Five years ago, “Glee” introduced new talents to the television and the music industries. Among the new voices, the front-running was Lea Michele, who played the character Rachel Berry. It has been five years and five seasons, and Michele has covered more than one hundred songs, ranging from Barbara Streisand to Katy Perry, she has established a strong fan base ready for her debut solo album, Louder.
“Cannonball” is the album’s first single and is written by Sia Furler. The song was not originally meant for Michele, but after the death of her boyfriend and co-star Cory Monteith, Furler and Michele decided to have the song as her first single. “Cannonball” is dominated by Michele’s hauntingly beautiful vocals, and she has proven her talents with her live performances of this song. Because Louder serves as Michele’s debut in the music industry outside of “Glee,” I would have liked a song written by her as the first single of this album. Unfortunately, only 2 of 11 songs, “Cue the Rain” and “If You Say So,” are co-written by Michele.
Fortunately, the album is filled with many memorable songs that don’t function as album fillers. “Battlefield,” and “On My Way” are just a couple of songs that will catch your attention and make you want to listen to Louder in full.
Surprisingly, one of the best songs of this album, and my personal favorite, “What is Love?”, is only offered on iTunes as a deluxe edition bonus track. The songwriting is subpar compared to other tracks on the album, but Michele’s desperation will permeate through your headphones and make you sympathize with her. On a similarly sad note is “If You Say So,” co-written by Michele herself. The song is dedicated to Monteith and will capture you with its beautiful lyrics and emotional rhythm. Listening to “If You Say So” takes you through Michele’s grieving process, allowing all “Glee” fans to say goodbye to Monteith with Michele. The song deserves to be her signature song of this album and her music career so far.
Louder has been in the works for nearly two years. It was expected to be released last year, but it was delayed by the sudden death of Monteith. Unfortunately, since then the album has been heavily publicized as a tribute album to Monteith instead of focusing on Michele and her vocal power and style. Nearly every song has been connected to her loss and grief by the media. This may be an evil marketing trick in order to boost the sale figures, but it ultimately makes the album more of a tribute and less of a debut to potential fans who may not already be dedicated to Michele and Monteith’s memory.
Michele reminds me of Idina Menzel (or as John Travolta calls her, Adele Dazeem). Just like Menzel, she started her work with roles in Broadway productions, such as “Les Misérables” and “Spring Awakening,” and is now ready to make it big on Broadway and in Hollywood. With “Glee” ending its long run next year with its sixth season, Michele is ready to take her next big step in the world of music, and Louder is an acceptable debut album that leaves us begging for more.