First post by new contributor Gus.
While we were still swooning over Blaine and Kurt’s first kiss or as twitter colloquially calls it the ‘kliss’ the pair opened Regionals with the duet that initiated the epically romantic moment, Candles by Hey Monday. The performance served to highlight not only their vocal chemistry but their growing attraction. Yet it was a ‘break up’ song; Glee has a long history of radically reinterpreting songs but this left the audience perplexed, even Chris Colfer expressed his confusion as to why this song was specifically chosen at the moment they got together. After a lot of thought I have concluded that it was a stroke of utter creative genius on behalf of the writers. They frequently use the competition episodes to make some sort of comment on the central relationships.
Klaine is arguably one of the healthiest and stable couples on the show, with the exception of Mike and Tina (I may dedicate another post to them), they’ve had their share of dramas but they’ve always come out of it stronger and more devoted to each other. All the other couples are shrouded in jealousy, deception or manipulation. Let’s mirror them to the show’s other power couple Rachel and Finn; effectively achieved than in episode 3.05 The First Time. Their relationship has constantly been about public displays; on two occasions they’ve sung a love duet in front of a competition audience, climaxing in a spontaneous kiss at Nationals. Their duets are generally agreed by the glee club to be their ‘best shot at winning’ and Finn called their climactic kiss ‘the superman of kisses’. From an audience perspective it does make sense that these two sing together, because they appreciate the suggestion that the two are in fact together. They’re two attractive kids, they have a reasonable amount of stage chemistry and because Rachel never attempts to upstage him they’re evenly matched. Rachel and Kurt on the other hand who have stunning chemistry would never be invited to perform together because, as has been extensively discussed he’s clearly gay (not Rock Hudson gay). Frankly I would love to see those two enter the auditorium doors and stroll down the aisle singing about their friendship. Neither would a misfit couple such as Santana or Artie, there’s a clear imbalance in the ‘natural’ order of things which Will Schuster has always particularly enforced. Even when he decided to shake things up he chose Quinn and Sam, the groups other ‘popular’ couple, Artie and Mercedes have proved time and time again that they’ve got the pipes and stage appeal to put on a great show. The reason-they don’t have the kind of chemistry that an audience values above all others-young love.
Yet Rachel and Finn broke the cardinal rule, they turned a very personal moment into public domain, they went too far taking the audience out of their comfort zone so they could no longer toy with the notion that was neither confirmed nor denied (the writers explore this notion so well and have several times). Their enjoyment is rooted in the ‘performance’. On a larger extent it’s the same with same sex displays of affection. Kurt and Blaine’s big moment was by comparison in the empty common room, then later on in Blaine’s bed room and finally in an example of perfect mis en scene; on a dark stage in front of rows and rows of empty chairs.
Back to Candles; it ties in brilliantly with the representation of both the characters and their future development. For example Blaine chose the song before he made his move; he previously stated that he was ‘not very good at romance’ so by choosing a song about getting over his lover he was preparing himself for a possible rejection. This was a wise move on his part because we have to remember the last time he made a declaration in a specifically romantic form (on Valentine’s Day no less) it backfired spectacularly. Even after they kissed, his insecurity hit him hard and he immediately said they should practice said song. In performance it became an echo for the utter mess Finn and Rachel had made of their relationship and to a lesser extent Puck and Quinn, all are far too preoccupied with how things ‘should’ be they tear themselves apart. Finn and Rachel share a look, Quinn marks her territory by taking his hand and we get a glimpse of Puck sobbing alone (on another note, how fantastic was that little touch?)
I think the reason for the success of Kurt and Blaine’s relationship from this point is the mature and honest way in which these two young men have handled it. They began it by addressing that they could very well break up and their first public display of attraction was in a number about losing it. They didn’t jinx it by singing about ‘love’. It’s this honesty that has been synonymous with their stability. It’s been entirely their own and they’ve handled it on their own terms without paying any attention to the ways society dictates a certain type of relationship. There have been countless examples of how realistic they are; they may be on a stage but the lights are off and it’s devoid of scenery. You’ll note that the two very seldom sing about their relationship, they prefer an intimate discussion, even Perfect (I kissed a girl) which is clearly stated to be ‘their’ song is directed at Santana, we don’t even get a little detour to them rocking out in the car on the way home from school. So for all the talk about how this show is unfocused and lacks continuity that’s life and it’s relationships especially with the young. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense and all you need to do is dig a little deeper to find the true meaning.
When I first heard them singing I have to admit, I completely zoned out and just focused on how in love they looked. The second (and third and fourth…) times I definitely had a “wtf? A BREAK UP SONG BLAINE, REALLY?” but generally chalked it up to Glee just being weird with their song choices. But then I actually starting really paying attention to the lyrics I noticed how the writers/Blaine definitely specifically tailored the dialogue to this song.
“Lost sight, couldn’t see/when it was you and me” and Blaine’s realization that “I’ve been looking for you forever” are very clearly references to each other. To me, that made the song choice not so much about acknowledging the potential hurt in their future (although I’m going to have to go chew on that thought for a while. I definitely agree with everything you were saying about Finchel and ‘chemistry’) but about love doesn’t have to be loud and showy. You don’t see the forest for the trees, you don’t see what’s right in front of you BECAUSE it’s right in front of you. It’s just hanging out in your living room, and it’s obviously right and so completely belongs there that you can’t even remember when you got it until you actually take a second to look and realize “wait, when did that happen?”
As opposed to Rachel, who chased Finn like a proverbial hound from hell until he noticed her and fell in love, Kurt just… hung around. Kurt learned the perils of shoving with Finn, and it shows in how he acted around Blaine. He made himself Blaine’s best friend, and was honest about his attraction but not in a way that made it a huge deal. He let Blaine love him as a person, and then as a potential partner instead of what happened with Finchel which was pretty much the other way around. They liked the idea of each other, and then actually started caring about the real person after.
I’m not even sure if what I’m saying makes sense anymore, so I’m just going to go sleep off my 14 hour shift…
wow, long comment is long. Sorry ’bout that
What a very astute point-I enjoyed it very much (the forest for the trees comment was wonderful) I may have to write a second part talking about the relationship between Kurt and Finn and by extension how he responded to Blaine. Anyway thanks for your thoughts
This. I’ve been saying this for a year and people always characterize Candles as a writer misstep. I am vindicated!
I really agree with everything you’ve said here! I hadn’t picked up on Blaine having chosen the song before making his move, but you’re right – that’s totally relevant.
I was talking about this song just the other day with a friend (who felt like Candles was a mistake) in the comments of a post I made over on LJ/DW. It’s here if you’re interested! I think we agree with each other on a lot of it. 🙂
Hi, I read your piece and i thought it was wonderful-one thing I loved was your connection to ‘Raise your Glass’, it was so clear when I read it I had always seen the song as just a celebration-top drawer. Your analysis of the two actors was also(from my perspective) spot on; it’s always been my favourite part of the show, what lacks in a lot of pairs is that these two actors are always on the same page and actually work together, taking what’s being offered from the other and working with it.
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