“I’m gonna keep on going toward my dreams with two suitcases in my hands and, like, 20 bucks in my pocket — and I’m gonna make it.” With those inspiring words, the strongest, most consistent contestant on Season 2 of The Glee Project exited the competition in a head-scratching sixth-place finish, and I honestly can’t make any sense of it.
Oh, and if that wasn’t aggravating enough, the season’s two weakest links didn’t even have to sing for their lives, plus Oxygen managed to spoil the results during the final commercial break by airing a carelessly edited promo for next week’s episode. Did I really relegate Michael Phelps to my DVR for this?
[Insert deep cleansing breath here.]
Anyway, this week’s theme was “Romanticality,” and not only was Darren Criss in the house to offer his mentoring skills (cue Aylin and Lily squealing like foolios), but Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt was on hand to play guitar for a homework assignment centered around the band’s big hit “More Than Words,” the song that — TMI alert! — Glee Project host/judge Robert Ulrich lost his virginity to. I’m not sure any contestant separated him- or herself from the pack with a brilliant effort, but I agreed with Darren that Lily and Aylin were a little more dramatic than they needed to be as an angsty lesbian couple. Blake, meanwhile, scored his first homework win, which was probably overdue, no?
The main video (set to Rihanna’s “We Found Love”) followd three romantic high-school couples sneaking out for some sexytimes during weekend detention. (Side note: Do real schools actually give weekend detention?) You knew Shanna was in trouble the minute she mentioned how she’d never been in the Bottom 3, and how the final video was going to be “the Aylin and Shanna show.” During the 30 seconds of studio time we got to see, vocal coach Nikki Anders had issues with Shanna and Blake, and yet somehow warmed to the nasal quality of Michael’s harmonies, and the borderline unpleasant tone of Ali’s bombastic high notes.
The actual shoot was similarly confusing. Shanna and Aylin got called out for looking like “two girls swing-dancing” instead of two girls in love, but Lily and Michael got praised for what appeared to be, at best, a tenuous connection that sat at the intersection of friends and acquaintances. Plus, it looked to me like Lily was thisclose to laughing in Michael’s face. In the “non-romanticality” moments — bored/impatient kids stuck in a room with Principal Figgins — Shanna stood out as the most charismatic and convincing of the Final 6.
Somehow, though, Shanna and Aylin’s failure to please the mentors on set, and Blake’s problems in the studio, led to three of the season’s four front-runners having to do last-chance performances for Ryan,. In other words, as Mr. Murphy pointed out, they were at risk “for reasons probably not evident in the [final] video.” Shanna, Aylin, and Blake all offered similar outlooks on the Bottom 3: Something between, “Uh-oh. This can’t be good.” and “Hold up: How’d all three of us get put up for elimination?”
But what is done is done. And the last chance performances went as follows:
* Aylin flubbed the lyrics to “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” which turned out to be her least emotionally captivating solo of the competition. Still, her “Muslim girls need TV roles, too!” speech to Ryan was fairly compelling, even if her response to his question (what would it mean to little Muslim girls to see Aylin on Glee?) was a little self-absorbed. (“It would mean the world to me.” Um, girl, that’s not what he asked!)
* Blake’s cover of “Losing My Religion” was as common as a padlock in a gym locker room, and my scribbled notes during the performance are pretty damning: “terrific mop of hair, impressively flexed forearm.” And yet even though I’ve generally enjoyed Blake’s work this season, and I feel like he’s pretty much earned himself a spot in the finals, I didn’t understand his decision to go all “Hugh Grant hem-haw”/Breathless Mahoney when he got in front of Ryan and the judges. To me, that shtick felt less like real nerves and more like an effort to prove his “genuineness” to the judges.
* Shanna roared through Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” with confidence, control, and a heretofore unseen sexiness. In other words, of the three contenders at risk, she seemed like the only one who was auditioning for a TV role and not merely taking the stage and performing a cover song. Still, Shanna might have been done in by her post-performance admission to the judges that she felt Michael should’ve been in the Bottom 3 instead of herself. I mean, these people hold your fate in their hands, sister, so don’t go out of your way to tell them they don’t know how to do their jobs!
And so it was Shanna who got booted, which means underwhelming Michael and/or cantankerous/irksome Lily will be making it to the finale. What did you think of the result? If Shanna deserved to stay, who should’ve been cut in her place? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!