A Look Back At Naya Rivera’s Best Songs On ‘Glee’
From 'Songbird' to 'River Deep, Mountain High'.
Earlier today, it was confirmed that Naya Rivera, best known for playing Santana Lopez in Glee, had died after a boating incident in California. Her four-year-old son, who was also on the boat, survived.
Tributes have since poured in for Rivera, whose sensitive portrayal of the LGBTIQ character endeared her to legions of young queer fans.
pretty sure santana was the first queer character i saw on TV who wasn’t a stereotype, wasn’t suffering because of her sexuality, and actually helped me realise that being gay wasn’t really such a bad thing 💜 https://t.co/zemDluCxph
— Jemima Skelley (@jemimaskelley) July 13, 2020
Santana crackled on screen, her brutal one-liners and quips at odds with the gentleness of her singing voice, which came to life in episodes such as Rumours, in which the cast explored the Fleetwood Mac album of the same name (with varying results, it must be said).
In honour of Rivera, and Santana, we’ve taken a look back at her best runs on Glee. Dive in.
Amy Winehouse’s version of the The Zutons track has been done to absolute death over the years, so much so that it can be hard to remember and embrace just how fun the song is. Glee could be embarrassingly cringe a lot of the time, sure, but here, Rivera and the cast bring unfiltered joy to the song. Rivera’s vocals do justice to the untouchable Winehouse.
One of the first moments in the series where we glimpsed Santana’s struggle with her sexuality and her feelings for Brittany, and Rivera delivered it with gut-wrenching pain. The cover struck such a chord with audiences that it shot to number #68 on the Billboard Hot 100. Later on in the series, Rivera would tackle another Fleetwood Mac classic, ‘Landslide’, which also deserves an honourable mention — despite the fact that the cover involved Gwyneth Paltrow.
‘River Deep, Mountain High’
Santana and Mercedes (Amber Riley) power through this cover of Ike and Tina Turner’s classic. Watching the two bounce off each other’s boiling energy is pure joy.
‘If I Die Young’
Sung on the show in the wake of cast member Cory Monteith’s death in 2013, it’s a heartbreaking watch — even more so now. Santana, and Rivera’s, grief cracks through in the middle of the song, and she runs from the room in pain.
‘Mine’ is arguably one of Taylor Swift’s most underrated songs, a masterclass in songwriting and composition. Sitting in a quiet room with Brittany, Santana sings it like an offering — her clear voice ringing out on lines like “You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter/You are the best thing that’s ever been mine.”
“Sad songs make me really sad and I don’t want to be sad,” Brittany says completely deadpan after it ends, which is very much a 2020 feeling.
‘Rumour Has It/Someone Like You’
Not many good things came out of the Mass Off episode of Glee, but this was one of the highlights — because, putting it simply, it just worked. Santana delivers it with a confronting force — and the scene is made even better by the almighty slap she gifts Finn after it ends, for outing her to the school.