Glee Review/Recap Season 4 Episode 12 ‘Naked’: A Month of Fundays

Glee Ep. 12

I’m torn. Should I be appalled that our beloved little glee club peddles an exploitative beefcake Men of McKinley calendar to raise money to go to Regionals, now that the Warblers are disqualified? Or, like Glee’s ‘Naked’ episode itself, should I embrace the skin-baring — along with soul-baring — vulnerability and truth of it all?

Yes, I’m torn, just as Rachel was between her earlier, sweeter self and her newer, more wanton one. But on the whole, that tug-of-war on-screen — and in me — made this an entertaining and fun episode that left me shaken, if not stirred, not just for the quandaries it presented, but for the naked emotions that shone through, from Jake and Marley’s “I love you” declarations to the supportive friendships shown for SAT-challenged Sam and nudity-resistant Rachel (stuck in a student film that looked like the  similarly b&w amateurism in Tim Burton’s classic Ed Wood).

Besides, this was one of those shows where the songs took over and the pointedly thematic plot was just a framework. And of those songs, I adored the achingly romantic Marley-Jake duet for A Thousand Years, Jake’s tender solo for Let Me Love You and the bouncy unity of Rachel, Santana and Quinn’s Love Song. (With so much love in the air, this almost could have been a Valentine’s episode.)

But what really grabbed me — beyond Rachel’s odd yet potent duet with herself for Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn — was the new song. The “it” song. The closing number. The soaring, group-sung, rousing, anthemic and quite wonderful This Is the New Year.

Granted, after a mugging music-video opening,  the glee clubbers’ frantic prancing and running onstage was a bit loopy and, dare I say, childish. But the song — the music — was incredible. And for that we have to thank another one of those obscure acts which only will benefit from exposure on Glee, while others whine about lack of due credit when exposure to millions of viewers is credit enough. And that obscure but budding act is A Great Big World, evolved from New Jersey artist Ian Axel to be a bona fide band (a band which also was the source for the background song Girl I Got a Thing on last week’s episode).

Such music, in large part, is why I watch Glee, and why it’s lifted my spirits for 3 1/2 seasons now. I don’t expect the plots and characters to always make sense, including Lord Tubbington’s preposterous computer dexterity during a long-awaited return of Brittany’s Fondue for Two online talk show. But I do expect the music to kick ass, and the songs in this show — even the softer ones — did just that, each in its own way.

So thanks, Glee, and thanks especially A Great Big World. (Salutation delivered, at least from me.) You’ve provided what makes Glee matter most:  glorious music amid the largely tone-deaf wasteland of network TV. And for that I am torn —  not one bit.

I am nakedly grateful.

But I’m still not doffing my top for anyone but my wife.

— Bruce Westbrook

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