Wednesday, June 10, 2009

some mighty fine ass work

Top 20! Are you ready? As Cat introduces them all, the initial reaction on this couch is that the guys look particularly awesome this year. Their intro-solos are exciting, strong, and fun.

And after a quick plug for Step Up 3D (which I’m fine with, it’s one of my client’s movies), we get a little “Road to Top 20” package, which I am also fine with because it showcases some of the solos that got these people this far.

As Cat introduces our first couple to do the first dance, I can’t help but think back to Season 2’s Benji and Donyelle doing Shane Sparks’ routine to “Too Much Booty.” It was the moment that sold me on this show forever, and so far the last two season’s haven’t kicked off as strong.

I’m also wondering why Jeanine is ALREADY CRYING. For heaven’s sake, girl, pull it together!!

1. Jeanine & Phillip, Hip Hop: The ballet dancer and the popper have a Tabitha & Napoleon routine to kick off the competition. There are moments where it is clearly well-executed, but I’m not blown away by it. Phillip’s really trying to act the feelings of the piece here, but the results are more “making faces” and it’s distracting. Jeanine is fine, I guess. I guess I don’t believe in passing out such high praise for someone simply keeping up or holding her own. Overall, I feel like the number could have been so much better with a more sincere commitment from both dancers, and I’m left wanting more.

2. Asuka & Vitolio, Broadway: Wow, Vitolio impresses the hell out of me here. Such precision and finesse! He is helped not at all by his partner, however, who is just okay for me. As a couple the chemistry is not there at all. Again, not the commitment I’m looking for.

3. Karla & Jonathan, Cha Cha: For technical feedback, I’ll defer to Mary—I thought it was pretty good, maybe a little stiff? But these two had a lot of fun with their routine and it’s clearly coming through. I think they’re helped by a modern, sexy song (“Poker Face,” Lady Gaga), but their smiles are genuine and infectious, and they’ve got fun chemistry.

Mary: “I like my cha cha rough!”
Me: “Damn, Mary!”
Mary: “And like Lady Gaga says, if it’s not rough, it’s not fun!”
Me: “Damn some MORE, Mary!!”

4. Randi & Evan, Jazz: Well, it’s a good thing Evan apologized to Randi’s husband in advance, because these two have CHEMISTRY. So fun to watch! The steps are amazing, the performance is divine, they’re both totally committed and IN IT. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for all night. It’s hot and awesome and the first routine I want to watch again. HELL YES.

5. Paris & Tony, Hip Hop: Yes, her chin still bothers me. But I have to admit Paris’s attitude here is fun. Tony’s good, but he should be—it’s his style. As soon as it speeds up Paris loses it a little, but they finish reasonably strong. It’s good, it’s not great.

6. Caitlin & Jason, Bollywood: Well, with “Jai Ho” as your song, you’re kind of guaranteed a crowd pleaser, and these two deliver. The energy is high, the chemistry is good, and even though they’re given a lot of hard work to do, they kind of nail it. They’re fantastic, and I understand why the judges were all sprung on Jason—he’s excellent. Caitlin really GOES FOR IT in this, too, which I super appreciate. Exciting stuff, I’m looking forward to more from this couple.

7. Janette & Brandon, Foxtrot: Am I the only one that hates these dated ballroom costume dresses? Ugh. That said, these two make a fairly complicated routine look totally easy and lovely. As for personality, it’s weird—sometimes it’s totally on, and sometimes it seems faked. But once Brandon starts throwing her around with the big lifts at the end, I’m sold. It’s hard to win people over with a foxtrot, but I think these two may have just done it.

Cat: “Mary give us an eyebrow.”
Mary: “I can’t anymore because of Botox.”
Cat: “Mary, I LOVE YOU.”
Adam and me: “WHAT. THE F.”

8. Ashley & Kupono, Jazz: Well, it’s Wade Robson choreography, so it’s more like “jazz.” Wade: “Conceptually, the number is about two crash test dummies.” Me: “Um, okay.” The costumes and props and chairs for this number are OVER THE TOP, HONEY. But the two dancers manage to shine through them. The dancing is precise, their characters are really fun, and the pair is totally committed and into it, and suck me in as well. That Ashley is charming, y’all.

9. Melissa & Ade, Contemporary: They have a Mandy Moore routine and a Richard Marx song (I love her commitment to cheesy 80’s songs), and it’s just sensational. They’re playful, sexy, and totally in sync. Their steps and lifts are perfect, their performance is sincere and joyful, and the whole thing just makes me HAPPY. It was so beautiful, and powerful and I just loved it. Fabulous.

10. Kayla & Max, Samba: HOT. The number starts out hot, and stays smokin’ the whole way through. Kayla is vibrant and delightful, Max is sexy and strong and so into her. And, if I may say, that’s some mighty fine ass work by Max. The chemistry is sizzling, and Kayla just wins me over on every level. Mary is so way obnoxious about this, but she’s not wrong—they are on the Hot Tamale Train, they just are.

Predictions: Wow, this is tough to call. I thought the judges were a bit more generous with some couples than I would have been, but overall this was a really strong night. With the second half being so much better, however, I think some of our earlier couples are in more danger of going home than I might have originally suspected.

Staying for another week: Jeanine & Phillip (I was “meh” about them, but the judges loved them, plus I’m guessing Phillip has a voting base going into this), Randi & Evan, Caitlin & Jason, Janette & Brandon, Ashley & Kupono, Melissa & Ade, Kayla & Max

In danger of going home: Asuka & Vitolio, Karla & Jonathan, Paris & Tony

What did YOU think of our Top 20?


Amy said...

Repeating what I said on facebook: Thought it was very, very strong. I already like this year's dancers better than last year's. I thought the weak routines were the Tyce/Broadway/Asuka&Vitolio and the Napoleon&Tabitha/hip-hop/Paris&Tony. I didn't engage with Wade Robson's Crash Test Dummies, but I get the artistry that went into it.

I really wish they'd bring in another hip-hop choreographer. Tabitha and Napoleon just don't do it for me on a lot of their routines. They are, to me, like the KidzBop of hiphoppers. Making hip hop palatable for kids and white folks.

Does anyone else use Cat as the yardstick for measuring how tall the dancers are?

Christopher said...

We pulled almost the same predictions, except that I think Ashley and Kupono will be punished for Wade's routine with a temporary trip to the bottom instead of Asuka/Vitolio.

Overall, I've decided this may be the best top 20 ever (as a group, although there are past individuals who are way better than this entire 20). It's a tough call for who gets voted out tonight. I'm going with Paris and Tony, but it's really a toss up.

It's a bad sign that I am already sick to death of Mary Murphy, and it's only the first competition episode. It's going to be a LONG season...

Dinah said...

Amy, I totally measure the dancers next to Cat, and was totally tickled when they measured Randi & Evan next to her.

As for the hip hop choreography, yeah, I'm not Tabitha & Napoleon's biggest fan. Their stuff is fine, but yeah--it seems watered down. And after two seasons of Shane Sparks AWESOMENESS it just can't compare. Maybe it isn't fair to compare them, but fair or not Shane set the bar on this show, and so far they have yet to measure up.

Chip, I made my comments on your blog, but I think regardless of whether Ashley/Kupono or Asuka/Vitolio end up in the Bottom 3, neither couple is going home. My prediction/hope is that it's Paris & Tony, because with this much talent on the show no one should be able to slide by on "cute," which is what I think they're doing. Then again, this show has a huge teenage girl demographic that really likes "cute" so I could be totally wrong. In which case it'll be Karla & Jonathan for simply not being as memorable as everyone else.

Amy said...

I think "cute" will be enough to keep Tony out of the bottom 3 tonight.

I think our surprise shocker bottom three might be Ade & Melissa because he's unknown and she's, like, sooooo old.

I have no doubt that Asuku & Vitolio will be in the bottom three, but Nigel won't let Asuku go home this early, I'm sure of it.

Ryan A. said...

Unfortunately, we had severe T-storms rolling through DFW last night so we missed all but the last 3 dance pairs (due to local weather wannabees pre-empting and yacking about all the storms...). But unfortunately, Hulu or has not/will not post last night's full episode!!! GRRRRRRR.....

Erika said...

I'm waay behind in commenting on your blog, but I have to echo that Benji and Donyelle's "Too Much Booty" routine is what sold me on the show forever, too. Gah, has the hip-hop been that good again?

I have high hopes for this season, because last season, I just wasn't that into it. I mean, I watched, and loved a few routines here and there, but wasn't excited about anyone, like I was with season 2 and 3.

I already adore Evan and Randi and can't get over how much she looks like Kellie Pickler. Seriously.