Home‘Glee Project’ serves a cappella in the raw

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There’s something sweet about this new reality contest. Yes, the reason for creating Oxygen’s “The Glee Project’’ is a bit cynical — to keep “Glee’’ fresh in our minds over the summer, when the mothership is on break. Executive produced by “Glee’’ creator Ryan Murphy, the new competition has 12 kids proclaiming their Gleekhood 100 times per episode as they vie for a seven-episode role on “Glee.’’ The show’s graphics are all lifted from “Glee,’’ and the judges include Murphy and actors from the show (first up: Darren Criss).

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But “The Glee Project,’’ which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m., has heart, too, as it takes you behind the slick, overproduced veneer that is “Glee.’’ We get a close-up view of why certain kids are cast and others aren’t, how hard they all work, and how much each has at stake. The young performers on “The Glee Project’’ — including two with local connections, Alex Newell from Lynn and Bryce Vine of Berklee College of Music — are uniformly vivid and memorable, and it’s easy to root for them. When they sing Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours’’ together in the premiere, their joy is irresistible.

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