Our favorite summer obsession is back! That’s right — The Glee Project has returned, and this week’s premiere episode was as much of a blast as ever. The episode was jam-packed with Lady Gaga and hair metal, rock-paper-scissors, lots of horrible dance moves, and plenty of Lea Michele (Rachel) awesomeness. Now throw out your tampons, and let’s get started!
The episode, “Individuality,” kicks off with the contestants all meeting up in the house for the first time, meaning hugs all around. Instead of last year’s 12 contestants, this year will have 14, so there is one more person to compete against this year — that is, if you ask Shanna. In other words, you probably shouldn’t ask Shanna anything math-related.
There are several firsts regarding the contestants this season, including Mario, who’s blind; Ali, who’s in a wheelchair; and Tyler, who’s transgender. We also meet Aylin, who’s a total flirt — and that is certainly not a first for this show. In fact, is it just us, or does Aylin totally remind you of sassy Emily from Season 1?
Casting director Robert Ulrich explains that the first group number will be Gaga’s “Born This Way,” but that the contestants will have to decide on their own who is singing what part. Sounds like a job for rock-paper-scissors (which is how singers on Broadway decide which parts they’re going to sing, right?). The contestants also had to come up with their own choreography, which explains why the choreography kinda-sorta sucked.
It’s time to bring out two major guest stars to judge the group performance. First up is Ryan Murphy, who stresses that there will only be one winner this year (we’ll believe it when it happens, Ryan) and that the contestants should try to inspire young people.
And then out comes Lea Michele, to gasps aplenty from the contestants. Lea tells everyone to not be afraid to be yourself and “let your geek flag fly” — though why she didn’t say, “Let your Gleek flag fly,” we’ll never know.
The group performs “Born This Way,” and it’s time for Lea to select a winner. Lea is really sweet to (almost) everyone, including Lily, who has dealt with weight issues but cries when Lea says she’s beautiful; and Mario, who Lea says made her day. Only Dani received a slight diss from Lea, for not being clear about who she is. But the winner is Shanna, who Lea says is “gonna rip through this.” Not a bad first day for Shanna, eh?
Up next, the group will be performing Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” meaning that this is probably a song that Mark Salling should have been the mentor for, dontcha think? Oh, well. Everyone then goes to their first choreography lesson with Zach Woodlee, and Zach is not impressed with their footwork, particularly Tyler’s, whom Zach calls out.
Everyone heads to the recording studio with Nikki, who is most impressed with Shanna, calling her a “powerhouse.” Earning less effusive reactions from Nikki were Taryn, who lacked confidence, and Maxfield, who Nikki says was “struggling so bad.” And when you’re a contestant, being described as “struggling so bad” is probably not a good sign.
From there, it’s time to film the video, which is about indulging your inner rock star. The contestants that show the most acting prowess in the video are Shanna (noticing a pattern here?) and Blake, whom Robert describes as having a goofy, Jim Carrey-style sensibility (which we’re assuming was meant to be a compliment?). On the other end of the spectrum are Max, who seems lost; Taryn, who isn’t giving much effort; and Aylin, who’s lacking her usual spunkiness.
It’s now time for the contestants to find out how they did and to learn which are the bottom three. The contestant who was the best this week is — no surprise here — Shanna. From the way Shanna is establishing herself as an early frontrunner, along with the way that she isn’t afraid to compliment herself, she’s reminding us a little of Season 1’s Lindsay Pearce. Okay, so Shanna clearly isn’t as in love with herself as Lindsay was, but we’re not sure it’s humanly possible to love yourself as much as Linds did last year.
As for the bottom three, that dubious distinction goes to Aylin, Maxfield, and Tyler, who will now be required to give a last-chance performance for Ryan Murphy. Aylin is assigned “Without You,” and Max is assigned “Always On My Mind,” and they both seem content with those choices. However, Tyler gets “ABC” by the Jackson 5, and he is not happy about it. Of course, we all know that New Directions did a bang-up job with it earlier this season, so it’s certainly possible to excel with that song.
Ailyn is up first, and Ryan Murphy seems wowed by her vocals, as he even asks her if she was singing the song in her car. Okay, so we’re not exactly sure what he meant by that, but it seemed positive.
However, he goes on to tell the other judges that Aylin vocals on “Without You” weren’t as strong as when Lea Michele did it on Glee. Then again, complaining that someone’s vocals don’t live up to Lea Michele’s is sort of like hiring someone to paint your house for you, and then complaining that the painting job isn’t as impressive as the one that Michelangelo did for the Sistine Chapel.
Ryan is not as impressed with Tyler’s vocals and tells him that he won’t be able to compete vocally with the other contestants, but Ryan says he’s drawn to Tyler’s personality and story. And then Maxfield is up, and Ryan appears to be fine with his vocals but finds his personality lacking. According to Robert, Max performed better than he had been, whereas Tyler performed worse than he had been.
We then hear the judges deliberate over their decision, and Ryan tries to convince the other judges to cut two of the contestants, saying that it has to happen one of these days. (Someone’s in a crabby mood!) However, Nikki is especially adamant that they only cut one person this week. So we’re not exactly certain who else Ryan wanted to cut, but we can only assume that Nikki saved Tyler.
It’s now time for Robert to reveal who’s been cut, and the unlucky first person to go is countrified Max, which isn’t a huge surprise. (Also, doesn’t Coach Beiste already have the country genre covered on Glee?) However, given that Max has only been singing for six months (say what?!), we think that Max has a lot of potential. Get ‘er done, Max!
So who do we think could win this thing, and did we meet anyone whom we could fall in love with as much as we fell for Damian and Cameron in Season 1? Well, clearly Shanna established herself as an instant frontrunner, as there are moments when her voice kinda blows us away. We just hope she doesn’t get too full of herself after her stellar first week.
As for the guys, we didn’t really get to know any of them particularly well yet, but it seems that Blake has promise. We also enjoyed Mario’s voice — not to mention that infectious smile of his. But as far as whether any of the guys on the level of Damian and Cameron? Not yet — but Damian and Cameron set the bar pretty darn high last year!
And speaking of Blake, we have to agree with Aylin that he’s not too shabby in the looks department. Come to think of it, we’d love to have been a fly on the wall when Aylin and her mom watch this week’s episode, because of her lines about Blake but also for that scene where Aylin announces to the world that she’s forbidden to use tampons and that her mom doesn’t know that she’s kissed a guy. Awkward! (And a note to the other female contestants: We don’t really need to hear details about your time of the month. Thanks.)
All in all, this was an amazing start to the second season. This week’s episode was perfect because it involved singing plus emotion plus fun — and that’s math that even Shanna can do.