New Directions head for Nationals and this time they return home champions.
New Directions make it to Nationals, and they are the first group to perform. They kick things off with the TroubleTones performing Lady Gaga's hit "The Edge Of Glory." It is a strong kickoff to their three song performance. Co-written and co-produced by Fernando Garibay, "The Edge Of Glory" was the third single released from the Born This Way album. It was a #3 pop hit and reached #1 on the dance chart. Lady Gaga's recording of the song is particularly notable for including a saxophone solo from Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.
"It's All Coming Back To Me Now" is the first of two songs written by Jim Steinman that New Directions performed at Nationals. It is Rachel's solo moment of glory, and she comes through magnificently. Jim Steinman has said he wrote this song out of inspiration from Wuthering Heights and in an effort to write the most passionate, romantic song. Reportedly, Jim Steinman's frequent collaborator Meat Loaf for years, but Jim Steinman was saving it for a female singer. The all female group Pandora's Box released the first recording of the song in 1989, but it failed to become a significant hit. In 1996 Celine Dion released her version and it climbed all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Meat Loaf finally got to record his version, as a duet, in 2006 with Marion Raven for the album Bat Out Of Hell III. His interpretation of the song became a top 10 pop hit in the UK.
New Directions close their Nationals performance with an energetic and severely edited version of Meat Loaf's epic eight and a half minute classic "Paradise By the Dashboard Light." The Glee version reduces some of the sexual tension of the original, but it notably gives Finn an opportunity for a significant vocal lead. The original recording of the song, written by Jim Steinman, includes three distinct segments plus a radio play-by-play broadcast. The opening reminisces about teen romance. It is followed by a baseball play-by-play as a metaphor for teen sexual interaction. Next is a segment in which the female protagonist insists on a profession of love if they are to "go all the way." The closing of the song expresses regret for the long ago event and the resulting relationship based on the vow from that tense night. "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #39, but it has become a rock radio classic.
New Directions arch rivals Vocal Adrenaline follow them to the stage. Their secret weapon is the cross-dressing Unique. She is the centerpiece of a performance of Nicki Minaj's current hit "Starships." It features particularly impressive acrobatic dance moves. "Starships" has become Nicki Minaj's second top 10 pop hit. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #9 and has climbed as high as #5. It also reached #2 on the dance chart. Nicki Minaj has said she recorded "Starships" as a song that would make her fans feel good.
Vocal Adrenaline's other performance shown digs back into classic rock with "Pinball Wizard." Replicas of old pinball machines are used as props for the song. "Pinball Wizard" was written for the Who's 1969 rock opera Tommy. The Who's version became a top 20 pop hit single in the US. Elton John covered the song for the 1975 movie version of Tommy. When released as a single Elton John's more pop-oriented interpretation was a top 10 pop hit.
When New Directions arrive back home at McKinley High after winning Nationals, they arrive as champions and celebrities. Their arrival is serenaded by the cast's version of Grouplove's "Tongue Tied." The song was the breakthrough hit for indie band Grouplove. It was featured in an Apple iPod Touch commercial. Ultimately the song reached the top 10 on both the alternative and rock songs charts while edging into the top 40 in pop radio airplay. It is a celebratory song about good times with friends.
The Nationals episode closes with Mr. Schuester receiving the Teacher of the Year award. As part of the celebration New Directions are asked to perform. Their choice of song is Queen's classic "We Are the Champions." The power ballad was originally featured on Queen's 1977 album News Of the World. Queen took the song to #4 on the US pop singles chart and #2 in the UK.