Dial 1-800-About-Damn-Time: Fox’s Glee is back on Sunday, and in the post-Super Bowl slot, no less! There’s crazy-loud buzz right now about a football-field mashup of “Thriller” and “Heads Will Roll,” but if that performance is going to join the pantheon of the show’s all-time greatest musical numbers, it’ll have to leapfrog over these 11 performances. Without further ado, here’s TVLine’s countdown.
11. “Dog Days Are Over” | Mercedes, Tina, and New Directions (“Special Education,” Season 2) | The sectionals number that should’ve been, but inexplicably wasn’t. No matchy-matchy costumes, no slick choreography. Just our McKinley High kids belting their hearts out and having a blast doing it.
10. “Defying Gravity” | Kurt and Rachel (“Wheels,” Season 1) | Everybody loves a diva-off, and watching Lea Michele and Chris Colfer duke it out on this Wicked ballad was truly riveting, a defining moment for the show’s initial season.
9. “Push It” | New Directions (“Showmance,” Season 1) | I usually wince when anyone from McKinley strays down Hip-Hop Boulevard, but when New Directions secretly substituted the Salt-n-Pepa party-starter into their school assembly set list, the results were hilariously ribald.
8. “Halo/Walking on Sunshine” | The ladies of New Directions (“Vitamin D,” Season 1) | Glee has done wonders in promoting the art of the musical mashup, and this one was particularly choice. (Yes, I gave bonus points for those gorgeous yellow dresses.)
7. “Forget You” | Holly Holliday and New Directions (“The Substitute,” Season 2) | Just when Glee‘s formula was feeling a teensy bit stale — and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Q rating was flying toward the dumpster — along came the world’s jauntiest substitute with a cleaned-up version of the year’s most deliciously bitter hit. Encore, please?
6. “Telephone” | Rachel and Sunshine Corazon (“Audition,” Season 2) | The casting of Philippine singing sensation Charice created a ton of anticipation during Glee‘s summer vacation, and the big payoff arrived rather unexpectedly during a sing-off in the girls’ room, opposite New Directions’ insecure leading lady.
5. “Jump” | New Directions (“Mattress,” Season 1) | New Directions’ commercial for a local mattress store may not have been its crowning vocal achievement, but the pajama-clad kids using beds to springboard to dazzling dance moves created some of the show’s most memorable imagery.
4. “Teenage Dream” | Blaine and the Dalton Academy Warblers (“Never Been Kissed,” Season 2) | Maybe it was the dazzling blazers, or Darren Criss’ perfect coiff, or the sound of Katy Perry’s ubiquitous hit getting a massive vocal upgrade, but this one made us as swoony as Kurt on his first foray into the safe-haven of an all-boys private school.
3. “Don’t Stop Believin’” | New Directions (“Pilot,” Season 1) | The performance that made us fall for New Directions in the first place. You can’t have a Top 11 list without it. And yet there are two performances we still like even more.
2. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” | Kurt (“Grilled Cheesus,” Season 2) | Turning the Beatles’ sweet ode to young love into a bedside vigil for Kurt’s ailing father was a complete stroke of genius. Get thee to a doctor for a tear-duct exam if you made it through without crying.
1. “Don’t Rain on My Parade” | Rachel (“Sectionals,” Season 1) | Yeah, there are moments where we want to put Rachel in a bag and hurl her against the wall, but holy vocal adrenaline, her tour-de-force sectionals solo — performed from a high-school auditorium without any extra fanfare or special effects — was astonishingly good. Don’t even think about heading down to the comments and hurling precipitation on her victory march…
…or, if you really must, do! With the wide range of music that Glee has tackled, we know you’ll have your own opinions about unforgivable omissions to this list, as well as inclusions that leave you scratching your head. So get clickety-clacking and tell me where I went wrong, then post your own Top 11. And for up-to-the-minute alerts on all my TV coverage — including Glee recaps and a rundown of the Super Bowl’s best and worst ads — follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!