The music industry is a fickle business and there are very few stars who can be considered the face of a generation and, love her or hate her, Britney Spears was the face of music in the late 90s and early 00s.
Although her star may have fallen sharply the past few years, there is no denying the impact she had on popular culture. So, it is not a surprise that Glee, which is one of the leaders in popular culture today, has decided to dedicate an episode to the once Princess of Pop.
With a performance at the Homecoming assembly coming up, Will wants the club to focus on more easy listening numbers in the vein of Christopher Cross, while Kurt wants to start a bit of a revolution and do something more up to date, like Britney Spears. Will shoots the idea down straight away, as he thinks Britney is a bad influence. Brittany also agrees they should not perform Britney songs, as her full name is Brittney S. Pierce and the similarity of names has haunted her entire life, as she feels she will never be as successful as her namesake.
A change of heart, however, comes from a very unusual place. When Emma’s new dentist boyfriend Carl discovers Brittney has the worst teeth he has ever seen, he places her under anaesthetic to work on them and she has a full blown Britney Spears fantasy, as does Santana, Rachel and Artie.
Feeling the need to be a bit more spontaneous, Will agrees to let the kids perform a Britney song, as long as he can join in and try and impress Emma, but he ends up causing many of the students to become overexcited, forcing Sue to pull the fire alarm and cut the performance.
As I mentioned earlier, Britney Spears is one of those artists that perfectly defines a certain period on time musically, and with the majority of the audience growing up with her music, I’m surprised this episode hasn’t come sooner. But the chance of doing a Britney-centric episode has really let the writers and actors do what they do best and make a completely over the top episode that does little for the ongoing plotlines, but does showcase what a talented cast has been put together.
Heather Morris, who plays the title character of this week’s episode, Brittany, is probably one of the best characters in the show, with her deadpan expression and amazing one-liners and it is really great to see her front and centre. I was worried when they said this episode would focus on her that what makes her so brilliant would also make her annoying in large doses but, in fact, it is the opposite and you want to see even more of her.
In additional to comedy acting chops, Morris embraces the Britney numbers she is in and they are the perfect showcase for what an amazing dancer she is. You cannot take your eyes off her, and her likeness to the real Britney is pretty uncanny. Her performance of I’m A Slave 4 U and Me Against The Music are pitch perfect and the scene by scene recreations of the original music videos are fantasticality put together. This really is Heather Morris’ episode and she owns it.
Surprisingly, the weakest link in this episode was Lea Michele’s version of …Baby One More Time, which is a song totally unsuited to her voice and, although it is supposed to represent Rachel’s relationship with Finn, I am sure there are plenty of other songs that would have done the job better. However, she really does pull it back with her version of Paramore’s The Only Exception, which is exquisite.
What does make this episode a little bit more special, though, is a cameo by the lady herself and, for those who are still having recurring nightmares after watching Crossroads, you need not worry, as she pops up only now and again (including this time being the teacher in the …Baby One More Time number) which, personally, I think is for the best, as having too large a part would have ruined it somewhat and it is great to see Britney, who after all her very public troubles, seemed to be enjoying herself again.
So, how do you follow up an episode about Britney Spears? With one about religion, of course. Next week Finn finds Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich and if ever there was a sentence that summed up Glee, that pretty much has to be it!
Read our review of the season premiere, Audition, here.