Sunday, May 15, 2011

Byeynyn's review of ABDC6's Justin Bieber Challenge

 ICONic Boyz – Saved first once again, they’re performing to "Baby" and they have to incorporate a basketball. They talk about how sad they were that 787 left and how emotionally taxing it will be to pretend to play basketball. Fortunately, they won’t have to replicate Bieber’s mediocre performance in the 2011 NBA All-Star Celebrity game (3 on 11 shooting). Ya burnt, Biebs!

So ICONic Boyz are dressed in green PE outfits, and they start out stretching and doing jumping jacks. One kid leapfrogs over another standing kid. They get into a line, and a guy gets… hit from across the stage? I guess he got smacked by an invisible basketball. The scene work wasn’t very clear there. The audio splices in and remixes D-Trix’s comment that Iconic Boyz were a like bunch of “dancing Justin Biebers” (which sadly isn’t meant to be taken as an insult). IB does some tutting and turtling, and it’s very elementary level. One kid pretends to propose to another during the “first love” lyrics. Once Ludacris begins rapping in the song, the boys don’t even appear to keep up. They’re dancing half as fast as he is speaking, not even attempting to speed up their choreography at all. A guy does a handstand and then gets lifted onto another’s shoulder and acts like a basketball hoop while another person is lifted up, Air Jordan style, to dunk it. They do some more basic choreo (yes, booing ABDC audience, pretending to dribble a basketball is BASIC), and then one of them gets hoisted in the air.

This week’s challenge was a free pass for ICONic Boyz, because they already have a lot of similarities to Bieber without even trying. Everything I would criticize about these kids, I would also criticize about Bieber himself. So I have to admit they embodied Justin Bieber well enough, as well as the basketball challenge. It was the smartest routine from these kids so far, but to me it still wasn’t that memorable. Still, it looks like IB is safe for another week.

I aM mE- Their song is "Somebody to Love", I’m pretty sure Bieber swiped that song title from Queen. They have to perform Usher's famous glide. I still cannot get over the fact that Usher heavily associates himself with Bieber. This is just bad for Usher’s street cred. Heck, this would be bad for Sesame Street cred. There’s a bit with Chachi staring at Bieber through the webcam and getting diagnosed with Bieber fever, which is a very dangerous disease.

Anyhow, IaMmE is wearing black with gold highlights. They start by tutting and forming a windmill with their arms. They get into couples and go into their Brain Banging, which I can tell because of that “VOIP VOIP VOIP” sound effect I hear in every IaMmE routine. Five of them run backwards in slow motion while Moon runs rapidly in place. Some of them pop into an upright position, while the others glide on their knees. Phillip Chbeeb is somewhat of a famous and amazingly fast popper, so I’m surprised he hasn’t been given a prominent popping solo yet. Three of them lie on the ground lifting their legs in the air as the others thread their arms through them. It’s cool, but kind of disjointed from the routine (and also we saw them do this in their introductory video in the first episode). Emilio does a handstand freeze. They lift the girls on the shoulders and do a little sliding. They link hands and spin and glide in a circle, and Brandon solos and does his best Usher impression in the front, while the others continue gliding in the background. In the end, Brandon delivers a rose to Lil Mama, while the rest form a heart with their arms. It’s cheesy, but so is Bieber, so it fits.

Overall, this was probably the least Bieber-related performance of the night. Is that a good thing? I think it is. The first half was mostly the Banging of Brains. The second half of the routine was more Usher than anything else, which was the designated challenge. And it’s only been two performances so far, but the amount of praise for Justin Bieber (WHO DIDN’T EVEN SHOW UP!) is staggering. Not even Missy Elliot got that much recognition for her week, and she bothered to show up and perform too. This is insane! Ugh, my head hurts again…

Phunk Phenomenon- They’re given the song "Eenie Meenie" (a song that We Are Heroes appeared in, this will be relevant later) and they have to incorporate steppin' in the routine. Man, it sure is a coincidence that Kassandra just so happens to be an excellent stepper! Bebo’s struggling in the video, because while he can defy gravity, he has trouble rhythmically slapping himself. Fortunately, none of them cite Bieber as a role model, so they automatically score points in my book.

They’re covered from head to toe in blue, including bowties. Hmm, a lot of these Bieber songs tend to feature an artist that I’d MUCH RATHER be listening to. They start off doing a variety of athletic tricks, including Bebo doing multiple back tucks. Later, he also does a spinning airchair. On a solo level, he is athletically flooring everybody else. They get into the stepping as the music shifts, and it’s a good job. As long as one person in the group knows how to do something, the rest of the group can follow. That’s why I usually prefer groups with more diverse and eclectic backgrounds. They do some high energy choreo. Two of them do backflips in unison, and I think the timing is perfect for this crew to start ramping up the stunts. They’ve pretty much gotten a monopoly on flips now that 787 Crew is gone. Trey spins into a jazz split. They come together as one, as the song dictates. They do some really cutesy choreography, doing what I’d call self fist-bumping. Bebo does a sliding baby freeze on the ground that the camera misses most of. One of the guys leaps off the stage to sit and chill with the members of WAH. Well, that was convenient.

The performance was solid though a little light on the Phunk. And I thought Bebo was nicely integrated in this routine and other crew members had their moments. But I still can’t shake the feeling they’re going to have to fight for their lives next week. After all, there’s only going to be four crews and two of them have yet to hit the bottom. The judges still like PP, but they haven’t been as enthusiastic with their praise as they were earlier in the season.

Instant Noodles- Their job is to dance to "Runaway Love" and incorporate chairs. The opening video shows that Chuck’s mom is battling breast cancer, which is kind of sad, but also kind of abrupt; did the show decide that news was only important enough to share now? Why not earlier? Anyhow, they talk about wanting to be like the Asian Justin Biebers. They fiddle with the chairs, and like most props, they lament the fact that they are hard to control.

So they’re wearing purple with black leather jackets, which is their first (and last) decent outfit this entire run. It’s kind of a shame that Bieber Week is the only week where none of the crews appear to have gotten their clothes from a discount store themed for hookers. Fortunately, Instant Noodles are all wearing that Bieber haircut, so there’s still something to point and laugh at. They begin sitting in chairs. Well, mission accomplished! They do some b-boying, then do some cutesy maneuver with their hands forming a heart on their chest. Man, this song is the girliest Justin Bieber has ever sounded. And that’s saying something. They sit back in the chairs and start locking. Good thing, because every winning crew can lock, and because Instant Noodles never really busted out upper-body stuff until now. They do some more downrock. Some of them jump over the chairs, while the others kind of lean upright. They do the cheesy Bieber move, slowly lowering their arms towards the camera, then the music changes. They do more floorwork, and it’s got more musicality and precision than last week. A guy does a freeze on his elbow. A guy does swipes and goes into jackhammers while the others stand on the chairs cheering him on. Oh, okay. They then all slide while sitting on the chairs. They throw the chairs down and spin them around with their feet, for them to spell out B-I-E-B-E-R. 

Dang, seeing what they could have done with the chairs in the opening video, I was a little disappointed they didn’t attempt anything particularly daring with them. A lot of cool stunts were left on the cutting room floor. But looking at that performance, it was pretty good regardless. They did a good job emulating Bieber, while still keeping true to their style. Instant Noodles have been growing a lot on the show, but as we’ll find out, they’re not the only ones.

Street Kingdom- In what is sure to go down as an ABDC “moment,” Street Kingdom has to krump to Justin Bieber. Good or bad, I feel this routine should go down in the history books for sociological reasons. They’re dancing to "Never Say Never," and they have to add martial arts and high kicks. Tight Eyez is all, “Challenge Accepted.” Then he wins at Mortal Kombat. Why is it that Street Kingdom is the crew that always gets the goofiest and corniest opening segments? 
They’re wearing red and black outfits, split down the middle. They start out in five pairs, making very sharp movements. They do some synchronized choreo. I know! I can hardly believe it myself! They lift up a guy, who starts twirling his hat. Four of them form a single line and form a chain reaction uppercut where a guy leaps up in the air. Toasty! They pantomime more fighting, except now it’s cleverly staged and not a giant cluster like before. Tight Eyez gets a solo, probably the shortest solo for him yet. They get into beating up a guy, pretending to punch him through his chest, and dragging him off to the side. Is that the same dude from last week that’s constantly getting humiliated? If so, poor dude. People are falling left and right. A guy uses his hat as pretend nun-chuks, and another guy hits his crotch and roundhouse kicks him in the face. In the end, a guy “calls out” Instant Noodles by mimicking their hand signal then pretending to vomit. I love it when crews call each other out. I loved it when Status Quo did it, when Fanny Pak did it, when Hype 5-0 did it... and I love it now.

This was Street Kingdom’s most radical performance. They were more coordinated, more mindful of formations and establishing “wow” moments, and it wasn’t all focused on Tight Eyez. It’s like they took notes on what other crews did and finally applied them for this performance. I also have to mention, even as someone who’s not a huge follower of krump, that Tight Eyez is the most influential dancer ever on that stage. He’s more influential to the dance world than all three judges combined, and I’m not speaking in hyperboles. So I didn’t expect to see this crew radically change their approach for this performance, especially for a Bieber performance. It was the first time it felt more like a crew performing rather than just him. That performance took a lot of chutzpah.
In the end, Instant Noodles gets tossed. They are classy and take it well, because they understand that they’re going to continue dancing and doing their thing even after this show. Mario Lopez always sounds like the crew that loses the bottom two goes off to get shot and killed and will never ever return, and it’s seriously not that dramatic. So Street Kingdom rounds out the Top Four crews, making this the first season where there’s only one West Coast crew in the Top Four. And who’d have thought that there would be enough room in the top four for both the krumpers and the “Dancing Biebers”? With both IaMmE and Phunk Phenomenon still in the competition, whatever happens during Nicki Minaj Week will be a game changer.

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