'Glee' Fever Inspires Fan Auditions, Boosts Sales of Pop Classics

April 28, 2010, 3:12 PM

April 28, 2010 — -- Gleeks unite! Excitement over the hit Fox show "Glee," a first-season comedy about a high school glee club, is sparking copycats, lining the pockets of classic pop songwriters whose work has been included on the show, and inspiring tens of thousands of fans who call themselves "gleeks" -- an amalgam of "geeks" and "Glee" -- to submit auditions online in the hopes of getting on the air.

The chance to audition through the show's MySpace page has proved so popular that "Glee" reopened the tryouts at noon today, and is accepting submissions until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, April 29.

Budding singers are also buying a new iPhone app that allows them to sing along, karaoke-style, to "Glee" standards and post their versions online.

"Glee's" popularity has also sent it straight to the top of the music charts -- the three cast albums are dominating Apple's iTunes album sales, and original recordings of classic pop hits covered by the show's fictional glee club have risen as well.

"As many younger viewers seem to be losing interest in the once invulnerable "American Idol," "Glee" looks poised to become pop's new tastemaker," Scott Collins and Denise Martin wrote in the L.A. Times.

"Much like 'Idol,' 'Glee' is helping alter the dynamic between music and television, showing ways that both media can help prop up each other in a world beset by multichannel and Internet competition. … It's music that drives the show, and the show in turn drives music sales."

The soundtrack of the Madonna-themed "The Power of Madonna" -- the only episode to focus on a single artist -- premiered at No. 1 on the Billboard album charts and boosted sales of Madonna's greatest hits album "Celebration" 219 percent.

Some songwriters at first hesitated to license the rights to their hits. According to the L.A. Times, Neil Diamond initially didn't want to allow "Glee" to use his 1969 hit "Sweet Caroline." But after it appeared in an October episode, "sales more than tripled from 3,038 the week before to 10,160 the week after. Diamond wrote on Twitter that he 'loved' the cover version."

Meanwhile, NBC hopes to capitalize on the increasing real-life popularity of glee clubs with a new a capella "American Idol"-style competition series, "The Sing-Off." The network is traveling to New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles in September to recruit contestants.

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