In light of the sad news that came to light in mid-July 2020, when we learned about the passing of actress Naya Rivera after her disappearance a few days earlier, I have decided to pay a small tribute to her through her character in the acclaimed series Glee, where she portrayed Santana Lopez, one of the main protagonists.
Some of you might know Glee more for the amount of unfortunate news and scandals the series has generated since its inception, rather than the series itself. A collection of (unfortunate) situations that keep Glee in the headlines today, but never for its great script or its outstanding musical moments.
However, for those of us who are enamored with the series, it will always remain in our hearts for all the moments of laughter, tears, anger, and overall emotion that Finn (Cory Monteith), Rachel (Lea Michele), Kurt (Chris Colfer), Blaine (Darren Criss), and Mercedes (Amber Riley), among several others, provided us. And above all, for those renditions of famous old songs and not-so-famous songs turned into hits with choreographies that, let’s be honest, we’ve all danced and sung along to, imagining ourselves as members of the “Glee Club.”
The song that undoubtedly defines the series and has been performed multiple times is “Don’t Stop Believin’” by the group Journey, a guilty pleasure in the US and the favorite song of the kindest and most beloved teacher at McKinley High School, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). In this version, the original club members participated:
Santana Lopez’s Great Musical Moments in Glee: A Journey Through the Series with Her Best Songs
And in this other one, most of the members took part:
More girls and boys joined the original members, including Santana Lopez, a loyal follower of Sue (Jane Lynch), the eternal rival of Will, along with her friends Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Brittany (Heather Morris). Sue’s Cheerios, who initially joined the Glee Club to sabotage it, ended up staying and earning a well-deserved spot. Here’s one of their first performances together, a version of Aretha Franklin’s “I Say A Little Prayer.”
And later, they would star in a version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” just in case we had any doubts that the “Unholy Trinity” had arrived to stay:
Although Santana, with her verbal attacks on anyone who crossed her path, could sometimes be a bit off-putting, we can’t deny that her talent made us laugh and it was impossible not to end up loving her. The same happened with her fellow cast members, with whom she performed several duets, like this “River Deep, Mountain High” by Tina Turner, with Mercedes (Amber Riley), where both showcase their power and their desire to succeed in life.
Or in “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill, where both showed once again that the “Glee Club” had brought them together in friendships that would last forever:
Another duet I loved was the one performed with the conniving Sebastian (Grant Gustin), from rival group “The Warblers” from Dalton Academy, performing the unforgettable “Smooth Criminal” by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson:
Santana also had several duets with Rachel that reflected the ups and downs of their relationship (rumor has it that these ups and downs extended beyond the set), like “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, where both competed to prove their worth in theater:
A similar situation occurred in “Be Okay” by Oh Honey, where it seemed they had overcome their differences. In any case, Santana Lopez also performed several solo songs, like this rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” where she showed that she was not only a singer but also an excellent dancer:
However, one of Santana’s most endearing qualities was her courage and authenticity when it came to her romantic relationship with Brittany, one of the most beautiful and enduring relationships in the series. They started as best friends, with unforgettable moments like the anesthesia scene, when the Glee Club members felt possessed by Britney Spears. Undoubtedly one of the most fun moments of the series:
They also had their tough times due to being apart, and I suffered along with them, like when Santana sings “Mine” by Taylor Swift to Brittany:
They even had other brief relationships in between, like Santana’s with Dani (played by Demi Lovato). But Santana and Brittany’s relationship evolved to a joint wedding with Kurt and Blaine (Klaine for friends), which brought tears to our eyes. Here, their friends Artie (Kevin McHale) and Mercedes sang “At Last” by Etta James for all of them:
And here, the newlyweds celebrate their marriage by singing “I’m So Excited” by The Pointer Sisters, with a cameo by Gloria Estefan, who played Santana Lopez’s mother:
Although the series always maintained a cheerful and fun tone, one of the saddest and most impactful moments was in the episode “The Quarterback,” created as a tribute to Cory Monteith, who passed away in 2013, resulting in his character Finn having the same fate. In real life, the actors who portrayed Santana and Cory had a good relationship, which is evident when Santana’s character dedicates “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry to Finn. This song now feels even sadder considering the actress’s tragic ending:
Naya Rivera had talent and accompanied us for several years in the Glee series. All that’s left is to convey our deepest condolences to her family and remember her through her work and her voice.
(Madrid, 1988). Azahara P. Navas has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the Complutense University of Madrid and currently works as a language translator with knowledge of English, French, German and Greek.