This week, “Glee” featured Gwyneth Paltrow playing a substitute teacher. She led the glee club kids in an amazing rendition of Cee Lo Green’s new song, “Forget You”. I was quite surprised to hear how good Paltrow’s voice is, but I guess I shouldn’t be since her husband, Chris Martin, fronts the band, Coldplay. Let me tell you that “Forget You” buried an earworm deep in my brain. I have not been able to get that song off my mind all week. In fact, I went right to iTunes and downloaded the “Glee” version and the artist’s “original” version — a first for me.
The reason for emphasis on “original” is that Cee Lo Green first recorded this song as “F.U.” (you can fill in the obvious expletive). I listened to a tiny bit of “F.U.” on iTunes and was thoroughly disgusted at the unnecessarily crude language. I mean, really, there was absolutely no artistic or emphatic value in putting a curse word at the center of a very catchy tune. Dumbass. Then I compared the “F.U.” and “Forget You” videos on YouTube and was stunned to find them virtually identical: a retro 60s-sounding song set in a diner, complete with Supremes-like backup singers. The message was pretty good: you jilted me for a guy with more money, even though I loved you, so forget you; I would be loyal to you whether I was rich or poor. The explicit version of the song sounds crass and bitter, but the clean version of the song sounds spiteful yet sincere.
Enter the “Glee” routine. I must tell you, the “Glee” version of “Forget You” is better than than Cee Lo Green’s. The arrangement is in a higher key, obviously to accommodate a woman’s voice, but the orchestration emphasizes the bass line more. The use of a choral backup sound makes the song feel more lush.
The one curious thing I find in Green’s version is that his voice sounds exactly like Rev. Al Green’s voice. You remember Al Green from his 1970s soul hits like “You Oughta Be With Me,” “I’m Still In Love With You,” “Love and Happiness”, and “Let’s Stay Together”. Al Green’s Midwestern accent broadened his clear tenor sound, yet there was a hollow, perhaps glottal, quality to the tambor of Al Green’s voice. I hear the same thing in Cee Lo Green as a solo artist today, and I heard it when he was the lead singer for the groups, Gnarls Barkley and The Goodie Mob. Sadly, Cee Lo Green is a pseudonym, and he is not related to Rev. Al Green.
In any case, listen to both versions of “Forget You” and leave me your opinion in the comments below.
Cee Lo Green sings Forget You.
Gwyneth Paltrow and the cast of “Glee” sing Forget You (Glee Cast Version).