Friday, June 1, 2012

Byeynyn's review: ABDC LMFAO Challenge

All four crews have a group performance to “Live My Life.” A lot of group performances this season. It must be fairly demanding to do three of these in a row, but this routine isn’t bad. It’s one of the more exciting group routines this season. It’s thoroughly energetic and a lot of shuffling is incorporated. The two kid crews are the ones that steal the show for this performance, setting the tone from the beginning. What’s also memorable is when the Shuffle Bots come out, composed of members of all four crews.
Mos Wanted Crew- First saved, their song is “Sexy and I Know It,” an emotionally driven song with heartfelt commentary on society’s beauty norms. Or not. It’s actually a pretty bad song choice, like most of the songs tonight. Their task is to create a catwalk with wiggle-inspired runway modeling. Stripping is also a factor, which will clearly be graded in their performance. Ryan and Hirano show up to ensure that MWC wear bright Speedos and have fun. Ian is pointed out once again for being the crew’s heartthrob, even though he’s not even that pretty and barely legal. In the opening video, MWC talks about how Top 4 is great and how they really want to win. (Spoilers: So do the other crews.)

They’re wearing loose tank-tops with mouths on them and zebra-striped pants (but not for long!) Even though the opening video does not mention it, it looks like Bam is missing. I assume either it’s either a family emergency or he suffered a graphic groin injury that the show won’t air. The crew tears off their pants to reveal shiny, sparkly shorts. Brian and Ian head to the front to lead off on the crowd-pleasing choreography. In their solos, Ricky does quick b-boying while JP thrusts. During the “I work out” lyric, they do pushups and imitate an exercise machine. The music builds up and suddenly halts as JP poses with a peace sign (aka the Asian girl’s pose) for the cameras. The crew tears off their shorts to reveal black underwear with a white handprint on the crotch. This makes three performances in a row where they all have hands over their crotches, although this time the hand isn’t theirs. They thrust their pelvises and shake their booties some more. If I could describe this routine in one word, it would be “Pandering.” If I could describe it in three words, it would be, “Pandering, pandering, pandering.” They do their group catwalk to the front of the stage, coquettishly kicking their legs out. In the end, the group members try to pull off their undies and fail, and then they gather around Jawn as he reaches into his boxers and pulls out a Speedo.

D-Trix says that was their most entertaining performance. He said they basically gave the ladies what they wanted, “Cute faces, buff upper bodies, and white-as-hell skinny ol’ thighs.” Lil Mama, unsurprisingly, compliments Ian first. She says this performance was good but not their best. She adds that they know how to be funny and still dance. JC says it wasn’t his favorite (Audience: BOOO! EVERY PERFORMANCE HAS TO BE YOUR FAVORITE, JC! BOOO!) He says they had the charisma but the routine felt slow at times, and thinks they really need to step their game up next week. While I agree it wasn’t their best, I think it’s the kind of performance they really needed. Most of their routines have this rough swagger to it, and this was their only routine where they expressed a loose, goofy side. It’s memorable but not in a bad way, and that kind of variety is essential for a crew. Sure, it wasn’t very aggressive in the way JC wanted, but with that particular song, I don’t think it needed to be. The stripping does nothing for me, though I can’t say the same for the massive teenage girl fanbase. Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle, yeah!
Elektrolytes- All the grown-ups are saved this week! Elektrolytes get “Champagne Showers.” The song may or may not be about champagne. Their task is to make robotic movements and also create a giant robot. Some of them can pop, but they’re more concerned about the giant robot. Much like when Collizion Crew decided to form a car, I suspect forming a robot is one of those tasks Elektrolytes might have prepared for beforehand. Hok and Steve show up to advise them on their robot-making skills. Robots have been formed a lot on this show, including by winners IaMmE and Jabbawockeez, so the bar’s set pretty high. You might also be shocked to know that Elektrolytes, much like MWC, really want to win this competition.

They’re wearing funky goggles and tuxedos with bright green vests. I guess they’re supposed to be robotic sommeliers. They begin by acting robotic until Marcus leaps on stage with a sliding headstand. They set up a trick which ends up looking like a wrestling maneuver. I’ll grant them this- I did not see that conclusion coming. They do more robotic choreography, and parts of their choreography here have some similarities to Poreotix’s, which is probably the desired effect. They set up another formation where four of them create what looks like the symbol for Pi (π). Hurray for math! They use a champagne bottle as a prop and uncork it right as they fling Kyle into the air when the music shouts, “Make it pop!” In the middle, Nico does a hat spin that also comes out of nowhere. In their last trick, they form their ultimate robot, which resembles a mutated totem pole. Their setups to these formations are still fairly obvious and time-consuming, but they’re doing a much better job of keeping them interesting with the smaller details (like the spins or the headstand freeze).

Lil Mama says they transform every week into a suit that fits the challenge (thanks, costume designers). She thinks that them being the underdogs has made them fight harder. JC says that performance had all the elements it takes to be America’s Best Dance Crew. Keep in mind, this is something D-Trix also said about the crew during their J. Lo subway performance, but it’s weirder to hear it from the judge who is more conservative with his praise. D-Trix says Elektrolytes might have just become one of his favorite crews from all seven seasons (he does not specify, so it could mean Elektrolytes are in his Top 50). Even though calling Elektrolytes “underdogs” seems dubious (they got 1st in USA HHI), I think they’re aware that their standing in the votes are currently the shakiest and they have to work hard to combat that. This performance felt a lot sharper than their earlier routines, and their robotic group formations were unique. I can see them making a legitimate claim for the title if they can put together another routine with a similar level of drive and equally memorable moments.
Rated Next Generation- Last week they claimed “Top Four is the best feeling ever!” so they’re probably not that bummed that they’re in the bottom this week, right? I mean, they already made Top 4, which is the best thing ever in the world. Anyhow, their song is LMFAO’s “Sorry for Party Rocking.” Lies, LMFAO’s not sorry at all, especially since they keep talking about it. Their task is to recreate the 15-second dance breakdown from the video, which featured several Quest members as well as IaMmE’s Moon. They note that it’s hard to replicate the dance because the video cuts back and forth a lot. Hmmm, sounds familiar. Don’t you hate it when clips of dance do that?! Hok and Aris (aka Quest Member #8) show up to tutor RNG on the exact moves. In addition, they also have to replicate the partnered jumping threading from the video. And Erin hates jumping! Grrr! She no likey! RNG really wants to win, and says they’ve worked too hard to go home now. 

RNG is having a party while the parents are away, as Alex discards her pink bathrobe. They’re all wearing yellow striped pants and loud spotted vests. I’ve never ever seen anyone wear that at a party. Even the Joker has better fashion sense than LMFAO. They do a lot of head-banging and guitar-playing gestures, which is more rocking than necessary. Bailey does a dolphin dive over a girl sliding underneath. There’s a section where they do isos using their right arms, but it’s not well highlighted so it’s easy to miss. There’s another clever section closer to the end where they shuffle their feet quickly as the musical beats hit, but that moment is also hard to catch. RNG has the rough habit of not letting giving their intricate moments time to breathe sometimes. (The rapid neck whips in the middle are a better instance of their more quick detailed movements being captured.) I feel like if it takes me multiple tries to notice it, I doubt Lil Mama would comprehend it on her first go. Three of them do a group tutting section, and Bailey does some waving with his hands as two pairs of girls do the partnered threading move. Their transitions and changes in formation for this routine are very impressive. As their ending trick, one girl leapfrogs over another into some half-splits.

JC says it was a good performance and liked the fact that they told a story. He said it was 80’s and very “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” That movie was more about skipping school, which is what these kids are sort of doing anyways. He admits the tutting wasn’t his favorite. He thinks the routine had the right kind of energy, but he says he has to think about it further. D-Trix calls Bailey a playa. He says the crew’s growth is amazing (they’re getting taller every day, waka waka!) He wanted to see the challenge done to new heights, but thanks the crew for growing so much this season. Lil Mama says this bottom two is very tough and doesn’t want to see either crew go home. As opposed to most weeks when she flips one crew the bird and tells them to GTFO? She says they used the stage well and says they definitely have their own style, though she thinks it wasn’t their best. I agree that it wasn’t their best (the stunts were just okay and the tutting wasn’t great), but RNG has several strengths that the judges tend not to focus on. The way they move through their dancing reminds me a bit of ReQuest and Fanny Pak (although FP is better at adding an artistic element to it) in that there’s usually a strong sense of fluidity and it’s not a separated series of tricks and eight-counts. That being said, neither ReQuest nor Fanny Pak won. That’s partly because the show has a tradition of overemphasizing strong bits of dancing or moments rather than the routine as a whole.
8 Flavahz- Their song is “Party Rock Anthem.” It’s LMFAO’s best song, but Quest Crew already performed to it (arguably twice). Their task is to recreate the group blow-up from the video, incorporating the T-step and “The Spongebob.” By the way, the first “Spongebob Squarepants” episode came out 13 years ago. Spongebob is older than some of these girls, including Charlize, who was too young to watch Quest Crew, apparently. Feng and Victor show up to provide help. Tiara’s unable to perform this week due to a back injury. At some point in the competition, MWC, Elektrolytes, and 8 Flavahz have all performed with one fewer member. It’s like the ABDC gods thought eight people in a crew was way too much. 8 Flavahz really wants to win the competition. Man, this competition must be so hard, since EVERYBODY wants to win!

They’re in a combination of purple clothing and striped patterns, which is a tribute to Quest Crew. Heck, most of the routine’s big moments are a tribute to Quest Crew. If you’re going to imitate anybody, might as well imitate the winners. In addition, they’ve all got the curly Redfoo hair and fake glasses. They start out with some simplistic b-boy footwork, and one of them does a butterfly twist (tribute to Steve). One of them imitates Hok’s kick from Quest’s Magic performance. Four of them shuffle in the back while three in the front attempt monkey rolls, which is not even something Quest was famous for. Strikers All-Stars did that one. The group also attempts half-flares and knee floats. The key word here is “attempts.” While they’re sloppy, they’re not outright failures and you can at least see what they’re going for. They all do back handsprings while Camren does a baby freeze. Their shuffling is pretty good, no complaints there. They copy Quest’s show-stopping OrQUESTra flip, although this one’s not actually over two people and the landing is messy. This routine in general feels like a Mock Quest Crew performance, or a Diet Quest Crew performance, or a SheQuest Crew performance, if you will. The group pops for a while before heading to the front of the stage to pose.

Lil Mama says they handled themselves like big girls. She says they had fun and killed the T-step and the Spongebob. Lil Mama thinks they improved from last week and are at the top. D-Trix likes the Quest references. (“I liked how you reminded me of ME!”) He praises the crew’s technique, but wishes he would have seen more of that tonight and thinks that would bring them back to the top. JC says they had the LMFAO energy (and hair). He says it was fun from the get-go. He says their transitions were awesome. He praises them for taking risks, even though they messed up. That’s a pretty gentle way to say, “Ya dun goofed,” but I guess JC admires their ambition. I agree that they overdid trying to emulate Quest’s moments (maybe to please D-Trix) instead of focusing on their stellar classical technique. It went from being a “Wow, that is impressive!” situation to an “Aww, how cute, they tried” situation. There were still great moments in their routine and the energy was there, but I think they could have more wisely invested their time to other moves. I’m a huge fan of ambition and intelligently applied ambition always leads to the best routines, but I think that 8 Flavahz deserves at least a little heat from their moments backfiring, judges.
Elimination- The judges choose to save 8 Flavahz over RNG, likely taking into consideration the number of times RNG was in the Bottom before. Even if both crews were in the bottom for the first time, I still wouldn’t be surprised if the judges ultimately selected the kid crew that’s known for their big wow moments (8F) over the kid crew that’s known for their seamless choreography (RNG). That’s kind of how this show has operated, and every winning crew has embraced that fact in some manner or another. Neither of these two crews performed at their best tonight, but the judges still must have been uncomfortable being forced to dash the hopes and dreams of children. In RNG’s final words, Jennique thanks both the non-believers and the believers, and the crew dances for a bit during their “Walk It Out” section. Next week, the three remaining crews take on the music of David Guetta (who?) in the most important week of the competition. What’s going to happen? Find out next week!