Sometimes, when the right forces collide and are intertwined at the right place and time, really wonderful things come to life.
With “Cough Syrup,” viewers were treated to a song that paid a favor to the music industry for its excellent treatment the song. Though Young The Giant is current and relevant, the song was an unexpected pick, yet a smart and reverent placement. It used the connection between cough medicine numbing away the pain to cast a veil over a storyline about finally ending a cycle of pain, combining two stories for an ultimate effect that was electrifying.
“Cough Syrup” lies in the context of a detailed storyline on “Glee.” Dave Karofsky, a member of McKinley High’s football team, was expelled from the school after getting in trouble for bullying classmate Kurt Hummel for being gay. But after he was allowed back into the school, his fellow teammates spotted him at dinner with Hummel, confessing his love for him, and continually bullied him as a consequence.
In the scene from February 21st’s episode, Kurt Hummel’s boyfriend Blaine sings “Cough Syrup” while practicing in the theatre while the show displays a series of clips leading up to Karofsky’s suicide attempt. It’s been talked about as one of the most emotional scenes of the season and even in the show’s three-season history.
The show debuted a few years ago to a very strong audience, but has recently faced a decline in ratings as well as critical acceptance of its writing styles. It seems as though the current season of Glee focused heavily on short-term storylines that only entertained for the episode but not the entire season. Producers featured whatever top 40 song they could get their hands on, it seems, to propel their weekly singles to the top of iTunes charts. In its third season, “Glee” sold out. Last week, though, it may have redeemed itself.
Though Glee’s performances are always debatably hit-or-miss, there’s no question that “Cough Syrup” was the perfect song to accompany the gripping scene. Amateur writers might choose something along the lines of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” for an easy way out, but “Cough Syrup” somehow stretches much further. It is almost unexpected in the way it reaches out but it also fits its new context stunningly well.
But there’s a method to the magic. What made the scene so successful was a delicate combination of a number of effects. Remaining true to the song was key, and interpreting Young The Giant’s message without stepping on it was essential in generating a positive message with its viewers.
Choosing the right character was important, too. Darren Criss’s soft rock vocals in tandem with Young The Giant’s indie rock hit was a match made in heaven. He played around with the song just the right amount, too, channeling characteristic emotion without distracting from the song. His intentions were clear as the camera catches every raw emotion in his face as he strains and closes his eyes in order to convey Blaine’s devotion to the message. Criss lays it all out in front of himself and his effort goes a long way.
“Cough Syrup” has the right melody to serve such heavy subject matter. Young The Giant’s hymn is a masterpiece in the art of increasing energy and gradually upping the ante as the song unfolds. It’s a piece of poetry for listeners to indulge into and relate with, delivering lines like
“a wet world aches for a beat of a drum”
and “a dark world aches for a splash of the sun”
next to heartbreaking “oh” sounds that have never sounded better in a song. “Cough Syrup” is audio magic, and it delights the lucky ones who are fortunate enough to hear it and watch it come to life on the small screen.
And with words dripping with so much imagery, it’s about time the song got a proper stage to be played out and interpreted. This song was practically begging to be sung to an audience like the one on “Glee,” diverse and widespread yet young and current. But only a strong and open-minded audience would be capable of absorbing the power that took place on last week’s show. Let’s hope it lives on as a statement of hope for musicians and writers in the future of television and music just as it can in our hearts.