Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ninjaboi's Better Late Than Never JLo Review

Grading Scale
For those unfamiliar with my rankings, I judge each crew based off of 5 factors that comprise each routine on ABDC, and give some sort of indication how well the crew is doing in the show. Each is out of 10 points, for a total of 50. For me a 7 is "standard" level of what a crew on ABDC should have, so a 35 would be an average total score. Major mistakes will usually cost the crew 1 point in a section.
Choreography - How difficult was their choreography? How well executed? How much foundation? How intricate? How agile? How in sych musically? How creative? The more styles incorporated the better.
Wow Moment - How creative/difficult were their "moments" on stage? Did they overuse wow moments, thus decreasing the value of each one? Did they build up to each moment and frame it well? Did it fit in with the rest of their composition, or did they do a wow moment for the sake of having one? Not necessarily always stunts. 
Showmanship - Any factor that really improves upon the performance. This includes appropriate energy level, transitions (working vs walking), blocking, levels, storytelling/conceptual aspect, composition of the piece, use of stage (clumped vs filling), etc. 
Challenge - Each week each crew is given (a) challenge(s). A crew will get a 7 if they simply implement the challenge into the routine, simple as that, provided they don't mess up. Crews get higher than 7 if they "embrace the nature of the challenge), either by shaping the routine around the routine, or by taking it to the next level, or both. Mind you, a crew that does only the challenge for the whole routine is letting the challenge rule them, rather than them ruling the challenge.
Improvement - A 7 means that they performed at the same level as last week. As ABDC tends to favor crews that do better from week to week, upping your level each week is important. 

Also note that there are various modifiers to these scores. Crews with a second challenge receive an extra half point. Crews with a prop challenge, due to their inherently more difficult level of challenge, get another half point. I also have my own individual biases, which result in point deductions. For this week, Mos Wanted Crew receives a -1 modifier since I've known about these guys and followed their craft since before ABDC, and Collizion gets a -.5 modifier since I hail from the South and really enjoy their southern swag.

One more note - since all crews had 2 challenges, I will be judging each challenge separately, and using the average of that as the Challenge score

8 Flavahz
Choreography - 8 - As always, 8F came with strong technique, doing partnerwork , lifts, drags, all with good execution. 
Wow - 8 - The handstand was pretty clever, even if it was more chacha than salsa. Also the lifts at the beginning when they were swinging around were excellent. I will say that this is the second week in the row where they tried to do a carry (last week when Angel jumped off the mountain), and it didn't look so clean. Maybe it's the fact that they're young girls and the same size, but I would recommend doing wow moments that you can execute properly. In addition, blocking when there's one person in front can be tricky, as they use it as a distraction, but in bright yellow dresses, it didn't work since the background moving yellow still catches your eye.
Showmanship - 7 - Not as great as last week. While they had great energy, I didn't like they way they blocked it at all. Maybe working with 7 people is something they're not used to, but regardless, having 6 in the back and 1 in front usually isn't a good idea, again especially when the colors of your costumes will run togehter and make it difficult to see what the person in front is doing. The pickup of the trumpets was messy, as was the putting down, being essentially running across stage. Other than that, they did use levels cleverly. 
Challenge - 6 -(6&6) - So I asked my friend who competes at a collegiate level how much salsa 8F were doing in this routine. His answer: Pretty much none. Watching closely, the steps they're taking are more cha-cha than salsa, as any Filipino who's been to a wedding would know. While it may be a good illusion of salsa, it it technically not salsa, just as Elektrolyte's attempt at krump really wasn't krump. However, I do recognize the hispanic flavor (no pun intended) they put into the routine, so instead of a 5, I give them a 6 for that challenge. Secondly, the trumpets just weren't used well at all. They more or less held them while doing some cha cha steps and then put them back down. Not really much of a use of trumpets... 
Improvement - 8 - Compared to last week's technically questionable routine, they came hard with technique, if not completing the challenge well per se. 
Total -  37 + .5 (2nd challenge) + .5 (prop - trumpets) = 38

Mos Wanted Crew

Choreography - 8 - First, this week there was a lot less of typical MWC choreography. Given that a majority of their choreography, the two challenges this week played directly against their strength. I would estimate that out of the 60 second routine, a good 20 seconds or more were taken out of their typical choreography to comply with the challenge. Of the rest of the routine, however, I will say that the foundation and muscle control, as ever, was there. I think the reason most people didn't like this routine as much is that MWC's choreography builds up and up. By interrupting it with challenges, you take away from the impact. I will say I enjoyed finding the parts of their choreography that matched the lyrics (break a sweat, go to the floor). Also, did anyone notice how the X of washcloths match the X of their wrists in the MWC handsign? In addition, the range of styles included some bboy, house, and urban newstyle, which they switched between pretty smoothly.
Wow - 7 - I would give them a higher score here actually, but I don't want to double count the moments that they used to fulfill their challenge into this section. That said, some non on the floor moments include Lando's house solo, playing with the concept of a dubstep drop by having Brian do a kneedrop and going to the floor, and the obligatory Rickey btwist. My favorite part was the gliding section when they're on all fours - since the primary sound of the song is JLo's lyrics, they would speed up the gliding when she was singing, and then slow down when she breathed, then speed up again for the trill. Excellent. 
Showmanship - 8 - They used the stage well, had awesome sauce transitions as always between sections of choreography, and a good mixup of blocking formations. I do wish that they would add more to their conceptual aspect of the routine, ie why the mechanics? Didn't quite make sense to me.
Challenge - 7 -(8&6) - So the first challenge, the floor part, actually happened quite a bit. There's the obvious part when they're planking/walking as if a 2D character via the overhead camera, and that's actually extremely difficult to do. They could have phoned it in and just gone close to the floor like they did later, but they chose an extremely difficult way to do it, and executed it well, even being extra musical and paying attention to the lyrics (Stopping on the word stop, and then restarting). They also had teh section close to the ground when Jawn was in front, and the aforementioned gliding section, followed by some backwork action. A well deserved 8. Now, as far as the teaching challnege (which is the most idiotic challenge since it forces  you to dumb down how you approach the challenge), I give them a +1 bias factor since other humans are like props, only more uncontrollable. At least with a cane or a trumpet you can theorhetically master how you move it. With humans, you can't really. I would give them a 7, but I'll take 1 point off since this is the section where Rickey goofed up.
Improvement - 7 - Not their best routine, but given the challenges they had, they didn't give a bad one either. It's not like they crashed or tangled up jump ropes.
Total - 37 +.5 (2nd challenge) + 1 (unreliable human prop) -1 (bias) = 37.5

Choreography - 6 - What choreography. Seriously. I'm watching this on repeat and I'm hard pressed to find a solid 8 count of choerography that doesn't involve posing while someone does a trick, or some sort of transition between formations where they pose, or theatrics. Maybe one before the fight scene, but it's not that impressive...
Wow - 7 - No one's denying that they can do tricks. It's just that they overuse them somewhat, and now we're starting to see a lot of repeated tricks. Flipping off a bench. Flipping over someone (though mansplits deserve cred). Flipping off a bench again. Doing a random back handspring across the front of the stage. Even the fightscene wasn't that impressive, given what we've seen happen on the show. I will say I did enjoy the pirouette out of the mob, that was pretty cool.
Showmanship - 8 - I'll give them props for incorporating that story into their routine (though to be honest I didn't catch the kleptomania or the undercover cop badge until like my dozenth watch through, so I was lost for a bit). They also did mix up their formations... sort of. The one formation they always do in the dubstep section came back again, albeit a bit more spaced out. 
Challenge - 7 -(9&5) - I loved the subway challenge and how they executed it.  Making a subway would be simple, but they took the challenge and really incorporated it into the rest of their routine with their concept. They even made the subway shaky and bouncy, which they easily could have just passed on. Major props. Score of 9. Now as for the canes... First for a long prop, the lines when you're using them must be precise when pointing with them, which they were not. And then to simply hold them while dancing isn't exactly using the cane. And then to drop it on top of that... even if I do give him props for recovering and keeping on going, I can't say that I can give them more than a 6 for subpar use of the canes, -1 for dropping it to give them a score of 5.
Improvement - 7 - The sad part about Elektrolytes is that I see that they're good guys with a lot of heart, but when you improve one section of the routine (adding a concept) at the expense of another (spamming flips instead of improving choreography technique and foundation), I can't really say they improved.
Total - 35 +.5 (2nd challenge) + .5 (prop) = 36 

Now comes the bottom 2... or rather bottom 3. I find this hella shady to do this all of a sudden, but whatever.

Collizion Crew
Choreography - 8 - If you're wondering why the heck I'm giving them so high on this, consider that they showed multiple styles (newstyle, bboy, popping, locking) all in a single routine, all with strong foundation, and excellent technique and execution. That was raw hip hop right there. Maybe not freestyled, but as much as it can be on ABDC, from a crew that does not specialize in these styles, they brought it as it really were from the Bronx. Even small things, like a mini soul train (a locking element), a cypher (a bboy element), they really 
Wow - 8 - That kneeglide alone warrants an above average score.Seriously. How is that even possible. Not only the difficulty of actually doing it, but the way they built up to it and framed it with the ticking popping in the background. 
Showmanship - 7 - They used the stage well, and had good blockings and some level use. Conceptually they could have added another level, leaving it a bit bland, but it was still a solid routine. Even the facials matched up with those of old school lockers, as did their wardrobe choice.
Challenge - 8 -(9&7) - I pretty much said it all up there in the choerography section when it comes to the choreography section. From Zulu spins to uprock, to toprock, to boogaloo, to locking sets, to both waving style popping and isolation style popping, they pretty much had all the oldschool hip hop and funkstyle elements in there. Now for their other grooves that they were taught, they put them in. Maybe not as the focus, but I didn't see any problems with the execution. 
Improvement - 7 - Again, a solid routine. It was a bit bland as far as standing out, and that's probably the reason they went home.
Total - 38 +.5 (2nd challenge) - .5 (bias) = 38

Choreography - 9 - As far as urban newstyle goes, RNG was on top of the game this episode. The lines, the bounce, the synchrosity between them, and their ability to switch between a more groove based choreography to more isolation was unmatched. Well done. 
Wow - 7 - Again, they are able to deliver well wtihout any major stunts. As far as a "moment" in their routine, two stand out. One is the setup for the worm, where they go from an upright position and sort of do a barrel roll and end up on the floor. Another would be at the start, but when they're coming up, the way that they don't lose their place while taking huge steps and spinning around is actually pretty impressive.
Showmanship - 7 - I liked their energy here. Spacing wise, I think I figured out their problem. As they have mostly girls with long hair, and the more they move around, they  hair makes the space between them seem smaller, so they seem too clumped together when the hair of one girl blocks someone else. Other than that, they had good formations and moved around the stage, if as a single unit mostly. I liked the transition between 3 and 4 lines, to a V formation, didn't see it happen until I rewatched it.
Challenge - 8 -(8&8) - I definitely had flashbacks to the goofy days of my childhood, and got that wacky, zany Fresh Prince vibe when watching them, even if they made it their own. They not only did the moves given them (the Kid n Play and Roger Rabbit), but also several more, like the worm, the cabbage patch, the humpty dumpty, the running man, the reebok, the robocop, and even a bit of the snake at the end. As for the wop, which was their second cahllenge they actually didn't just stick it in, but used it as a clever way to move side to side across the stage, making sure they filled it up. 
Improvement - 7 - Like Elektrolytes, RNG focus on different elements of their routine each week at the cost of others (for example, the challenge this week isntead of adding another layer). That said, they always make sure to keep their choreography at a high level. I would say this is a breakout week for RNG, which is helpful for them.
Total - 38 +.5 (2nd challenge) = 38.5

Fanny Pak
Choreography - 9 - If RNG came hard with urban choreo, Fanny def came hard, but in a differenty, more contemp/conceptual style. One thing that a lot of people didn't really get I think is the musicality of the piece. When Matt takes off his pants, there's a definite tempo shift. If the first half was more mechanical, the second was more "bouncy." The first half's choreogrpahy definitely was more robotic and everyone did the same thing. However when the second half came around, different people started doing different things, and they have a more bouncy house/contemp style. This ties into their challenge and concept later, but I'll talk about it more then. As far as execution and technique, I have no question about their ability to do house justice, or contemp. They also matched the lyrics, tossing and turning when those words come up. Even the JLo sort of goes "wooooah," they do syncronized spins to celebrate being individual.
Wow - 7 - Again, Fanny doesn't really need this. But Cara's toss in the back was framed particularly well. Also, that opening was goosebump raising - it seemed like something you'd expect more from a large megacrew like at WOD, but they pulled it off with fewer people
Showmanship - 9 - So I'm going to make my second Ayn Rand reference in as many weeks, but this week's routine reminded me a lot of "The Anthem." Basically it's the story of a society where there is no individuality and the only pronoun that exists in "we." However, one person happens upon the concept of being your own person, and causes a chain re action where individuality wins out and everyone is their own. In going with their costume change here, they went from drab, gray, boring, homogenous costumes to brightly colored, very eclectic costumes. As I've noted above, the turning point when Matt gets enlighted and lifted into a higher state of being is the turning point when this all happens. Even the way they dance (robots vs house) matches this. That's probably the deepest message we've ever had in a routine on this show that I can remember. Straight up Cirque du Soleil. Even the other factors of levels, blocking, highlighting someone, energy matching the music, transitions were all on point. The only thing holding this back is the weak ending where the routine just sort of ended without any closure.
Challenge - 8 -(8&8) - I've talked enough about the clothes changing challenge, but only because it is so prevalent. Now there is the question of whether simply taking off one layer of clothes counts as changing costumes, and to err on the side of caution, I'll give them an 8 rather than the 9 I was going to give them. As for the lift, again I've talked about how it was done well, but also how it was integrated into the theme of their routine very well.
Improvement - 7 - If Fanny could nail the endings, I think they would definitely be stepping up. As it is, even if thematically this was lightyears ahead of what others have done, I think technique wise it's about the same to previous weeks of theirs
Total - 40 +.5 (2nd challenge) + .5 (prop (clothes)) = 41

So given the scores of the bottom 3, Collizion does go home, if by a hair. 

Overall Rankings
For tonight, based on raw scores
40 - Fanny Pak
38 - RNG and Collizion
37 - 8 Flavahz and Mos Wanted Crew
35 - Elektroltyes

For tonight, based on modified scores
41 - Fanny Pak
38.5 - RNG
38 - 8 Flavahz and Collizion
37.5 - Mos Wanted Crew
36 - Elektrolytes

For the entire season, based on cumulative scores
151 +/- 2 - Fanny Pak
149.5 +/- 4 - Mos Wanted Crew
144 +/- 2 - 8 Flavahz
143.5 +/- 1.5 - RNG
142 +/- 2 - Collizion
134.5 +/- 1.5 - Elektroltyes

Power Ranking
1) 8 Flavahz - Considering that they have the highest video viewcounts on MTV's site, consistently give excellent performances, have a compelling back story with Angel's situation that makes it almost taboo to hate them, it will take a very very major screwup for them to lose their shot at winning.

2) RNG - While they are in the middle of the pack when it comes to views on MTV's site, consider that crews with their breakout performance on the top 6 episode (Poreotics Dancing Machine, IaMmE S&M), have gone on to win, if RNG can continually add that extra element to give more depth to their routines, and space out more, it is very possible to see them in the top 2.

3) MWC - Now, no one is suggesting that the MDubArmy as they call themselves is waning in support. With the largest online support twitter and facebook wise, they have the voting bloc to keep them afloat. And they haven't techincally given a bad routine yet. I think the problem is that they have yet to have that breakout performance midseason that is crucial to keep the momentum going. They need that soon or the MDA's claim that they won when they entered the season may prove to be false.

4) FP - I don't get it, but the viewcounts on their videos and the amount of hate online isn't working for them, being the lowest and highest among all the crews respectively.    Either their routines are just above everyone's head conceptually, but people aren't "getting" them. 

5) Elek - I don't know how they're getting they're avoiding the bottom, given how they have some of the lower video views this season, as well as on a quantitative scale, the least impressive routines consistently. 

Anyway, looking to the next episode (ie next week), we can expect... Pitbull and Iconic Boys... oh boy.

Till Next week, and hopefully wtih a sooner review
-Ninjaboi Out