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Nationals is in four weeks and Mr. Schue just got the secret setlist of the New Directions' competition at Nationals. One of the show choirs, Throat Explosion, proves to be a threat, and so, Will gives the Glee Club an assignment: Katy Perry or Lady Gaga. The Katys will sing Gaga songs while the Gagas will sing Katy songs. Given the assignment, Sam is eager to use it to improve the chances of him and Penny getting together, Marley struggles to become a Gaga and impress Jake and Sue and Bree have bad plans, involving the Glee Club. In New York, Kurt's Madonna Cover band is in development as one stunning performer, Elliott (portrayed by guest-star Adam Lambert), auditions, causing Kurt to become conflicted.
The episode was directed by Ian Brennan and co-written by Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner.
PlotThe episode opens with Will announcing the competition that New Directions will face at Nationals, which includes a group from Fort Wayne called Throat Explosion. Tina and Blaine are familiar with the group and think that New Directions are in trouble. Blaine explains that the members of the group don't even go to classes; they spend all their time performing. The group won't even consider new members unless they can prove that they have logged in at least 10,000 hours of show choir performance time. Tina informs New Directions that Throat Explosion is a group of "outsiders that live on the edge" which used to be the niche for New Directions, but now they are all a "bunch of Katy Perry’s." Blaine says that he is proud to be a Katy. Will takes a poll asking which members of the Glee Club consider themselves a ”Katy" and which members consider themselves a "Gaga." Kitty, Tina, Jake, and Unique all identify as a "Gaga" while Marley, Blaine, Artie, and Sam identify as a "Katy." Ryder asks if there is a third option, but is evidently a Katy as well. Will tells the group that the way they will beat their competition is by pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and assigns "the Katy’s" to perform Lady Gaga songs and "the Gaga’s" to perform Katy Perry songs. Over in New York, Kurt tells Santana and Dani that he is ready to start his band and has put an ad in the Village Voice seeking auditions. He also reveals that Adam has kicked him out of the Adam's Apples because Adam found out that he is engaged. Dani seems excited about the idea of being in a band and asks him if he is accepting girls. Kurt says that he will be accepting girls, and that while he was originally planning on starting a Madonna cover band, he wants to move in a different direction now. Both Dani and Santana agree to join Kurt's band. Kurt asks Rachel to join as well, but she declines, explaining that she feels it would just be "too much" after Finn's death and that all her creative energy must go into her role in Funny Girl. Kurt reminds Rachel that Finn wouldn't want her "sitting on the sidelines of life."
Back in Lima, Penny and Sam are talking at Sam's locker. Penny claims to love dark, edgy music like Nine Inch Nails and Sam pretends to agree, though Penny spots a poster for True Jackson VP which might suggest otherwise. When Sam asks Penny out, she declines, saying she is already going to a concert with one of her exes. After a dejected Sam talks with Blaine about the conversation, Sam decides he will try to impress Penny with a dark and edgy performance of Lady Gaga's Applause.
Meanwhile, Artie tells Kitty that he is annoyed that they are on different teams for this week’s Glee Club assignment and feels that Mr. Schuster is keeping them apart purposely. Kitty tells Artie that she doubts Will plans that far in advance. Artie stops Kitty in the hallway and asks her if she is still okay with dating someone that is so "different" than her. Kitty leans down and gives Artie a kiss, which is interrupted by Becky. The kiss apparently makes Becky very unhappy, (it is clear she still harbors romantic feelings for him), shouting to Kitty, "I had Artie first, biatche! You're getting my sloppy seconds-oh, snap!" after which she runs in the other direction. Artie and Kitty look at each other in bewilderment, and Artie tells Kitty that he did not have sex with Becky.Kurt, Santana, and Dani hold auditions for their band, though unfortunately only one person who calls themselves "Starchild" signed up. Kurt asks "who names themselves Starchild?" Starchild enters the room and explains that the name is an homage to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Starchild is dressed in an elaborate outfit which he says he created himself. Dani and Santana like the outfit, but Kurt is not impressed, saying it looks like something from Project Runway-season six. Starchild then performs Marry the Night, which both Dani and Santana clearly enjoy, Santana even films the performance while Kurt seems more wary. Kurt declines to allow Starchild into the group, claiming that he is "not the right fit." Bree enters Sue's office, explaining the assignment that the Glee Club is doing and they both agree it is an annoying assignment that will have "100% of Americans not liking either one of them," though both Bree and Sue are dressed in Lady Gaga type costumes (Becky stares at Bree in shock from her place in Sue's office as Bree's costume is rather revealing). Bree reveals her plan to "mess with the Glee Club" by trying to seduce Jake.
In the auditorium, Sam is taking the lead on planning the Applause performance, as he really wants to impress Penny with his "dark, edgy side." Marley suggests that using sparklers inside would be pretty edgy while Ryder suggests "skull shaped confetti." Sam tells them that these ideas are too safe and boring. Sam also tells them that he has a plan to get everyone to come see their performance before leaving the auditorium. Sam approaches Becky to help him get the word out, which she agrees to, even though she claims not to know either Lady Gaga or Katy Perry.Meanwhile, in NY, Rachel confronts Kurt about why he rejected Starchild from the group, thinking it is because he doesn't want to share the "lavender limelight." Kurt tells Rachel that Starchild's looks is just too "out there" and he feels that he has to be more mainstream to be successful. Kurt feels that his own past tendency to be "out there" has held him back while both Rachel and Santana have found success. Rachel reminds Kurt that his unique factor is what got him to New York and into NYADA and encourages Kurt to give Starchild a chance.
In Lima, Jake and Marley are planning their date for Friday evening when Bree stops them in the hallway. Bree explains that she wants Jake to help the Cheerios with choreography, though it is clear she has ulterior motives. Jake declines, but Marley encourages him to go ahead and help out because he is so talented. Jake then accepts the offer. Later on, Sue and Becky are in the office together, doing the days announcements which Becky interrupts; commanding that everyone open their laptops to view the teaser video that Sam put together for the Applause performance. Penny views the teaser video and Sam invites her to the performance. Penny initially declines, but then accepts when Sam says they can get piercings together that weekend.
Meanwhile, Tina, Kitty, Unique and Jake plan their Katy Perry performance. Jake leaves because they had already been working for 5 hours with no set plan and also reveals that he is helping the Cheerios with chorography. Kitty guesses that Bree was the one who asked for Jake's help and points out that Bree is a "vile human being." A suspicious Unique calls Marley to give her a heads up that Bree might be up to something. Unique and Marley spy briefly on Jake's chorography session with Bree, but Marley declares "If Jake doesn't want to be with the real me, then he can go." Later on, the Gaga’s are finally ready for their Applause performance, while the Katy’s and Becky Jackson (dressed in a Gaga costume) are gathered in the auditorium.All members of the Gaga group are dressed in elaborate costumes with the exception of Marley who defiantly dances around the stage in a Katy Perry outfit. Will suspends Marley from the Glee Club for not complying with the assignment and ruining the performance, pointing out that they are preparing for a Nationals competition. Next, Jake, Kitty, Unique, and Tina are back in the choir room, fighting about what they will do for the Katy Perry performance, feeling it will be difficult to compete with what the Gaga group had done. Jake is dressed in a lion costume, which he says he is not okay with. Tina suggests that they need to go without spectacle and instead strip down their performance, keeping it simple.
Starchild has found Kurt at the Spotlight Diner and informs him that his real name is Elliott Gilbert. Elliott implores Kurt to be allowed audition again for the band and that he will tone down his look and be whoever Kurt wants him to be. Kurt tells Elliott that a second audition will not be necessary and welcomes him to the group as Starchild, Elliott or whoever he wants to be.Back in Lima, Sam finds Penny in her office and asks her what she thought about the Applause performance. Penny confesses that she did not enjoy it and that she really does not have a musical dark side-she prefers Carrie Underwood, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry. Penny also says she is done with “bad boys”. A relieved Sam says that he loves Katy Perry as well and they agree to go to a concert together. Sam and Penny go to the auditorium and watch the Katy Perry group perform Wide Awake.
Jake finds a sad Marley at her locker. She is upset over having been suspended from Glee for the week. Jake points out that he has been suspended many times and invites her over to his house so he can cheer her up with a Mary Poppins DVD. Jake also mentions that his mother will be working late, so they will have the house to themselves. Later on, Jake and Marley are making out in his room and he wants to take things a bit further than Marley is comfortable with. Marley stops him and Jake feels like he is being rejected and that Marley doesn’t trust him. Marley angrily points out that she is just not ready to take things that far, and if Jake can’t understand then he should be with a different girl. Jake is next seen finding Bree in the dance studio and asking her to go “somewhere private”, to which Bree happily agrees.Over in NY, Kurt, Elliot, Dani and Santana are trying to decide on the band’s name. Rachel comes home from Funny Girl rehearsal and jokingly suggests that they name the band Pamela Lansbury, which everyone actually agrees on. Kurt again invites Rachel to be part of the band, pointing out that Barbra Streisand found time to do other projects even when she was doing Funny Girl. This time, Rachel agrees. Back in Lima, Tina tells the Glee Club that Throat Explosion has just announced that they will be doing Applause for Nationals which upsets the group. Will points out that they have beat other good show choirs before, like Vocal Adrenaline and the Warblers, and this is another opportunity for New Directions to push themselves. Sue comes into the choir room and suspends the Glee Club for a week, initiating once again the Sue-Will rivalry. Sue claims they are in violation of the school’s dress codes. Sue also suspends the band members for unknown reasons. The suspension leads the Glee Club to protest with a performance of Roar. Pamela Lansbury also performs the song, and the episode ends.
|Song Title||Original Artist||Performer(s)|
|Marry the Night||Lady Gaga||Elliott Gilbert|
|Applause||Artie Abrams, Blaine Anderson,|
Marley Rose, Ryder Lynn, and Sam Evans
|Wide Awake||Katy Perry||Jake Puckerman, Kitty Wilde,|
Tina Cohen-Chang, and Unique Adams
|Roar||New Directions and Pamela Lansbury|
- A Katy or A Gaga, an EP accompanying the episode, was released November 12, 2013.
- Applause by Lady Gaga
Special Guest Star
- Adam Lambert as Elliott Gilbert
- Lauren Potter as Becky Jackson
- Erinn Westbrook as Bree
- Phoebe Strole as Penny Owen
- Chelsea as Jordan Stern
- This episode had a 1.5 rating, with 4.01 million viewers.
- This is the first episode of Season Five that has a recap segment.
- This is the fourth episode where all the members of New Direction present in the episode have a solo. The first is Pilot, the second is Britney 2.0 and the third is Tina in the Sky with Diamonds.
- The drummer for Starchild's performance and for the performance of Roar is Drew Steen, who is Demi Lovato's drummer for her performances in real life.
- Naya Rivera was actually filming Adam Lambert in Marry the Night.
- Sam's Applause teaser is a parody of Lady Gaga's Artpop teaser picture with the plastic visor.
- Jake's "lion" costume in the Katy Perrys' meeting scene was inspired by the Rum Tug Tugger from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, Cats.
- This is the second Lady Gaga themed episode, with another artist, this time shared with Katy Perry. The first was Theatricality, which was shared with KISS.
- The songs that were sang here were the last singles from Katy Perry and Lady Gaga’s Teenage Dream and Born This Way eras, and the lead singles of the Prism and ARTPOP eras.
- Rachel references Madonna performing at the Super Bowl. Lea Michele sang "American the Beautiful" before the 2011 Super Bowl.
- The songs Applause and Roar were released in August 2013 when it's supposed to be Spring 2013. The reason for this is unexplained.
- After Applause is performed, the next scene shows Kitty, Jake, Tina, and Unique squabbling about how amazing the performance they just saw was, Kitty even says "did you just see what they just did" - showing that they had just watched the performance. However, they are wearing different outfits than the ones during Applause, so it can't be the same day. It should be noted that the clothes they are wearing during Applause are the same clothes they were wearing during their first meeting.
- Sam's Applause teaser video said that the performance will take place at 3:30. However, before Wide Awake, Sam goes to find Penny, asking her why she disappeared after the show, which implies that it is still the same day. Then after Wide Awake, Jake then asks Marley to come over after school, but if Applause was performed at 3:30, the school day should have already ended.
- Marley was only suspended from New Directions, so there is no logical reason as to why she wasn't allowed to watch the Wide Awake performance as it was open to the whole school.
- When the episode begins, Mr. Schue says that they are six weeks away from Nationals. However, when Sue suspends the Glee Club members, he claims that there are only four weeks left to get ready for Nationals, whilst only one week passed.
- Curiously, this mistake was fixed in the Latin American dub of the show. When the episode begins Mr. Schue says: "A secret list of the show choirs that we will be in competition with at the next Nationals".
Like my Aunt Felicia always says, a tiger can't change his stripes.
Penny: Weren't you a stripper?
Artie: This Katy/Gaga lesson is killing me. It's like Mr. Shue did it on purpose to keep us apart.
What are you talking about? Mr. Schuester's a genius.