Monday, April 25, 2011

Ninjaboi's review of ABDC's Black Eyed Peas Challenge

This episode sees the return of a challenge, so instead of being out of 40 points, each score will be out of 50.  Also, “First Impressions” will now be “Improvement” compared to last week.  Comment if you want.  Or not.  I’m not here to get comments or try anger people.  I’m just sharing my analysis as a dancer/mathematician, and you’re free to take it or leave it.  No need to be rude.  If you want to argue with me, bring solid reasons and sound arguments.  Or if you know so much about dance, call me out in a dance battle, and I will respond with a video.
RATING SCALE: So one thing I’m (in)famous for is my use of numbers in judging crews.  Some may disagree but I find it works out fairly decently. Each performance will be out of 50 points, divided as such
10 – Choreography:  There are basically two ways to dance, as I see it.  There’s freestyling, which is the root of all dance.  Then there’s performances.  Performances are further broken up into two parts.  “Wow” moments which are meant to keep your memory on that routine, and “Choreography” which is everything else.  This section looks at how good the choreography wise – this is musicality wise, how much swagger, how complicated, etc.  “Choreography” is basically any coordinated dance movement of the crew’s members outside those moments.
10 – Wow Moments:  As explained above, Wow moments are when you create a moment that sticks in people’s minds.  This can either be tricks, to crazy isolations, to some “story moment.”  However, if we see the wow moment coming, that takes away from it.  The way you build up into the moment is just as important as the moment
10 – Showmanship: This is a variety of things.  Almost a miscellaneous category if you will.  Just off the top of my head, this includes: Appropriate Energy Level, Stage Use, Blocking/Framing, Transitions, Concept, Clean, Musicality, Pacing, Any real small thing that adds to the performance as a whole.
10 – Challenge: How well did the crew A)execute their challenge B)complete it creatively, and C) incorporate it throughout the performance rather than just simply do it once and have it seem out of place.  Also, prop challenges are usually much more difficult inherently, so those give crews a +1 to their overall score.
10 - Improvement: Usually this would be to see how well crews improve each week and work on their problems because one common theme of good crews on ABDC is constant improvement.  Just for reference: 7 means no improvement.  More means improvement, less means did worse.  The rationale is that on ABDC, crews that show that they keep giving better and better performances tend to do better overall.

Just for reference: 10 is perfect.  7 is average.  5 is barely passable.  Anything below that is… very weak.  So Average would be a 35, for reference.

Also, I’m human.  I have biases.  So I’m going to take a percentage off the score of crews that I’m biased for.  I’m biased for Instant Noodles, so they get 2 points taken off of their score to compensate.

Iconic Boyz –  Challenge: Be Connected – "Just Can’t Get Enough"
Choreo- Last week their choreo was… weak. This week it was a tad better toward the beginning, since they didn’t have a full tenth of their routine taken up by a Jersey Shore soundbyte. That being said, it wasn’t anything special.  Nothing you wouldn’t find outside of a basic beginner’s choreography class. There were a couple nice moments when they matched the lyrics of the song (smiling, Mr Roboto) but that was it.  Most of it seemed to be them rocking back and forth in place or walking into place.  Again their popping/robotics section was weak.  Score: 6/10
Wow – This week, it seems most of the best part of their routine was in the beginning.  I will give them major props for that Michael Jackson-esque lean. Aside from that though, nothing really stood out. Hate me all you want, but I didn’t even really feel “T-money’s” solo. Maybe it was the camera angles, but I couldn’t really make out anything outstanding from him at that point. Score: 6/10
Showmanship – Unlike last week, they didn’t really have that aura that helped them (maybe the absence of spray painted abs?).  The formations and blocking were either sloppy or elementary.  Transitions were mostly walking. Energy seemed muted.  Precision was lacking. Overall, the concept of “connecting with the music” is what saved this category. Score: 6/10
Challenge- So I spotted three moments when they did their challenge: at the beginning when they were fanned out in the MJ lean, once in a triangle formation with the headphones, and once in a circle with the headphones.  The first one was actually pretty nice.  The problem is, the latter two was probably one of the least imaginative ways to be able to do this.  I mean, we saw Br8Sk8 do this challenge Season 1, and they did it pretty creatively with the snake.  Even if they “used the headphones,” all it boils down to is them touching another guy in the chain with their hand while coincidentally holding onto a wire.  Not creative at all.  Score: 6/10
Improvement –While last week I could say that they had good showmanship, this time they lacked even that.  If not for that MJ leaning, there would probably be no way to defend this performance.
Highlight – What else but the Michael Jackson lean?  Possibly their headsets, but that would just be sad if the best part of their routine was their costumes.
Total Score: 30/50

Phunk Phenomenon – Challenge: Time Warp – "Don’t Stop the Party"
Choreo – So this routine was a lot more fundamental style based than new style studio stuff.  I saw a lot of bboying/uprock, some locking some housing, and possibly some African inspired stuff.  In either case, the cameras weren’t helping near the beginning but the uprock was pretty nicely done, and led to some interesting formation actually.  They used locking to transition to the slow mo, and then they sped up afterwards by a ton.  Then they finished off with some really nice housing.  The sheer variety of their dance styles and the technical skill with which they accomplished them shows why they are probably the front runners of the show at this point.  Score: 9/10
Wow – What I really really like about this crew isn’t that they just do choreo and tricks, it’s that they pace them well and work them in well so that it seems natural.  So they had that Bebo-toss near the beginning into back flips.  And then the Bebo flares and reverse flares, framed by the two other guys. Take JC’s word for it – those are some of the hardest things to do in Bboying simply because of the momentum shift. And then that crazy backrock going on. Along with that nice housing solo toward the end.  It wasn’t all just flips, but good individual solos as well.  All framed well.  Oh yeah, and the Bebo-back, but more on that in the challenge section.  Score: 9/10
Showmanship – I think the fact that they framed things well, they had good transistions, and  had not a single dull moment played to their advantage. The only thing I’d have to knock them on is their lines. At times it can look a little sloppy simply because they’re going so dang with so much energy. They frame each other’s solos well. Also, nice Ginyu-force ending (spotted by Koopa) with a little bit of humor. With their good sense of pacing (especially in this challenge) they did well.  Score: 8/10
Challenge: So I’ll talk about tempo a lot here.  They started with some nice mid- to high stuff, but at the average speed I’d expect from these guys.  Then they really really slowed it down with Bebo’s hollowback, which is pretty much famous in the bboy community.  And then afterward, they went even faster than their regular tempo for a good 2/3 of their routine.  So not only did they slow things down epically, they also incorporated the speed up component through the rest of their routine.  Score: 8/10
Improvement – The best part is that they didn’t do any worse than last week.  I don’t think they’ll run out of things too soon by using up their stock of good moves, they’re pacing well.  Score: 7/10
Highlight – I love Bebo’s hollowback and his flares, but I’ll focus on something not a lot of people noticed – The housing solo.  So high energy, so on beat… exactly what house needs to be.
Total Score: 41/50

I.aM.mE – Challenge: Giant Robot – "Meet Me Halfway"
Choreo – Much as I am a fan of theirs, I do know that they haven’t been giving much of their non-illusion based choreography. This week I will say there was a little bit more variety, and it was done very very well.  I saw some of the swag stuff from last week, but also a little bit of locking, a little bit of groundwork going on, and I wasn’t sure if I saw something wacking-inspired or not.  In any case, it was good choreography and worked well into their routine. I just wish that I saw a lil more of it.  Score: 8/10
Wow – Again, I was brain banged.  That factory image toward the beginning was pretty clever… for some reason reminded me of the 4th episode of Digimon…  Then there was Pacman’s wavy-helicopter thing.  The transition into a robot was pretty good too, and the final ending was great.  Score: 9/10
Showmanship – They had a little more energy this week, and they used a lot more different formation changes.  I still sort of agree with JC that they need to move around a little more.
Moving around the stage would be great, rather than keeping their central axis on the center, and just spreading out and coming back in.  Still, I did like the small bit of fun they had with Jaja, Pacman and Emilio.  Transitions were as clever as ever.  Score: 8/10
Challenge –   I didn’t like their robot much  I had to really wrap my mind around it to try and see the robot.  The Transformers-type transition was great.  But the actual final shape the robot took… I think Jabba or Boogie Bot’s was better.  That, and it seemed a little randomly thrown in there as opposed to worked in conceptually. Knowing that they specialize in making visual illusions, I feel like this was a bit overhyped. Score: 7/10
Improvement – Overall, I wouldn’t call this much of a great leap forward for IaMmE… more like baby steps.  I can't really say they've "grown" until they really break out that Houston Swag I know they have.”  Score: 7/10
Highlight – Forever this section shall be called… Jaja’s playing coy.
Score: 39/50

Street Kingdom – Challenge: Lightsaber Battle – "Imma Be"
Choreo –I will ignore the fact that this is probably one of the BEP's lowest energy songs and is death for krump.  I’d say for the first almost full half of the routine, they had pretty good choreo.  The only problem is: we couldn’t see it because of camera ADD.  It did have basic krump elements in their choreo, such as chest pumps and stomps.  It wasn’t great choreo.  But I think it may be a bit underrated.  Score: 7/10
Wow –  It seems like most of their wow moments come off of their hype krumping.  Basically, the more hype krumping, the more wow we get.  This week was a lot more low-key, mostly cuz  the music was almost as un-buck as possible.  It was still there, especially if you paid close attention despite the cameras.  Score: 7/10
Showmanship – I think their energy level  matched appropriately to what was needed for the music.  I think they could use a little cleaning up of lines.  When they had formations, they were pretty good.  I saw some smart use of leveling.  Overall,  it could be done a bit better.  I won’t suggest that they should fundamentally change the “clumping” nature of the krumping sections of their routine, simply because that is fundamental to what krumping is.  Maybe their chroeo parts  can be done a little less hectically. Score: 7/10
Challenge – What this crew did really well for their challenge was that they brought the light sabers straight out from the very beginning and used them throughout the ENTIRE routine.  Then, when they were getting into the krump section, they use the lightsabers to frame the individuals krumping, in a number of different ways.  It wasn’t necessarily a battle, but they used their lightsabers as well as they could without risking breaking somebody’s bones (or the lightsabers).  Score: 7/10
Improvement – I think that the choreo was better than last week, but the krumping wasn’t as great.  So it evens out to no real improvement.  Score: 7/10
Highlight – When they all start chest pumping right before the krumping section. It was creepy as heck, but really felt like krumping to me.
Score: 35/10 +1 for prop usage = 36/10

787 Crew –  Challenge: Teleport – "Boom Boom Pow"
Choreo – I was pleasantly surprised.  While it wasn’t the *best* choreo in the world, the amount of choreo far outweighed their tricks.  They had decent musicality.  I saw some Latin flavor in there, but also what you would expect for this type of music.  Score: 7/10
Wow – As stated above, they didn’t do that many tricks.  This may or may not be a good thing depending on how good or bad their choreo is, since their strongest points are their tricks (when properly spaced). It was paced well and the tricks they did do were pretty dope. However, I’m starting to see some repeated tricks.  The huge group formation thing was on beat though, so mad props.  Score: 7/10
Showmanship – As always, high energy.  Decent formations and formation changes.  Again, some evidence of the set being more of a random collection of tricks and a little bit of filler choreo rather than a whole cohesive set with a purpose/concept.  Score: 7/10
Challenge- I really liked the way they did the teleport.  I had no idea how they would do it, and I really was surprised.  (Is it bad if I think of the Extraterrorestrial ride at Disney?)  Simple yet elegant. In any case, it would have been nice to see it more integrated into the routine, either done more times or fit into the “bigger story” of the set.  Score: 7/10
Improvement – This group improved in terms of not relying on tricks but actually putting together more choreography and not relying on tricks so much. Score: 8/10
Highlight – This head popping type thing when they’re in a line and one dude’s doing the typical popping head thing leaning back.  Maybe it was the lights but I really liked it.
Total Score: 36/50

Instant Noodles – Challenge: Video Game – "My Humps"
Choreo – Like last week, most of their choreo was footwork-based bboy choreography.  It was really clever in how well it matched the music and how it was blocked.  Technically from a bboy perspective, it was impressive for the synchronization in that not a single member was out of sync, and some footwork stuff they did was pretty legit.  Score: 8/10
Wow – There were a bit more stunts, but they were understated compared to the group's Wow moments that are classic Instant Noodles.  One that really sticks out: a ripple effect they did of footwork ending with a ninja twist (that’s what I call it) that was on beat.  Score: 7/10
Showmanship – I think the reason people are comparing them to Poreotics or Quest isn’t that they’re necessarily Asian or whatever.  It’s that they have a good personality and really connect with the audience.  It’s clear these guys had fun while performing, and there’s something to be said for that as performers.  Aside from their challenge, and the bootyshaking, again there was good levels.  Good framing (of note: Mike doing Zulu spins around everyone “synchronized swimming” toward the center.  Transitions were worked into each formation.  Good energy.  Score: 9/10
Challenge – Along with showing off their musicality, this challenge also shows off a lot of fun on their part.  They had the “Combo” sound effect with punching, the “Nice!” high five, the coin effect surprise, a warping sound effect when they popped up, the Mario scene, and the end scene when Mike unplugs the game, and hits a POW block to flip them over into Goombas.  It was  inundated with video game references that were pretty cleverly done.  Score: 8/10
Improvement – I think having Mike back really helped them.  They are more than the sum of their parts so adding one more person really helps their choreography. They worked on what the judges gave them.  Score: 8/10
Highlight – If I had to pick something I didn’t already mention, there’s this headswipe they do to the lean back and stand up from lying face down position thing they do right before toprock.  Really nice and in sync, without having to do a foottap.
Score: 40/50 – 2 for bias = 38/50


Footworkingz – Challenge: No Gravity – "I Gotta Feeling"
Choreo – I really liked their choreo.  It was both upper body and lower body.  On top of that, their footwork was varied, despite claims people made that they did the same thing over and over again.  It was high energy, framed well, and flowed well as well.  Score: 8/10
Wow – This crew had one of my favorite moments of the night – when the song went “and shut it DOWN,” they come from a slide, pop up and then fall back down controlled.  That blow up was pretty impressive.  Aside from that though, and one flip over somebody, there weren’t many (if any) defining moments though.  Mad props though.  Score: 7/10
Showmanship – The framing and formations were well done.  They had the appropriate energy leels and nice musicality.  I think they could have worked on levels a little bit, and the pacing toward the end felt awkward because it sounded like they were about to go off but then sort of just stopped. But I still really appreciate the clever ways they transitioned, better than most groups I’ve seen.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – I spotted two times that they did their challenge.  One was with Little Bit in the highlighted section, which was (to be honest) a bit lackluster.  The illusion wasn’t that convincing, and the fact that she was half hidden between the two guys leaning out made it difficult to really tell.  The other happened toward the beginning when it seems like one guy is floating in midair, though again it didn’t look quite so convincing.  I think they could have executed it a little better.  Score: 7/10
Improvement – They didn’t get any worse, but I would say it wasn’t that much of an improvement over last week.  Score: 7/10
Highlight – As mentioned above, that shut it down blowup was pretty nice and one of the highlights of the night.
Total Score: 37/50

Request – Challenge: Cloning – "Dirty Bit"
Choreo –  Based on the choreo this week, it’s clear why the were crowned World Champions in 2010.  It was a bit one or two-dimensional (pretty much all toy-doll-esque inspired, like from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with the crazy bit at the end), which kept it from getting a perfect ten.  But execution was pretty near perfect, if not perfect.  Musicality was point on.  Isolations were crisp, hits were on point and with power. Whereas Phunk did a load of styles pretty well, Request did the one/two style(s) pretty much perfectly. Score: 9/10
Wow –  Request didn’t really have any singular wow moments in terms of dance moves.  It’s more of an aura they have.  But one point did stick out – when the lyrics went “I’m telling you,” those chest pops in quick succession and with such force was pretty intimidating.  But again, their strength is in their choreography.  Score: 7/10
Showmanship – The facial expressions and style/attitude were pretty much spot-on with the concept of their routine.  Energy and lines were on-point at the appropriate parts of the routine.  Levels were pretty much on-point.  I would say the framing at the beginning could have been a tad less awkward.  Overall, the entertainment value of this routine came from their overall attitude and immersion in their role as clones.  But more on that next.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – The method in which they their cloning challenge was predictable: stand in a line and pop out behind the one in the front.  That predictability aside, the attitude of being clones permeated the routine since their movements were pretty much totally in sync. Also, they did the cloning thing… four times I believe?  Anyway, it was well done.  Score: 8/10
Improvement – It was an improvement over last week, but not by much. It was more a function of the music rather than their dance. I’d rather not say that a group did much better simply because they got a better song. Score: 7/10
Highlight – The part right at the end where, conceptually, I see like a ball of energy being passed in a wave throughout the crew.  Like it starts in the center and a little algorithm thing starts from the center rippling out, and then the right side catches it, tosses it to the left and they all toss it up.  Pretty nice and it matched their persona in the routine.
Total Score: 39/50
ICONic Boyz – They have to do more than executing the choreography well.  They need to come up with choreography that defines them as dancers beyond the basic stuff you learn in beginner dance classes.
Phunk Phenomenon – I think that they need to strike a balance between using Bebo well and overusing him.  I feel that if they over-utilize him, it might become a case of Bebo and friends.  I see that the other dancers have great things going for them as well.  Use them.
IaMmE – Brain Banging is great and all and there is a place for it on the show, but not in overly large quantities.  I feel that the filler choreo they do between Brain Banging sets is far below what they can do.  I’d rather they do a pretty consistent performance throughout rather than have really high moments and then “meh” moments interspersed.
Street Kingdom – I can’t really tell them to not crowd around one person simply because that’s how krumping works.  For their choreo sections, I think lines could be a little cleaner.  But I think if it's possible for them to work with District78 to mix their music, they should try hard to get something really buck going so they can just go off.
787 Crew – I think they’re moving in a good direction  when they space out their tricks.  That said, their choreography could have a little more variety/power behind it.
Instant Noodles – I think they need to do a little bit more of non-Bboy stuff and do it on-point. I know they have some Kaba Modern alums in the crew, so they can do it.  Aside from that, they may want to move a little bit away from groundwork simply because JC will start hating soon.
ReQuest – Aside from being not from America and having people’s xenophobia get in the way, (which they can’t fix really), having a few more “moments” would be great.  It doesn’t need to be flips or tricks. Maybe an individual solo would change the pace of the routine a little bit. 

Did the audience and judges get it right?
In terms of picking the bottom 2, no.  Granted, it wasn’t totally unexpected.  Given the cards dealt, ReQuest did have a stronger routine.  Good luck to FootworKINGz, they really have something going that I wish would spread beyond Chicago.

Other thoughts
-Lil Mama the Voice of the Young People? Did I miss the memo?
-I’m glad that Lil Mama’s “Asian Eyes” moment reported by people who attended the filming was edited out.
-If anyone has a problem with my routines and would rather not provide logical arguments, that’s fine.  Just dance battle me instead.  Callin' you people out 8P.
Rankings for the night (out of 50)
1) Phunk Phenomenon (41)
2) IaMmE, ReQuest (39)
4) Instant Noodles (38 [40-2 for bias])

5)FootworKINGz (37)
5)787, Street Kingdom (36 [35+1 for prop for SK])
8) IB (30)

Cumulative Rankings (out of 90)
1) Phunk Phenomenon (73)
2) IaMmE, ReQuest (71)

4) FootworKINGz (69)
5) Street Kingdom (68)
6) Instant Noodles, 787 Crew (65)
8) ICONic Boyz (51)

Weighted Cumulative Rankings (most recent week has full value, last week has .9 value, next week has .8 value, etc) (out of 86)
1) Phunk Phenomenon (69.8)
2) IaMmE, ReQuest (67.8)
4) FootworKINGz (65.8)
5) Street Kingdom (64.8)
6) Instant Noodles (62.3)
7) 787 Crew (62.1)
8) ICONic Boyz (48.9)

Next week is Katy Perry.  Bets that Instant Noodles gets “Kissed a Girl,” ReQuest gets “California Girls” and ICONic Boyz gets “Teenage Dream”?  Shououts to MG, BBDC Fuzion, FOB.  

Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks again Ninjaboi!