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'Glee's 20 All-Time Best Performances, Ranked
When 'Glee' was good, it was GOOD.
When Ryan Murphy's Emmy-winning, queer-inclusive high school musical series Glee was airing, it was an unstoppable music machine. The cast had three top ten hits and a ridiculous 207 songs chart on the Billboard Top 100! From Lea Michele to Amber Riley to Darren Criss to Naya Rivera, the cast was stacked with incredible singers and performers, and the show knew how to celebrate the things they do best.
From the New Directions, to the Warblers, to solos by graduates, here are the 20 all-time best Glee performances ever, ranked!
20. "Let's Have a Kiki/Turkey Lurkey Time"
Okay, hear me out. Yes, this performance is a disorienting fever dream filled with horrific moments every two seconds, but it also perfectly encapsulates exactly what Glee was like, especially in its last seasons. It's chaotic, it's camp, it's Glee.
19. "Total Eclipse of the Heart"
Rachel, Finn, and Jessie St. James all singing on one song? A dream come true!!
18. "All That Jazz"
Guest star Kate Hudson as the harsh dance teacher Cassandra July has off-the-charts chemistry with Rachel in this late-season song. It's an epic battle between teacher and student between two wildly talented performers.
17. "Ride Wit Me"
Just a perfect season one scene where the whole club is having so much fun! This kind of joy really captures what being a choir or drama kid in high school in the late '00s and early '10s was like, and we love it.
16. "If I Were A Boy"
I'm never going to say that Glee did a good job with it's trans characters, but Alex Newell killed this one. In the episode, Unique doesn't know where she belongs at the school, and sings out all her feelings in this Beyonce classic.
This was Santana's first competition solo and she SLAYED it. Plus, you gotta love the little butt slap she gets from Brittany at the beginning! And god, do we love a Mike Chang/Brittany Pierce dance duet!
14. "Bohemian Rhapsody"
They really just let Jonathan Groff go! One of the few songs on the show that we get to hear the whole thing, and we're thankful for that. Every song Jessie St. James did with Vocal Adrenaline rules, but this one had something special.
13. "To Make You Feel My Love"
Rachel broke all of our hearts with this song that she sang for Finn after Corey Monteith's tragic death. Of course, Michele gives a great performance (we knew she would) but that she's also singing about her real-life boyfriend makes it even more incredible and emotional. Thank you for this gift.
12. "Smooth Criminal"
Santana and Warbler's leader Sebastian Smythe battled on this song for Blaine's honor, and it ended up being one of the best performances in the show's history. Naya Rivera really knew how to blow the roof off a room.
11. "Maybe This Time"
When the inimitable Kristin Chenoweth guested on Glee in season one, we knew that we were in for something special. April Rhodes really showed us what she can do on this cover from Cabaret, and then when Rachel comes in, you've got two powerhouse vocalists killing an incredible song.
10. "We Are Young"
This is really classic Glee. All the New Directions members are having so much fun singing together, and they absolutely kill this song. It really captures the youth of the characters, full of hope and ambition, celebrating with their chosen family.
9. "I Feel Pretty/Unpretty"
The song that launched a thousand Faberry shippers. Quinn and Rachel pair up on this mash-up about body image, and it's honestly one of the most romantic things in the history of the show.
8. 'And I Am Telling You'
No one on Glee can belt like Mercedes. She wanted to prove that she's just as good as Rachel and deserving of more than just high notes at the ends of songs, and damn did she do it. I've got shivers!
7. "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
Kurt got to shine in this episode where his dad suffered a heart attack. He doesn't believe in God, but he definitely believes in family, and he beautifully sings about that here.
With guest Glee teacher Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow) helping, Brittany and Santana were finally able to express how they really feel about each other. Every lesbian who was watching will forever remember where they were when this episode aired.
5. "River Deep, Mountain High"
Santana and Mercedes teamed up in the season two episode "Duet" on this absolutely perfect song. Naya Rivera and Amber Riley showed off so hard, combining their killer voices and some super fun and great vamping choreography. I wish we had a hundred more duets between these two. And don't forget, "We's be goin' to Breadstix."
4. "Teenage Dream"
Honestly, both of Blaine's performances of this song deserve to be on this list. With the Warblers, he's the most charming high school student ever, sweeping Kurt off his feet in a single note. Then there's the acoustic performance, which showed off Criss' intense acting talent. He really let it loose, showing every tear as he confesses that he cheated on the love of his life.
3. "Don't Rain on My Parade"
This is where Rachel became a legend. Improvising a solo after their set list was leaked, Rachel takes this song out of her back pocket and nails it, giving the crowd a chance to see what she can really do.
2. "Don't Stop Believing"
The ultimate New Directions classic. The song that started it all. They perform this song several times on the show, but the first time is definitely the best. This song was nominated for a Grammy, and it deserved it!
1. "Rumour Has It/Someone Like You"
This is one of the best scenes in television history. After she's been outed by Finn and a truly despicable political ad, Santana is afraid she's about to lose everything, and sings like it. You can see every ounce of fear, anger, love, and passion that she has in her body. Really, the Troubletones were unparalleled on the show. This is flawless, this is perfection. Rivera should've won an Emmy for this episode.