The 'Glee' Final Sectionals Set List Is Killer, But Can It Beat Past Competitions?

It's that time of the year, Glee fans! The newest New Directions have formed, bonded, and rehearsed, and their first true test — Sectionals — is just around the corner in this Friday's episode, titled "We Built This Glee Club." While the first half of the musical dramedy's final season largely focused on the alumni and their varying romances and career choices, the last couple of episodes have finally let us get to know the most recent crop of McKinley students: quiet Roderick, brassy Jane, gay jock Spencer, and twin Cheerios Madison and Mason, among others. And thanks to the iTunes release of the music from this week's episode, we know exactly what the group is going to be singing for Sectionals... Glee's last competition ever!

You'll recall from last week that Dalton Academy burned to the ground, which of course leads to the natural conclusion that the Warblers must join with the New Directions to form a super-show choir. This plot point conveniently solved the small problem that ND didn't have enough members to be eligible to compete — and now McKinley's glee club has more bodies and more voices than ever before. Will the supergroup be able to beat Clint and Vocal Adrenaline? Probably, with this set list.

The New Directions will start off their performance with Hozier's "Take Me To Church," led by Roderick with small parts from Jane, Kitty, and the Head Warbler. They'll follow that dark tune up with Sia's hit song "Chandelier," which is sung by all the ladies (Jane/Kitty/Madison). And finally, the group will conclude with a slightly older tune, Styx's "Come Sail Away," featuring Madison, Mason, Kitty and Spencer.

Put together, those three songs make for one of the strongest set lists New Directions has ever assembled. They'll be facing off against VA's renditions of Starship's "We Built This City" and Toni Basil's "Mickey," but judging by the strength of ND's three tracks, I'd say they've got this one in the bag.

But how exactly does Season 6's Sectionals stack up against Glee's other competition episodes? Here's my definitive ranking of all 12 of the New Directions' set lists...

Image: Tyler Golden/FOX

#12: Season 4 Sectionals

Episode: “Thanksgiving”

Set List: “Gangnam Style” (PSY)

What on Earth were they thinking? Granted, Finn had only recently taken over the glee club after Mr. Schuester left for Washington, D.C., so you can chalk this one up to the recent alumnus’s lack of coaching experience. But between the awful song, the questionably racist decision to have Tina spouting the Korean lyrics, and Marley passing out midway through, you have New Directions’ biggest train wreck. Plus, with only one song performed, it’s also their shortest set list.

Image: Adam Rose/FOX

#11: Season 4 Regionals

Episode: “All Or Nothing”

Set List: “Hall Of Fame” (The Script), “I Love It” (Icona Pop), “All Or Nothing” (Glee)

Man, Season 4 just wasn’t a good year for competitions, was it? The recent loss of graduates Rachel, Finn, Mercedes, et al was keenly felt here, as ND delivered a wan performance. “Hall Of Fame” was probably the best part of the set list, containing as it did that rare unicorn: a chance for Joe to sing. (Remember him?) But it was all downhill from there, with the auto-tuned disaster that was “I Love It” and then the bland original song “All Or Nothing” — supposedly written by Marley, the show’s blandest character, so at least that makes sense.

Image: Adam Rose/FOX

#10: Season 2 Nationals

Episode: “New York”

Set List: “Pretending” (Glee), “Light Up The World” (Glee)

Glee was obsessed with original songs in Season 2, but the second episode featuring new music paled in comparison to the first. (More on that later.) The Rachel/Finn duet “Pretending” was nice enough, although it ended in that completely tragic kiss that singlehandedly lost the group the competition. But then “Light Up The World” was a completely forgettable tune that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Kidz Bop album with nonsensical lyrics like, “You gotta give up the bark and bite/You know that we got the love alright.” Oy gevalt.

Image: Adam Rose/FOX

#9: Season 3 Sectionals

Episode: “Hold On To Sixteen”

Set List: “ABC” (Jackson 5), “Control” (Janet Jackson), “Man In The Mirror” (Michael Jackson)

With the loss of Mercedes, Santana, Brittany, and Sugar to the Troubletones and Rachel to suspension (for rigging the school election in Kurt’s favor), the New Directions were down to only two girls: Tina and Quinn. The dwindled group tried their best, padding their numbers with the boys from the band, and kudos must be given for delivering a passable performance under the circumstances. This certainly wasn’t the group’s best — they sorely missed Rachel’s voice and some people had trouble executing Janet Jackson’s tricky dance moves — but “Man In The Mirror” was beautiful and the New Directions somehow skated by with a win.

Image: Adam Rose/FOX

#8: Season 2 Sectionals

Episode: “Special Education”

Set List: “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” (Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes), “Valerie” (Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse)

This set list suffered from the same thing as Season 3’s Sectionals: a lack of Rachel Berry. Mr. Schue decided to highlight other voices (foolishly, when a competition is on the line), and the performance got off to a shaky start with Sam & Quinn’s very vanilla duet of the Dirty Dancing theme song. Auntie Snixx to the rescue, though, as Santana turned it all around with her first big solo: a toe-tapping rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” Featuring plenty of Brittany and Mike’s impressive dance moves, that song by itself is probably one of the most memorable in the show’s six-year history.

Image: Justin Lubin/FOX

#7: Season 3 Regionals

Episode: “On My Way”

Set List: “Fly/I Believe I Can Fly” (Nicki Minaj ft. Rihanna/R. Kelly), “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” (Kelly Clarkson), “Here’s To Us” (Halestorm)

Coming on the heels of Karofsky’s shocking suicide attempt, this set list had the added benefit of possessing an undercurrent of charged emotions. ND started off with “Fly/I Believe I Can Fly,” a mash-up that doesn’t sound like it would work but totally does. With the fog machine, the gliding choreography and Lea Michele’s angelic vocals, it was an unexpectedly ethereal performance. Followed by the Troubletones’ take on Kelly Clarkson’s ode to resilience and a typically killer Rachel solo, this set list was the whole package.

Image: Adam Rose/FOX

#6: Season 1 Sectionals

Episode: “Sectionals”

Set List: “Don’t Rain On My Parade” (Funny Girl), “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (The Rolling Stones)

Ah, the good old days. The group was smaller, the sets were cheaper, the performances less elaborate. But there’s something charming about looking back to the show’s first-ever competition. This isn’t the best set list; “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” while one of Rachel’s strongest solos, doesn’t highlight anyone else in the group, and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was basically improvised after the coaches from Jane Addams Academy and Haverbrook School for the Deaf stole ND’s planned songs for their own groups. But the nascent New Directions made up for all that in sheer heart, and it’s impossible not to think of this set list with fondness.

Image: Carin Baer/FOX

#5: Season 2 Regionals

Episode: “Original Song”

Set List: “Get It Right” (Glee), “Loser Like Me” (Glee)

Rachel’s efforts to convince her friends to let her compose her own songs finally paid off with this set list. Before the show got burnt out on original music, the New Directions sailed to victory on the backs of these two catchy tunes. First was Rachel’s heart-rending solo about regret, and then the group’s foot-stomping, hand-clapping anthem to the underdog, “Loser Like Me,” which has become as synonymous with Glee as “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Image: Adam Rose/FOX

#4: Season 6 Sectionals

Episode: “We Built This Glee Club”

Set List: “Take Me To Church” (Hozier), “Chandelier” (Sia), “Come Sail Away” (Styx)

Okay, okay — so it may be too early to officially rank this competition before we’ve even seen the episode. But the songs alone push the newest iteration of New Directions towards the top of the list. Roderick has a soulful voice the kind of which Glee has never heard before, and he’s a perfect match for Hozier’s haunting melodies. The trio of girls rock out on Sia’s dance track with some killer vocal runs, and “Come Sail Away” is classic Glee: an updated take on a nostalgic hit from the ’70s. Sure, this set list may rise or fall a slot or two after we actually see the performance, but I feel comfortable declaring this competition in the Top Five.

Image: Tylder Golden/FOX

#3: Season 5 Nationals

Episode: “City Of Angels”

Set List: “More Than A Feeling” (Boston), “America” (Neil Diamond), “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (U2)

The middle generation of New Directions redeemed themselves from their double-whammy of Season 4 catastrophes with this absolutely stellar set list. What we thought was going to be just another competition turned into a surprise tribute to the group’s fallen leader, as the kids covered three of Finn’s favorite songs. As Carole Hudson and Burt Hummel cried in the audience, we cried along at home. Bonus points for pairing up two characters who had never duetted before: Blaine and Tina, who absolutely slayed Boston’s familiar melodies.

Image: Adam Rose/FOX

#2: Season 3 Nationals

Episode: “Nationals”

Set List: “Edge Of Glory” (Lady Gaga), “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” (Céline Dion), “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” (“Meat Loaf”)

The last competition the original New Directions partook in was without a doubt one of their best. The Troubletones opened with “Edge Of Glory,” an appropriate choice for a show choir about to win its first national championship. Then Rachel delivered one of her most show-stopping solos, simultaneously securing her group’s victory and her own admission into NYADA. And the group sealed the deal with Meat Loaf’s story-song, a surprising choice, but one that totally worked. For a glee club that often relied on killer vocals to make up for their lackluster dance skills, the more-complicated-than-average choreography was refreshing. The group felt more cohesive than ever here, and they definitely deserved their trophy. This set list would have come out on top if it wasn’t for…

Image: Adam Rose/FOX

#1: Season 1 Regionals

Episode: “Journey”

Set List: “Faithfully” (Journey), “Any Way You Want It/Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’” (Journey/Journey), “Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey)

While perhaps not as flashy as “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” it’s impossible not to rank this Journey medley at #1. This right here is Glee. “Faithfully” is probably the most powerful duet that Rachel and Finn ever shared; the mash-up is pure fun; and closing it off with a reprise of “Don’t Stop Believin’” was a perfect way to bring the season full-circle. It was great getting to hear more voices on that instantly-recognizable tune, and if that climactic key change didn’t send shivers down your spine, then you must be dead inside. The New Directions may have lost this competition to Jesse St. James and Vocal Adrenaline (who’s rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” was admittedly impressive), but this set list will always be the winner in my heart.

Image: Adam Rose/FOX