If you have ever listened to Radio 1 in the past two years or come across the TV listings for Channel 4, there’s one American TV show that you be more than familiar with – Glee.
The American high-school drama has been a huge success from day one, being nominated for nineteen Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, six Satellite Awards and fifty-seven other awards in its first season alone. The show even has its own cult following (known as “Gleeks”) and the success of the series shows no sign of abating. One of the lead stars, Dianna Agron, even performed at Sunday’s Super Bowl to an American television audience of 111 million people.
But why the huge following? Well, the show focuses on an American high school ‘Glee Club’ (a type of drama group) and focuses on relationships, sexuality and social issues – all the right boxes to tick for a teen drama, but arguably the biggest factor behind its success is the music.
Whilst most shows appear for 30 minutes one night a week and then leave you waiting seven days for the latest instalment, Glee kept the interest up throughout its series run. Featuring music from some of the world’s leading artists, musicals and performers, including Madonna, Rihanna, Journey, Cee Lo Green, Britney Spears and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the tracks covered in the show would almost instantly appear on iTunes and on the shelves of record shops – a formula that has since been taken up by shows like The X Factor and Must be the Music. It meant that the fans could continue to follow the show well away from their television sets and own their own piece of ‘Glee’ in the process.
The first release under the ’Glee’ franchise, a cover of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey, reached number two in the UK charts, number four in the US and number four in Ireland – and things haven’t slowed down since then. In total, 13 million copies of Glee cast singles have been downloaded and over five million albums purchased worldwide. In 2009, the Glee cast had 25 singles chart on the US charts – only the Beatles have had more when they had 31 songs in the US chart in 1964.
Of course, there was the obligatory Christmas special as well.
The new season is already well underway and the latest Glee album is already on the shelves, featuring cover versions from The Rocky Horror Picture Show special.
As for the future, expect to see more of Glee. The Super Bowl special of the show, aired directly after the American Football finale, attracted a record audience of 26 million viewers. A third season looks an almost certainty and the music download services will continue to get bombarded by ‘Gleeks’ looking for the latest hit single from the show. Love it or loave it, Glee is sticking around for some time yet!