‘Glee Project’ Season Premiere Recap: Lea Michele Helps Ax First Contestant

Lea Michele on The Glee Project (Oxygen)

You could hardly blame a “Glee Project” Season 2 cast member for thinking, “I’ve so got this. One in three contenders last year got a part on ‘Glee.’”

But Ryan Murphy swiftly put an end to that line of thought before the gang was even allowed to perform their first homework assignment.

“This year is gonna be much, much, much harder because we’re only choosing one person,” he said. “And, oh yeah, there are two more contenders than last year, so your odds just got a whole lot tougher, my little monkeys.” And then he twirled the ends of his greasy moustache with his fingertips, giggling to himself about all the new life stories sitting before him, waiting to be exploited.

Okay, only the first part actually happened, but the rest of it was implied.

Then Lea Michele was trotted out to pretend to enjoy the homework performance along with Murph and Robert Ulrich, Lord of Casting.

The contenders are not entirely at fault for their completely uninteresting and borderline awkward take on a “Born This Way” jam session in the choir room. They’re not experienced directors or choreographers—some are not even experienced performers—and they were tasked with putting together a number for 14 people to each show their individuality in approximately 2.8 seconds.

Watch the Season Premiere of “The Glee Project”:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/The-Glee-Project/141509/2242780128/Individuality/embed 580 476]

So what we got was your standard “V” formation with each person popping out to sing a line and attempting to display their entire personalities via hyper-extended facial expressions and attitude arms. Get used to this, because you will see the exact same thing for the next ten weeks.

Anyway, Lea thought everyone was beautiful but picked Southern Shanna as the winner of a one-on-one mentoring session with her in which they could discuss how belting is awesome. (For the record, if I got to have a private convo with Lea Michele, that’s what I’d talk about, too.)

Shanna’s win also scored her a featured spot in this week’s music video, “Here I Go Again,” by Whitesnake, where she excelled again. Her confidence on set and skills in the recording booth earned her the top spot on the callback list assembled by Robert, vocal coach Nikki Anders, and choreographer Zach Woodlee.

Speaking of Zach, how adorable is that guy? He always smiles when people walk onstage in that way that way that seems to genuinely say, “Oh yay, it’s YOU!” And he just looks so huggable all the time, despite his sweatiness and questionable taste in slouchy hats, which he obviously acquired from Ryan Murphy, who is fond of bigger, more ridiculous slouchy headwear.

What you need to know about Nikki is she’s honest and tough but caring, and she’s really into big ol’ false eyelashes.

Because the group’s still so large, no one besides Shanna had much opportunity to stand out as an early favorite, although Abraham (you know, Rufio from the movie “Hook”) seems very comfortable in the spotlight and unafraid to sass it up given half the chance. Fortunately, he falls on the side of entertaining and not annoying… for now.

Weaknesses were more noticeable, which was bad news for Taryn, Twangy Maxfield, Tyler, and Aylin, who is obviously this year’s Emily Vásquez, what with all the flirting and… flirting. Hopefully she won’t get the premature boot like Emily did.

Taryn scraped by to avoid the Last Chance Round, but she was warned that she needed to work on her confidence.

So Aylin, whose star quality apparently fizzled out during the video shoot, was given the ballad version of David Guetta’s “Without You” to sing for Ryan. You knew she was back as soon as she said, “You give it to me and I’ll sing it.” She did. It was by far the best of the Bottom Three. She was safe.

Tyler had to sing The Jackson 5’s “ABC.” Tyler struggled to keep up in dance rehearsals and gave a lackluster performance in the video. He’s more of a Finn Hudson than a Mike Chang when it comes to dancing, so the upbeat song choice seemed like a slightly cruel chance to showcase his lack of rhythm.

Maxfield got “Always On My Mind” by Willie Nelson. He needed to hit this out of the park because he floundered in the recording studio and blended into the wall on the video set. He’s only been singing for six months, making him stand out as a painfully green newbie during every performance.

Murph considered cutting both of them, saying it had to happen sometime, but in the end the judges elected to keep Tyler. Maxfield has potential, at least as a singer, if he gets some experience under his belt and can find some comfort behind a microphone. But it was obvious he wasn’t ready for the pace and performance caliber of “Glee,” so this was the right call.

At this rate, the judges may actually pick the right winner this year! And in completely unrelated news, Samuel Larsen is next week’s guest mentor. His topic is dance-ability, because “maintaining the same intense facial expression at all times” was not an available theme. See you then!

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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