Sunday, April 29, 2012

JSkunk's Review of ABDC's Madonna Challenge

What I will be ‘grading’ the crews on are very simple categories: Choreography, Memorable Moments, Execution, and how well they completed their Challenge and/or fit the theme of their song/week, whatever.  Choreography looks at the dances individually and as a group, judges on their formations, lines, transitions, and use of stage.  Memorable Moments are basically any one thing (or things) that stand out and makes the performance, well, memorable and leaves a lasting impression.  And when I say memorable, I mean it is a POSITIVE moment, not something where a crew member falls off stage.  Sure you’ll remember it, but not for the right reasons most likely.  Execution is how well the routine is performed, looking for cleanliness, sharpness, just looking to see if the hard moves are hit hard and if the smooth ones are silken.  And of course the Challenge/Theme, which is rather straight forward, is the challenge accomplished with creativity?  Does the routine fit with the theme of the week/song/music video?   Is it just insanely creative?  I will not be assigning numbers, as of now at least, if I keep doing these that might change.
Madonna!  She is an icon of American music and probably some other stuff too.  Has sold a lot of records, and even wrote a book or two I’m told.  Personally, I prefer her older work to her modern stuff, but hey, she’s still performing so mucho kudos to that.  Her music is home to some great dance tracks, but let’s see how the crews did this week. 

Fanny Pak
Song: Girls Gone Wild
Challenge: Wacking and wearing heels?
First up was Fanny Pak, and I felt that they opened the show in a great way.  Their first walk across the stage had so much attitude and intensity to it that gave it an extra pop.  The use of the mirror was rather clever, and a reference to the video which has…all sorts of stuff, but yeah also mirrored movements and the like.  I especially loved the ‘mirror illusion’ where it appeared that one of the dancers was switched with a different one as the mirror rotated, but more importantly their choreo was up to Fanny Pak level.  The heels more than likely slowed them down, but I can’t say the performance would have been massively different without them.  Levels were used, the floor work was pretty fun, the stage was certainly used, the energy was a bit muted it felt like, but this crew was still fierce and they had fun with their challenge.  They were inspired by the video and made the routine their own, I did like JC’s critique; still wish I could have heard from the other judges too.  All in all, it was a pretty solid performance.

Still, this is Fanny Pak, personally my favorite crew in the history of the show as of Season 2.  They were probably playing it safe; still I found this routine pretty enjoyable.  I will say that some portions seemed rather chaotic, and the cameras didn’t help either.  This won’t go down in history as the most iconic FP numbers, but it was still strong none the less.
Song: Hung Up
Challenge: Krumping

    Ahh, Elektrolytes.  Personally, I have been wanting to see this crew make the cut since (I think) the Season 4 auditions.  I wasn’t feeling them too much last week, but they came out swinging and hit hard.  My guess is it could be because they didn’t have to change their performance at the last possible second, but whatever it was: it got my attention.  Right off the bat, I have to hand it to the master mix, because the intro very much reminded me of classic Mega Man for a bit, which is always a good thing.  Their choreography was much sharper and pronounced this time around, and this crew used the stage very intelligently as well.  The tricks had great framing, and my personal favorite was the hat bit.  You could just tell they were having fun up there on stage, and it got me excited.  They had flips, they had moments, one of their freezes was a bit ‘meh’ to me, but it didn’t derail the performance.

    Their krumping challenge I felt was handled rather well, containing that same energy they had been showing throughout the rest of their routine.  Their formations were interesting and rather clean, they worked to most of their transitions, and I just had a great time watching it.  Lil Mama said the performance came to life after that side flip, which was backed up very nicely by the rest of the crew rolling in sync with it, but right out of the gate I knew these guys meant /business/, and they delivered.  It was fresh, fun, and full of so much energy, this performance was great.  Near the ending things began to slow down, and I wish I could have properly seen their ending pose, or really just how they set it up (I think some of the guys were acting as a phone getting hung up?), but the camera whipped over to Chris.  Can’t wait to see him added back to the roster, hope they keep rising up on my “Oh that’s nice” list.
Mos Wanted Crew
Song: 4 Minutes
Challenge: Popping, also clock stuff too I guess

    Mos Wanted Crew, my mortal enemy.  Okay, that isn’t fair, because I do love these guys so far and I know they have tons of talent up their sleeves.  For this week, they played it safe, similarly to Fanny Pak, but that doesn’t mean they were choppy or messy.  This performance was just that, a performance.  Choreography?  For the most part, it was on point, together, and attention getting.  I will say that it was memorable for that partner section when they mimicked an actual clock, and it is the second time in a row they have partnered up for great effect that went with the song title (not that I’m complaining).  D-Trix pointed out Brian’s moment where he ‘activated’ the other crew members, and yeah, that was dope and very well done.  Still, it felt like something was /missing/.

    They completed their challenge, and used their creativity with the song title which I always give mad props for, so they knocked that out.  Maybe it was just the ending?  The last few seconds of the routine didn’t add anything, and the end-end was just a typical jump for fun (like Fr3sh season 4) moment, nothing special about it really.  Sure it had attitude I suppose you could argue, but I was just expecting a bit more.  Still, very far from being a bad routine and I found it was a lot of fun. 

8 Flavahs
Song: Vogue
Challenge: Vogue…ing

    Alright, I can’t really mix words here: I was blown away by this performance.  From start to finish, just about every second had me wowed, and I know I threw out more than my fair shares of “Oh snap!” but if I get fined for going over my limit, I don’t care: it was worth it.  From the very beginning, that classy intro had me sold, and everything from there just took off.  Okay, I’ll start with the choreography since I can’t just keep rambling on.  First thing I noticed were the levels and these girls used them like pros throughout the entire performance.  Up, down, crouched, floor, whatever, they had something for everybody.  The bit with the hair was cute, and didn’t last /too/ long, but wasn’t /too/ short either.  Their movements carried so much attitude and they were spot on fierce for this whole piece.

    I loved Angel’s leg lift, I thought the aerials were great (even if we saw them in their last performance too), but probably one of my favorite things ever was just Kaelynn (pretty sure it was her) as Madonna.  She was stone cold throughout this whole piece, but that ‘kick’ near the beginning was priceless and classic diva.  There was so much technique being showcased as well, of the more ‘classical’ variety, which I always love seeing on ABDC.  The pirouettes and splits were great and looked absolutely effortless, plus just about everything they wanted to really show off was framed and presented properly.  They slayed the challenged, the performance, and they took inspiration from the original video of course and came out on that stage like 8 divas of the notoriously sassy variety.  Lil Mama’s overreaction was great too and well deserved.  It was fierce, it was entertaining, it was clean, and I won’t be forgetting this performance.
Rated Next Generation
Song: Human Nature
Challenge: Thrashing, also…seduction?  Uhh…keep it classy, ABDC

    RNG!  It’s great seeing them this season, for just a personal note, but onto the performance.  Just like last week, I felt that this crew showed off their strengths, which are mainly choreography and precision.  That’s what I love about this crew; they hit so hard and have great control of themselves (similar to Mos Wanted, or vice versa whatever) which I can always get behind.  They of course brought solid choreo, but with that being said it still felt somewhat lacking.  Not too terribly so, they got the thrashing down and even used a chair, just like in the video, both of which I enjoyed and felt helped capture the original theme.

    It is hard to pick stand out moments, but Bailey’s glide was smooooth, and the backhand-spring was okay, probably thrown in for JC’s sake, but well executed.  They didn’t use all of the stage, but they did enough, and the chair they lugged around didn’t hold them back.  The ending was great too, I just loved the attitude those girls had by the end of it, poor Bailey.  All in all, it struck me as a solid performance.  They showed that they had a few more skills that haven’t been unleashed just yet, and I can’t say it was terribly lacking or underwhelming.  Of course it was clean, the choreo was tight while still packing a punch, and thankfully they worked rather intelligently with a song of an uh…suggestive nature.  I think they’re going to have to come with more than just their awesome swagger next week though.
Song: Ray of Light
Challenge: Spazzing?  Time skip?

    The Stepboys and I have an interesting relationship so far, mostly because as of now they are in the same category I have placed Ringmasters and Street Kingdom.  First performance: not a fan, still may have some neat stuff, but overall I want to see more before I simply say “no thank you”.  Second performance: Same as the first, if not a step down from the previous week.  The only difference is that Stepboys did improve quite a bit with this performance; it just wasn’t enough for me.  Their choreography was a huge leap forward, from basically having very little to even getting me excited.  But once again, I am getting ahead of myself; I should start at the intro.  Immediately, I felt that something was wrong, but I can understand the ‘waking up’ thing, sorta, but not the giant lollipop that they all licked.  This was a slow opener, and for me I wasn’t getting into the performance until about the 20 second mark, but it was great then.  They weren’t doing anything groundbreaking, but it was entertaining, had levels, and I can’t lie that ‘fish out of water’ jump made me chuckle as it came out of nowhere.

    After that part though, they went to nose picking and gross out humor.  That was where they lost me again, and I stayed lost for the rest of the performance, which wasn’t that long.  To be fair, the finger tutting was executed well, but this performance was all over the place with me.  I didn’t care for their theme, but to be fair they did have a time skip (I suppose) in their performance.  This routine was pretty spazztastic, so they completed their challenge at least.  Everything from the costumes to the props just fell flat and I didn’t find enough of it compelling to get me eager to see more.  Still, their choreo in the middle was pretty dope, and even if it wasn’t very clean, it was done well regardless.  The stunts were toned down from the previous week, so I don’t have too many /positive/ memorable moments from this performance.  D-Trix said they were fun, but needed to tighten and polish, which they do.  He pointed out those coin drop rolls (I think he called them that) which I also liked, so points for that too at the very least.  Still, this was a “no thank you” from me.

    Against my wishes, the bottom three was purely comprised of crews I figured would end up down there after voting started.  This season is rough for me, because I am fawning over just about every crew from a single performance.  It sucked seeing Mix’d Elements go first, but either way I would have been disenchanted.  Anyway, enough with that, let’s move onto the crews in danger, aka the only crews not representing the West Coast this season.

Collizion Crew
Song: Don’t Tell Me
Challenge: Line Dancing

    The first thing that came to mind when I heard the song and the challenge was Southern Movement from Season 4, and then it dawned on me how much I missed them.  With that out of the way, I was looking forward to Collizion this week especially, since they had just about 0 buzz going on Blogging ABDC and they got me pumped like crazy last week; a pleasant surprise I might add.  I don’t like to compare crews that have vastly different styles, but it feels like Collizion really knows how to use humor without it seeming like they’re trying way too hard to force it, unlike Stepboys.  The opening bit was goofy, but also clever and I liked it.  There was a bit of a stumble early on after one of the flips, but it wasn’t catastrophic and didn’t disrupt the flow.  I immediately fell in love with how they were using the stage, and their transitions were crafty, they really ‘worked’ to them as JC would say.

    What really surprised me (though not really because I read Yoo’s preview) was the tap dancing bit, I thought that was tons of fun.  Side note: I am/was a huge fan of Season 3’s Dynamic Edition, but aaanyway back to this crew.  They did their challenge; they stayed true to the theme of the song (which by the way, awful song, it was just mean to throw that at them) and had a great use of flips!  Most memorable was that knee drop, which was sooo sick.  I feel I should mention that throughout this entire routine, their choreography had this awesome Collizion-Country-Swag sort of feel to it that fit perfectly for the song and their challenge.  Also?  Best ending of the night, that bull illusion/gag was awesome.  Now that’s two nights in a row where these guys have pulled off a great ending.
Song: Gimmie All Your Love
Challenge: Cheerleader stuff

    Fun fact: I have been saying for years that there needs to be a crew that has epic cheerleader lifts, and this routine started with one!  That flip was epic, and right after that the crew went straight into their choreography.  This crew had some spread out formations, used the stage to showcase some flips and stuff, plus they had a guy blowing steam out of his ears!  Their musicality was on point for the whole routine, and I can’t really say anything bad about it.  They destroyed the challenge with some cheery stuff, but it didn’t derail the performance, and they kept their funk intact.  The dubstep portion was a little iffy in some parts, while others were just straight up boss.  Near the end there was a little stumble after one of the flip passes, but it was like Collizion’s partial misstep, otherwise it had great execution.

    This crew came hard and they absolutely delivered.  I was worried after the battle they would be out of some of their best tricks and what not, but this was a great performance.  They were tight, sharp, and had great controlled energy throughout.  It was a creative piece and also had an awesome cheery ending pose, but at the same time of course it was funk.
Song: Express Yourself
Challenge: Jazz (yip-zop-zubity-bop!)

    Irratik, a mixture of Blueprint and ReQuest, given a jazz challenge?  I knew I was in love, I just didn’t know how to say it (because I’m scared of being hurt).  The opening lingered just a /little/ too long for me, but it was still good while the follow up choreography was better.  When Janick showed off her jazzy technique I was like “Girrrrrl” and started to get into the performance.  Those chains came absolutely out of nowhere though, and I loved the way they incorporated those into their floor work.  The dress code forced upon them by the costume department was pretty strict, showing off a lot of skin, but hey it was Madonna night!  It didn’t distract /me/ personally too much, but the routine didn’t leave me with a single, hard moment that utterly blew me away. 

    Still, of course this is Irratik we’re talking about.  Sharp choreography, masterfully clean, clever use of stage, sprinkled in some fun little moments, and they brought lots of attitude.  I loved the ending, but that push up thing near the middle I felt would have been hit or miss, for me it was a quasi-hit.  They got the theme of the song and the music video, and while it didn’t leave me speechless it was all still very solid. 

    Well, there goes Funkdation and Irratik, as sad as it is to say that.  This double elimination came way too early.  In season 5, we at least got to see an ‘extra’ performance from the two crews who were eliminated, but this time around it was a sucker punch to the stomach.  You wanted to see all 10 crews compete and each week 1 of them goes home?  Nope!  I can understand the reasoning for such an act, I just didn’t like it.  Collizion or Funkdation could have very easily been given a pass, though same with Irratik because they did have that fierce attitude and showed us some more of their creativity.  No matter who was going home tonight, I was going to be upset over it.  Just so much talent this time around, shame to see the international crews still receive no love from the voters.  It is the second double elimination, and both times a crew from the South held it down and stayed in the game.
This is how I ranked the crews last week:
1.  Fanny Pak (Fanny Pak!)
2.  Mos Wanted Crew (Slow build up, but great payout!)
3.  Collizion Crew (Fun surprise!)
4.  Irratik (That dubstep section was tiiiiight~)
5.  8 Flavahz (Oh girl, what’s yo flavah?)
6.  Funkdation (Brought da funk)
7.  Rated Next Generation (Swaggertastic)
8.  Mix’d Elements (Fun performance, just felt like they lost their energy near the end and held back too much)
9.  Elektrolytes (Didn’t keep me fully charged, I still thought it was pretty good)
10.  Stepboys (Uhhm…I didn’t find it funny, still some great stunts)

    I had Fanny Pa at top, but Mos Wanted Crew was in close second, as you can see.  In truth, I enjoyed every performance the first two weeks…save for Stepboys, but I am still trying to not write them off.  But here is how I would rank the performances for Madonna week.

1.  8 Flavahz (WERK!)
2.  Elektrolytes (Exploded on stage)
3.  Funkdation (Fun fun fun)
4.  Collizion Crew (Nailed the theme and delivered)
5.  Fanny Pak (Keepin’ it stylin’ and fierce)
6.  Mos Wanted Crew (Totally saved the world)
7.  Rated Next Generation (Thrashed without getting too wild)
8.  Irratik (Conquered the theme and came with attitude and precision)
9.  Stepboys (Some fun choreo, but overall no thank you)

    The funny thing about this list is basically crews 3 through 8 could be jumbled around in any manner and I would absolutely agree.  It was really difficult for me to narrow it down, but after watching these routines again and again this is how I feel about them.  I think.  They were great, but I felt that 8F delivered and Elektrolytes tore that stage apart first and foremost.  Irratik is low, yet still I watch their performance and can’t help but groove a bit to it.  Most surprisingly is that RNG is still held back on my list, but that is probably going to change soon.

    I think Stepboys are going to be in the bottom 2, who are they with?  Well, I am going to say either Collizion or RNG, maybe Fanny Pak even if people didn’t click with their routine as much as it seems they didn’t (at least on the sites I visit).  This is going to be tough regardless, because these crews are pretty strong in my opinion, all except for Stepboys.  But you know what?  When I look back to Ringmasters and Street Kingdom, even if I didn’t enjoy their performances, they both sent people home on the second week where the viewer’s votes mattered.  Maybe Stepboys will shock and awe me, but as of right now I’m anticipating a fart joke, so I /will/ hold my breath for the time being.

    Next up is Drake?  He’s a nice enough guy, I think, but we need to bring in some heavy hitters.  Madonna is an icon, but these music selections were pretty rough.  They should have stuck to her older jams if you ask me, but hey the season is still young and I can’t wait to see what the crews are going to come up with.

Thanks for readin’

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