Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Last week, when I said every time I pick a favorite contestant he or she gets hurt, I was joking; but now that Billy’s down and probably out after me lovin’ on him last week, I just don’t know. My terrifying powers aside, what the hell is going on with this season and injuries? Nigel says they need to get someone in there to help the dancers warm up—shouldn’t they be doing that anyway?—but methinks that perhaps that studio needs an exorcism and a bunch of good-luck talismans or something, because clearly the SYTYCD gods are not happy with this season and are punishing the poor dancers.
You know what’s NOT going to please the dance gods, though? Another ineffectual judge who brings nothing new to the table but an ill-fitting suit and a grab-bag of cliché phrases. Save a horse, ride a cowboy OFF THAT STAGE AND NEVER COME BACK, Kenny Ortega. The judges in general were back to their old, terrible tricks this week, from that mugging introduction to some serious overpraising for a couple of seriously weak routines, Ortega being the biggest offender. From his butt-kissing of Nigel, SYTYCD, and every single choreographer and All-Star, he was basically just there as a cheerleader. Maybe I could have handled it if the other judges made up for it with some valid criticism, but for the most part—there were a couple of exceptions toward the end of the show—it was a total lovefest on the judges’ panel, which is boring.
Of course, there was quite a bit of reason for love tonight: The good dances far outweighed the bad, and ____ and ____ continued to prove they are much more serious contenders than I initially gave them credit for. (Names redacted to protect the dancers and their knees/ankles/whatever.)
Lauren: Lauren has grown for me in terms of personality more than anything. I’ve suspected it for a while now, but this week she proved that she’s actually pretty darn funny, and not in the mugging goofball way her samba partner, Robert (of BobFro) is. It helped that she was blessed by some very fun choreography tonight, with NappyTab’s showdown at the OK Corral and Dmitry’s beach-party samba. Lauren proved once again that she’s got a knack for hip-hop, though I think this number was a little overpraised. It was more a question of weird choreography—sometimes I think NappyTab are so concerned with creating unusual moves that they forget to make them look nice—than her performance, though I did spot a couple of bobbled moves that the judges glossed over.
But that was nothing to how much they glossed over her and Robert’s samba. Don’t get me wrong, both of them looked really good dancing separately, but their hands never connected properly and their last couple of lifts were seriously messed up. Both Lauren and Robert have enough personality to almost pass this off, but I know if Mary Murphy was up there, she would not have let that slide.
Jose: It’s looking like Jose might get yet another pass this week thanks to Billy’s injury, and boy should he be thankful. This kid is in way over his head, and everyone seems to realize it, especially Sonya, who gave him an incredibly easy contemporary routine in which all he really had to do was roll and jump around while Allison did most of the heavy lifting. The judges spun this as “good partnering” and him “being there” for Allison, but let’s call a spade a spade: It’s all he could manage without looking like a complete amateur. It’s too bad, because I like the idea of dancing on the edge of the stage in theory, but in practice it was just… nothing.
Dmitry apparently didn’t get the memo about keeping things at the beginner level for Jose, though, choreographing a highly difficult paso doble for him and Adechike that may have been one of the worst things I’ve ever seen on this show. I’m on record as not liking the paso doble to begin with, and while I know a lot of you have been itching for a guy-guy ballroom number, this routine certainly did not make a case for the continuation of this experiment. Neither guy could pull off the machismo the routine necessitated, and Jose especially looked like a little boy with the more acrobatic moves. I don’t think I’ve ever fast-forwarded through a dance on SYTYCD, but I was very tempted to for this one.
Robert: Robert’s “seduction” jazz routine with All-Star Lauren was practically x-rated by SYTYCD standards, and while I don’t buy Robert’s “Lauren is so HOT” swooning one bit, he certainly played the part well while dancing. He was never overshadowed by his partner, and brought a really sexy energy to the whole routine. Oddly, the judges got nitpicky in their review of him here, critiquing his hands and head-bobbing, but giving an overall big thumbs-up. Sometimes I think it’s easier for the judges to critique the more technically skilled dancers than someone like Jose, because they can home in on those little dancerly details rather than speak in vagaries. But it’s frustrating when Jose gets a pass and Robert gets nitpicked after dancing beautifully. That said, boy do I hate Robert’s persona, especially the insincere “reeeaaaaalllly?” face he makes whenever the judges praise him. I don’t care if it’s your birthday dude, you need to dial it down a few notches. We already have a Kent.
Kent: And he’s pulling faces as usual, but for his joyful Sonya jazz number with Kathryn, it seemed appropriate. I was predisposed to like this number, due to the presence of Kathryn and the song “Tightrope,” one of my top jams for 2010. And not surprisingly, he delivered, and if this had been his only routine of the night, I would co-sign Kenny’s declaration that he’s the guy to beat. But then came the step routine.
First, understand this: I love step. (Hell, I’ve done a little bit of step.) I love Twitch, who was subbed in for Billy at the last minute. And I love Kid Sister’s “Pro Nails,” which soundtracked the number. And I like Kent quite a bit. So for me, this should have been the best moment of the night, but boy was it bad. A lot of it can be chalked up to underpreparation thanks to the last-minute substitution, because step is based entirely on precision and synchronization, which takes a long time to get right. There was also the problem of the stage not being miked correctly to pick up the percussion of the routine—or maybe with only two people doing it, the sound was too puny. But Kent looked like a complete dork, and even Twitch looked out of his element here… this was nowhere near good, much less the “genius” that Adam proclaimed it. Good thing Sigma Psi Lambda is fake, or SYTYCD might have a defamation suit on their hands, because no Greek organization would want to be represented by this.
Adechike: NappyTab are up to their old tricks, with a lyrical hip-hop number about love and silly props. Luckily, once that stupid suitcase was out of the picture, Adechike and Comfort slayed this routine, and while I don’t agree with Nigel that it was quite on par with “Bleeding Love” (my all-time favorite SYTYCD number), it was certainly a season highlight. But what was with the crying from both Adechike and Comfort? It was an emotional routine, but I don’t think it was quite that touching… Adechike’s come a long way with his characterizations, but he’s still a little distant, and Comfort’s never been the best at conveying anything other than badassery. I admired the dancing and the choreography here, but I think the emotional content was blown way out of proportion by all involved.
With Billy already having been in the bottom three so many times, I don’t really see how he could escape elimination tomorrow, but let’s predict the other bottom two just for fun. Jose should be a shoe-in for the bottom, especially after Allison let it slip that he has a girlfriend, thus inviting the scorn of a legion of spurned teenage girls. And despite the great hip-hop number, I think dead weight of that terrible paso doble will drag Adechike into the bottom three along with his partner. Luckily for them, and unluckily for him, Billy Bell will most likely be making his second premature departure from the show tomorrow night.
• Adam needs to come up with a new phrase to convey shocked pleasure; “Who are you?” is getting old.
• Everyone gushes about Jose’s pretty, pretty smile, but I agree with Adechike’s mom that his smile is a winner.
• Hey, all of the contestants’ parents love them! Hooray!
• According to Nigel, that paso doble wasn’t Spaniard enough. Thanks Nigel, good critique.
• I wonder how exactly Billy hurt his knee. I doubt it was during the step routine…
• Did anyone else notice how Twitch went to hold Lauren’s hand during judging and she immediately dropped it? Usually the dancers are so huggy and physical after they dance, but there was an ocean of space between those two.