Every silver lining has an ugly black storm cloud around it, and so with the long-time-coming elimination of an undeserving contestant comes also the departure of one of the best—though admittedly not most likable—dancers SYTYCD has seen. Billy seems to be a victim of circumstance as much as Jose was a beneficiary of it for the past few injury-filled weeks: Shockingly, given their middle-of-the-road performances last night, Robert and Adechike were both saved from elimination, placing Lauren of all people in the bottom… though the cynical among us might chalk that up to Cat’s last-minute announcement that she was injured last night, placing the idea of another auto-elimination in the minds of voters. But it turns out she was fine, and there was no way that the judges were going to eliminate the only girl left standing, particularly one as consistently good as Lauren. You could see it in Billy’s face before he danced his truly excellent solo tonight: He knew this was his swan song, the performance that will ensure that he’ll have a career elsewhere outside the SYTYCD sphere. The kid’s just too good. (He’s also a little catty, as we saw in last night’s behind-the-scenes package, and a bit “androgynous” according to Nigel tonight, neither of which would normally be an issue in the dance world, but SYTYCD rewards the accessible sweethearts.)
Unlike Donna, I loved Billy and Ade’s “homeless” dance last night, despite the treacly subject matter. What she described as “flailing” I saw as the sort of unusual, unpretty herky-jerkiness that can be so arresting when it’s done right, and Billy definitely did it right (assisted in no small part by Ade the gentle giant). And while I think Robert definitely outshone him in the Bollywood number, it wasn’t by much. Additionally, Robert’s soldier-shipping-out number with Kathryn was highly forgettable—and, I’d say, just as emotionally calculated as the homeless number—to the point where I was wracking my brain trying to remember what “emotional contemporary piece” Cat was talking about during the recap tonight. There was another emotional contemporary piece? Oh yeah… I’ve grown to like Robert a lot more in the past few weeks, but his dancing seems utterly generic compared to Billy’s.
Surprisingly, considering how much of a non-entity he originally was, Adechike is rapidly rising in my estimation. His jazz number with Courtney was one of my favorites of the night—Tasty Oreo continues to be surprisingly not terrible this season—and he has just the right amount of sweetness for this show, somewhere between Billy’s salty smirk and the human sugar-rush that is Kent. Do I think he’ll win? Of course not, that’ll come down to Kent and Lauren or I’ll eat my tutu (that I don’t own). But as far as the “growth” stories that SYTYCD loves so much, Adechike is streets ahead of Jose.
And boy did Jose know it. From his accepting smile last night when Nigel dropped the “I don’t think you’ll be in the finale” bomb to his unfazed reaction to tonight’s results, it was clear the kid knew his time had come. And to his credit, it seemed like he was more grateful that he’d been allowed to stick around for this long than disappointed at being sent home. And hey, he gets to go on tour, too. Just don’t expect him to be cast in the time-travel-themed Step Up 4D. (Get it? Because the fourth dimension is time? ... oh god, I’m so sorry.)
Speaking of Step Up 3D: OKAY, I relent! I’ll see your stupid, sure-to-be-terrible movie, Shanks! But come on: Twitch, Legacy, AND Hok? Not to mention that, ahem, balls-out live performance featuring Lil C actually getting buck rather than just talking about it (and also season five’s Tony, who was just as forgettable in the number as he was on the show). Throw in a never-ending headspin and crazy stripey-pants girl—why hasn’t she ever been on this show?—and I’ve been thoroughly cross-promotionized. Looks like that stipulation in Adam’s contract guaranteeing he gets to pimp out his latest movie project has paid off.
You know what never pays off on this show? The musical guests. Lady Gaga in season four excepted, I can’t remember a single musical guest on this show that didn’t set my fast-forward finger to itchin’. In some cases, I don’t think it’s entirely the musicians’ fault: Allison Iraheta was in good voice and her song was catchy enough, but it was mixed so poorly that it just crumbled into sonic gravel, leaving me to puzzle over her horse-hoof shoes rather than listen to her performance. Christian TV has no such excuse, offering up one of the very worst songs I have ever heard (other than that dreadful "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" cover from last night), despite having Britney Spears’ ringing endorsement. But then again, Britney Spears has made a lot of choices I wouldn’t choose to emulate, so perhaps I should have seen that one coming.
Starting next week, things are out of the judges’ hands, as America votes for the final three. Honestly, debating over whether Robert or Adechike should go home first is hair-splitting, but I’d say it’s a genuine toss-up between Lauren and Kent for the title of America’s Favorite Dancer/Gatorade Print Ad Model. Based on the guy-girl-guy-girl-guy pattern of the last five seasons, I’m going to call it for Lauren, but you can bet that if she wins there will be a wave of high-pitched squeals of despair of Archuleta-like proportions.
• So that opening Mia Michaels number was clearly choreographed to feature lone female dancer Lauren, not Allison, correct? If so, that was a very cool trick on Mia’s part, but even with the substitution, it was a fabulous kick-off routine… though the visual aesthetic had me convinced it was Wade Robson in a playful mood. Still, good on ya, Mia, for giving us something fun and exciting rather than heartfelt and cloying.
• Oh Cat: Between the frizzy hair with tiny braids and weird, Holly-Hobbie-goes-disco frock, your look tonight was more than a little reminiscent of my third-grade class photo.
• Of course Cat likes the weird scarf around Billy’s neck.
• I didn’t get to mention it up above, but I loved Lauren and Allison’s Damn Yankees number last night. Chalk up another point for Tyce.
• Hey Adam Shankman, nice Run DMC shirt and gold chain. You look real, uh, dope. Yeah.
• Heh, Lauren soloed with the same “Let’s Get It On” number that gave both Donna and I the squicks during auditions. The bumping and grinding seemed much more toned down this time, though… don’t know if it was just a different segment of the choreography, or if she’s altered it, but I liked it much better this time around.
• If you’re like me and can’t get enough of watching the All-Stars, here’s a clip of them performing a fun dance-battle number on Ellen today. (Skip to around the 5:30 mark.)