One of the biggest conceptual problems I have with America’s Best Dance Crew is that it’s unfair. Not every crew gets enough opportunities before they have to go home. Not every crew gets assigned a song that fits their abilities, nor do the challenges always work well with dancing in general. The two teams assigned to the bottom may not have been the worst in the prior week, meaning an unjust result regardless.
And, of course, dance isn’t a direct competition. On ABDC, winners and losers are sorted by the inevitably subjective measures of audience voting and judge decisions. So, of course, it’s central to the show. But every so often, it’ll just rub your face in it. Like when it has an episode based around “party rocker” novelty group LMFAO. It reminds me of season three’s “Whack Track Challenge,” except this one was serious.
Maybe giving the crews these silly songs with some occasionally complex challenges would have been a good way to separate the wheat from the chaff early in the season, but at this point, with four crews left, each of whom have a pretty equivalent claim to the title, it just seems unfair. Mos Wanted Crew is probably the hardest done-by in terms of song/challenge combinations. Given “Sexy And I Know It” and ordered to dress in ridiculous novelty ironic-sexy gear and dance like a fashion show, they do their best.
It’s pretty good, as most of their routines, and fun an absurd way, but there’s no way this is going on any Best Of compilations. What’s likely frustrating for this crew is that, even though they were safe this week, this is how they’ll be judged in the voting for next week, and could easily end up knocked out in large part because they got the worst luck of the draw.
That won’t be much consolation for Rated Next Generation, the crew eliminated this time around after being forced to compete with 8 Flavahz in a young dancer’s battle royale (Which is the Hunger Games, right?) I liked Rated Next Generation’s routine a little better, though the judges (and my partner who knows about dancing) went with 8 Flavahz. But really, it’s a coin flip. Lil Mama can, with a straight face, say something like “The Spongebob, you sell it – with your face, your body, your spirit” and that’s a legitimate criticism about the competition that’s probably one of the most important things many of the young people involved have ever done.
On the other hand, there’s the crews that luck out, like Elektrolytes. They’re given the same music, sure, but their challenge—to make a giant robot—is something that’s been done on the show before, which is noted. But it’s also a challenge that fits perfect with what their crew does, and it’s also been done by some of the most successful crews in the show’s history, like I aM mE and Jabbawockeez.
This is not to say that Elektrolytes didn’t deserve all the praise they got—they did! But they had a challenge which allowed them to be their best. Popping the champagne cork with a massive jump trick may get the attention, but I was more impressed by the way they did a twisting, asymmetrical trick out of the first robot. I don’t think this was a season-defining performance like I aM mE’s Spiderman piece last year that essentially guaranteed their victory—but it’s the closest we’ve had this season.
Of course, fairness isn’t necessarily the point. Drama, great dancing, and ratings are what the show is built for, and most of this season’s top crews have been deserving at some level or another, so why not toss in an LMFAO challenge? The kids like it (I guess?), but in five years it might sound as ridiculous as an Andrew W.K.-themed episode would sound to us today. Maybe good for entertainment value early on, but not so great for competition this late in the season.