By Lanford Beard
January 17, 2012 at 09:15 PM EST

As James Hibberd reported earlier today, The Glee Project has been officially confirmed for season 2. EW was on the scene when season 1 co-winner Damian McGinty and Glee Project creator Robert Ulrich (who’s also Glee‘s casting director) brought the audition to New York City. While McGinty shared some behind-the-scenes scoop about what’s it’s like on the other side of the camera, Ulrich shared the secret ingredient to Glee Project success. “It isn’t just about the voice by any means,” he said. “It’s about being accessible, having that certain ‘it’ factor, and being able to fit into that Glee world.” See what else Ulrich and McGinty said below.

Thanks to a new set of audition destinations, the show will have a dash of down-home charm in season 2. The auditions went to Nashville for the first time, which added “a whole flavor — that Southern thing — that we haven’t seen in the audition process before,” teased Ulrich. And the country capital is just the tip of the iceberg — The Glee Project has gone global: “We had somebody fly in from Singapore, somebody from France, from London, and South America … It’s going to be so difficult to narrow it down to the 80, and I can’t imagine going down to 12.” Turns, he didn’t have to! As Hibberd noted today, season 2 will see 14 finalists vying for the seven-episode character arc.

As excited as Ulrich is for season 2, he was certainly ready to be finished with the auditions in one regard: Hearing the same songs hundreds of times each day. “I actually gave them this list [of songs] that goes through all kinds of vetting. Now I can barely stand [those songs] … it’s just terrible,” he explained. “Yesterday, somebody was asked to sing a second song to show their skill, and they sang ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade.’ That was a song I was so sick of last year, and it was refreshing to hear at this point,” he laughed.

As with last year, once they get through the initial rounds of singing “Rumour Has It” until their tongues collapse, the pressure really turns on. “We’re asking people to be themselves so that Ryan can see them and say, ‘Okay, I can write for you,'” said Ulrich. “That’s hard for anybody, but it’s particularly hard for 18- and 19-year-olds who don’t always know who they are. They have to be so defined as themselves, and it’s kind of an interesting concept. It’s what makes this show so unique.”

As a judge at the NYC auditions, McGinty was looking for the same realness. “Honesty is number one for me. If you’re not honest, I don’t like you.” This attitude came from his experience as a competitor, he explained. “In season 1, there were definitely people in our cast who weren’t themselves — people who just found a character in Glee they could and thought Ryan would like them more if they were that character. That’s not the way it works. Ryan isn’t looking for a specific type of character. If he wanted a certain type of character, he’d go out and find it. The Glee Project is a competition to find somebody who can inspire the writers to do something totally different and out of the box. You have to be yourself.”

Since his contract was renewed, McGinty is sitting pretty. “I’m excited for season 2, to sit back and watch how it unfolds,” he said with a spark of mischief in his eyes. “Now that I know how it feels and how hard The Glee Project is, it’s going to be awesome to watch.” And he’ll be watching with at least one other former Project contestant: Cameron Mitchell. The two are roommates and often hang out with McGinty’s fellow winners Samuel Larsen and Lindsay Pearce, plus other season 1 vets Matheus Fernandes, Hannah McIalwain, and Bryce Ross-Johnson.

Are you excited for another season of The Glee Project, TV fans?

Read more:

Official: ‘Glee Project’ renewed for bigger season 2

‘The Glee Project’ announces audition cities for season 2

‘The Glee Project’: What should change (and stay the same) in season 2