Friday, June 8, 2012

Byeynyn's review - ABDC David Guetta Challenge

For this week, David Guetta (who?) provides them with their tasks. The three crews have to glide to “Without You” featuring Usher, perform doll-like movements to “Turn Me On” featuring Nicki Minaj, and incorporate gloving to “Memories” featuring Kid Cudi. It’s actually pretty clever to have David Guetta as the superstar this week, since it basically means the songs of three different artists. In summary- act smooth, act crazy, and wear gloves.

Mos Wanted Crew- Last week, JC wasn’t impressed by pasty skinny legs, so MWC has to rethink their overall strategy. They open their mystery box and find sneakers, gloves, and a creepy Nicki Minaj doll. It’s like having a second Christmas, except with worse presents. Lando talks about taking the crew’s gliding to the next level. They’re approaching the glides from multiple directions, and they want to ensure they’re all on point. They want to win.

They’re in black outfits with orange highlights, with numbered jerseys and no sleeves. They’ve also got white gloves on, so they’re almost like Mickey Mouse. They start out with their Usher section, and they act soulful while incorporating a fair amount of waving in their choreography here. Ian does the actual gliding in the front, while the rest shuffle across the stage behind him, a few of them on their knees. I still don’t get the show’s fixation with promoting Ian. He looks sleepy most of the time. Jawn gets a brief solo. They switch to Nicki Minaj’s section, using the lights on their thumbs as pretend eyes. They all freeze in various marionette poses briefly, and continue with their typical but faster paced choreography, adding a lot of popping. Bam spins around (the landing looks rough) as the music seamlessly changes to “Memories.” Lando’s footwork solo looks as if various cowboys were shooting guns at his feet. They go into their gloving light illusions, shaping fireballs with their hands, making a human outline of Bam, and spelling out MOS in the end before dispersing it to the ground.

JC says Mos Wanted Crew showed him something very special that performance. He praises their musicality and manipulation of movements. He replays their gliding and compliments the levels. He says it was a great performance. D-Trix says that was the best choreography from any crew of any season. He likes how they show emotion as well, and thinks they are worthy of being the winners. Lil Mama says this was their best performance, replays the section where they form the outline of Jun with the lights, and says they did their thing tonight. I think they definitely tackled the routine with a greater sense of urgency and intelligence, capturing three different spirits of the three different songs. It wasn’t their sharpest routine, but it was a great demonstration of the different dance styles they can do. This is their first routine since the beginning that they weren’t assured of safety when they performed, so I’m curious how much that affected their mindset. All crews do need that sense of desperation at some point.
8 Flavahz- They were saved last week over RNG and now theoretically monopolize the kid votes. They focus on gloving, which is an underground dance style that uses LED lights. Tamara has a laundry list of problems that are occurring with the gloves, size being one of them. Did Mr. David Guetta not send child-sized gloves? Tsk tsk. Tiara is glad to be back after missing last week, and this crew also wants to be back on top.

They’re dressed in shiny purple shirts and fluorescent pants. They use the finger lights to spell “8,” later on also using those lights to form and a circle and a straight line. They have a bit of tutting. Generally, they use a lot of bigger arm movements in this section. They throw away their gloves as three members leap across the stage as the Usher music kicks in. Stupid gloves! The same three do cartwheels off their elbows while the other five do butterfly kicks. It’s Jaira that does the foot gliding, while two girls in the front glide on their knees, sort of. The rest of them do ballet spins. Jaira gets to do some more pirouettes on her own. As they transition into their next section, they keep on making doll faces, although they look a lot like duck faces. Their choreography here is more feminine as well. Three of them do back handsprings from sitting/crouching positions. The group does some quick waacking, and Tiara lifts Charlize in splits and flips her onto the ground. More duck faces for everyone.

D-Trix opens with “What the hell was that?!” He swears and says he pissed himself. Is D-Trix twelve? He says he was literally blown away (literally, D-Trix? I wish!) by the lyrical Usher section. He replays Jaira’s mad spinning and says it was absolutely amazing. Lil Mama says they danced (as opposed to… singing?) She replays their back handsprings and Charlize’s splits. She says 8 Flavahz has what it takes to be America’s Best Dance Crew. JC says what they did in that routine was smart, taking advantage of their unique skills, particularly their use of technique and femininity. I agree with JC for the most part. I generally believe crews are selected on this show more for their uniqueness than their overall dancing abilities. Using that specialness is a solid tactical decision, provided it doesn’t become alienating (e.g. Ringmasters). I still suspect a good chunk of votes go to them because of cuteness (but in fairness, the same also applies to Mos Wanted Ian) but unlike Iconic Boyz, it’s inarguable that this crew can dance certain things that the others crews can’t.
Elektrolytes- They had their best performance last week, so they need to take advantage of the momentum. They’re excited about the gloving with the lights, since they’re happy about anything that resembles electricity, including shamelessly promoting a camera phone. They focus on the doll dancing, claiming it’s something they never expected to do on ABDC. Joey confesses that he used to play with dolls. Hilarity ensues. Elektrolytes also really want to win and are willing to do anything to get there (including murder?)

They’ve got olive jackets and black pants. They begin by doing their pointing pose as their name is shouted. Their first section is their Nicki Minaj marionette section. Two of them do butterfly twists while one does a butterfly kick over another guy. Ben sticks his legs over his arms (similar to Quest member Victor’s crabwalk in “Toxic”) and does push-ups. That would be quite the creepy doll, Baby Crab Legs McGee. Two guys grab onto him as support as they flip. They go into their gloving. One guy pretends to rave, they form a relay of fingers while standing in horizontal line, and some guy busts out nunchuks with lights. His father probably owns a rave studio as well. They do a quick Pac-Man (the video game, not the Chbeeb) tribute where they form mouths eating the dots, and then they go into their Usher. One guy does backspins. They have Sal flip off another member’s dangling chest. One guy glides around on his knees. All three crews have had different song orders; it’s interesting to see all three of them have different show-stopping numbers. They finish by having the group setting up a person to finish with a side flip.

Lil Mama says they were “schlepped on” and replays the flip off the chest. She likes their gloving section. She says they deserve to be winners. JC said he had chills at the end of that performance. JC says there are two ways to grab an audience (yeah, the left hand and the right hand). He says one way is to make them feel part of the crew, and the other way is to blow their minds. He says they blew people’s minds with a barrage of energy and tricks. D-Trix thinks they want to win more than the other two crews, and thanks them for bringing the moments. Most importantly, he thanks them for bringing heart. How mushy. I also enjoyed the performance, and think this episode has been one of the best Top Threes of all time. In this routine, the Elektrolytes seemed more into their own personal style and less into the different musical tones. They were the weakest of the three when it came to doing the specific challenges, since they sacrificed that time for creating bigger wow moments. Their gloving was solid though (I appreciate a good Pac-Man reference) and their stunts were interesting.
Group Performance- Mario delays the voting results to announce another group performance. Sneaky, sneaky. The three crews perform together to “Titanium” featuring Sia. The word “featuring” is an understatement here because Sia is doing all of the singing. The routine starts out with a crazy amount of fog and some people are wearing winter clothes, so evidently they’re dancing on the planet Hoth. It’s a good performance by all the crews, and I’m really digging the song, but it’s far from super memorable. They’ve clearly got other things to worry about.
Battle- 8 Flavahz is revealed to have been saved by the voters, so the men will duke it out in the bottom. The winner of this battle will receive an additional advantage in having danced a minute longer than the saved crew. Mos Wanted Crew, dressed like they’re ready to play basketball, is using Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” while Elektrolytes, wearing their vomit yellow shirts from the group number, are using “Feel So Close” by Calvin Harris. Random justifications aside, neither of these songs are very battle-appropriate, unless the battle mentality you’re trying to convey is how much you love the other crew. (It looks like 8 Flavahz would have used “Take Over Control” by Afrojack ft. Eva Simons, a marginally better song choice.)

MWC starts the battle. They do a lot of group popping, and Ian throws in a bone-breaking move. Their musicality is stellar, but it does not fit the tone of the song. I’m all for unconventional song choices, but MOS did know they were using a sad-face post-breakup song as their BATTLE SONG, right? Brian does a footwork thing I can’t capture, and Lando walks on his hands. They do some more isolations and JP gets in some krumping before the air horn blows. Elektrolytes open with some flips, pretend to fire finger guns, and someone does a handstand freeze. Their song is kind of way too peppy, but I can at least buy the inspirational angle. Both song choices are still awkward. It would be like playing dubstep at a funeral. One guy locks and gives MWC the thumbs down. They finish by throwing a guy into a front flip.

Round two! Jawn solos and MWC trashes Elektrolytes by mocking their pose. Jun does a butterfly kick, and they throw their hats at the other crew. Bam does a flare and a baby freeze as two members dive over him. The crew pretends to do a flip as a group, mockingly, and Ricky finishes with a one-handed pike handstand. Elektrolytes responds by starting with three different flips in succession (front handspring, gainer, flag handstand). Ben gets a quick solo. The group does an intricate section I believe is meant to mock MWC’s “In The Ayer” isolations section. One member busts out nunchuks, which I didn’t even know was legal. Bringing actual weapons to a dance battle?! Crazy! Over at MWC, Brian takes off his shoes to mock the nun-chuks. (Did he know that was coming? Almost seems pre-planned.)

Round three! Both crews at once! And to the District 78 remix of “Wanna Get Hype” as well! Wow, this is not easy to follow visually. Both crews start out with more precise, intricate maneuvers, and both start throwing tricks in the end. Both of them have a similar sense of musicality here in the way they punctuate their bigger moments to the music beats at roughly the exact same instances. Neither crew really gets the edge this round; I think both crews wisely used their better moves in the earlier stages when they had the audience’s full attention. Overall, it’s still pretty evenly matched between both groups, and much like the battle between Mix’d Elements and Funkdation, it’s almost a coin flip to guess who the judges thought did better.

D-Trix says he truly believes Mos Wanted Crew is the most memorable crew on this season. He thanks MWC for bringing back great choreography and says that’s what the show needs. He calls them “beat killers.” How violent! I was going to use those beats for later. JC observes how Elektrolytes began their battle rounds by attacking with their entire crew. He says they went big tonight. He absolutely thinks the Elektrolytes caught everyone’s attention tonight. Lil Mama says they both went off and came prepared. I let out a giant “DUHHHHH.” Lil Mama adds that for this season, MWC started super strong but slipped but then got back up. Lil Mama says Elektrolytes made her forget that they were from Gilbert, Arizona. Wow, Lil Mama gave two backhanded compliments in one turn! Impressive. She says it’s about real dance, and that’s what the people want.
Elimination- The judges save Elektrolytes over MWC. Whoa. I did not see that coming. I guess teachers never get any respect. Mario praises the crew. Lando calls this an amazing experience, and says as teachers, they like to see things grow. It’s a great thing he’s the one talking, because not only do I respect him a lot, but also because some of the other members are far too weepy to be coherent. They get their sad journey montage and, much like Fanny Pak, do a synchronized bow for their Walk It Out. MWC joins Hype 5-0 in being the only crews to hit the bottom for the first time and then get eliminated in the Top 3 episode.

I’m still trying to think of the ramifications of the judges’ decision, giving the boot to a crew of clearly established dancers in the hip hop community. It’s shocking, but this decision isn’t unprecedented on this show, nor would I ultimately consider it a travesty like some people might. The judges operate on a fairly simple “Which performance did I like more?” basis. Highly regarded dance instructors are no exception to that process. If the show does not continue in the future, this elimination decision would hardly be the nail in the coffin. MWC didn’t lose to a batch of puppies. They lost to a different bunch of dancers. They were one of the many crews that didn’t win in what was clearly, and always has been, a popularity contest.
As someone on the internet has pointed out, this will be the first season where the winning crew will have no Asians and at least two African-Americans. The winning crew will also represent a new state! Hooray! That would make four in total! Next week is the finale when previous champions will return. The two crews, 8 Flavahz and Elektrolytes, will dance to the music of Katy Perry. Who will win? Heck if I know! I lost all my fictitious poker chips betting on a Fanny Pak and MWC finale back in Week 2! I’m still betting on that possibility! Tune in next week to see if I’m right!

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