After nine weeks of competition, including singing both transcendent and painful, a first kiss, a refused kiss, bad rapping, even worse dancing and some superb drag, The Glee Project winner has been crowned.
Who'll be enrolling at McKinley High (for at least seven episodes)? Lovable Irish kid Damian? Intense indie rocker Samuel? Musical theater darling Lindsay? Power belter Alex? Here's how it went down:
Their homework assignment is to sing "Don't' Stop Believin'" for Ryan Murphy. After a few seconds, Ryan is unhappy. Where's the choreography? Oh stop, he just needed an excuse to welcome back the other nine competitors who've already been eliminated. Now the finalists have backup singers! Cool. Our finalists are extra earnest, and Alex throws in some diva riffs. Reminds me of the pilot, with way more red shirts. No one wins the assignment — so no one has an advantage going into the final challenge.
For the music video, they'll be going to a helipad atop a very tall building. Ryan wants the finalists to be "vulnerable, emotional and inspirational" as possible while singing ... Pink's "Raise Your Glass." They rehearse with Zach and then it's into the recording studio with Nikki.
This time they'll be joined by Nikki's husband, Adam, the executive music producer for Glee. Lindsay's first, and Adam dubs her "not versatile" but adds that she "sounds good." Damian unleashes his inner rock star and nails it. Samuel struggles more than Lindsay, which is weird for him. Alex's "come-on-ands" earn him the session's gold star. (Also-rans? You get to be the backup singers!) If I had to call it right now, I'd say Damian's got it in the bag.
But first, there's the video shoot — otherwise known as the time when mentors Robert, Nikki and Zach get to whisper about how the contestants are doing. They ponder each of the finalists' issues aloud: Will Samuel ruin his chances by being stuck in his head? Is being lovable enough for Damian to clinch a win? Will Lindsay form a personality that Ryan can write to? Can Alex be professional and focus on his job consistently?
Doesn't matter, because it's time to see how they did in the finished "Raise Your Glass" video. Who was the least embarrassing? Not Bryce. (By the way, how did he even make the Top 12?! Awww, miss you Emily and Marissa.) Actually, this might be the least embarrassing video yet. Dare we say the second half, shot against the L.A. skyline at night, was cool? OK, cool for The Glee Project.
For their final performances, the final four get to choose their songs. But before we get to see them sing, we are informed by that Cameron has been voted the fan favorite by viewers. OK then. Leaving it at that.
Lindsay sings "Gimme Gimme" from Thoroughly Modern Millie because she feels it will show Ryan her vulnerable side. She does better than she's done the entire season — but it's also crystallized that she's a musical theater girl. Big pipes, big theatrical acting. She can't sing pop — or be subtle. Not sure that will work. For Glee, you have to be able to sing Top 40. Also, the show already has a Rachel.
Damian's up next with "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin. Nikki told him earlier that he's not the best singer or actor, so his challenge will be to outshine the competition. Predictably, he's a little cheesy, super lovable, and very funny. He's the Irish Finn. That could work in his favor.
Samuel's "Jolene" by Dolly Parton is as great as his performance last week of "Funny Valentine," which he had never heard! The judges are blown away. No one's doubting Samuel can sing. He is giving Damian a run, and I'd bet on one of them winning.
Alex comes out as a woman — albeit a tastefully dressed, conservative one who could be on her way to Sunday service — and per usual, he brings down the house singing "I Am Changing" from Dreamgirls. Why does he always sound great in the last-chance round but just so-so in the recording booth with Nikki? Judges are bowled over again.
Ryan wants to know what the past competitors and the guest mentors — Darren Criss and Harry Shum Jr. among others — think. All four finalists have cheerleaders among the group. And when the judges confer, they speak warmly about them all, too. Ultimately, however, Ryan's making the call, and he chooses ... Well, he eliminates Alex and Lindsay first. Will Ryan choose Damian, beloved by all? Or Samuel, who's got the "it" factor?
Twist! Ryan chooses Samuel ... AND he also chooses Damian! This makes me very happy. And what is this? Alex and Lindsay also get two-episode arcs? Looks like Ryan is feeling extra generous. No one loses on The Glee Project. I can get behind that.
What did you think of the finale? Are you happy both Samuel and Damian won? Are you glad that Lindsay and Alex will also be making appearances? Let us know in the comments below.