On Tuesday's Season 2 premiere of The Glee Project (10/9c on Oxygen), 14 new contestants will claw, croon and maybe even cross-dress their way to a recurring role on Glee. But while these kids probably already have the song-and-dance, not to mention acting, skills down cold, it takes a lot more to be on Glee than just strong pipes and the ability to read lines. Based off the first season — which saw two winners, as well as two runner-ups land recurring roles on the Fox musical — we've devised a cheat sheet of tips that is a must for those hoping to walk the halls of McKinley High next season.
1. Know your angle. Those story arcs don't just write themselves, ya know, especially on an ensemble series like Glee where the writers have a dozen or so characters to service. Pretty much every one of last year's final four contestants won over Ryan Murphy with their personal story lines, whether intentionally or not. Samuel Larsen intrigued producers with his Jesus tattoos and strong religious values, and his character on the show was subsequently the head of McKinley's Christian club. The same goes with Alex, who won over the creative team when he said he related to girls more than guys and then performed in a dress and heels. He did the same as Vocal Adrenaline standout Unique at Nationals. We really can't stress the importance of this enough.
2. Don't be boring. The Jessica Sanchezes of the world may be able to make it to the top two on American Idol, but there's no room for contestants who forgot their personality at home to go far on The Glee Project. Just ask the talented, but bland McKynleigh Abraham or Bryce Vine, who were eliminated fairly early in the competition. Even Lindsay Pearce, whose ruthless ambition and emotionally unattached professionalism made her appear disingenuous to the judges week after week, stayed until the end because she was interesting (if not utterly loathsome). Everyone can be talented, but not everyone is a star.
3. But leave your drama at the door. Criticism about Lindsay's phoniness hit a peak when she tried to bring the drama to the recording studio and shed a few too many tears in front of the far-too-savvy Nikki Anders. Early favorite Matheus Fernandes also fell victim to this during the duets episode when he and duet partner Alex clashed over some drama that, quite honestly, we're still confused about. Matheus subsequently got the boot that episode.
4. Play hard to get. Last season, devout Christian hipster Cameron Mitchell spent many weeks in the bottom three because of his strong vocal prowess combined with his lack of acting and dancing skills. However, the minute that Cameron decided he wanted to leave the show — when he had kiss a female contestant as part of a scene, which he saw as "cheating" on his girlfriend — that Murphy suddenly fell under Cameron's spell. The co-creator practically got on his hands and knees to beg Cameron not to leave the competition because Murphy had become emotionally invested in writing his devout Christian storyline. Cameron ultimately did leave the competition, but had he changed his mind, there's a strong chance it would have been Cameron, and not Samuel, heading up McKinley's Christian club and almost romancing Quinn.
5. If you're going to mess up, do it your way. Glee is all about the underdog which means that, unlike other competition shows, slipping up on the choreography a little or forgetting the lyrics won't automatically send someone packing. The key? Messing up in as endearing and original way as possible. When Irish transplant Damian McGinty sang the wrong lyrics to '80s staple "Jessie's Girl" — "'I wish that I was Jessie's girl" instead of "I wish that I had Jessie's girl" — he ended up completely winning over the judges. We're not telling anyone to screw up on purpose, but if you're headed for disaster, go down in the most Glee-esque way possible.
The Glee Project returns on Tuesday at 10/9c on Oxygen.