Monday, May 16, 2011

Ninjaboi's review of ABDC's Justin Bieber Challenge

 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.  I guess I developed this scale from the academic scoring system where 7 is average, and getting a 9 is a pretty big deal.  It’s rare for me to give out things below 5, or perfect 10s.

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 1 point taken off of their score to compensate (thank you to everyone who voted on how I should deal with this)

ICONic Boyz – Song: "Baby" – Challenge: Basketball
Choreo – Jumpingjacks. I’m sorry.  I’ve gotta get that off my chest.  Sure I get that they were trying to tell a story (noted below).  But if you want to go with stretches, there are a lot more ways to do it effectively.  As for their actual choreography, it was more last week than first week choreography.  That is to say, at an acceptable level.  I do appreciate that it was trying to be basketball themed (dribbles, ball spins, passes), and matching the lyrics.  Still. Stay away from stuff like jumping jacks. Also that tutting could have been a bit cleaner.  Just saying, when they’re followed by arguably the best tutters on the show ever. That, and I can’t help but compare them to Supercr3w’s basketball routine (so sue me).  Score: 7/10
Wow –  They didn’t have so many “tricks” so they relied on lyrical play/thematic play for this.  They had that one leapfrog (a child’s game…), and the simulation of a basketball hoop.  It could have been set up better, and it didn’t quite look as convincing. Overall, this one didn’t have so many moments that defined it (aside from maybe the jumping jacks).  Score: 6/10
Showmanship – I get the story.  The stretches =>Tip off => Game time => Score => Victory lap around the stage.  I get it.  And it was well done and I give them props for that in challenge.  The framing and transitions were hit or miss.  Some were okay, some weren’t.  They did play the crowd very well though, and had that sort of “pop” attitude to them that’s helped them advance. I will say I was glad that they didn’t just use D-trix’s phrase like they did the Situation. They actually danced to it instead of just posing. Score: 8/10
Challenge – What I will give them props for was integrating the basketball story the whole performance.  I even saw an argument during the “foul.”  What else can I say since they did make it clear it was basketball (aside from their horrendous costumes… knee high socks?) Again, it could have been at a higher difficulty level, but props for staying in character.  Score: 8/10
Improvement – Their choreo took a step down a notch, as did their wow moments. But they were in their element and the showmanship was notched up.  So it evens out. Score: 7/10
Highlight – This is a bit off screen, but during Dtrix’s sound byte, you can barely see the boyz acting angry because of the foul.
Total: 36/50
IaMmE – Song: "Somebody to Love" – Challenge: Usher Glide
Choreo – I know that the IaMmE fanbase will hate me for saying this, but their choreo was pretty average.  Maybe a bit above average for their difficulty level. But when the routine is almost totally tutting and Brain Banging, there needs to be more “dancing.”  It’s almost as if it’s all “wow” moments.  I mean looking at a per second breakdown.  The first 15 seconds are all Brain Banging.  The next five or so are a mix of MJ and a *hint* of some swagger.  The next ten are another Brain Bang section, ended with a freeze from Emilio.  The next ten are some choreography that is honestly pretty elementary given their talent.  Five seconds of being up on shoulders and theatrics, And then the last ten seconds of it is basically the gliding section and set up for that.  There was no mind blowing “choreography” that’s not Brain Banging (which I count as wow.)  It was cleanly executed.  It was musical.  I’ll make clear what I want: MORE HOUSTON SWAG CHOREOGRAPHY THAT’S THE FOCUS AND NOT JUST FILLER.  WE KNOW YOU CAN DO IT. WE WANT TO SEE IT. SHUT ME UP! Score: 8/10
Wow – What they’re missing in hard choreo, they have in Wow moments.  The first… quarter of the routine was stone cold solid Brain Banging that’s mind blowing. The part when Jaja, Emilio, and Chachi were on the floor and rolling over followed by the soundwave effect was ill.  They should Emilio’s athleticism, which was nice.  The ending formation was pretty nice and I needed to pause it to see how it was put together, more intricately than WAH did.  I will say I felt a little let down given the hype, because we were told Moon was highlight and he didn’t tut.  MOON IF YOU ARE READING THIS PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE FINGER TUT AND BLOW OUR MINDS Score: 9/10
Showmanship – JC was right again, they were sticking around the middle and not really spreading out much.  That hurt them, even if 747 did come out at the end nicely.  They had some theatrical moments, like Moon “running a thousand miles,” the kissing the girls and lifting them up, and the obvious ending with the rose. Levels and energy were also good too, it’s just that clumping issue.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – I will say that I did see everyone do the Usher slide.  But for Brain Bangers, i.e., new school tutters i.e., poppers, I feel that they could have done it so much better. Props for completing the challenge, but it felt tacked on the end, and given what you guys can do, it just wasn’t executed to the full extent of their abilities.  Score: 7/10
Improvement – After last week’s step up, I won’t say they faltered.  But they did seem to lose the non-Brain Banging Choreography.  People get on Street Kingdom for only krumping.  I’m getting on IaMmE for only Brain Banging.  BAM  Score: 7/10
Highlight - Right before the “dubstep” section, during a finger wave, it seemed like they slowed down a ton which was really cool.
Total: 39/50
Phunk Phenomenon – Song: "Eenie Meenie" – Challenge: Stepping
Choreo –  Phunk wows me because they are so damn varied.  I’ve seen house, bboying, popping, locking, grooving, stepping, grimey new style.  About the only thing I really have to see left from them is krumping or vogue.  Maybe some contemporary, though that might be a stretch for this show.  In any case, in this routine alone I saw at least five or six styles (or at least hints of it) in there, and none of it done sub-par.   The only thing I will say is that it seems that they more or less have “sections” of choreography.  And the structure of their performances is that they can basically mix and match sections of these different styles.  It’s not that it doesn’t match the music (their musicality is still world class, especially with the tempo changes as JC said). I’d just like to see them structure a routine where you could *only* visualize what they do with that song.  Example – to this day I can’t help but imagine Jabba’s choreo to PYT whenever I hear that song.  For Phunk, their routines match the song music, but not the “spirit” of the song.  It’s for that reason I really liked their Waking Up in Vegas routine – it was clearly a routine for that song, vs choreo that could fit any song.  Not to knock on them, though, mad respect that they can make it fit.  Score: 9/10
Wow –  They obviously know how to use Bebo. But I see them using other members as well.  Quick list – Bebo’s no handed back flips, his airchair slide, the perfectly (my heart still jumps everytime I watch these) backflips to the ticks (not done by Bebo btw), the locking split, Bebo’s headslide.  All very impressive.  Score: 9/10
Showmanship – Formations were excellent. They framed people well, highlighting individuals.  Their tricks and choreo were musically on point (glides for swooshing sounds, the timed flips, a shocking effect for the corresponding sound effect).  The ending was pretty hilarious, especially as Byeynyn noted, it was We Are Heroes who were in Bieber’s video.  Overall, entertaining, if lacking a bit of an overarching story/structure which is what’s needed to take it over the top.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – The did the stepping well.  The only issue is that, like I noted above, it was a “section” of stepping that really could have been stuck into another routine.  Musically it worked, but I’d just wish they would kill their challenges by integrating it more throughout the routine.  Score: 7/10
Improvement – If Phunk hasn’t improved from week to week, I’d say it’s because they’re a horribly consistent crew and that there’s barely anything for them to improve.  Score: 7/10
Highlight: The transition between stepping and housing was so damn clean. That and the two flips done during ticking that were perfectly landed.
Total: 40/50


Instant Noodles – Song: "Runaway Love" – Challenge: Chairography
Choreo – What I love about this routine is that they did a lot of footwork, but not all on the ground.  Like I’ll keep on mentioning, they used the chairs well.  There was this one part where they did a footwork section.  All of them did the same section, but half of  them were upright on the chairs, and the other half were on the ground.  The locking section was also pretty hot.  And the regular footwork as well was really techinically advanced, especially for their synchronicity.  Score: 9/10
Wow – While they are the most style-based bboy’s we have, never let anyone say they don’t have power (Squisy Docious will testify to that) or at least can create moments.   Just a quick runthrough of some highlights that weren’t purely theatrical.  At the beginning when two of them come out and do some floorwork on their backs, flipping around twice.  When whoever was in the front of the locking section pulled himself up slowly, elbow freeze.  Turtle spins.  Overall not as power heavy as other weeks, but they still paced things well.  Score: 8/10
Showmanship – I guess it was the wigs, but I really think that this was the most “Bieber” of all routines this night. Even more than ICONic Boyz.  Laylay, Choco, Cherry, please don’t hurt me, but I really thought that Noodles looked like a K-pop group, especially with that one moment when they were throwing hearts.  In any case, that “character” helped their showmanship here.  In addition, they used the chairs well (more on that below) to create levels.  Formations and spacing were excellent, and transitions were smooth.  It seemed also that their energy changed with the music.  Whenever it went hard with the remix, they went into heavy bboy stuff, and seemed to goof around a lil when it was Bieber’s voice.  They had fun, and it showed.  Especially their ending, haha.  Score: 9/10
Challenge – What I really love about this performance is how often they went back to the chairs.  Unlike other crews who did their challenge once, and moved on, this one was great because of how well it was integrated into their challenge.  Not only did they dance in the chairs, they moved the chairs around.  Like I said above, they used the chairs to help their showmanship overall (again with the ending).  All the more recognition needs to be given for the fact that it was a prop challenge vs a “do something” challenge. Score: 9/10
Improvement – I won’t say Noodles got that much better techinically (still the same consistent Noodles), but they upped their showmanship factor a lot.  I guess they showed they know how to have fun with the Just-In(stant) Bie(boy).  #theirpunnotmine Score: 8/10
Highlight: I was impressed at how they moved the chairs around the stage very subtly.  They would tweak them ever so slightly at one point so they were facing the right way for another part. Think about if one chair had been out of place.  Given where they started to where they ended up, it becomes apparent how much though they put into it.  Also, if you watch behind Mario as he announces Street Kingdom, you see them playing with the chairs before going off stage, haha.
Total: 43/50 + 1 for prop – 1 for bias
Street Kingdom – Song: "Never Say Never" –  Challenge: Martial Arts
Choreo – This is what Street Kingdom has been holding back all season.  Say what you will about strategy (They should have done this all season long vs saving it for a clutch moment), but looking at what they did, it was amazing.  The musicality in their choreo was off the chain, hitting every single beat in the song.  Every. Single. One. That is no small feat.  Not only that, it still kept the buckness of raw individual freestyle, but was in perfect sync.  I will say that if they do this style of choreo again, I would like it if they did maybe one person does something a tad different to highlight that member.  For large groups like choreo cookies, maybe all the same choreo can work since blocking plays a large part.  But for smaller groups like this, maybe having one person a bit different (matching the lyrics) could help.  Score: 8/10
Wow – Oh god. This is what I’ve been waiting for from them all season long.  And what they showed was only a small part of what I’ve seen them do in videos online.  I’ll just run through a few things.  Opening formation with the hat tricks.  The uppercut ripple with a high jump.  The martial arts 4v6 scene with perfect synch with hat tricks in the back.  The 1 v. 1 martial art scene that looked liked it was choreographed out of a Jackie Chan movie.  Even that theatrical ending.  These are the moments in krump that you get hyped for. Oh. And the fact that you can get buck to Justin Bieber of all people has to count for something.   Score: 9/10
Showmanship – Formations were beautifully constructed.  Not only were they spaced out well, but they went back and forth between a couple ones that were excellent.  They focused on different dancers in each section, which was a nice progression.  The pacing was well with moments integrated well into the routine.  There was story telling.  There was some sass from Tight Eyez.  The energy level was hype, given it was Justin Bieber.  Score: 9/10
Challenge – For all the hate Massive Monkees got season 4 for not completing their challenge during Martial Arts week, they did have the most martial artsy routine that night, and since then, that I can remember.  Street Kingdom just surpassed them.  It seems that every single moment was somehow related to the martial arts theme.  And yet they didn’t sacrifice their dancing for it.  Maybe it’s the aggressive/passionate nature of krump that matches martial art’s passionate nature (ie you engross yourself in it fully), but even the nature of the dance seemed very martial artsy, even when they weren’t throwing punches. Score: 9/10
Improvement – This was a huge week for Street Kingdom.  If they end up winning the whole thing, you can probably trace it back to this week.  Doing the simultaneous choreography is a huge step toward eliminating haters (or at least minimizing).  Score: 9/10
Highlight – Do I need to pick just one?  If so, during the team v team martial arts, you’ll notice in the attacking team someone doing hat tricks. That, and at the end, he’s doing hat tricks again (only as nunchucks.).  When he falls, he falls onto his teammates who moved into position to catch him without anyone noticing.  Nice.
Total Score: 44/50
Did they send the right crew home?
No, they didn’t.

Just Kidding. While I do love Instant Noodles and will always support them for inspiring me to start bboying, I have to give this night to Street Kingdom, even if just by a little bit.  The scores say it all.

Props to Noodles though. They had one of the classiest walk-it-outs I know.  Going mad hard with their ending cipher, and their overall positive attitude about what they did on the show and how far they came.

  • Enough with the imbalanced “sob stories” Giving up basketball and Bieber fever vs cancer?  At least try to make them the same. Otherwise it’s less reason to take the routines seriously.  
  • For some reason… I kept thinking of Massive Monkees VMA routine in Noodle’s routine.  Aside from the obvious (both West Coast bboys), they were both dancing to “heartthrobs.”  They were pretty theatrical.  Both worked with chairs (or desks).  Both did a dance style other than bboying.  Gave one of the two best routines of the night.  Had a pretty sick ending. And their walk it out overall were two of the dopest on the show, plus the overall positive attitude.  
  • A word on battling mentality and disses  - A lot of hate has been directed at Street Kingdom for supposedly “dissing” Noodles.  First, let me waggle my finger at you ABDC fans.  Who doesn’t remember StatusQuo’s diss of JabbaWockeeZ during Movie week, Soreal Cru’s diss of Super Cr3w in their electric final performance, Hype 5-0’s repeated disses at other crews (Magic Week and Hip Hop Nation week), and now this.  If you don’t dance, you may not understand. But this is a battle, people.  You can’t play nice.  Disses are both showing the other crew that you think you’re better than them. At the same time, it shows respect that you acknowledge that they’re there to diss.  Some of the best bboy, krump, house, and locking battles of the decade have been solely based on how excellent one crew dissed the other.  If you’re not willing to go hard and go all the way, how can you expect to win?
  • Furthermore, for those of you who think there’s beef between the crews, shut it.  I talked to Noodles personally after they were eliminated, and they actually dig the fact that Street Kingdom dissed them.  Like I said, it’s the battle mentality, and Noodles respects that.  Off the dance floor, they’re pretty tight homies and dope to chill with.  A battle is a battle, and they aren’t pissed or upset or anything. 
Notes for improvement
ICONic Boyz – Just up the choreo level a bit more.  Create  more moments that are difficult, don't just act cute.
IaMmE – More Houston Swag please.  More Moon-tutting, please.  Less clumping, please
Phunk Phenomenon – Have your choreo less sectional, and more flowy (so that I can’t tell where one section starts and another ends).  Showcase more wow moments aside from Bebo.
Street Kingdom – Keep up the choreography in sync, maybe highlighting one member.  But keep it wild.

Tonight’s Score (out of 50)
Mean: 40.4, StdDev: 3.21
1)    Street Kingdom – 44, # of SD above mean: 1.12
2)    Instant Noodles – 43, # of SD above mean: .81
3)    Phunk Phenomenon – 40, # of SD above mean: -.12
4)    IaMmE – 39, # of SD above mean: -.44
5)    ICONic Boyz – 36, # of SD above mean: -1.37

Total Score (out of 240)
Mean: 180.6, StdDev: 18.65
1)    IaMmE – 192, # of SD above mean: .61
2)    Street Kingdom – 191, # of SD above mean: .54 [192 w/o bias, .61 SD above mean
3)    Phunk Phenomenon – 190, # of SD above mean: .51
4)    Instant Noodles – 182,  # of SD above mean: .08 [190 w/o bias, .51 SD above mean]
5)    ICONic Boyz – 148, # of SD above mean: -.175

Weighted Score with most recent=most valuabe (out of 170.24)
Mean: 146.92, StdDev: 14.19
1) IaMmE/Street Kingdom – 155.3, # of SD above mean: .59 [SK=156.1 w/o bias, .64 SD above mean]
3) Phunk Phenomenon – 153.3, # of SD above mean: .45
4) Instant Noodles – 148.7, # of SD above mean: .13 [154.7 w/o bias, .55 SD above mean]
5) ICONic Boyz – 122, # of SD above mean: -1.76

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