The very first episode of GLEE.
- “Respect” Mercedes (originally performed by Aretha Franklin, written by Otis Redding): We are introduced to Mercedes through her audition for the Glee Club. Mercedes’ choice of song reflects both a desire and a prophecy that comes true for her later in the season. “Respect” was a hit for Aretha Franklin back in 1967. The song was a landmark in the feminist movement and is often regarded as one of the best of the R&B era. Although Franklin made “Respect” popular and is associated with her, she was not the first person to sing the song. Otis Redding, the writer of the song, first recorded his version in 1965. You can view Aretha’s version here , Otis’ version here, and Mercedes’ version here.
- “Mr. Cellophane” Kurt (originally performed by Jerry Orbach from the Broadway classic, Chicago, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb): Kurt’s audition number is from the musical Chicago. The song is sung by the character Amos Hart in the musical. It is his way of telling the audience that nobody sees him as important. The same applies to Kurt. You can see the rehersal footage from the original production of Chicago here, the movie version here, and Kurt’s version here.
- “I Kissed a Girl” Tina (originally performed by Katy Perry, written Katy Perry, Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cathy Dennis): Tina’s audition reflects a desire to be different from the norm. “I Kissed a Girl” was the song that made Katy Perry famous in 2008. Katy’s version here and Tina’s here.
- “On My Own” Rachel (from Les Miserables): Rachel’s audition song reflects her ambition. The song itself is one of the most widely known musical numbers. Lea Michele, the woman who plays Rachel on Glee, has played the character that sings this song in Les Miserables.
- “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” Glee Club (from Guys and Dolls): This song is kind of a dig on Rachel because she always rocks the boat that is the Glee Club.
- “Can’t Fight This Feeling” Finn (originally performed by REO Speedwagon): Finn’s “audition” song is relevant because Finn is looking for something more in his life and when it is apparent Glee Club is the answer, he fights against it at first but realizes it futile.
- “You’re the One that I Want” Rachel and Finn with Glee Club backup (originally performed by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta from the movie Grease) Finn’s first song with the Glee Club is foreshadowing because when Rachel sings “and my heart is set on you”, she means it. Rachel falls for Finn instantly, and the feeling is mutual.
- “Leaving on a Jet Plane” Will (originally performed by John Denver) Although this song is only in the extended version of the pilot, it is significant because it Will’s goodbye both to the Glee Club he started and to Emma.
- “Don’t Stop Believin'” Glee Club (originally performed by Journey) The trademark song of the first season. The Glee Club singing this song is their way of saying they believe in themselves. One week after the pilot aired, “Don’t Stop Believing” was the number one song on iTunes with 177,000 downloads, while Journey’s version was number 9 with 42,000. The Song was also number 4 on Billboards Hot 100(the Hot Shot Debut for the week) with the original again in the number 9 position.