Dani Shay, Glee Project Promotional Still, Oxygen
This episode of The Glee Project begins by praising itself for embracing diversity and hot guys who like calculus. Shanna won the homework assignment, Aylin forgot to flirt, and Tyler pretty much sucks at everything except Being Brave. Maxfield was sent home for being too normal, and that's what we missed on Glee Project!
Chillin' in the rec room... Aylin realizes that she lost her mojo last week because she just didn't act slutty enough, so she will work hard to rectify that this week. I strongly recommend that she stay away from her more traditional Muslim relatives from now on, because this behavior will get a girl executed in some countries. I'm not saying that's right, but I just hope her family is made up of reasonable people who won't disown her or something.
The theme for the week is "Danceability", as if every week did not incorporate dance in some way. Everybody is contractually required to behave as if they were pleased and excited, especially Tyler, who really is neither. Dani is also not happy; she is cool, serene, unique and gifted, but she's no more a dancer than she is a plastic Barbie doll. She's also one of the very few people on the show I am genuinely happy to see each week, because she's one of the few who did not come from a cookie cutter and she's not a stereotype. However, it might take more depth than you get in a teaspoon to appreciate Dani, and therein lies her problem with this particular show.
They are instructed to sing "We Got the Beat" by the Go-Gos. Once again, they need to allocate individual lines to each cast member, giving each a chance to showboat at an inappropriate level to stand out in the crowd, and they have to choreograph this thing, too. Mario and Ali immediately get into an argument over who gets to sing line #13; Mario is trying to avoid Ali's overly cliched rendition of that line, and she's fighting to the death for her right to perform the obvious. Ali feels that Mario is rubbing people the wrong way, which is code for "Mario argued with me about something! Therefore everybody must have a problem with him!" As the wild bickering continues over who will choreograph, Taryn begins to figure out that she's surrounded by obnoxious attention hogs. Since she is severely introverted and desperately homesick, this wears on her terribly. Yes, Taryn. People in show business are often egotistical attention hogs. Welcome to your chosen profession.
Taryn calls her mommy. Taryn hears the voice of love and sanity, and she... bails. Just like that. She's got an opportunity others would kill for, and she just throws it away. Frankly, I wish she had had the fortitude to stay all the way through to the Bottom Three. Maybe she could have thrown herself on her sword then, and we could have avoided the travesty that closed this episode.
Robert gathers the cast together to break the tragic, tragic news that Taryn has
Now, it's time to introduce... the special guest. Ooh, the anticipation! Who could it be? Maybe it will be somebody really impressive, like award winner Chris Colfer! Maybe it will be somebody who has really had a loyal fan base through the years, like Cory Montieth! Maybe, given the theme, it will be somebody with really exceptional dance skills, like Harry Shum! Who is it? Uh, what's with the guitar? He knows what it's like to stand out in Danceability Week?
Oh, crap. It's one of the Glee Project Winners. Well, Damian can't dance at all, so it's got to be.. he of the bare feet... Samuel Larson. Aylin goes into a conniption fit. She likes handsome men. The ovation for Samuel is so big I figure one of two things has happened:
1. They all consider him the physical manifestation of their own dreams.
2. They got a cue card saying "Look excited when Samuel shows up."
If I were told I was getting to see a single Glee cast member, and I didn't know who it was, and they had Lea freaking Michele last week, I would consider Sanuel a letdown. Still, maybe they are all really polite. Samuel's sage advice is that they be confident as they stomp leaden-footed through their choreography. The kids begin their song, and as I watch, I wonder if these performance segments of the Glee Project will get less irritating as the cast gets smaller. The divided lead lines are jarring, nonsensical, and irritating. I have to say I am really, genuinely impressed with how well Mario is keeping up. My last experience watching a blind person dance with a big group like this was following Scott MacIntyre on American Idol, and he did not dance with the confidence Mario shows here. Hella talented, indeed. I notice that Ali got her cliched "round and round" line.
Robert thinks this was the best homework assignment evah. Samuel gives some individual critiques, and then, quite rightly, gives the win to Abraham, who did indeed stand out in terms of the charisma he showed on the floor. So Abraham wins... a one on one mentoring session with... Samuel Larson. Not Lea. Not Chris. Not Cory. Not even Amber. He gets Samuel. Woo hoo.
Samuel then introduces the music video theme that will hang them all: Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO. They have clearly gotten another cue card: look ecstatic. They will be recreating a high school house party. Actually, they will be recreating "Blame it on the Alcohol."
It's dance rehearsal time. Aylin informs the camera that while her mother thinks she's never kissed anybody, she's kissed a lot of guys. I guess that secret's over, huh? Zach's going to judge them on the individual eight count dance routine they will do in small groups as part of the video. He would like for them not to do stupid wedding dance stuff. Lily decides to ignore him completely.
Abraham gets mentored by Samuel Larson. Well, Sam is probably not the best dance coach they could have gotten for him... I want to know where Harry and Heather are... but he suggests that Abraham have fun.
They are rehearsing their moves, and Lily is making stupid wedding dance moves to make Zach laugh. Yes, she remembers the instruction. Yes, she's ignoring it.
Zach begins to teach each group their eight count. Dani can't get it. Tyler can't get it because he's transgender. I have a feeling he's going to blame all kinds of stuff on that.
It's vocals time! Charlie and Aylin are flirting so hard they need to get a room. Lily informs us that her musicality is her strength, because she's a trained singer, and then she proceeds to stink up the studio session with bad notes that would be part of joke auditions on American Idol. Nikki is disappointed.
It's video shoot time, and part of the assignment is to play Spin the Bottle. Nellie is not that comfortable with this, because she is not like Aylin. Not everybody gets to play; most notably, Aylin is in the game, and Charlie is not. Given that Nelli is not comfortable doing this, I am surprised they did not trade her out for another girl. So Nikki kisses Mario, and Blake kisses Aylin as Charlie pouts. And kisses her. And kisses her. And Charlie's ready to punch something. Aylin leaves the brothel to come talk to the wallflowers who didn't get to kiss, and she sees that Charlie looks like he's about to commit hari kari. She lays a nice, hot, long one on him too, and then he's all better.
Abraham is too cerebral in his solo piece as the Homework Winner. Zach gets annoyed with the number of takes he needs. Dani can't say her lines with a street enough attitude. Zach thinks she's "one note." Robert thinks that while she's very specific, interesting, and unique, she might not be able to adapt to the Glee environment. Frankly, I think a person who offers something original and different might be worth pursuing, myself. Tyler is stilted and nervous and awful.
Now, about those eight steps. How have they done???! Uh, Zach... I hate to break it to you... but these people lack Danceability. All of them. He is exaggerated in his disgusted disappointment. Blake and Michael do OK, but everylybody else is horrifically bad. Zach pulls no punches. He's furious. The director calls them out by name, publicly declaring their sins. Zach tells group three, which includes Nellie and Dani, not to do the assigned choreography at all, because what they are attempting is not usable. Zach tells us, irritably, that everybody appears to have gotten amnesia at the same time. At this point... "Standing would be better." MEOW.
Zach remains angry, especially at Lily, who will NOT stop with the wedding dance booby shake. Eric is going to have to struggle to find acceptable material for the video. We see the eventual video: everybody loads food on top of Abraham, and then they party, spin the bottle, kiss, and dance very little because so few of the shots were any good. This video really is a frenetic mess. We do see more same-sex kisses in this music video than we saw in the entire third season of Glee.
Finally: the reveal of the Bottom Three. Robert solemnly declares the Best Homework Assignment of All Time, and the Worst Music Video. Zach is still insultingly furious about the dancing. He snidely informs them that he's got to figure out Who Sucked the Least when deciding who to call back. Nice. Then, Robert informs Aylin that her slutty behavior has paid off. She has her mojo back, and she is safe. Shanna, Blake, and Michael are all safe. Aylin gloats and Lily sends out vibes of hatred. Ali, Charlie and Mario are also safe. Mario is especially emotional. The blind guy was safe during a week that was supposed to be about dance moves. Yeah, that's a big deal. Congrats, man. You did deserve that. He did a fine job indeed. That leaves... five.
Here is the extensive Bottom Three Critique
Dani and Nellie admit that while they rehearsed their part, they forgot it when the camera rolled. Unfortunately, remembering when the camera rolls is... kind of what they are being graded on. Dani, in particular, had much lower energy than anybody else. She just has a calmer vibe than the others do; that is who she is. Robert's not sure she can adapt and be different characters. Of course, only a small handful of the kids currently on Glee are really able to adapt and be different characters, and none of those who can were ever on the Glee Project. If they were to write for Dani, she would be Dani, just as Damian and Samuel play versions of themselves. However, writing for Dani might require a moment of thought. Glee writers are short on that. Tyler is an awkward mess. We can blame the transgender operation, if you like. Lily flat didn't follow instructions. Now, she gives Zach lip, too. Abraham was under too much pressure... actually, I am not clear on what Abraham did wrong. I get it with the others, but he seemed OK as far as I could tell. Oh, Zach, don't make him cry. Abraham needs to stop trying so hard, but he's safe. So is Nellie. That leaves Obnoxious Fat Girl With Attitude, The Awkward Transgender Guy With No Talent, and Cool Coffeehouse Girl Who is Too Original for her Own Good as the Bottom Three.
Dani's song is "Landslide."
Tyler, now featured for the second time in the Bottom Three, gets "Daniel".
Lily gets "Man, I Feel Like a Woman."
The odd thing that occurs to me: on this show, these kids don't really get the opportunity to show the depth and strength of what they can do unless they are in trouble. These Bottom Three solos are really the only substantial solos with any artistic honesty that they get to perform. They get two hours before they face the troll in the big yellow hat.
The three kids on the hotseat rehearse. Lily tells us that she's never seen a big girl as a main character on a television show, which means she's never caught Lauren or Mercedes on Glee. Certainly she can't aspire to be more important than they are, even if she wins. I got news for you, sweetie... you are not challenging Lea Michele for top spot. Even Chris Colfer can't manage that feat.
Dani is vulnerable, tremulous. She is on the verge of tears with every line she sings. Since both Tyler and Lily are coming across as incredibly obnoxious, I find myself hoping like hell that she sneaks by... even now, as I recap this on the third viewing.
Last Chance Performances: Zach tells Ryan how bad the dancing was. Robert tells Murphy that Dani is the coolest performer - an artist - but she does not adapt well. So Dani comes out to perform "Landslide", and she leaves her heart and soul panting on the floor with a performance that sends chills up my spine and a lump in my throat. She left everything she had on that stage for this horrifying little troll who wants these prospective cast members to write his show for him. Ryan knows that her talent is without question... she is a soulful person, and she wants to be a voice for this generation. Murphy knows she's an artist... but he does not know if she's a performer. She might be able to put together an album that could win a Grammy, but could she dance in a revue for Walt Disney World? She can be deep and meaningful, but can she be shallow, showy and cute?
"I want to take the challenge... if you'll let me."
I want to quote Murphy here: "There's no disputing she's fantastic, but she's not in the Broadway/ Pop style of what the show is."
Next is Tyler. Tyler did not suck as much this week as he did last week. He sings a competent, uninspired cover of "Daniel" that is remarkable primarily for how nasal it is. There's neither beauty nor passion in his rendition. He moves me to nothing at all except the remote control. Unfortunately, Ryan likes the fact that he's so inspiring and brave because he's transgender. Why isn't he as inspiring and brave as a Glee Project person as he is a real person? Maybe because he's a modestly talented person who is better at Being Tyler than he is at singing, dancing, or performing in any way? Murphy wants Tyler to think of all the people who will be inspired by him... week by week.
Oh, crud. This little cockroach is going to stay because he's transgender, isn't he? Oh, Chris Colfer, sweetie, I love you dearly, but you have given birth to a monster culture here. We have one truly outstanding LGBT character of great talent, merit and influence on Glee, and all of a sudden being LGBT is a free pass for anybody who qualifies, whether they have anything valuable to offer or not. Damn, damn, damn, damn. Ryan, if you are so hot on having your LGBT characters inspire the audience, why did you let your stable of writers give Kurt the nightmare story arc he had this season? Yes, I am still pissed off.
Well, Murphy, write Dani as a lesbian and let her stay. Damn. Maybe Lily will suck.
No, Lily does not suck. She really does have a good voice, and she's got the most dynamic performance of the three. She really does perform very well, and by the end of the song, I realize that if the quality of the final performance matters, she should stay, even if she is obnoxious and won't listen to instruction. Of course, in her conversation with Ryan and Zach, she is so rude I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and she even admits that her choir teacher had problems with her, too. OK, compare this to "I want to take the challenge... if you'll let me." Ryan wonders if he should cut somebody because their attitude sucks.
YES, Ryan! Cut somebody because their attitude sucks! Or because their singing sucks! Cut them because they suck! Don't cut them because they are too cool and original for you and your pee brain to handle! You have two people who suck here, and one... underdog. One person who doesn't quite fit in! Come ON, man, make the right decision!
Ryan does not know if Dani is The Show. She won't ever be perky. Tyler has an Inspirational Story. He did... uh, improve. A little. Finally, Ryan makes his decision... one person who will not fit in during the long haul.
He makes a really crappy decision. It's perfectly fine to be an obnoxious jerk, and it's perfectly fine to lack talent as long as your backstory is interesting.
It is Dani who goes home. My list of reasons for disliking Ryan Murphy grows. The moment I saw Tyler grin with relief, I knew what was going to happen, and I wanted to throw something at the television. Rotten decision, requiring both a tin ear and an infinite tolerance for bad attitude as well as a complete lack of imagination. Of course, I knew that Dani was unlikely to win this; there are people like Shanna and Abraham who are probably genuinely better suited for the top spot, but I really would have like this remarkable girl to get a little more exposure on the show before she left.
This is the second reality show Dani Shay has lost. She also made something of a splash on America's Got Talent a few years back. I can't give her a lot of extra publicity with my tiny little blog, but I wanted to remind everybody who reads me here of this:
And just for good measure, here she is, covering Pink.
Fans of Dani Shay can find out more about her on her website.