Glee: The Music, Volume 1 is the first album of songs released from the Fox TV show Glee. It is a collection of songs from season one episodes 1-5 and 7-9 (though only two songs from the episode appear on this volume, as Proud Mary is on Glee: The Music, Volume 2), as no songs from episode 6 were featured in this album. It was released on November 3, 2009.
Reviewing the album, Christopher John Farley for The Wall Street Journal opined that: "some of the singers on the show are quite good", writing: "The show shines when the songs don’t seem too polished–then the actors can serve as surrogates for the karaoke ham inside of each one of us. If you’re fan of the show, the album will evoke fond memories of favorite episodes, giving the songs with an emotional backstory that many pop hits lack. Jon Dolan for Rolling Stone commented: "Star Matthew Morrison couldn't rap his way out of a 98° rehearsal. But Amber "Mercedes" Riley crushes Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows", and the Gleeks' "Don't Stop Believin'" is a triumphal moment against which resistance is futile." Allmusic's Andrew Leahey noted that Cory Monteith and Dianna Agron "can't sing nearly as well as their co-stars", but opined that the album: "has enough star power to keep things trucking along, especially when powerhouse alto Lea Michele takes the wheel. She sounds fantastic throughout, whether she's holding her own during a duet with Broadway queen Kristin Chenoweth or covering the likes of Jordin Sparks, Avril Lavigne, and Queen." Leahey described the soundtrack as being mostly a vehicle for Michele's voice, but noted: "it also gives ample stage time to Matthew Morrison, who downplays his own Broadway career by rapping on two different tracks. Tuneful performances by Mark Salling [...] and former boy band member Kevin McHale [...] also point to the fact that Glee is an ensemble production in disguise, but Lea Michele still receives top billing, as she sings circles around most of the pop stars whose music is featured here."
Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt wrote that the album: "has a giddy sort of 'let's put on a show' charm; on record, it's basically fancy (albeit fun) karaoke." Brian Linder of IGN characterized it as having "an appealing irreverent spirit that tamps down the earnestness just as it begins to overwhelm." He noted that "Matthew Morrison isn't going to win any emcee battles", but enjoyed his renditions of "Gold Digger" and "Bust A Move" nonetheless. Linder commented: "Glee's musical selections are almost always solid. The only area where there's occasional slippage is when the cast are asked to perform played out pop songs of yesteryear. "Sweet Caroline" and "Say a Little Prayer" (the iTunes bonus track) have very little resonance. And the talents of Dianna Agron (Quinn) are wasted on an uninspiring cover of the Supreme's "You Keep Me Hangin' On," the soundtrack's weakest link. They're like watching one of the lame theme weeks on American Idol." More positively, he noted: Glee's sonic palate would be incomplete without McKinley High's student-diva Mercedes." Linder felt that: "for all its sass, wit, and irony, Glee's at its musical best when the cast are belting out big ballads with starry-eyed sincerity. Their cover of Queen's "Somebody to Love" would make Freddie Mercury proud. And Avril's "Keep Holding On" is given an especially affecting treatment that (apologies to Ms. Lavigne) surpasses the original." Linder commended Michele's vocal's, opining that she has a "plucked-off-the-street appeal that is instantly endearing" and deeming her voice "inspiring and immaculate".