Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ninjaboi's Review of ABDC5's Lady Gaga Challenge

Reminder for scale, 10 pts each:
Choreography: This includes both big movement choreography, and the small intricate stuff.  Most important is how together they are, followed by complexity and execution.
Wow: This includes both athletic stuff and other small parts of the routine that are essentially the highlights.  New stuff, creative stuff, and difficult stuff score better
Showmanship: Was it an overall performance?  Energy, facials, formations, transitions, stage use, prop use, musicality, among other things.
Challenge:  How well did they complete the challenge?  This week, I’m ranking the crews as to how Gaga they were.  The more Gaga, the closer to 10.  Also, some crews chose to focus on particular parts of Lady Gaga, like props or such, and they get +1, -1, or +0 depending on how well they utilized said props.  Max of 10.
Improvement: How well the crew builds on criticism and evolves, while at the same time remaining true to themselves.  If a crew gets worse, or loses that sense of identity, then they get a lower score.  I want to see them improve and be versatile. But only if they can be who they are first.  Like Lil Mama said during MJ week – “I see Michael, but I never forget it’s the Jabbawockeez I’m watching.”

As always, I penalize myself 10% of Poreotix’s score for being a fanboy.  And this week, depending on how well they caused me to initially dislike the performance cause it was Lady Gaga… I’m going to give some crews a boost of 5%.

So… first I’m ranking the crews as to how much they weirded me out, be it a combination of the costumes, dance style, etc.

1 (10 pts)– Blueprint – first off those costumes… then the contortionist style moves… exactly what I don’t like about Gaga, which means they met the challenge for sure.
2 (9 pts)– Static Noyze – I will say some of the costumes were entertaining here (Frogger… Money Jacket… Pokemon hit by Bubblebeam…).  But still very “avant garde” in terms of dance style.
3 (8 pts)– Hype 5-0 – The killer here was the hair on the girl’s costumes, and the under eye shadow… and the Minnie Mouse ears.  Also a departure somewhat from their usual big movement choreography, which threw me off.
4 (7 pts)– Jungle Boogies – The costumes… were definitely odd.  And a great departure from their usual cranking style, more Afroborikeish.  To be fair, this was more of a Beyonce song than a Lady Gaga song.
5 (6 pts)– Poreotix – The costumes weren’t so bad, and even most of routine seemed toned down in the Gaga, largely I suspect due to the humor they threw in which made me laugh.  But they did have some weird moments.
6 (5 pts)– Heavy Impact – Somewhat bland.  I could see the hand movements which were Gaga-like, but aside from that, even with the costumes being a bit unusual, nothing that set off alarms in my head.
7 (4 pts)– Saltare – This routine and costumes could literally be transposed to another non-Lady Gaga week. 
Okay, now to each crew, in the order they presented in.   

Choreo – 7 – I felt they used their upper bodies to dance a lot this week, more than footwork.  Not a bad thing, just pointing that out.  Pretty good how they had different levels.
Wow – 7 – Def the leg tutting section.  And there was that one flip, but that may hurt this crews image, as they want to be seen as “art without tricks.”
Showmanship – 8 – As always, they delivered here.  Peter is a convincing Baby Gaga.  They had a story moment at the beginning and end, though during the middle they lost me a bit.  Nice reveals though, with spins and sliding around the table.  I felt that Peter may have been “posing” a bit, but this was actually not a bad thing since the way he used it, it completed rather than took away from the dance by being Gaga.
Challenge – 9 – This was a very good week for them, I suspect, since they being a theatrical crew was able to bring that out.  Maybe not to the same degree as “Whatcha say,” (still my favorite routine of theirs), but they brought out Gaga throughout.  Now, I’m not giving them an extra point for using the table, because while it did help a lot with formations and transitions, I felt it took away from the choreography somewhat as it kept them limited to one part of the stage…
Improvement – 7 – The second week they’ve been limited by some prop, and made it work pretty well.  Not much to work on, to be honest.
Highlight: Levels, levels, levels.  The biggest advantage the table gave them was levels, and it let them do some pretty sick reveals. 

 Notes: If I were them, I’d try to find a story as deep as their Chart topper performance, and if they have a choice in it to avoid props, since they tend to limit this crew somewhat in where they can move choreography wise.  It’s clever how they use them, and I really really like that.  But largely I’ve started to see their choreography as majority being upper body and less of the lower body.
Total: 40, no bonus since to be honest, them being crazily different isn’t different than who they are.  They’re a unique group, and I respect them for that.   
Choreo – 8 – One of their strong points.  Maybe not as good in my opinion as their other routines, but then again, I’ve grown used to their intricacy.  The Gaga claws and such threw me a loop, and looking at it from that point of view in trying to do that, they got it done.
Wow – 7 – The group lifts. Definitely. This isn’t their strong point, and their Bboy didn’t really pull out that many tricks (Maybe that partner work, but I though Afroborike there rather than Bboy).
Showmanship – 9 – Story line clearly there.  Really really eerie mood to the whole routine, sorta like I was watching a nightmare.   The energy and enthusiasm were there.  The only thing lacking perhaps was moving around the stage a bit more, being limited by the egg chairs.
Challenge – 10 – No question, this was one of the first videos online and when I saw it I literally fell out of my chair in shock.  I would give them an extra point for capturing the extra Gaganess in their movements, but there’s a cap of 10 pts.
Improvement – 7 – Nearly docked them for trying to move away from their precision.  But given that it was their challenge, I couldn’t really do that, could I? They accomplished their task successfully, and this was a definite step up artistically than “I get it in.”
Highlight: The two lifts of the two girls.  Shows insane teamwork, and actually pretty athletic/dangerous as well.

Notes: Definitely top 2 material. Why they were in the bottom two last week escapes me, but all is right in the world now that they’re immune.  As for being the best of the season, see below under all the crews.  But for the night, sure, I’ll give ‘em that, by pure quantitative measure; I liked “That’s not my name” a lot better, but that’s mostly cause it wasn’t Gaga. All I’d say is to let someone learn more athletic stuff, aside from their Bboy, or continue to do those group stunts.
Total – 42 +5% cause of the Gaganess = 44.1
Choreo – 6 – A bit weak this week.  I see tricks, and I see a groove (relatively simple one too), but where is the cranking we’ve grown to love?  The chair parts are okay, but not great.  And there was the fact that not everyone was in sync…
Wow – 8 – Stronger this week.  A bit sloppy at some points, but the contortionist was epic.
Showmanship – 7 – Faces were pretty good, and the way they worked in the telephone dialing parts were pretty decent.  I felt more Beyonce or Shakira though, than Lady Gaga.  But that’s to be expected.
Challenge – 7 -1 = 6– It wasn’t so much a Gaga song, so them not being over the top Gaga was okay.  Though, I think the way they used the chairs was very limiting, yet a major part of the routine.  In the sense that it kept them from bringing out that raw energy.
Improvement – 5 - Definitely a step down from last week.  First off, why did you guys lose the animal themes?  Those are part of the reason I think America loves you, to see what animal you’ll pull out next.  But more than that, there was only about 10 seconds of Cranking at the end that I could see.  The rest before it was… more like an Afroborike routine than Jungle Boogie.  And there were the mess-ups, which took away from your reputation for
Highlight: Contortionist was THE highpoint for me.
Notes: I will say, Raqi is an insanely talented dancer, very diverse in what she can pull off. But please guys, bring back the zoo next time, and the raw cranking! It was a bit disappointing to not know what animal it was.  Maybe it was a snake, given the color scheme… but the fact that it wasn’t as integral threw me off.  It’s Disco week next week, maybe ya’ll will get Jungle Boogie!
Total: 34, no bonus because less Gaga, more Beyonce/Afroborike.   
Choreo – 6 – Overall a bit sloppy.  I mean, the choreography in itself was pretty good.  But it was somewhere between the groove and precision, and not really either one.  The beginning was, for me, largely dead.
Wow – 6 – There were some stuff in the beginning.  But it was a bit sloppy and out of sync with each other.  The pole stuff at the end was also interesting as well, but that was it.  And as is obvious… the missed the flip.
Showmanship – 6 – The disco stick, while fun, was awkwardly used – mostly just waved around in the air.  There were some theatrical like parts, but seemed to be a fair bit of model walking going on.  And moving around
Challenge – 5 – A bit odd as normal standards go, but nowhere near the Gaganess of other crews.  As for the prop, the use of the subway stuff was a bit limiting, but the pole work made up for it, so no bonus.  Though, next time crews as a whole may want to pick smaller props. In order to get anywhere on stage (with space already being limited,) they need to go around the prop, which takes time and looks ungainly.
Improvement – 5 – Like Jungle Boogies, this crew lost their sense of identity a bit.  The only real groovy part was at the beginning… Sure I like that they’re trying some new things, but losing that integral part of themselves is annoying.  And last week was in all honesty better, though from the novelty still being there somewhat or not, I can’t tell.
Highlight: At the beginning – someone rolled while someone else flipped over them.  Maybe next week we want to see some non-flip wow parts, but this week it was still okay.
Notes: Please guys.  I love you for your groove.  But when you take that away, what is there?  I mean, the flips are cool, but the novelty of “oh look, a big guy can fly too!”  is wearing off fast.  Maybe try some moves that may require more throwing of weight around.  Krumping maybe?
Total: 28, no bonus because while odd, doesn’t scream Gaga to me.
HYPE 5-0
Choreo –8 – To me, it seemed  a bit stifled this week by their challenge. I love their big movement choreography, it’s really got an extra “oomph” to it that’s harder than choreo from crews like Beat Freaks or Quest even.  But the hand movements would always interrupt when it seemed to be building up to a really good part.  Not that the hand movements were bad, but the way they teased us with that choreo then cut off wasn’t cool. But I guess that was their challenge, so given what was there, it was good. Also, with the heartbeat section, while it matched the words, the hands and heads were a bit all over the place, which was a bit disorienting for me.
Wow – 7 - Hmm… the giant Gaga, the tutting section was unexpected, and how they ended it was pretty good.  Also, there was a variation of the knee drop where they sort of exploded out, which for some reason reminded me of Quest’s explosions.
Showmanship – 8 – Musicality, matched the lyrics.  Transitions were eh at one point, when one girl walked essentially into line, but the one where they went from one line to two was pretty ill.  Energy wise, I think it was appropriate for the challenge.  Not too raw as we’re used to but pretty good.  And it came *sorta* full circle, with one girl rising up and then a girl ending up on top again. Challenge – 8 – To be honest, I was a bit biased against this particular performance, as much as I was against Blueprints, due to their costumes being as if not more weird.  At least the girl’s.  But the hand movements were actually integrated pretty good, had that stiff, claw like nature that is Lady Gaga.
Improvement – 7 – To be honest, not as good as last week’s, or their battle routines.  That’s not to take away from this routine at all, but as there wasn’t much to improve from last week, since this didn’t get any better, it sticks with a 7.
Highlight – I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but whichever girl was the giant looked to be at her normal height.  Which means, if she was on Allen-Charles’s shoulders, what sort of position was he in?
Notes: To be honest, this is the only Lady Gaga song that doesn’t drive me mad, partially cause I listen to it whenever I listen to Quest’s mastermix.  So I will say that I may be a bit harsher cause that was a pretty good performance. Plus the smaller movements threw me off a bit.  Also, thanks to Maxxann for yelling at me until I saw that their routine was not “meh” or “mediocre.”  I truly regret ever implying that in the first place.  All I’ll say is that this wasn’t their best.
Total: 39, +5% for being pretty Gaga = 40.95

Choreo – 8 – Big movement choreography, not as intense as other crews.  But it was there, and fit the energy level of this song a bit, I think.  For the small things, this was surprisingly a deep performance, with tiny little things
Wow – 7 - Well, there’s the jump-crutching.  Which they way they ended was pretty athletic, though not as impressive as other stuff.  AND they were giving shoutouts to all the crews (credit to EffertheMan for pointing this out, confirmed on Poreotix blog by Can).  Much love there, which I respect.  Mostly they relied on some humor, facials, and story telling.  Such as the beginning with the cameras, or with the synchronized butt-pull (for lack of better term), or definitely the pictures.  Not really much aside from that.  The tutting section was pretty good, but a relatively simple way of getting a lot of fans to go “wow,” for those who live in the short term.  Oh – and the transforming butt in the air bug thing… wicked transformation.
Showmanship – 9 - This actually had a pretty deep story, if you think about it.  Paprazzi = rabid fans (like some of us here…) = obsession, possible murder (decapitation at end – I don’t think/hope that anyone here’s that bad).  The facial expressions matched it perfectly (with the sunglasses made them look bug eyed and such).  And they way they brought out the pictures to play off the judges was entertaining, in that they’re reacting to the judges.  Their transitions were pretty unique, in that they flowed perfectly without any real “dead” moments.  Transitions were also pretty good in the way they varied.
Challenge – 6 – Less Gaga to me than some other crews, due to the humor they injected which doesn’t match Gaga to me.  More of who they are as a crew which I respect them for sticking to that.  Still some Gaga in the way they moved, but didn’t exude it as much as some others.  In terms of using the crutches, while it wasn’t as robotic as they probably wanted, they still did something I really appreciated with it.  So no net change.
Improvement – 8 – I’ll say they stepped it up a bunch from last week.  Still expecting more out of them, though.
Highlight: The jump crutching.  While not too original, (dare I say reminiscent of Status Quo the way it ended?) I think its unfair that NONE OF THE JUDGES pointed out that they were giving shoutouts to all the crews via handsigns and the jumping for Saltare.
Notes: First off, deep respect for them for showing the love.  It may be a bit early for that, though.  But also, here’s a fun fact that didn’t work it’s way in.  Note when they’re decapitated, they’re reaching under their jackets.  Look at Law’s shirt during the judging – it’s red at the bottom.  Apparently they were going to have blood squirting out the top, but the tubes broke right before they got onstage… It didn’t take away from the performance at all, but it would have been nice.  I got more to say about this crew, but see below where I talk about strategy as a whole for that… Random shoutout to Ariel who asked for one.  Thanks to Poreotix for giving me again another shoutout!  
Total: 38, -10% for my bias = 34.2
Choreography – 5
– I realize that they’re trying to “Just Dance.”  And that they’re trying to evolve.  But it’s like there are two different sides to them.  One with ropes are masters, almost like ninjas moving through the dark, sublime even.  And then there’s the awkward guy who just got asked by the girl he secretly likes to slow dance with him at prom because she think’s they’re just friends.  It’s really really stiff to watch, and that the jump rope is their security blanket maybe?  But I appreciate them trying.
Wow – 7 – Even their most ardent haters can’t deny that their tricks are insanely difficult, especially with the ropes.  The reason this isn’t higher is because, in all honesty, while the tricks are impressive, unless you go back and watch them over and over, they get the same basic flavor to them, meaning its getting redundant somewhat.  The sliding it around under their butts was pretty good though.
Showmanship – 7 -
Challenge – 4 – No Gaga at all.  That last attempt in the end to end with a pose was very very rudimentary, so I can’t really count that.  As I said, this was pretty much a regular routine if it were in any other week. In terms of “just dancing,” it was basic.  But to be fair it WAS there, however stiff. But it didn’t really ADD anything.
Improvement – 8 – MUCH BETTER THAN LAST WEEK.  Of course if it wasn’t they’d be in trouble.  But still, it’s like they’re back at square one from when they were in regionals – and this time passing through, they don’t have that novelty factor anymore.
Highlight: Definitely the butt jumping.  I’ve seen this done before, and tried it myself.  I still can’t figure out how to move your body for that.
Notes: This crew is probably one of the most disliked.  To be honest, I have no problem with them.  But I get a feeling that they’re moving in the direction of just wanting to showcase jump roping tricks as jump roping tricks, and less as a viable dance style.  That’s what got Xtreme Motion at regionals, and it can happen again here.  Plus, I’m sorta pissed that the judges seem to coddle them.  After last week’s screw up, they really got lucky to not be fighting bottom 2, though this was a decent performance actually.
Total: 31, not very Gaga so no bonus
So there’s no elimination, but ASSUMING THERE WAS based off of last week’s results… It would have been Saltare and Heavy Impact, with Heavy Impact going home.  Next week, I’m looking at Heavy Impact, Jungle Boogies, and Saltare to face elimination, if it’s a bottom three.  

Given the importance of next week’s elimination to determining if the final 5 will be favorable or not, I thought some room be given to how each team have been/should proceed strategically (I like chess and tabletop RPGs, cut me some slack here).  

Right now, certain crews (Static Noyze, Blueprint) need to just stay consistent. And improve by roughly the same amount each week.  No crew should do something crazy good until the top 4 or 3 or so, because then the following week, when its even more likely they’ll be in the bottom, they may face the problem of being outshined by their own previous performance.  In a show where they need to appear to be constantly improving, that’s not good.  Blueprint especially better make sure they don’t take a step back next week, partially because they had such a killer performance this week, partially cause they don’t’ want to disappoint America after having been given the immunity.

Some crews (Saltare, Heavy Impact), need to step it up if they want to stay.  People I’ve talked to say that these two crews routines could have been put in for their regional auditions and it wouldn’t be considered much of an improvement. See above comment about not improving.

Some crews (Jungle Boogies, Hype 5-0) seem to be getting a lot of flak from the judges for some reason.  I mean, this week may not have been as good as previous ones, but they were still decent.  They need to make sure they bring something extra special next week to show why they were picked in the first place.  

Poreotix is an interesting case.  No other crew has had this much hype for them before the show.  Going into the show, they pulled out their Taylor Swift set – the one routine they do that singlehandedly can make anyone a fan by the sheer novelty.  They know that first impressions can last.  At the end of the regionals, they seemed by a lot of people to be the top crew.  While that question is still heavily debated, that initial impression has stuck around for sure voting wise.  Also, someone said that they were afraid Poreotix would just copy and paste old routines in.  So far… aside from Taylor Swift the only thing I can really see repeated is that fast peel off JC highlighted last week.  So I see it as that they’re holding back those moves until a “turning point.”  My advice is to make that turning point soon (next week or the one after), especially since Blueprint just killed it.  If they go into week 7 and blow us away with one good performance after a bunch of “good but not great” ones, people will be pissed that they held it back for so long.  (thank you Alan for pointing this out to me)

Also, about Blueprint having the best of the Season… personally I think it’s silly to say that.  It’s like calling Jabba’s “Ice Box” the best of Season 1, when it was the only second week of all 9 crews, and even early in the episode.  Sure it was probably obvious once they finished that unless another crew absolutely murdered it, it would be the best of the night. And it was the best of the night.  And quantitatively, yes it was the best of the Season thus far.  But with 21 more routines at least this season, I wouldn’t say it was the best, because it’s not significant at this point.  Plus, on a gut feeling, I’d say “Say my name,” “Day n Nite,” or “Whatcha Say” deserves that more, not including the battle routines.   

And lastly: My Power rankings (Judges Favor, This Week’s Score [Adjusted,Unadjusted], Total Score [Adjusted Unadjusted], Total views on one standard channel on youtube with all the routines

1)Blueprint - (+, [42,44.1], [137,139.1], 37070) – Okay, so America agrees with JC comments, for the first time replaying that routine more than they did Poreotix’s.  Plus the judges love them now, and they have consistent overall scores.  All I can say is, again, perhaps let someone aside from the Bboy try doing something more athletic.

2) Poreotix - (-ish, [38,34.2], [141,126.9], 31438) – I feel that they’re hiding their big guns- the moves that won them HHI and the like.  Overall, they still have the huge fanbase.  My advice is just to step it up in general with more wow-type moments.  But also, they have a lot that either can help or hurt them, depending on what the producers want.  For example, they’re the crew that from the package seems to goof around the most in practice, something Jabba and Quest both did.  It’s that similarity in personality, which is what MTV will be marketing, may be what helps keep them alive as well.

3 tie)Hype 5-0 - (-, [39,40.95], [135,136.95], 14959) – It’s pretty close with Static Noyze.  This week threw me for a loop, I liked their “dangerous choreography.”  But then again, this also showed another side to them, or at least half a turn away, if not a full 180. In any case, they can easily make top 4, if they don’t make any mistakes.  Plus, voter wise, hopefully people still remember the killer Britney routine they did last week.

3 tie) Static Noyze (0, 40, 136, 14871) – They’ve been more consistent than Hype 5-0, but for me their choreography seems to take second fiddle sometimes to their story telling, which may or may not hurt them. No mistakes or substandard or even standard performances, but perhaps

5) Jungle Boogie - (0, 34,132, 11354) – They strayed from what makes them great this week, I think.  The animals, the hard stuff.  I know that the challenge somewhat called for them to be sexy, but to be honest, I think they overplayed it way too much.  I know they can do more based on what I’ve seen.  But hopefully that this disco challenge is kind to them in music.  (Jungle Boogie by Kool and the Gang?)

6) Saltare - (++, 31, 115, 11216) – They got better this week.  I’ll give them that.  But like I said above, they need to do less showcasing and more choreography.  And not tense choreography either.  I’m not sure how willing America is to ignore last week’s goof up though, with allegations that they just got lucky.

7) Heavy Impact - (+, 28, 113, 10365) – This crew is letting me down.  I love their groove style.  The groove style disappeared this week mostly.  They can do flips – they messed up the big flip in their routine.  I’ve heard them tell that they can do a ton of other styles.  But where are they?  They said before that they can do krumping, and contemporary jazz, among other things.  Where is it?

One interesting thing to note – there are 3 divisions of how the crews get views.  The top tier (BP and Poreo) gets about 30k views, The second tier (H50 and SN) are about half that.  The last group matches who most people agree think should be in the bottom three next week, though to be fair, they’ve had the least youtube views in past weeks as well. 

Anyway, that’s all for this week.  Next week is disco week (still waiting on the blockbuster, tv theme, and champions challenge). Till next week, it’s been Ninjaboi.

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