For anyone puzzled by the dozen or so albums that were flung into the mainstream like so many cherry-red slushees during Glee’s first two seasons, here’s the easiest way to describe this particular release: it’s the soundtrack to the movie based upon the tour launched by the TV show. If that sounds exhausting, it’s because this album is nothing if not exhaustive. It features 23 songs, including most of the show’s biggest hits. It spotlights the entire cast, from heavy hitters (Lea Michele) to newcomers (Darren Criss) to tangential characters (Gwyneth Paltrow). And above all else, it sounds perfect; every note is hit, every harmony flawlessly sung, every a cappella section meticulously executed. Auto-Tune may be the biggest problem with Glee’s regular soundtracks, but lip syncing is the likely culprit on this concert album.
Of course, it’s impossible to tell which parts are performed and which are piped in. Is Heather Morris actually singing “I’m a Slave 4 U,” or is she miming the words while she concentrates on the dance moves? Are Dianna Agron and Chord Overstreet so vocally entwined that they can harmonize their way through Jason Mraz’s “Lucky” without incident, despite the distractions coming from the loud, screaming, presumably adolescent audience, or are they getting some help from a backing track? Who knows. And better still, who cares? If you aren’t a fan of Glee’s cheesy, “follow your dreams!!” gusto, then you have no business listening to The 3D Concert Movie, which often feels like the stage adaptation of an afternoon special. If you’re a Gleek, though, you probably realize the best way to enjoy any Glee album — or any episode, for that matter — is to suspend your disbelief and simply enjoy these sugary pop songs, whether they’re the product of a single performance in East Rutherford, New Jersey (the setting for this soundtrack and its accompanying film) or a hybrid of live vocals, studio overdubs, and canned harmonies.