‘Glee’ preview: Michael Jackson and mixed excitement

Ten songs … in one episode.

It’s become a bit of a tradition with the press to hype itself up to extreme levels whenever “Glee” does a tribute episode. We saw this first and foremost for the Madonna celebration two years ago, and then it happened again for the ratings smash that was its Britney Spears tribute. Now, the sow is trying to recapture the magic again — and it’s all courtesy of the King of Pop Michael Jackson.

At this point in time, the Jackson tribute may actually be a little riskier than either of the two elaborate tributes the show has done already — but it is not due to the actual quality of the material. There’s little question that Jackson had some of the biggest pop songs of all time, and even with some strange choices (such as including “Ben” but ignoring “Billie Jean,” which is supposedly being saved for a potential sequel), there’s going to be some great music here over the course of the hour-long run time.

Rather, the question going into this is if this episode can avoid the pitfalls of the last two episodes content-wise — meaning all style and little substance. This was the issue behind the recent Christmas episode, as well, as we watched an episode dominated by music with no story to support it. One of the causes for concern here is that this is all we know about this episode so far:

1. Rachel and Finn’s engagement will be addressed.

2. New Directions embarks on this Michael Jackson theme after some of the Trouble Tones are upset they didn’t get to perform any of the group’s Sectionals music.

3. War breaks out between the Warblers and New Directions over something that happens to Blaine.

It’s concerning that there are ten musical numbers crammed into an episode that is really just 43 minutes long — though it’s possible that one or more of these could be cut before the episode actually ends up airing. On the opposite side, we are at least excited with some of the creative tricks utilized by Adam Anders and the music team on some of these songs. The cover of “Smooth Criminal” featuring Naya Rivera and Grant Gustin (along with the 2 Cellos) is one of the sleekest renditions of a song “Glee” has done yet — and it has even spawned some ‘shippers for the couple even though neither one of them would be interested in the other.

You can check out this video below if you haven’t already, and there has been another cover floating around the internet of “Wanna Be Starting Something” by Darren Criss’ Blaine that is a bit more of standard “Glee” fare. Overall, “Glee” has cranked a great deal of attention (and it budget) into an episode that showcases some classic tunes — let’s just hope that there is enough here to go along with the high ratings the episode will inevitably receive.

Photo: Fox

Video: E! News

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