'The Glee Project' recap: 'Tenacity'
This recap is coming to you a little late, as I was at the TCA party for NBC (and sister channels like Oxygen) where I got a chance to chat with four of "Glee Project" warblers -- Aylin, Shanna, Abraham and Ali. I'll be writing that up soon, but I have to say they're just cute as buttons in person. Abraham promised that tonight's episode was going to be must-see television, so fingers crossed we get some stand-out performances. With only seven of them left, these kids rarely belt out anything less than stellar numbers, so I'm pretty sure he didn't oversell it.
Robert pops in to tell everyone to be proud of themselves having gotten so far, and, oh yes, the theme for the week is tenacity. Not surprisingly, everyone feels pretty tenacious, so they should have a lock on this. "Because of my wheelchair, I grew up in a house where the theme was never give up. Tenacity is a very familiar word to me," Ali says. I do think she should be a lock for this week, and not because of the wheelchair. She's really evolved in the last few weeks as someone you want to watch.
The first song they're given is "Survivor" by Destiny's Child. Abraham's ready for it. He notes that he gave up a lot to become a performer, because he was originally going to be a lawyer. Shanna says she's been tenacious since she was five years old, because her mom was involved in drugs. Ouch. Yes, tenacity is a good theme for our final seven, I think.
Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes Jones on "Glee," is the guest judge for the week. She also embodies tenacity, because she has stress fractures in both feet due to wearing heels for a dance number. But that probably isn't what the kids are thinking about -- Amber previously performed "Survivor" on "Glee," so they have to live up to the standard she set. And if there's one thing we know about Amber Riley, it's that she can belt with the best of them. I wonder if Shanna has an edge this time around.
This is a pretty good job by everyone, really. The guys seem to be having a bit more of a problem with it, but hey, this song was written for a female group. I think that might be expected. Still, Amber has her verdict. She love Abraham's diva persona, but she wanted more vivaciousness. She thought Lily didn't connect with the song. Aylin, however, sounded great. But what struck Amber was that Ali was moving around almost more than everyone else, and she really went for it. Hell, she did wheelchair hops. Down stairs. I can barely maneuver a grocery cart over a speed bump, but this girl can bounce down the stairs. Not surprisingly, Amber gives the win to Ali.
Ali is thrilled! She's won this first challenge twice in a row! Aylin is less thrilled. She wanted to win. It sucks. She thinks she deserved to win. Aylin was really good in this, but yeah, it's hard to measure up to someone who's really talented AND embodies the definition of the challenge.
Speaking of challenge, the song for the video will be "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor. Wow, that's old and creaky. The kids pick their lines, but I do wonder if they've heard the song. I can imagine picking a line with, say, a big ol' high note you can't hit by accident that way.
Which brings us to Abraham. In the studio, he just can't hit a note. Shanna, however, nails her line perfectly. Blake sounds a little flat to me, but Nikki thinks he's the best of the fellas. And then there's Michael, who sounds like a dying foghorn or like a child star whose voice is changing.
Finally, the group comes together to sing one part, and Aylin complains that Lily is too loud. Which she is. Lily is so insulted! She's sensitive about being too loud! Um, okay. But if you ARE and it's a problem, why is that so insulting? Aylin is annoyed because she as distracted by Lily's volume. I think tensions have been turned up to level bitchy.
Anyway, it's soon time to shoot the video. It's going to be one extremely long continuous shot, which means if even one person messes up, they have to start over from scratch. This should he crazy making. It's definitely not a cakewalk, either. There's jump roping, tire jumping, stair climbing, ball tossing, ball hitting -- in short, it's cray-cray to expect this to be pulled off without a hitch. But wait, there's more! At the end of the shot, Ali has to toss a ball backwards over her shoulder into a basketball hoop. Okay, this is not going to end well. Most people can't do that on cue anyway, but she has to do it while singing and from a wheelchair.
Ali thinks back to her mentoring meeting with Amber. She tells Amber she was injured when she was two, so was in physical therapy when she was three and four. Amber tells her she's tenacious and has to continue to be tenacious. Well, yes. That's true.
Back to the shoot. Lily is screwing up her part because she has to take her pants off quickly. Aylin is asked to assist in pants removal. Lily doesn't like that decision, because at the moment she doesn't like Aylin. I would think she may also not be too excited about getting her pants taken off while a camera's rolling. For the record, she's wearing shorts underneath, but the whole process just seems a little ick.
Abraham forgets to sing. The jump rope sequence is repeatedly bungled and Michael seems defeated. Abraham twists his ankle and Shanna throws up. In short, things are going great!
Aylin thinks Abraham is playing up his hurt ankle and that's what's messing him up. Aylin knows that's rude to say, but she doesn't care. She may not be wrong, either. I think Abraham may be playing up the hurt ankle a wee bit, honestly.
Finally, it's time for Ali to toss the ball into the basket. Except she misses. Again. And again. She freaks out a little, and man, who can blame her? Shanna gives her a pep talk. Blake gives her a pep talk. We see it's take 31. Robert is impressed that Ali just keeps going. I think someday Ali may have the basis for a lawsuit.
Finally, we see the video. It's all very impressive -- and while everyone seems to mess up a little bit here and there, it's not horrible. But then we get to the very last moment. The kids (GleePros?) lift Ali up to the basket and… WE CUT TO A SHOT FROM A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT ANGLE OF THE BALL GOING IN. What?
Okay, an alteration was made to the final shot -- Ali is lifted up to the basket -- so why the cut? I feel cheated. At least cop to it, "Glee Project"!
Anyway, time to assess the performances. Ali, Shanna and Blake are the top three this week.
Aylin, Michael, Abraham and Lily are the bottom four. They've been picked out because their involvement with the jumprope debacle held up the shoot. and was "an utter failure" according to Zach. Nikkie tells Michael he struggled the most in the studio, and notes that Abraham had a hard time finding his high note. Lily gets dinged for her inability to blend her voice with the group. Aylin never knocked over a hurdle during the video shoot, but she lost focus -- a repeated note for her.
Michael, Abraham and Lily will be performing. Lily will sing "I'm the Greatest Star" from "Funny Girl." Michael will sing "Brick" by Ben Folds Five. Abraham gets "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson. Oh, and Abraham is informed that Ryan does not want him to kiss up to him. You have to give the man credit; there aren't many people in Hollywood who are offended by ass kissing.
Abraham cries as he rehearses his song. It's his third time in the bottom three. And he has to sing one of Michael Jackson's lesser works. Okay, that's just me, but "Man in the Mirror" is not my favorite.
What is my favorite, though, is anything by Ben Folds Five. "Brick" is a sad song. Michael grins and shuffles around like a Vegas lounge singer. However, he's not singing the whole song, so maybe he doesn't realize it's about two teenagers dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Or at least I hope not, because it would imply Michael is an ass. But Ryan likes what he did with it. Still, he thinks Blake never would have stumbled at the jumprope. Because that's one thing "Glee" is all about. Jumping rope.
Next, Abraham does an excellent job with "Man in the Mirror." Ryan is pleased, but he says he did not see Abraham's laser focus this week Abraham admits his injury got in the way, not that he's making excuses. Ryan wisely points out that saying you're not making an excuse is making an excuse. Abraham limps sadly off the stage.
Lily belts. I don't like this song, but the judges Lily's performance. Ryan notes she didn't know all the words, but he wouldn't have known that if he hadn't been familiar with the song because she never stumbled. What happened this week. Aylin hurt her feelings! She was thrown! Because Aylin pointed out she was too loud when she WAS too loud! Ryan suggests she try to show Aylin how fabulous she is instead of feeling hurt and thrown off by her. Ryan's on fire tonight with the paternal advice.
Now it's time to decide who gets the boot. Robert thinks they've all improved. Ryan thinks all three of the bottom three could be on "Glee." Decisions, decisions!
Suddenly, Abraham returns to the stage. He wants to apologize. He can do better, and he isn't leaving the show until he wins or until he gets a a role on "Glee." You could see this as gutsy or you could see it as crazy, and it seems Ryan is going with crazy. He thinks Abraham's using his bravado and personality to cover that he isn't rising to the level of his talent. Ryan doesn't care about pontification. Away, minion! Abraham sadly limps offstage. Ryan really likes him, but I think Abraham screwed up here. Still, Michael seems like a candidate for the boot as well.
The person going home will be… Abraham! I have to say, I'm surprised he was at the NBC party after being offed. I have got to play back that interview to see if he dropped any hints. If he did, I didn't catch them.
Abraham cries a little, but he's crying tears of joy, not sadness. Good things are ahead for him. I have no doubt they are. I'm a little surprised Michael didn't go home, as he seems like a smudgy Xerox copy of Blake in a lot of ways and Abraham, while turning in some so-so vocals, had a lot more personality. Ah, well.
Were you surprised to see Abraham go home? Do you think Lily sings too loudly? Were you annoyed by the edit in the one-shot video?