Is it me, or does The Glee Project seem to change its parameters for who stays and who goes on an almost weekly basis? One week, Ryan Murphy and his cohorts are looking for someone who inspires them to write, another week it boils down to who’s professional and easy to work with, and this week, apparently, the decision was based mostly on contestants’ singing and acting skills. “At the end of the day with these kids, it’s always who’s the most talented,” said our trusty executive producer, sitting down to deliberate with fellow judges Robert Ulrich and Zach Woodlee. I dunno. I might’ve cut the “always” from that sentence and inserted a “this week” at the very end.
Ultimately, though, I don’t mind the moving-target vibe of The Glee Project‘s decisionmaking process. After all, Ulrich told us as early as Episode 1 that casting is a “completely subjective” process, and in this case, probably even more so — considering Murphy hasn’t even written the role for which our merry band of contestants are competing.
What frustrated me a little this week was that I was just starting to warm up to zaftig redhead Hannah and then — bam! — she gets eliminated. The judges were right that her homework rendition of “True Colors” was her loveliest vocal performance to date, and I actually thought her acting in the weekly music video was more subtle and honest than either Alex or Damian — both of whom avoided the bottom three altogether. That said, her last-chance rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Back to December” bordered on unpleasant, so I couldn’t argue when Ryan said the decision was “very clear” to send home the girl who amusingly admitted she only catches glimpses of the greatness the judges saw in her.
Lindsay and Samuel, meanwhile, managed to outperform Hannah in the sing-off round, but both of ’em also made the case that when it comes to learning about what goes on inside an actor’s mind, sometimes less is more. Lindsay’s tearful confession to Ryan — “I’ve been fighting my entire life to be really strong.” — seemed more a case of “Gee whiz! I’d better have something compelling to cry about before the judges deliberate!” than a genuine outpouring of emotion. (And I kind of agreed with vocal coach Nikki Anders that Lindsay brought the tears to the recording studio as a way of “forcing emotional drama” after Alex’s own melodramatic breakdown.) OK, so Lindsay was adopted and she’s got some insecurities, but on the other hand, she’s a hugely compelling screen presence and she sang the bejeezus out of “Maybe This Time.” If she manages to win it all, I don’t really need to root for Lindsay as a human being, I need to root for the character the Glee writing team concocts for her, and I need her to be skillful enough to bring that character to life. That’s my biggest concern when the mothership returns for Season 3 this fall.
I’ve got more faith in Lindsay’s acting chops than in Samuel’s. The dreadlocked dude says he wants to win The Glee Project more than he wants to breathe or even exist — srsly? — but then goes and tells us he’s never considered himself an actor. (That’s a very “2 + 2 = 5.739” kind of life philosophy, as far as I’m concerned.) I agreed with Ryan that Samuel’s whole Russell Brand schtick during the last-chance round wasn’t exactly relatable, but suddenly the guy was sharing that he’s got the words “Jesus Christ” tattooed on the back of his neck, which means he can easily step into Cameron’s “Christian dude with issues” role — without having quite so many issues. [Side note: I spent half of Samuel’s performance trying to figure out if he was wearing pink shoes to match his pink shirt (he wasn’t), or if he was simply barefoot (he was). Please tell me I’m not alone on this one.]
And so now we’re down to four contestants. I’m really hoping that this week’s Bottom 3 showing for Lindsay and Samuel was a way to set them up for a “redemption edit” next week — and force the elimination of either Alex or Damian. I know the kid toured with Celtic Thunder, but I dislike Damian’s singing voice almost as much as I dislike Alex’s singing face (which always looks like he’s waiting for someone to clap and say “Good job!”). And how the judges thought Alex’s dead-eyed stare at Damian was an example of chill-inducing romantic longing is beyond me; I stared down a slice of cold pizza in my fridge this morning with more intensity. (The pizza remains untouched as of 10 a.m.; the story is developing…)
What did you think of this week’s Glee Project? Who are you hoping will win it all? Was anyone else a little shocked at how Damian dropped to his knees and made a big hullabaloo — right in front of Samuel — when he avoided the Bottom 3 at his fellow contestant’s expense? And did the right person go home?
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