August 22, 2011

Episode Review: THE GLEE PROJECT, "Glee-ality"

So, the first installment of The Glee Project is done, and all I can say is, "huh". While it wasn't the most logical TV show (most reality TV isn't), I have to admit that I got hooked, and I genuinely cared about who won this novelty competition.

Homework Assignment
The show saved the best for last as the final four Wanna-Glees had to sing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" which has become synonymous with Glee, and they had to preform it in front of Ryan Murphy just to add more stress to the situation.

After they started, Ryan stopped them and said that they needed a little bit of help, which led to him bringing back the eight former contestants to back them up. None of the four really stood out during "Don't Stop", which really didn't matter in the end since no one was win the homework assignment, and they all were going to have Last Chance Performances. Having everyone back was a nice surprise though, and their presence made the performance more entertaining.

Video Shoot
Not only did the eight cast-offs get to back up the final four, but they also had the chance to partake in the final video shoot. After vocal and choreography training, all twelve headed to some tall building in L.A. to sing Pink's "Raise Your Glass".

The shoot itself was pretty standard, but you could feel all of the energy from the cast which gave the whole thing a positive vibe. The combination of a fun song, seeing everyone have fun, and a sense of finality made the "Raise Your Glass" video one of the best of the season.

Last Chance Performance
Oh, the Last Chance Performance. This is where all of the fun happens. The contenders had the chance to pick their final song to sing in front of Ryan Murphy, the judges, Ian Brennan, Nikki and Erik, their fellow contestants, and members of the Glee cast. No pressure at all.

Lindsay kicked things off by singing "Gimme Gimme" from Thoroughly Modern Millie. I'm not a Broadway guy, so I've never heard of the musical much less this song, but it was right in Lindsay's wheelhouse. Through out this competition she's proven that she can belt with the best of them, and "Gimme Gimme" gave her one more shot to show Ryan what she can do, but she was also able to tap into the vulnerable side that she's been lacking. While she sounded great, and I was extremely impressed, we've seen it all before.

Damian came out with a swagger as he tried his hand at the Bobby Darin classic, "Beyond the Sea". What was evident right off the bat was Damian's attitude. He was loose and having fun, which made his performance a delight to watch. His dedication to Hannah and Cameron, and the fact that he just went for it took the dark horse to a favorite in a matter of minutes.

When I first heard that Sam was going to sing Dolly Parton's "Jolene", I thought that he was pandering to Ryan Murphy. Of course, he's going to be won over by a rocker ringing a country love song that's about a woman asking another woman not to take her man. It's so out there that it's right up Murphy's alley. What I wasn't expecting was to be won over by Sam's performance. The stripped down sound of his acoustic guitar mixed with his grittier vocals just worked, and I was blown away.

Finally, Alex dressed up in drag again to sing "I Am Changing" from Dreamgirls. There was no argument that Alex was one of the top two singers on The Glee Project, and his ability to wail was well documented, but his final performance was nothing new. Every time he sang a solo, it was always a diva-inspired choice, and they all felt the same. Even the fact that he dressed in drag, which was a brave choice, had been done before so it didn't feel special.

When the final four was trimmed down to the final two, I was initially surprised. I haven't shied away from thoughts that Lindsay was by far the most talented of the bunch, and she was the one most prepared to jump into Glee. I guess that her inability to connect was too much for her to overcome. Alex on the other hand didn't shock me.

After thinking about it, Damian and Samuel made the most sense because their final performances stood out the most. They didn't rely just on their strengths, but they just put it all out there, which was admirable, and I believe that's why they were the last two standing. That being said, I still felt that Sam was still too one note to win, but apparently that one note was an "it" factor, so he won it all.

Now, I wish I could say that I was floored when Ryan announced that Damian also won The Glee Project, but I couldn't since I read spoilers before actually watching the episode, but I was still happy about the result. Damian did grow the most, and he does have the underdog quality that's so important to Glee. Plus, he's so damn charming, and the show does need a crooner. He's going to be a great addition to the show, and I can't wait to see what they can do with him.

Giving Lindsay and Alex a 2-episode guest stint was a nice gesture, but is it really a competition if everyone wins something? It's kind of like when every kid gets a participation trophy for just showing up. Next thing you know, Bryce is going to be an extra playing a football player while Emily makes out with Puck. OK, that's a little mean, and I am glad that Lindsay will get a chance to be on the show. Hopefully she can parlay it into a bigger role in Season 4.

Final Thoughts
The Glee Project wasn't groundbreaking or life-altering, but it has its worth, and I was entertained. While I'm not going to be watching X-Factor or Idol because of this show (although I will check out The Sing-Off but that doesn't count), I do get the appeal of this kind of television.

Seeing these twelve people give it their all week in and week out sucked me in against my better judgment, and I found myself buying into it despite my frustrations with Ryan Murphy. The same can be said about Glee itself.

In all reality, I'm not in the target demo for Glee or The Glee Project, but I'm a sucker for a good underdog story, and I'm impressed by the talent that these performers have. It's these elements that bring me back every week, and why I'm willing to give the show a break when others won't. I just feel better after watching Glee, and The Glee Project was an interesting addition to the phenomenon, so all in all it was worth the time.


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