'Glee' showdown: Britney vs. Madonna vs. Lady Gaga

brittnay-as-britneyImage Credit: Adam Rose/FoxLast night’s Glee rocked some dead-on Britney Spears recreations, but it wasn’t the slam-dunk I had hoped it would be. Part of me didn’t buy New Directions’ devotion to Spears — aren’t they a liiiitle young for her? “Baby One More Time” would have come out when they were in first grade or so — but mostly, the numbers just didn’t advance, explore, or heighten the storylines.

It didn’t hit like the Madonna episode, which brilliantly wove the songs into the narrative; the “Like a Virgin” number alone would put that episode at the top of my “most awesome” list. “Theatricality,” aka the Lady Gaga episode (even though it included some KISS songs, too), existed through this lens of Gaga-dom, a pop symbol of being your boldest self, even (or maybe especially) when that means not being like everyone else. That format led to one of strongest moments in the show’s history, between Kurt, his dad, and Finn — a moment that wouldn’t have resonated the same way without the elaborate Gaga conceit of the episode.

So “Britney/Brittany.” I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was just a glammed-up episode of Becoming, that MTV series from back in the day that helped a fan recreate his or her favorite music video. I like the Glee episodes that radically recontextualize the music, so this ep just didn’t do it for me. What about you, PopWatchers? Where does it rank against “The Power of Madonna” and “Theatricality”? Is “Britney/Brittany” in the Glee pantheon of excellence, or oops, did the show do it again?

I vote:

1. Madonna
2. Lady Gaga
3. Britney

Rank it, PW nation.

More on last night’s Glee:
Glee recap: Britney, Baby, One More Time

Comments (298 total) Add your comment
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  • ashley

    I just felt like it had no soul…like the music was just THERE, and the plot was somewhere else. Disapointing.
    Yeah, the Madonna episode was the best, followed by Gaga (that performance of poker face was amazing.) While i enjoyed it, to me, last night’s episode did not bode well for the future. I did love Brit’s awesome one liners, though. They should release a book of her sayings one day.

  • A

    Totally agree.

    • Addison


      • M

        I agree as well. The musical numbers in the Britney episodes (save for 2) were video karaoke (albeit well done) and featured outstanding performances from Heather and Naya. I personally didn’t like that it felt that they had regressed Mr Shue’s character (making him uncool/out of touch to the kids and insecure/pathetic wrt his competition for Emma) THe thing that I really did like was the way that they wrote the character of Carl, who they could’ve made a character that is easy to hate and root against, but instead he is a good guy, who knows what’s what and was honest with Will and respectful as well. Nice bit of writing there. And even though hr provides some comedic relief, I hope that they don’t keep emphasizing the role of Jacob… how about more scenes/lines for Mike Chang? I would’ve included Tina, Puck, and Mercedes, and Quinn, but I’m sure they will be getting their own storylines here soon.

      • Yikes

        Gaga was one of the best.
        We thought Madona like Britney sacrificed the show for the artist and the only redeeming value of the Madonna episode was the quality of song book. Britney only has stale bubble gum to offer.

    • jordan

      i think the whole “hallucination” thing held them back. i know ryan was trying to incorporate matthew morrison’s resistance to the britney ep, but it subtracted from the episode. kurt’s line at the end where he’s said they only got to do one britney song was kinda on the money. the only hallucination should have been the very first with brittany’s i’m a slave 4 u. it could have set up the rest of the episode perfectly. as for if they are too young, they aren’t… it is MUCH more believable than madonna.

      • graeme

        Yeah, I agree it was lame storytelling, but the reason I enjoyed it was that it gave Naya Rivera and Heather Morris a starring role. They are the best comedic element of the show and got to prove their performing chops as well. More of them!

      • Jeff

        not suprised at this at all. EW is completely biased for GaGa and everything she does. Britney all the way!!

      • Jake

        Madonna is more timeless and her catalog is far more amazing

      • Maddie

        The truth is I knew all the lyrics to Baby One More Time at 7 years old. She was our Hannah Montana (even though in retrospect her stuff really isn’t appropriate for elementary schoolers)

      • Rois,Ireland

        Am I the ONLY one who really hated the Madonna episode? I’m 18 and I grew up on Britney Spears, I didn’t know half of the songs on the Madonna episode. I completely disagree with your view even though usually I agree.

      • Dani

        I did not like the Madonna ep either. The whole thing felt forced. At least with this one, they just went for fun! Brittney got AWESOME one liners and a chance for the underdog’s to shine. Rachel too lol, The Madonna one felt so forced and not natural. I do not like Gaga, but I did like the story. So for me,
        1. Gaga (only a few of her songs and a good story line that made the music highlight a good story.
        2. Brittney..it was fun. I like fun!
        3. Madonna songs were good and all, but the story suffered…BAD!

      • Dani

        Wow, I said good story way too much lol.

      • LAJackie

        Totally agree with Dani.

      • Michaela

        yeah, i’m 17, and i knew all the britney songs from this ep. i went to her concert when i was in 1st grade. which was totally inappropriate. (i wore a belly shirt. totally shameful.) so maybe i see Margaret Lyons’ point.

      • kelsey

        I completely agree with the fact that EW and most everyone is biased towards Gaga. Madonna is good but that episode did not have a good flow like many others or this one. Also I am only 18 and Britney Spears was the coolest person in the world to me when I was little; people my age and the ages of the glee members in new directions hit right on the mark to love Britney Spears. I think that you are being unfair because how old where we when most of these Madonna songs first came out? Were we even BORN? This episode was great with one liners, musical situations and performances.

    • Henry

      I agree with Grame. I’m not saying it was the best, but I enjoyed last night’s episode the most of the three, because I LOVE Brittany (S. Pears, not Britney Spears, who has ruined her life.)

      • Lee

        Lol Britney Spears has not ruined her life.

    • Aly

      Mostly agree, although I pretty much rank Gaga and Britney side by side. Both seemed very forced whereas Madonna’s music blended seamlessly into the storyline…also Britanny’s random one-liners are great but she had so many back to back Britannyisms they just lost their punch.

    • kllmbc2010

      AGREED completely – I didn’t like the episode except for its bit of highlight on ‘Brittany’ & Rachel singing Paramore for Finn
      @ the end, that was certainly the best part of the show.

      Madonna 1
      Gaga 2
      Britney – not even on my list!

    • bruno

      you’re right. heather morris was awesome but the ep stunk. and what’s up with “me against the music?” one of her worst tracks in one of glee’ worst, uneven, unarching, nonsensical episodes.

    • Kel

      Complete agree. Brittany/Britney felt totally forced. “Toxic” was the standout vocal performance.
      LOVED, LOVED the Madonna episode.

    • shdrew

      Me too.

    • Rashad

      I agree, but I still thought the episode was AMAZING. Absolutely HILARIOUS :-)

      • Lee

        I agree it was single handedly the funniest episode so far. Sue was hilarious the jokes were such gold!

    • Sara

      Britney All they way!!!!! Madonna rules too… all Gaga does is destroy any and all chances of being 1% like Britney or Madonna.
      My prediction is that Lady Gaga will be Lady Nada within 1 year… the only reason she made it as big as she did is press and ALOT of touring…. If Lady Gaga would have stuck with her “style” from the beginning she would have a chance of one day being like Britney or Madonna.
      Instead she showed us all that deep down she is Marilyn Manson like… and we all know where that got him.
      I feel bad for the parents that got fooled by Gaga being somewhat of a positive influence on children… not just a hooker-like dressed singer with a cocaine problem… where was her manager on that one?

  • Traci

    I agree completely.

    • Rasha

      I agree as well. Heather Morris did Britney better tha Britney, but they didn’t change the music or put they’re on spin on it. They just re-created videos. I thought it could have been MUCH better.

      • Chandler02

        I agree when you say that Heather did a better Britney than Britney. Heather is a waaaaay better dancer than Britney ever was. I liked the Madonna and Gaga episodes better because they played into the plot. This seemed very forced, and kind of pointless. If people want to see a Spears video, there is always Youtube.

  • Andrew

    I agree with your ranking. “The Power of Madonna” is still definitely the best. While I enjoyed this episode, I would’ve loved to hear “(You Drive Me) Crazy” or “Oops…I Did It Again”…instead of “I’m a Slave 4 U.” Never liked that one.

    • ST

      I agree Andrew. I felt like they chose “Slave 4 U” and “Me Against the Music” more for outfit choices than they did anything else but that could be just me. Still loved the ep but i also think the hallucination plot held them back somewhat. As for them being too young? Um, if they’re not too young for Madonna, they’re not too young for Britney. And I remember songs that were big pop hits when I was in grade school (“Dinosaur” comes to mind).

      • allie

        Open the door, get on the floor! Everybody walk the dinosaur….. HA HA HA HA!

      • me

        The difference is, in Madonna episode, the kids were not acting too crazy about her like she’s their idol. Last night, they were digging Britney like that grew up listening and adoring her.

      • rainbow rouge

        Not to mention “Baby One More Time” is an iconic music video that pretty much everyone has seen at least clips of. And I agree, little kids know what’s hot in pop too.

    • a person

      I agree, other songs would have worked better…Sometimes for Rachel instead of Baby One More Time, and You Drive Me Crazy, and Oops…I Did It Again are more well known than I’m A Slave For You and Me against the Music…though I love all of Britney’s old music! :)

  • Joonbugg

    1. Madonna
    2. Gaga
    3. Brit

    last night Heather Morris killed it , she is so fierce!!! and soooo freakin funny …. ” i was pretty sure Dr Pepper was a dentist ” LMAO …. I do agree the Brit episode didnt flow as good w/ the story lines as the other 2 but was def good and fun 2 watch ! NO need to pick apart the episodes they r all good :)

  • Psac

    As a male, the Britney episode blew away the other two. Way sexier than anything else on the show thus far…

    • davey

      Brittany was the best part of the episode! I laughed more at this episode (in a good way) than either of the other two episodes

      • lori

        i agree i laughed through out this episode.

      • AMO

        I agree, it was one of the funniest eps ever – which made me love the episode even more. Brittany was a GREAT Britany

      • Rois,Ireland


    • JC

      Seriously, I think this episode was for the straight guys who watch this show- I loved it! Heather Morris is fantastic!

      • Eli

        Right, cause straight guys are known for their love of Britney Spears music…

      • dntbstpd1

        @Eli i don’t think str8 guys love for Ms. Spears’ music was the point. I think the point was str8 guys love for Ms. Spears physically.

      • Emily

        Yes, and straight guys are known for watching Glee, too…

      • Psac

        Straight guys have wives or girlfriends who watch Glee and suck them in. I think it’s a great show. Add in Brittney’s hotness (Heather Morris that is), and it’s a win-win.

      • reason

        Why does sexual orientation always have to dictate what we enjoy in pop-culture? I was a young guy when Britney Spears came around, I heard the song on the radio and never thought much of it, but once I saw her and became sexually attracted to her, I started to enjoy her music as well. I don’t watch Glee, and maybe on some level it is because of all the assumptions that are made about a grown, single man watching it.

    • Mr. Holloway

      Hear, hear! This was definitely the sexiest episode of “Glee” and Morris was SCORCHING! The only thing was that I didn’t get as excited as the rest of the characters for Rachel’s “Britney makeover” because I already think she dresses pretty sexily.

      • Che

        The madonna episode was horrible!!! It had no good storyline and the music was very forced, this ep was very good, i dis hope to see oops i did it again but all and all it was WAY MUCH BETTER THAN THE MADONNA EPISODE.

    • Emma

      I actually loved the Rachel/Finn storyline and I felt that Britney fit into that quite well.

  • Kate

    I agree with you completely. This ep had no plot at all.

    • Tracey

      I thought the episode was brilliantly done. It had a great message, the songs nailed the videos and had some of the funniest lines ever. Why is everyone trying to knock the show so much? I don’t get it. Just watch and enjoy.

  • ny gleek

    This was a horrible episode. I thought all the same things this article points out, even to the point that this was like that MTV show. It just seemed like FOX ordered 22 episodes and the writers could only come up with 21 scripts and one had to be a Britney episode and the writers couldnt figure out how to make the songs work with the story. Madonna and Lady Gaga at least worked with the story. Also I felt like this was just a replay of the Gaga episode which was all, “i now want to be who I am and what I want to be”.

    • ny gleek

      But Brittany was amazing in her numbers and just showed that her dancing alone can one day help New Directions beat all other competitions.

      • Bec

        Did anyone notice Mark from So You Think You Can Dance in the dance number?

      • Snsetblaze

        I agree with ny gleek but Heather’s dancing was amazing. It hasn’t really been shown how good she is because I guess she’s had to come down to the ok level of the other dancers (Harry Shum and the actress who plays Santana excepted). You could see the difference with the simplicity of Lea Michele’s dance (the other dancers did the harder work yet Lea sang the harder numbers). However, the episode overall was horrible. I agree with Margaret Lyon’s comments. Also, the sex riot was wierd and creepy. And Sue thinks Brittany is a genius like Madonna but it was ok for the glee club to do Madonna but not Brittany? That was just bizarre. On the plus side, I did like John Stamos although the plot was ridiculous (what dentist would put any teenager under without parental permission and the insurance card in hand.)

      • rentagoodbook

        agree about Brittany’s dancing–she was awesome. The plot, not so much. But “Stronger” performed by the football team was a nice touch.

      • G

        Yeah, good point. How it advanced the storyline… Brittany realizes how much she has to contribute to the glee club and wants to be a more prominent member. Her dancing is ridiculously good and incredibly sexy. Her voice, while criticized by some, was much better than I expected, but her dancing just eclipses the song when watching.
        Plus, the episode established how Finn and Artie are back on the football team, and how Finn and Rachel are really working hard to become mature and really care about each other.

      • Angeleen

        @Bec, I did! And they have used Courtney from SYTYCD too.

        It makes me happy.

      • trishka

        Yes, Mark was awesome!

      • dntbstpd1

        @Snsetblaze the sex riot was TOTALLY over the top batsh*t crazy. I just couldn’t get on board with that, lol.

      • elr

        @ Bec: Yes, I thought I saw a quick flash of him, but when I went to LOOK for him I couldn’t find him.

    • sergio

      oh really? how did pokerface work with the story for you, huh? c’mon…

      • allie

        Thank you.

      • Kate

        I agree Poker Face and Bad Romance had no plot in the sotry whatsoever, they just wanted to through the crapfest of Gaga down our throats, the KISS songs were the ones with meaning in that episode, i’d call that the KISS episode more!

      • Kerri

        For me, Pokerface was the best song in the show!! The rework of the original was perfect for their voices and the “She’s got to love nobody” fit the mother walking away thing. While the “muffin” line was kinda funky under the circumstances, the lyrics do fit and the voices were amazing!

  • Damon

    I wish it was more diversity..Janet or some other stars would be nice..instead of the blonde chicks..#justsayin

    • Snsetblaze

      Good point. Or perhaps some stars that are in other areas of music besides pop stars that are autotuned to within an inch of their lives (I don’t mean the Broadway vets).

      • dntbstpd1

        @Damon – she’s blonde, but I would LOVE to have Laura Bell Bundy on. She’s got AMAZING vocals!

    • Joe

      yeah its racial **rolls eyes**

      • Damon

        You seem upset? The truth hurts..

  • tracy bluth

    I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Lady Gaga one. The costumes were funny and there were some good moments, but an Idina/Lea duet to…POKER FACE? Lame.

    • tricia

      I agree. I fast forwarded through most of the Gaga episode.

    • Via

      More like creepy. Mother and daughter singing Poker Face to each other?? Ugh. They have to know what that song is about.

      • Ryan

        I actually saw Idina Menzel sing live this past week, and she performed that song, but not before she gave a huge speech about how awkward she though it was. While she was singing, she even stopped before the bridge to give people time to prepare and “remember what a muffin is”. (She’s awesome) I’m glad that even she saw that as strange.

      • Liz

        …And that was RAchel’s “Dream” soooo….

    • Kerri

      I have repeatedly watched the Gaga episode. It’s one of my favorites. I love the message that it’s important to embrace who you are, even if you’re weird. Helped escalate my dislike of football players from my own high school days as well. And the way Kurt’s dad stood up against Finn, risking his new relationship with Finn’s mom? yeah, my favorite episode. And I LOVE the way they reworked Pokerface for Idina and Lea… “she’s got to love nobody” fits well!

      • MartinSA

        I had a problem with Finn being made to look like the bad guy in that when it was Kurt’s “in-your-face” attitude that pushed Finn over.

      • GinaBallerina

        I respectfully disagree about Kurt’s dad’s speech – it was way over the top. What Finn was feeling was understandable and not even particularly cruel – tell me, what teenage boy would want to share a room with a guy whom he knows has a crush on him? The lecture way overdone.

      • Moi

        Sorry Kerri, I agree with GinaBallerina on the whole Kurt’s dad speech/situation (as did a lot of folks when the ep came out) mainly because it wrongly painted Finn as the bad guy and Kurt the victim when it was clear that Kurt was as much to blame for creating the situation as Finn was for choosing unacceptable words to vent his frustration. I hope that they address this, but it seems that RMurphy so far wants Kurt to be seen as faultless.

      • rainbow rouge

        While I loved the speech itself, I have to agree that the situations that lead up to it had Kurt acting like an extreme stalker and treating Finn pretty horribly, and that scene painted Finn out to be the bad guy. I feel like that speech was misplaced.

  • Jennifer

    I totally agree. It just seemed to me like an excuse to do Britney music. It was not important to the plot at all, and I think they could have done better with the episode. I thought the cast did a great job on the numbers, and Heather Morris is an awesome dancer. I just think that the Madonna and Lady Gaga episodes did more to enhance the story of the characters.

  • richard

    britany rocked and so did the entire cast of glee last night, baby one more time was out of this world.. yeah it would ahve been cool to see britany with the glee cast but even so it was awesome seeing ehr and the way her music was covered.

  • Laura

    Yes, they would have been in elementary school when Brit’s big hits came out, but so was I. Knowing the lyrics to Britney Spears’ songs was a way to prove you were cool during recess and a headache for teachers. So I totally believe Kurt has been obsessed with Brit since she first hit the scene, and even if they were too young, people are always learning about music they didn’t catch the first time around (Which Glee is having these kids do all the time: Madonna, Journey etc.)

  • djm

    My DVR was acting up and I only got like 15 minutes of last nights episode right in the middle (when Lea is dressed like Brit from the “Hit Me” video and then Sue catches that fro-dude jerkin it in the library. I’ll have to watch it on HULU at lunch today.

  • misty

    I have noticted this problem in the first two episodes that GLEE has been back. The songs really don’t have anything to do with the story ;( That is what I liked about the show to begin with, how the mixed the story and the songs so effortlessly ;) BOO SEASON TWO (So Far)

    • Courtney

      i totally agree with you. i loved how the songs meshed with the story line and when i saw the first ep of this season i was majorly let down. its turning into just oh hey let’s just do songs because it looks cool or we feel like it. i mean its alright once in awhile but next weeks ep better be diff or i will end up losing interst :(

    • Sara

      I agree as well. I hope the “Rocky Horror” ep in three weeks does a better job of integrating the songs…

      • lise

        oooh really ? where did you find that info out?

    • Rachel

      This is not a new thing for season 2, Glee has been doing songs just for the heck of it since it came back for the back 9 episodes of season 1. Some of the songs from this episode did not fit into the plot, but some of the songs from the Madonna and Gaga episodes also didn’t fit into the plot (Express Yourself and Poker Face). Honestly, there hasn’t been a very consistent, multi-episode story arc since the original 13 episodes. Basically I’m just sticking around for the singing and Brittany jokes.

      • Matthew

        ??? How did Express Yourself not fit in the plot of the Madonna episode? “Don’t Fall for 2nd Best Baby”…”Make Him Express Himself, they you know your love is Real”. The message was empowerment and strenght which is why the Madonna episode killed Britney b/c Madonna’s music has substance under the awesome beat.

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