Her song catalog has already earned its place in pop music history. Now, thanks to the April 20 episode of Glee, Madonna’s tunes have become modern choral classics. The Fox hit’s one-hour homage, called ”The Power of Madonna” and featuring seven major Madge numbers, delivered boffo ratings for the series (13.5 million — nearly double the size of the show’s audience last fall) and produced a soundtrack expected to top the charts. ”Madonna said how much she loved the episode,” recounts Glee creator Ryan Murphy. ”She thought it was brilliant. Her daughter [Lourdes, 13] got to watch it with her, and loved it.” Madonna’s glowing reaction isn’t surprising, since besides owning the rights to these tunes, she’ll benefit from the publicity of having notched yet another No. 1 album. (The 51-year-old’s past albums, like Celebration, have also recharted since the episode aired.) ”[The soundtrack] has been in our top 100 for 30 days,” says Craig Pape, director of CD music for Amazon. ”There was excitement even before it came out.”
The upside of that kind of exposure — particularly to Glee’s highly coveted 18-49-year-old viewer demo — hasn’t been lost on the music industry. ”People are coming out of the woodwork after that episode,” says Murphy. Britney Spears’ manager, Adam Leber, pitched his client via Twitter — and Murphy tells EW that he’s considering it. ”I like her music,” he says. ”I think young kids would like that.” But it’s not just pop divas in the pipeline: Murphy is entertaining the idea of tributes to Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin, and even — gasp! — Courtney Love. Says Murphy, ”The key is the songs have to have a certain degree of theatricality.” For the near future, though, Murphy is focusing on finishing out the season and avoiding Glee overexposure. ”I don’t want to be doing an [album] every month,” he admits. ”I think people will get burned-out on it. In May we’ll have four, and then it’s like, Okay, a break.”
Well, a break might be an exaggeration. The Glee kids will kick off their live tour, a four-city sold-out extravaganza directed and produced by Murphy, on May 15 in Phoenix. Featuring sets by Lady Gaga’s production designer, it’s devised to wow even the most jaded Gleek. Says Murphy, ”Fox believes in it so much that they’ve hired the best people. It’s really just a thank-you to our fans.” Murphy has also planned another helping of Madonna in season 2 — and is hoping the Material Girl will be more involved this time around. ”There was talk of a dinner,” says Murphy. ”I just want to sit down with her and talk about what we’re doing in the next one. Just pick her brain.” Can we make a plea for ”Cherish”?
Who should get the Glee treatment?
In an EW.com poll, readers voted on which musical act they’d most like to see get its own episode
11% Led Zeppelin
30% Britney Spears
35% Billy Joel
2% Courtney Love