How Hollywood Memorializes the Dead: Twitter Trends, Tours and Covers on Glee

By Ashley Lee

A month after Whitney Houston passed away inside a hotel bathroom at the Beverly Hilton, our favorite overgrown and oddly talented high schoolers made an announcement — Glee would feature a special episode that paid tribute exclusively to the late legendary singer. That’s how we cope with loss in Hollywood.

It’s like Lea Michele and Amber Riley have these magical healing powers that help audiences everywhere properly process a tragic absence of the entertainment world. And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that this season’s ratings slipped into new lows — it’s more like a public service, a continuation of a funeral, no matter how much the first one cost.

For some reason, getting your song covered on Glee does wonders for your musical career — Gotye, fun. and Young the Giant were all small success stories until the McKinley High kids sang their previously unknown tracks recently. But snagging an entire episode after you’re already dead? Congratulations!

Thanks to this three-year-old show, the decades of your career have just been given a brand new life. Because when the world loses a talent, Hollywood finds a gold mine, and in so many different ways:

Instant mentorship. If you never got the chance to mentor an aspiring actor while playing the fame game, no worries – your legacy will actually launch someone else’s career as they portray you onscreen. Jennifer Lopez first became known via Selena, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon earned critical acclaim for Walk the Line, and Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for his role in Ray. Contenders for the role of Whitney in a potential biopic have included Battleship’s bad girl, Rihanna, and Houston’s own daughter, Bobby Christina Brown, but that’s all just talk for now. It’s just too soon for a movie — there are so many other frontiers to conquer first!

Top spots on iTunes. When was the last time you had a number one hit? You can relax now, since you won’t even need to create any new material to top the charts once again. Fans who seemed to hibernating for years will suddenly crave your sound again, while new kids on the block will wonder what your (initial) claim to fame was. You’ll find that your highest competition on iTunes is with your own Glee covers, mashups and medleys — and even if the show completely subverts the original meaning of your songs, you’re not too upset about it. Nope, not at all.

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