When Glee aired its first episode in May 2009, the TV show only attracted a fraction of the viewers who tuned in for American Idol, shown on the same channel one hour prior. The numbers looked bleak, but Billboard's singles charts told a different story the following week, when the Glee version of Journey
's "Don't Stop Believing" became a Top Five hit. Performed during the pilot by the castmates themselves, the song eventually sold over 700,000 downloads and paved the way for Glee's success -- not only as a television show, but also as a chart-topping recording entity.
Columbia Records became Glee's official music partner that spring, and the show continued churning out hit singles when it returned in September for the full run of its first season. Of course, it didn't hurt that many of the actors had previously cut their teeth on Broadway, including Lea Michele (the star of Spring Awakening
) and Matthew Morrison (the original Link Larkin in Hairspray
). Such experience helped boost the musical numbers on the show, and Columbia
began gathering some of Glee's best moments for a series of albums, beginning with Glee: The Music, Vol. 1 in November 2009. That first album cracked the Top Five during its first week of release, paving the way for the arrival of Vol. 2 in December. Both records went gold.
Glee took a quick break at the end of 2009, with more episodes planned for the spring. The show returned in April 2010, its arrival punctuated by the release of a new soundtrack, The Power of Madonna
. Featuring seven songs originally recorded by the Material Girl
, the EP also introduced the newest member of Glee's cast, Jonathan Groff, who had previously performed alongside Lea Michele in Spring Awakening
. It debuted at number one -- the first of Glee's three releases to do so -- and was followed two weeks later by another album, Showstoppers, which also topped the charts. The show wrapped up its first season that summer, but not before releasing one final EP, Journey to Regionals. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi