‘Glee’ Season Two Premiere Embraces Hip-Hop Via Jay-Z And Travie McCoy

All the concerns over a sophomore slump seemed to be put to rest on Tuesday night (September 21) when the second season of “Glee” officially kicked off. Not only was the episode an excellent re-entry into the world of McKinley High, but it also served several purposes: Reintroducing all your favorite characters, smoothly extending the story lines of the first season, debuting a handful of new characters (including a new sparring partner for Sue Sylvester in Coach Beiste and the new Vocal Adrenaline coach Dustin Goolsby) and, most importantly, rolling out some smashing musical performances. In the lead-up to the second season, all the talk seems to have been centered around the hotly-anticipated Britney Spears-centric episode (which is coming next week). But as the second season premiere of “Glee” proved, it can turn the music up a notch even without a gimmick.

Last night’s selections were sharp and well-presented (especially the funny run through “Telephone” and Lea Michele’s haunting take on “What I Did For Love,” a tune from “A Chorus Line” that ranks as one of the best torch songs in the history of Broadway), but the headline-grabbers were the two forays into hip-hop. Rap music isn’t exactly a natural fit on “Glee,” but they made it work, as any awkwardness during the delivery of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” was eclipsed by the choreography. In the cast of the second rap tune of the night (Travie McCoy‘s “Billionaire”), the performance was saved entire by Kevin McHale’s unusual swagger. It’s a testament to the actors on the show that they can pull these things off, and it’s also a tribute to “Billionaire,” which is an awesome song that was almost entire overlooked in this year’s summer jam derby (McCoy has Eminem and ex-girlfriend Katy Perry to thank for that). So here’s to Artie, and to the future of rap on “Glee.”

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What was your favorite musical number from the season two premiere of “Glee”? Let us know in the comments!