What do you take when combine popular musical drama Glee and a singing competition? The Glee Project, on which Gleek wannabes compete for a coveted chance to share the stage with Lea Michele, Dianna Agron and the other Glee stars.
The initial auditions
The opening of the show gave the emotional appeal that people look for from Glee: people presented their sob stories and why they should be on Glee.
The winner will get a seven episode Arc on Glee. The show claims that the person who wins the role must look like a high schooler and must be believable. The show claims to not be a singing or dancing competition, but a way to find the right fit for a part on Glee. While I believe this to a point, the person obviously must have some talent or they wouldn't get cast. What was interesting was that it was noted that some of the cast members would soon be graduating, so does that mean our beloved Rachel, Finn, Quinn, Mercedes and Santana may be leaving us in a few seasons? (If anyone will stick around, it'll be Brittany - I'm sure they'll find a way to make her stay back!)
The show cast by putting up a page on Myspace and having people apply with home videos.
It became pretty evident right away that The Glee Project would be full of positivity. It's going to be all about happiness and acceptance, even for those who don't make it far. This will be a variation from the negativity that we see on a lot of competition shows. We see the casting staff fawn over how good certain people are and how they watched every single audition.
The show continued with more positivity showing group singing and how a contestant flew all the way from Singapore just to try out for the show. The show also showed positive messages about people who have strange circumstances but don't let them hold them back, like a girl born with one hand and a boy with down syndrome who aspired to be the character Becky Johnson's boyfriend.
The show was so nice that it got a bit overwhelming. There was so much talk about how great everybody was, and how people had pure voices and their uniqueness leads to their talent. It was refreshing, but the show was missing a little bit of the Simon Cowell-ness that makes shows like American Idol so popular. I think I heard "You're my favorite!" and "That one's my favorite!" more times than I can count. It was even noted that people seemed satisfied even if they didn't make it through.
After the initial selections, we watched the Glee wannabes go through dance and singing training
Even through this, positivity was present. A kid who was sensitive about his dancing said that he felt comfortable during the experience. The show continued with a lot of group fun and collaboration.
During singing training, the singing coaches made it clear that they were there to help, not weed people out. Once again, we heard lots of compliments.
To be fair, we did hear a lot of fantastic auditions and see some great dancing. Keeping it positive was easy - the participants that were allowed on the show were really good. (Although my cat did run out of the room during one particularly high note.)
At the end of the casting special, we learned that the group was getting cut down to the top 12, and the winners were told about their success via webcast. The winners were Alex, Bryce, Cameron, Damian, Ellis, Emily, Hannah, Lindsay, Marissa, Matheus, McKynleigh and Samuel.
The official first episode began with the 12 finalists
When the first episode began, we learned that the contestants will go through a boot camp each week where they learn to sing and dance, and it'll all end each week with a group number. It will be overseen by casting director Robert Ulrich.
The first thing Robert noted when he walked in was that the week would have a theme - individuality. He also revealed the fact that a Glee star would join the contestants (this week and every week) to coach and critique them. This week, the contestants had to use the song Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder and make it their own.
Next up, we met the guest judge of the week, Darren Criss, otherwise known as Blaine on Glee. He let the contestants know that the person who stood out the most that week would win a special advantage in the week's group number.
The first bit of negativity came up when one of the girls started flirting with Darren and the others commented on it.
Matheus won the challenge and he got a featured moment in the group number, and won some time with Darren. The contestants then learned that the featured some was Firework by Katy Perry.
After the feature song is sung and recorded, the three worst contestants would have to perform for Ryan Murphy, creator of Glee, to see who will remain in the competition.
The contestants then told each other a bit about themselves, and then the fun ended.
The negativity starts to kick in
People admitted that they started to feel bad during dance auditions, and the dance coach wasn't super nice. The vocal coach was nice, but she did give criticism.
The music video coordinator came in next, and he would help to determine who shines and who gets stuck in the bottom three.
One contestant, who wants to be a heartbreaker, stood up to the video director and said he didn't think the part he was given fits his persona. The casting director did take his idea and it worked. And, the girl who looks like a young kid was told to stop acting like a kid and to be herself.
The music video and response
The music video turned out pretty well. Some of it was awkward and some singing wasn't spot on, but that's the point - they need reasons to put people in the bottom three.
The contestants talked about who was weak. The first person noted was Hannah. I feel bad for her - that has to hurt!
Cameron, Lindsay, Mateus, Alex, Emily and Samuel were all safe and made the callback list. McKynleigh, Hannah and Marissa were safe, but told that they need to step it up. Ellis was criticized for acting like a kid, and she had to sing Big Spender from Sweet Charity. Bryce was criticized for his attitude. He had to sing Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars. Damian was told that he needs to shows how unique he is in a group. His song was Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield.
Damian performed first. He changed the lyrics to say that he wishes that he was Jessie's girl (versus that he had Jessie's girl). This made the judges smile. They responded well to it. It seems that he just the lyrics wrong, though, and was embarrassed by it. The judges criticized his insecurity after he realized his mistake. On the other hand, they said he was charming.
Bryce was next. It was noted that his voice was strained, but he did a good job on the high notes, although he considered it his weakness. Bryce said that his strength over others is that he sounds and looks different than others.
Ellis was last. When asked about her week, Ellis immediately complained about her vocal problems. The judges then criticized her for her actions being off, but her singing being on. At this point, I thought her negativity might be her downfall. The judges noted that it might be hard to create a character for her.
After a montage of sad music and shadowy video of the contestants, Bryce was chosen to go home. He then gave us a sad speech about how he was happy to have a chance, and the episode ended.
I'll be interested to see how this show performs. It's on the Oxygen network, which seems to be hit-or-miss with shows. I think The Glee Project will perform well because of Glee's popularity...but maybe not as well as it could have done on another network.
One thing I respect about The Glee Project is that they are trying to cast a real person - they cast talented people, some of which don't fit the conventional Hollywood idea of a star. It was nice because some people that have major talent don't fit the traditional Hollywood image.
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