Glee will kick off its fourth season with "The New Rachel," an hour spent likely setting up the show's split-season locales as Lea Michele's alter-ego settles into life in New York, while everyone else adjusts to a bare-bones New Directions.
The second episode, however, will mark the season's first tribute episode and the Fox musical's second Britney Spears installment, featuring the singer's "Oops! I Did It Again," among other tracks. The episode will be the latest in a string of tributes the dramedy has tackled, which include hours dedicated to Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Madonna and a 90-minute Lady Gaga undertaking.
While we're not complaining that Glee's tackling Spears again -- it makes sense considering Spears is a new judge on the show's lead-out TheX Factor -- here are 10 ideas for other tribute episodes.
1. An all boys -- and boy band -- episode. Grey's Anatomy had an hour entirely revolving around Derek, Owen and company, how's about the same with Finn working out his daddy issues and heartbreak over his split with Rachel to N'Sync's "Tearin' Up My Heart." Or Kurt and Blaine, once the former heads East, commiserating over the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way." Meanwhile, Mike (Harry Shum Jr.) -- stuck alone in Chicago -- can serenade Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) via Skype to One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful."
2. Not to be outdone, the girls should have their day with a girl-power themed installment featuring the likes of Pink, Katy Perry and even Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style," if say Mercedes (Amber Riley) had a rough summer and caught her new L.A. guy cheating. Can't you imagine Rachel, frustrated by Finn's (Cory Monteith) disappearance, singing Perry's "Part of Me"?
3. Halloween, take two. Glee tackled The Rocky Horror Picture Show during its second season, but how about an all-encompassing episode with All Hallows Eve staples like Oingo Boingo's "Dead Man's Party," Bobby Pickett's "Monster Mash" and Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" theme. Apparently Darren Criss is already dressed for the occasion.
4. New York! Unless you've been living under a rock this summer, half of Glee's fourth season will be set on the East Coast, so why not give it a full episode with songs entirely centered on the Big Apple? We're talking Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" and George Benson's "On Broadway." Queue up Rachel and Kurt's montage as they take in the sights and tour the city in search of the perfect loft.
5. Elton John. Showrunner Ryan Murphy has noted that he wants to settle the John and Madonna feud this year with a Glee mash-up, so why not make that the cornerstone of an all-Elton episode? The series thus far has only covered two tracks ("I'm Still Standing" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart") from John's vast library, leaving classics including "Rocket Man," "Bennie and the Jets" and "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues." Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) will have to drown his sorrows at having to rebuild New Directions to something, right?
6. Elvis Presley. After three seasons, only two of The King's classics have been featured, one of which was a Christmas song. Kurt's very Elvis hairstyle has us craving "Love Me Tender," "Can't Help Falling in Love," "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel." As for who could rock the King's romantic side on Glee, our vote goes to Artie (Kevin McHale) who is due to get a new love interest in Season 4.
7. U2. How has the Fox musical not tackled "Where the Streets Have No Name" yet? We could envision Criss' Blaine going a little stir crazy in Ohio and at McKinley -- where he transferred for Kurt -- after his boyfriend leaves. Or even Puck (Mark Salling) taking on the song, wherever the mohawked degenerate wound up, and realizing that he missed being near his daughter, Beth, and his younger half-brother Jake (Jacob Artist). Other potential easy fits? "With or Without You," "Pride" and "All I Want is You."
8. Kelly Clarkson. Since Glee is being paired with Idol on Thursdays, why not go back to the start with a Kelly Clarkson tribute featuring Mercedes in L.A., auditioning for the Fox competition. Riley herself even made a run for the reality series before being cast on Glee. How's about a story line with the diva in training auditioning for Simon Cowell and instead winding up being a back-up singer for Clarkson herself? Besides, we're selfish and want to hear Riley take on "Since U Been Gone," "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and "Miss Independent." You're welcome, Glee writers!
9. Go country. Chord Overstreet showed he can handle some country twang with a cover of Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" last season, so why not give him and the new New Directions members (looking at you, Glee Project 2 winner Blake Jenner) a little diversity? More Dixie Chicks, Tug McGraw and how's about Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana (Naya Rivera) teaming for Faith Hill's "This Kiss" in the episode where they get an "equal amount" of PDA time as Finn and Rachel?
10. Motown. Reinvent the Acaffellas with Will, Artie, Sam and Blaine as a recruitment tool to lure potential members to New Directions. How's about the Supremes' "Come See About Me," Mary Wells' "My Guy" and Gladys Knight & the Pips' "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"? Where do we sign?
What kind of tribute episodes would you like to see Glee tackle? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Glee's fourth season returns at 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, on Fox.
- Britney Spears