promises
Let’s focus on just half of this performance because “Turkey Lurkey Time" is not our favorite, and “Kiki” would have been best left by itself. However, Sarah Jessica Parker’s performance of “Let's Have A Kiki,” from the very beginning when she calls Kurt, is pure gold. The Scissors Sisters’ song has become a cult phenomenon, inspiring several viral video covers from the drag queen community, and to see it performed on Glee so joyously was wonderful.
11. Kate Hudson (Cassandra July): “All That Jazz” – Chicago
Cassandra July, Hudson’s character, was a stand up rival to Lea Michele’s Rachel once the star-to-be arrived at NYADA. The two characters, unlike real-life good friends, seemed to hate each other. In Hudson’s duet with Lea Michele of “All That Jazz,” the two face each other on a dance-off with July beating Rachel (Rachel’s vocals, though, were superior). The performance is fun, energetic and a great watch.
10. Ricky Martin (David Martinez): "Sexy And I Know It" – LMFAO
Ricky Martin’s fun version of LMFAO’s song was, in a word, hot! The song, translated to Spanish, was enjoyable and charming. And Ricky Martin’s dance moves? Amazing. Rachel’s reactions, Sugar’s dancing, Santana’s slap and Finn trying to do body rolls rounded out this performance.
9. Matt Bomer (Cooper Anderson): “Somebody That I Used To Know” – Gotye
Matt Bomer is one of the most beautiful human beings in the face of the Earth. Not only that, but he is incredibly talented, too. Bomer guest starred on Glee as Blaine’s older (and super successful) brother, Cooper. His comedic timing in the episode, especially when he’s teaching acting to the Glee club, was impeccable. His “Somebody That I Used To Know” cover, performed as a duet with Darren Criss, sold 152,000 digital copies in the US in its first week and charted on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. John Stamos (Carl Howell): "Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?" - The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Ageless vampire John Stamos didn’t get to sing much during his guest time at Glee, but this song made up for it. We love how effortless it looks, the fun it conveys and those faces made by Matthew Morrison’s Mr. Schuester. Stamos’ vocals are spot on, and his dancing is great, too. Definitely a breath of fresh air.
7. Neil Patrick Harris (Bryan Ryan): "Dream On" – Aerosmith
What can’t NPH do? We still haven’t found an answer to that question, as the Tony award winner is pretty much perfect on everything he does. His duet with Matthew Morrison as their characters fight for the lead of the stage production of Les Misérables is very, very good. That falsetto at the end especially: bravo!
6. Adam Lambert (Elliot Gilbert): "Marry The Night" – Lady Gaga
Adam Lambert is a force. The American Idol alum’s first Glee performance left everyone with their mouths open. He totally slayed Gaga’s song, his voice soared to unparalleled new heights and his whole performance while singing was on fire.
5. Grant Gustin (Sebastian Smythe): “Smooth Criminal” – Michael Jackson
The Flash can sing! Gustin, a Broadway baby, has great vocal chops, and, even though he displays them better in other songs he covered on Glee, such as “I Want You Back” and “Stand”, his duet of “Smooth Criminal” with Naya Rivera’s Santana accompanied by 2Cellos is one of the show’s most praised performances.
4. Gwyneth Paltrow (Holly Holliday): "Forget You" – Cee Lo
Paltrow was, after Groff, the guest star that had more appearances on Glee and one of the actors that performed more songs, many of which we love -- “Landslide”, “Singing In the Rain / Umbrella” and “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” are among our favorites. Her take on Cee Lo’s “Forget You” is our favorite, though, and many others felt the same way, as the song charted both on the Billboard Hot 100 and internationally. Cee Lo’s uncensored version of the song also got a great boost -- something that happened to many singers after Glee covered their songs -- as it entered the top ten of the Hot 100 for the first time with sales rising 94% in a week. The performance is entertaining, makes us want to sing and dance and is vocally on point.
3. Kristin Chenoweth (April Rhodes): “Maybe This Time” – Cabaret
Kristin Chenoweth’s wacky April Rhodes was a beloved part of Glee. Her first song is the one that has stuck with us the most. Her cover of Cabaret’s “Maybe This Time” sung as a duet with Lea Michele is outstanding. We are all Kurt by the end of the song, wiping our tears away. Chenoweth is always magnificent, and all of her songs are perfectly executed, but this one is truly goosebump-inducing.
2. Idina Menzel (Shelby Corcoran): “I Dreamed a Dream” – Les Misérables
Idina Menzel is a star in her own right. The Tony winner was a perfect match as the biological mother to Lea Michele’s character, Rachel Berry. The actresses have a very strong resemblance and could pass as sisters (come on, Idina is too young to be Lea’s mom!), and their voices blend together perfectly. There are many songs in which their harmonies sound great together -- “Somewhere” and “Poker Face” certainly come to mind -- but their duet of Les Misérables' “I Dreamed a Dream” was pure perfection. The song is a Broadway lover’s dream come true.
1. Jonathan Groff (Jesse St. James): “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
Same as with Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, this other Broadway vet’s performances have always been amazing and beloved by Glee fans. Jonathan Groff’s duets with real life BFF Lea Michele -- "Hello", “Rolling in the Deep”, “Listen to your Heart” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” are some of our favorites -- but his “Bohemian Rhapsody,” performed as Vocal Adrenaline’s number at Regionals, left our jaws on the floor. The perfectly accomplished performance paired with the scenes of Quinn giving birth were spot on. Chills everywhere.
There you have it, folks! How did you like our list? What were some of your favorite Glee guest stars? Let us know below!