'The Glee Project' premiere recap: 'Individuality'
Published Jun 6 2012, 11:58 BST | By Catriona Wightman
It's back! After handing roles in Glee
new stars last season, we're ready for another go on The Glee Project
. But this time, only one can win the all-important seven-episode arc. Plus, there are 14 contenders this time round, so the competition's fiercer than ever!
The show unsurprisingly starts with all the contestants arriving at the Glee Project
campus for the first time and gasping about how excited they are and how much they want to win! Here we go - meet Abraham, Ali, Aylin, Blake, Charlie, Dani, Lily, Mario, Maxfield, Michael, Nellie, Shanna, Taryn and Tyler!
Some of them have big stories, too - take Mario, who's blind ("I want to be a talented, cute, young dude that just happens to be blind rather than being a blind guy who's talented, cute and young," he giggles charmingly.) Maxfield's only been singing for six months, while Ali's excited to prove that she's "the girl who sang and did shows" instead of "the girl in the wheelchair".
There's also Tyler, who admits that he knows people might not like that he's transgender - but the Glee Project
cast don't seem to be bothered! In fact, Ali thinks she's "so lucky" to be around all these people. Aylin is mostly excited about the "hot guys" - "I love being flirtatious and sexy, which is totally not cool for a Turkish Muslim," she laughs.Homework Time!
After lots of excitement about meeting each other and exploring their house, it's time for the competition to really get going. Supremely lovely casting man Robert Ulrich arrives to set their first homework assignment - this week's theme is 'Individuality'. Michael's not happy: "I'm 18 years old, I'm in high school, I'm kind of a math geek, but I haven't had a lot of time to figure out who I am."
He's not alone - Maxfield's a bit concerned when he hears that they'll be singing 'Born This Way'. As a country guy, he worries: "I don't think I've listened to this song all the way through." But he better learn it quick - the contestants have to split the lines between them and figure out the choreography themselves. They soon get to work, dividing the lines by playing rock, paper, scissors. Aylin complains that everyone's "playing nice": "This is a competition, things aren't going to be fair. But I think as we go along it definitely won't come down to rock, paper, scissors. Which would be nice." Eek!
Charlie takes control of the choreography, explaining that he has been diagnosed with severe ADHD and low-spectral autism. He says that means he has a lot of ideas running through his head and is always thinking of ways to be more creative.
But soon it's time for the big performance... and Robert walks in with none other than Ryan Murphy! That makes everyone nervous enough, but he's not even the guest mentor this week. Ryan introduces the special guest as a "huge inspiration"... it's Lea Michele
, of course! I love Lea, and she's on good form here (Lily certainly seems to think so, as she gets a little teary with the emotion of it all. In fact, the squeals from the contestants ring out for quite some time).
Lea kicks things off by revealing that Ryan is inspired by the cast's lives a lot - so "let your geek flag fly"! She explains that what makes Glee
the show it is is the fact that everyone's different personalities are allowed to come out and they're not afraid of showing different sides of them. So it's time for the performance of 'Born This Way' (which earns Lea's approval - she says she loves it).
Afterwards, Lea says everyone was "really, really great" and it seemed like they'd been working together for a while. She says Dani is "so beautiful" and "so striking" - she just wants to stare at her! But she advises her to work on performing as who she is. She praises Shanna, saying she's going to "rip through this", while she tells Mario that he just "went for it" and didn't let anything stop him. "You just totally made my day," she adds. Naturally, Mario's pretty pleased about that!
Lily also gets praise for being striking and beautiful (which makes her cry later - she admits that she's had criticism because she's "bigger", so to hear that from Lea meant a lot.) But who's going to be named the winner? It's Shanna! "I am feeling on cloud nine!" she grins (though Lily's "super frustrated" she didn't grab it.) Shanna obviously gets some amazing one-on-one time with Lea, and a standout in the group's music video... which is Whitesnake's 'Here I Go Again'!Choreography
Man, I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Zach Woodlee. He and Brooke are back to teach the hopefuls the choreography, but obviously they find it pretty tough at first. "The season two contestants of The Glee Project
are..." Zach says, pausing. "Trying?" It's always fun watching him (though I'm glad I'm not one of the people that has to try and impress him. Especially when he laughs at Dani's "seduction dance": "That's not right. I'll tell you that now").
Brooke takes Mario aside to help him out with the choreography by letting him hold her arms and legs (and later we see a cute sequence when Zach borrows his stick to figure out what it's like for him). Mario's not worried anyway: "I'm hella talented - I will sing and dance my blind way into Glee
." But Tyler's really struggling: "I spent 20 years prior to my transition trapped inside my own body," he explains, adding that it's still awkward adjusting to his new body. But he takes it with good humour, joking with Zach that he has "issues".
Zach almost seems to give up at the end: "You're looking good, I just, you're going to have to, um..." But Brooke's there to put the fear into all of them: "The last thing you want to be thinking about is the choreography. It's the worst thing to try performing and still be counting. So yeah, practise."Vocals
Nikki Anders terrified me last season, but she seems a bit softer this time around (unless she's just lulling everyone into a false sense of security, of course). She thinks one of Abraham's notes has "got some serious 'tude", but she's a bit concerned about Taryn and Nellie, who are both feeling very nervous.
We get to see Shanna's little mentoring session with Lea, who offers advice about treating your voice as a muscle and the high note in the song this week. "Go for it all the way up there, like you are piercing something," she suggests. It certainly seems to work - when Shanna belts it out in the studio, Nikki practically falls off her chair. "That was amazing!" she gasps, later describing Shanna as a "powerhouse".
Elsewhere, Nikki's a bit worried that Aylin has lost the "spunk" she had in callbacks, adding that she wants the "real Aylin" to come out. But the person who struggles the most appears to be Maxfield, who just can't nail his second line. "I don't know who was in there, but it wasn't me," he sighs later.The video shoot
With the choreography and vocals down, it's time to meet up with Erik for the video shoot! The concept for the video is that they're putting on a glee club performance, but imagine that it's really a rock show! Of course, Robert, Zach and Nikki are there to keep an eye on things. Taryn, for example, has a "little less presence" according to Robert. Zach urges him to tell her to have more life in her eyes, so Robert does - but he's the nicest guy ever and says her smile is "so beautiful" that they want to see it. He's the best person to get criticism from, I swear.
Blake on the other hand gets a good response from the trio - Robert thinks he's a "star" on screen. And though he's good looking, he thinks Blake has a "kind of funny Jim Carrey goofy quality" that makes him more unique. But in the group shots, Aylin is a "bit disconnected", according to Robert. Overall, Erik thinks they need more "energy" and Robert takes the opportunity to offer some more lovely critiques to Aylin - they want to see more of her "fire".
Shanna impresses with her standout spot - she's "owning the fact that she won the homework assignment", Robert thinks (and Shanna's determined to win so she doesn't have to go back to being a "broke college student"). But Tyler's still struggling with the choreography - "Relax!" Zach yells. Oh, and they think Maxfield is like a "deer in the headlights", as Robert suggests that he seemed "lost" in the group number.
But we get to see the final video, and it's fun enough... and might even include a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from Glee
's very own Principal Figgins (or were my eyes deceiving me?)The last-chance performances
Gulp - it's time to find out which three contestants will have to perform last-chance songs for Ryan Murphy! All the girls are talking about why there's no point being nervous (but they're "anxious" instead, apparently - and Taryn's missing her mum!) The boys are also feeling the pressure - they hate the suspense.
So let's get it over with! The contestants are called to the stage, and the strongest performer of the week is named - Shanna! Robert explains that she did an excellent job all week, plus she knows who she is. She's safe this time! Shanna is thrilled and says her hard work paid off - it's "another spark in [her] fire" to keep going.
Charlie, Ali, Michael, Blake, Abraham, Nellie and Dani are also called back - phew! Robert then tells Mario that he needs to work out how to convey emotion through his body, while Nikki says Lily just "wasn't popping" this week. But both of them are safe, too. Mario promises to keep defying expectations!
Moving on, Robert says that they were drawn to Aylin because she was like a "spitfire", but she lost that a little this week. Nikki says she loves the sound of Maxfield's voice, but he was all over the place with his line (Robert adds that he was lost in the group number, while Zach says: "When it was time to perform, there wasn't any performance." Ouch.).
Zach moves on to Tyler, who says that he doesn't have to be a great dancer but he needs to let go a little. And Nikki says that Taryn was a bit withdrawn in the studio, and less confident than she expected. Robert points out that it's a hugely new experience for Taryn, who'd never even been on a plane before. "You have to just know you're here for a reason," he says. With that, he adds that she's on the callback list!
That means that Maxfield, Aylin and Tyler will have to battle it out - Maxfield will be singing 'Always on My Mind', Aylin will be performing 'Without You', and Tyler will be given 'ABC' ("I was like a child singing that song," he frets. "How can I sing that song in the correct octave?") They get their two hours to perform, and then it's time to face Ryan Murphy (who says this isn't just a talent show - it's about who he feels inspired to write for).Alyn:
Robert explains Aylin's there because the "spitfire went completely away" this week. After she performs - very well, incidentally - Ryan tells her she did "great" and she shouts: "Keep me in the competition!" She admits she might have to step it up, and Ryan says he'd like to write a flirtatious character for her. That said, he asks which guys she has her eyes on. "Blake," she practically gasps. "Jesus!" This makes the judges laugh. Ryan says she's "charming" - she can't lose that! Aylin thanks them: "I'll be me forever and ever - bye!"Tyler:
Robert explains that obviously Tyler is going through a transition in his life and suggests he's still learning to let his personality be on stage. So Tyler comes on to sing 'ABC', but though Ryan says he is "very moved" by Tyler's story, he adds: "I don't know that I'm moved by your talent." Ouch! He says that Tyler's going to have to compete with better singers, but he does have a spirit and life force that's bigger than theirs. Tyler admits that he has some problems vocally since his voice is changing (as part of his transition). He explains that now he has his physical body, he's learning to be comfortable in it. Ryan promises that they all support that and Tyler vows to try his best.Maxfield:
Before his performance, Nikki admits that she had higher hopes for Maxfield... and describes his studio time as "disastrous"! Maxfield gets on to perform 'Always on My Mind' and I'm kind of surprised by how much I enjoy his voice - he's got a great, husky tone. Nikki says it was much better than the studio, though she wishes he'd gone for it more at the end of the song. Ryan says he thinks there's something "authentic" about Maxfield and girls would like him - "There's something very charming about your simplicity". I think that's a compliment. Maxfield admits that since he's only just discovered his singing voice, it's all still so new to him. "You're a good talker," Ryan admits. "Mr Charming. The more you talk I'm like, 'Okay, he's good'."Who's Going Home?
The judges deliberate and Ryan admits he was disappointed with Tyler. Zach suggests that Tyler's a little bit of a perfectionist, while Robert argues that Tyler's stock dropped while Maxfield's rose. But Ryan suggests that it's between Tyler and Maxfield - they have better people to write for in the competition, so should they just send them both home? "Please no!" Nikki begs.
Eventually they make their decision, though, and Robert posts the callback sheet. Aylin walks towards the sheet insisting that she has no regrets - and she's right to feel that way, because she discovers she's through! But will it be Maxfield or Tyler going home? Maxfield says he knows he's supposed to be doing this - "I know what I have to offer and I really hope they can see that and give me another chance." Tyler, meanwhile, says he doesn't want "to be anywhere but here".
Just as well - Tyler's through, but we're saying goodbye to Maxfield. "I wanted to win this," he says. "I wanted to be the person Ryan could write for, show the world what I have, show myself what I can do and to learn through this whole experience and grow with my talent... It's just been such an amazing experience. Either way, God has a plan for me." There are tears in the choir room as Maxfield says goodbye, and of course he closes the show with 'Keep Holding On'. Bring on next week!The Glee Project airs Tuesdays on Oxygen.