Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys is featured in Audition, the first episode of Season Two. It is sung by the New Directions in an attempt to recruit new members, after Matt transferred, as well as learning that Nationals will be held in New York.
Their intent is to tell the school that they can sing popular songs, and not just older songs and show tunes. However, only future New Directions member Sam, and Sunshine seem to acknowledge them – by singing along in Sunshine's case, and by gazing curiously and tapping his foot in Sam's case.