Friday, May 25, 2012

Byeynyn's review: ABDC's Rihanna Challenge

Rated Next Generation- RNG’s performance from last week was enough to propel themselves out of the bottom two. Their song is “You da One.” Their prop challenge is to incorporate bowler hats and make a cool trick with them. They’re shown having a hard time holding onto the tiny brims of the hat, and they’re doing pushups as an incentive not to screw up. The crew’s also worrying about balancing dancing and homework. I guess appearing on TV doesn’t count as an excuse to not do homework.

With the bowler hats, they’re dressed in a jazzy style, similar to a Bob Fosse musical, although Jennique has a red dress on. She does a housing/jazz shuffle to the side as Bailey steps out to woo her. Their romantic storytelling here is appropriate to the song, though by doing a romance, they automatically limit it to Bailey and someone else. The routines have had a disproportionate amount of Bailey. Might as well rename the crew “Bailey and the Next Generation.” While they’re in the center, the other five are spread out on stage playing around with their hats. It’s fairly easy to miss. The group goes into some body rolls. Jennique gets a chance to do a popping solo, and Bailey gets a solo as well. The five back-up dancers bunch up to make a formation using their bowler hats. It is a lot like something IaMmE would do, except without the wub-wub noises. They all group up and lean back, doing neck isos. As the couple glide across the stage, Bailey picks up the boutonniere flowers from the others, handing them to Jennique at the end. Cute.

D-Trix says this was their best performance so far and also mentions something about poo. He says the hat trick reminded him of IaMmE, and he likes RNG’s intricacies. Lil Mama calls them gangsta. She likes how their opening was a clever use of the stage. She also likes their grooving. JC says the transitions and partnering was nice, but thinks it started slow (audience boos). He liked the routine but it wasn’t his favorite from them. I do appreciate how this was RNG’s best story-telling effort, and really liked how they allowed some more time for some members to have solos, especially Jennique’s, but I pretty much agree with JC’s criticism. Maybe I’m used to seeing them move lightning-fast after the two previous performances, but this routine generally felt slower and not nearly as energetic by comparison. Last week’s “1000 Hands” dance had many big motions coupled with intricate ones. This one felt a little short on the big movements. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn’t as good as last week’s.
8 Flavahz- Both kid crews are saved first and are safely in the Top 4. 8 Flavahz gets “Birthday Cake,” which is a much raunchier song than the innocent title suggests. They think it’s ironic they get that song right after celebrating Angel’s b-day (which is not really irony but coincidence.) Their task is to create a fire effect and extinguish it. Seems like a terrible challenge to give to CHILDREN. Especially children with BIG HAIR. ABDC, what are you thinking?!

The youngest girl, Charlize, is dressed like Alice in Wonderland. The other seven, wearing an awful stripes/plaid combo, were likely dressed by the Mad Hatter. Their cake is basically a covered table, which is a shame because a gigantic baked cake would have been awesome and delicious. Tiara and Tamara (Sister, Sister!) jump off the cake and hold hands while doing aerials. There are some moments where they do bits of choreo I feel I’ve seen in earlier routines. There are other moments where they try to add griminess, and it looks unnatural and forced. The 2-4-2 tutting section using the cake for levels is pretty creative though. Tamara does swipes on top of the cake. Four girls in the back hold the giant fire sparkler candles, but don’t dare move them around at all. They really couldn’t do much for that fire challenge, unless they were willing to sign a hundred liability waivers. In the end, the four girls in the front yell, “Stop, drop, roll!” Cute.

JC thought the routine was really fun, but admits to being weirded out when the young crew got too grimy. The audience boos for reasons I can only assume are gross. JC points out not to get repetitive with the front walkovers and handsprings. He thinks they can do better. D-Trix loved the routine, though he agrees about the trick repetitions. He calls Charlize a star. He loves how they have four candles, representing the average age of the crew (his words, not mine). Lil Mama thinks they are on fire. She loves how they are performers that sell every performance, though she agrees with JC that it wasn’t their best. Lil Mama has the weird ability to express the same opinion as JC but ramble it in a way so that she doesn’t get booed. I personally think this was their weakest performance so far. They struggled to add musicality, although it was mostly due to a terrible song choice. Usually they’re able to get into the vibe of the song they’re given, but it just didn’t work out here. They still have several areas they really need to work on (mainly strengthening choreo and not repeating tricks) but I feel half the blame for this routine goes to whoever decided on the song and challenge.
Mos Wanted Crew- Their song is “Cockiness,” which I doubt is coincidence. All they really have to do is act as they normally would. They have to wear jackets, and because the theme is about being cocky, they decide to use trench coats. Okay, but what’s their CHALLENGE? They mention how tough it is to demonstrate their intricate moves through the jackets, but I’m not convinced it’s that hard relative to the other props. At least they don’t have to wear frilly dresses. Jawn drills them hard during rehearsals so they don’t mess up and accidentally bump man-bags. Being dance teachers, they go and visit their students for motivation and probably a reminder to those kids to vote.

They’re in business suits, and they’ve got trench coats with orange highlights, but they look more like Quidditch players. After a long uninterrupted section of group choreo, Lando does a roundhouse kick on his way to the front. Some of the members place the coats underneath others and drag them across stage. It frames into Ricky doing a spinning handstand freeze leading into a pike, which is MWC’s best trick thus far this season.  At one point in their choreo, they all gesture towards their crotches, fitting the overall theme of “cockiness,” if you know what I mean. And I’m sure you do. Four of them open their coats and make their heads slide across the top, matching the beats of the song. They have another illusion where Brian pretends to be Jun’s arms from right behind him. You may have seen something similar on Whose Line Is It Anyways. JP, during his solo, sucks… his… thumb? In the end, they all take their business coats off and throw it at the front.

Lil Mama says they were cocky and confident. She says they dressed like gentlemen but still came hardcore. She says it was tasteful. Lil Mama has yet to consider ANYTHING as too tacky or tasteless. JC says the performance woke him up and is so glad they performed tonight. He says the jacket work was flawless, and says the performance was great. D-Trix thinks they stole the show. He likes JP’s bone-breaking solo and grinding of the air. He likes that they are there to win. It’s good to see them performing at fuller capacity after last week’s major missteps. It does seem like they’re going to have the easiest path into the finale, but they need more performances like this rather than like the previous few weeks to justify it. No more dicking around.
Elektrolytes- Voted into the bottom two for the first time, their song is “Where Have You Been” and they have to incorporate a microphone stand. The group is trying to combine their in-your-face style with the smoothness that usually comes with a classic mic stand. They bust out a secret playbook, naturally with magic glowing effects, that lists a bunch of useable stunts and tricks (“The Uncle Buck,” “The Randy Jackson,” “Spare Change”). Those names sound promising, although doing a “Randy Jackson” on stage sounds terrible and bloated. They want to use some of the good moves. I kind of half-expect a storyline where they end up losing their secret playbook but realize the power was inside them all along.

They’ve got blue jackets with sparkly stripes and Buddy Holly glasses. The mic and their costumes represent 50’s rock, as the song is sort of a reference to the late 50’s song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” They start out doing a lot of non-gimmicky choreo, likely to compensate for last week. The members begin housing to the front as Joey glides with the mic stand. As they get into their wub-wub section and group up, one guy walks on his hands and finishes with a two-handed flag freeze. Later the guys toss one guy into the air as he spins around. While two people get to the front to do isos, they set it up so that the mic stand is held horizontally aloft for Sal to do a back tuck off of it. Marcus takes off his jacket and opens his shirt. I think this is the third time in two weeks that he’s shirtless. Unless he’s added an extra nipple, it’s still more of the same. The group runs to the side of the stage and Marcus does his best rocking power ballad impersonation while the wind whips his coat. It would have been funny if a guy behind him was pretending to make his coat flail, but I’m pretty sure I saw a guy off-stage running off with a fan. They definitely use a lot of the stage in this routine. As they get into their ending positions, the guy in front does the “Elvis Legs” pose.

Lil Mama thought the performance was clever and the framework was off the chain. She likes the flip off the mic stand and when Marcus tore open his shirt. She really enjoyed it. JC thinks they handled their prop well and liked the energy. He points out a moment where they got sloppy in the beginning, but thinks the routine was electrifying. I think their increased energy was able to carry them through most of the routine. My favorite moment was the house/glide portion, which wasn’t a stunt but was clever in fitting with the musical rhythms. In addition to tightening up their choreography, they need to keep improving on setting up and staging those flips so the effect isn’t weakened by the predictability from the set-up. They lucked out a little by being given the most up-tempo song, but they took advantage of it early on in the routine, which was smart.
Fanny Pak- They’re performing to “Talk That Talk.” They have to incorporate color guard rifle spins, which I think is the hardest of the prop challenges tonight. It’s the only prop that pretty much has its own school organization devoted to it, assuming your school does not have a Trench Coat Fan Club. They’re struggling with it. They decide to induct the four new Fanny Pak members into their super special awesome club by giving them permanent tattoos of lightning bolts. Yer a wizard, Sohey!

If a hippie mated with a soldier, the babies would be what Fanny Pak is dressed as. Holding pink rifles and making peace signs and their slogan would be, “MAKE LOVE, BUT ALSO WAR.” (They’ve dressed as soldiers already in Season 2, so heaven forbid they use similar costumes as before!) They start out with some booty-shaking. At one point when they spread out, they look like they’ve just gotten back from Woodstock, if you know what I mean. After some choreo with the rifles, they all stomp them to the ground. Gerald gets a chance to show off his stick-wielding skills by spinning the rifle around, including around his neck. Five of them toss the rifles in the air much like a color guard would, and all five of them manage to catch it. I’m thinking Fanny Pak has been the best crew on this show when it comes to using props as well as storytelling. After more group choreo, which is mostly Fanny Pak’s particular style but a tad more sexualized, most of them get on the floor and pelvic thrust the air. In the end, the group uses their bodies and the guns to form an overhead peace sign. A peace sign made from rifles. Okay, that image is ironic.

D-Trix doesn’t get why Fanny Pak is in the bottom again. He calls them three-dimensional (Lucky! Most of us only get to see two!) He also compliments their groundwork. He says they’ve done great on this show and have been true to themselves. JC considers the group a bunch of artists and likes the anti-war message. He calls the section where Cara and Natalie do their low grinding very “Rihanna-esque.” He says their theatre is great, their lines are great, and says they’ve done great this season. You can tell the judges aren’t happy that Fanny Pak has been in the bottom so often. Were it completely up to them, the results would be vastly different. It’s another crisp routine for Fanny Pak filled with artistic movements, but it’s not the kind of performance that will pull in hordes of swing voters. Fanny Pak sticking with its own style is a statement of integrity, but not necessarily a winning formula.
Elimination- Fanny Pak, still unable to overcome the backlash and escape the Bottom Two, is finally cut by the judges. They appear to be at peace with the decision, but it’s still gotta sting. Mario gives him some personal compliments, and Matt uses his final words to thank his team and the judges. They get the sad journey montage and send the audience off with a synchronized bow. There are several reasons why they didn’t get as far this time, but I suspect the biggest reason is a drastically different voting audience. The fact that they did well, even if better, on Season 2, doesn’t fully explain why they’ve struggled with the votes so early this season. Historically, nothing’s ever stopped many voters from voting for their favorite crews even after a bad performance. I speculate a large mass of voters who were present for Season 2 have tuned out at this point. It’s also likely that Fanny Pak’s unique style still hasn’t gotten through to the majority of America, and possibly never will. At the beginning of the season, I would have been shocked if Fanny Pak didn’t make it to the Top Four, yet here we are. The times, they are a-changin’.
Next week is LMFAO, and Quest Crew (who has basically been tethered to LMFAO since “Party Rock Anthem”) will show up to make an appearance. That’s a guest appearance I’m looking forward to.

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