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The Band Perry’s ‘If I Die Young’ Honors Cory Monteith

(Taste of Country) – ‘Glee’ debuted their most emotional, heart-wrenching episode yet on Thursday (Oct. 10) in tribute to their castmate and dear friend Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson in the FOX series. One of the most memorable parts of the evening was sung by Naya Rivera (Santana), who sang the Band Perry‘s hit ‘If I Die Young.’

Lauded as the number of the night, Rivera not only sang the song beautifully, but also displayed her grief in a physical way. She broke down halfway through the number, and then let loose with a furious and painful yell as Mr. Schuester and others rushed to her side, trying to comfort her as they battled their own grief.

The episode was a touching tribute to Monteith, full of song, which is how the cast communicates best. The late actor’s off-screen girlfriend, Lea Michele, performed a deeply mournful rendition of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ as Rachel, while Kevin McHale and Chord Overstreet’s cover of ‘Fire and Rain’ brought tears to the eyes of every viewer. It wasn’t acting — it was actual grief, sadness, pain and joy.

The country trio’s song was a perfect fit for the episode — frontwoman Kimberly Perry explains that the song was “inspired by and about celebrating life.”

The tribute episode was truly all about focusing on Monteith’s life, which was cut short at 31 years of age. Fans of the show — as well as many others — tuned in, and ratings went up 40 percent from the season premiere and up 75 percent since last week’s episode.

As ‘If I Die Young’ pleads, “Send me away with the words of a love song,” and the cast of ‘Glee’ certainly did that for Monteith.

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Melissa Lambrecht