Boy, was there a lot to keep track of during the second season of "Glee." Emma had lingering feelings for Will but then married (and subsequently divorced) her sexy dentist Dr. Carl. Sue Sylvester flip-flopped between evil schemer and heartfelt friend, and exes Quinn and Finn's feelings for one another came and went faster than Sunshine Corazon in the halls of McKinley High School.
Still, no matter how many revolving story lines showed up in "Glee" this year, one thing was always constant: seriously great music. Not only did New Directions give their own original songs such as "Loser Like Me" a go (something they will do again during tonight's episode) but they covered some classics and modern favorites. As we count down to tonight's eagerly anticipated season finale (9 p.m. on Fox after "American Idol"), we wanted to look back at the five best songs and performances from this past year!
Could there have been any better way to introduce Darren Criss and his dreamy character Blaine? That would be a resounding, "No way!" We swooned right along with Kurt in the "Never Been Kissed" episode as Blaine and his fellow Warblers did an absolutely amazing rendition of Katy Perry's hit "Teenage Dream." Dare we say it's even better than the original?! Besides guest star Gwyneth Paltrow's (more on her later) version of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You," no "Glee" cover garnered more attention—or love—than this one. And with good reason: As far as "Glee" tunes go, this one became an instant classic (not to mention a huge hit on iTunes) and turned us all into Warblers fans.
Chris Colfer croons Beatles classic "I Want To Hold Your Hand"... and we all cry
If The Warblers' take on "Teenage Dream" made us swoon, then Chris Colfer's stirring rendition of The Beatles' pop classic "I Want to Hold Your Hand" made us all reach for the tissues. In the controversial episode "Grilled Cheesus," Kurt faced the frightening possibility of losing his father, Burt, who suffered a heart attack. While visiting his dad in the hospital, Kurt sang his own heartbreaking rendition of The Beatles tune and gives the track a whole new feeling. Season two centered a lot around Kurt, but there was no one moment—or song—that Chris Colfer blew us away in more.
As we mentioned before, Gwyneth Paltrow's turn as kooky sub Holly Holliday really got people singing her praises thanks to her sassy take on "Forget You." But we couldn't get over her skills during the waterlogged "Singin' in the Rain/Umbrella" number in her first episode, "The Substitute." Not only could she keep up vocally with the rest of the "Glee" gang, but she danced with the best of them, including her future beau, Matthew Morrison's skilled stepper Mr. Schuester. Factor in the unconventional, albeit brilliant, pairing of a tune from a classic film with a recent Rihanna smash and you've got one of the best performances from this past season, if not the entire series.
Lea Michele takes "Jar of Hearts" and "The Only Exception" to the next level
It's not easy to narrow down which Lea Michele performance is the best. Let's face it, the girl can sing. And while she certainly had some stunners this season, like when she channeled Barbra Streisand—and per usual, brought down the house—with "My Man," we really loved when she took more subdued songs and turned them into powerhouse ballads. Whenever she is singing her heart out to her on-again, off-again beau Finn, Rachel really makes us root for her, like when she sang Paramore's "The Only Exception" in the practice room during "Britney/Brittany" and when she bared her soul through Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts" at the "Prom."
Kevin McHale Continues to wow with an understated but moving Fleetwood Mac cover
We've said it before and we'll say it again, Kevin McHale (and his sweet character Artie, for that matter) is the underrated underdog of "Glee." Time and time again, Kevin turns out powerful and poignant musical numbers on the series (take for instance "Safety Dance" and "Dancing With Myself" from season one) and his take on Fleetwood Mac's classic "Never Going Back Again" during the "Rumours" episode only proved that further. After an oh-so-sad break-up with Brittany, a defeated Kevin sang the song, along with the help of some of his fellow guitar-plucking glee club members. Like Kevin himself, it was a true, understated gem.
Honorable mentions: Amber Riley's "Try A Little Tenderness" gave us goosebumps, as did Chris and Darren's sweet Christmastime duet of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." We also had nothing but love for memorable New Directions mash-ups, like "I Feel Pretty/Unpretty" and "Thriller/Heads Will Roll."
But tell us, Crushers, what were your favorite songs and performances from the second season of "Glee"? Let us know in the comments section below and on Twitter!