The Wife:

Even with 12 dances to watch last night, I’m amazed that FOX still managed to find time for the judges to prattle on about nothing (see the segment after Randi and Evan’s samba where Mary and Tyce just made animal noises at each other like the crazy queens they are) and provide some video filler in the form of a producer package about what the dancers will miss about each other when their partnerships are broken up next week (most notable among these, I think, is the fact that Kupono will miss Kayla’s clammy hands and feet, because he finds them comforting). There are many things to discuss, so let’s just get straight to them.

The Excellent

This really is some of Kupono's best work right here.

This really is some of Kupono's best work right here.

Kayla and Kupono (Contemporary)
Choreography by Mia Michaels
Song: “Gravity” by Sara Barielles

Even without hearing Kupono’s story about the family member he lost to addiction, this piece would have moved me, and it truly did. It literally took my breath away when Kupono threw Kayla to the floor and they began the synchronized portion of their floorwork together. It was stunning, riveting to watch and brought tears to my eyes. And as beautiful as Kayla was throughout this piece, I have to give Kupono his due for acting the shit out of this. He was completely in his element in this Mia Michaels piece, and I’m glad to finally see him do something that shows me why he deserved to stay over flawless Max. This one goes on my list of favorite SYTYCD pieces of all time, for sure.

Jeanette and Brandon (Jazz)
Choreography by Wade Robson
Song: “Ruby Blue” by Roisin Murphy

Apparently Wade and the wardrobe department recently saw Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom because every single detail of this piece was reminiscent of that film. (Well, except for the Roisin Murphy song. That’s pure Wade.) The piece was about thieves, dressed in black and white with bowlers and red gloves, which lent both a nice cabaret-like feel to the whole thing, as well as providing the most direct homage to the costuming in Johnson’s film. (With the exception of two pieces Rachel Weiz’s character dons at crucial points in the film where she’s acting the part of the mark, the main characters all wear shades of black and white. Rinko Kikuchi’s demolitions expert Bang Bang wears red leather gloves throughout the entire film. Both Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo don bowlers. Also, they’re con men, possibly the most glamorous type of thief.) It was a great, funky piece with which to close the evening and Jeanette and Brandon danced it expertly. I had a hard time taking my eyes off Jeanette, all stuffed into those tight, shiny leggings, because she really can do anything. This might not have been as cool as the hummingbird, or “Cabaret Hoover” or “Rama Lama Bang Bang,” but it was 100% Wade and 100% amazing.

Jeanette and Brandon (Argentine Tango)
Choreography by Marian Larici and Leonardo (who performed that gorgeous tango a few weeks back)
Song: Libertango from Forever Tango

Again, Jeanette and Brandon make my top of the pops list, which clearly earns them the non-existent award for Couple of the Night. They learned a beautiful Argentine tango from the tango masters and performed it expertly. Once more, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Jeanette who transformed into a completely different person on that stage. I think her salsa experience prepared her for the fleet footwork in this number and it showed in her excellent flicks. Nigel clearly thought it was the best dance of the night and gave it a silent standing ovation. Mary followed suit, but added on three Official Mary Murphy Screams and two First Class Tickets to the Hot Tamale Train for the couple. Tyce then said something completely incomprehensible about orange juice to Brandon.

Pretty sure Jeanette is the world's sexiest loan officer right here.

Pretty sure Jeanette is the world's sexiest loan officer right here.

The Good to Very Good

Melissa and Ade (Disco)
Choreography by Doriana Sanchez
Song:  “Move On Up” by Destination

Even though Melissa fell out of her hold at the end of this routine, she and Ade played it off like it was supposed to happen that way, and I have to commend them for that. This one didn’t start out as well as other disco routines, and it certainly doesn’t hold a candle to Jeanette and Brandon’s from earlier in the season, but it did pick up a lot of momentum toward the end and was very enjoyable to watch – especially the combination of lifts and spins in the final third (i.e. everything after Melissa did that upside-down split lift). Ade was strong and Melissa was saucy, and that’s just what the routine called for. It also called for very, very shiny outfits and was awarded an Official Mary Murphy Scream with a supportive woo for backup.

Caitlin and Jason (Contemporary)
Choreography by Mandy Moore
Song: “Show Me Heaven” by Maria McKee

My husband and I like to play a little game whenever we hear Mandy Moore’s going to choreograph something. It’s a really simple game called, “What 80s song will Mandy Moore choose?” This one tripped us up a bit, because neither of us knew it, but from the vocals and the synthesizer (and with the help of the internet), we realized Mandy played it close to the vest again by choosing a song off the Days of Thunder soundtrack. I thought the choreography was very strong in this piece, and Caitlin and Jason danced it really well. I thought Jason was particularly good in his lead section, in which he showed excellent muscle control and some very strong lines.

Caitlin and Jason (Foxtrot)
Choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin (YAY! Melanie’s back!)
Song: “Minnie the Moocher” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, one of my favorite bands

Caitlin’s silver and green dress for this piece gets my award for Outfit of the Night. Jason, on the other hand, has too much of a baby face to convincingly pull off a double breasted suit, which detracted from his believability in this number. The good news is, though, that he made up for it with his dancing. Both dancers were very graceful, and Caitlin’s leg lines served her well in this piece, especially in the voluminous skirt of that green green dress. Good all around.

Please buy me this. I'll find a way to wear it. Promise!

Please buy me this. I'll find a way to wear it. Promise!

Kayla and Kupono (Broadway)
Choreography by Joey Dowling
Song: “The Dance at the Gym” from West Side Story

What I liked about this piece was that Dowling chose to tell her version of the Tony-Maria meet cute through the pre-mambo segment of “The Dance at the Gym,” rather than the iconic portion with iconic movement and snapping. By doing so, she provided something that captured the spirit of the show whence it came, told a story and did so in a unique way. I can’t help but think that when Tyce complimented her on the number, it was tinged with bitterness, because I’m pretty sure he was just a little bit bitter at everything that graced the SYTYCD stage last night. However, I was extremely distracted by the fact that Kayla wasn’t wearing shoes. As Dowling explained it, two kids run into each other on a rooftop and fall in love. Why the hell wouldn’t you wear shoes to the rooftop of your Manhattan apartment building? That just doesn’t seem sanitary to me. And that dress with its adorable bubble skirt needed to be completed with some heels. That’s not Kayla’s fault, but I have to wonder if Dowling specifically told the wardrobe department not to give the girl shoes. And if so, why? That just didn’t make sense to me.

Melissa and Ade (Waltz)
Choreography by Ron Montez
Song: “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” by Mary J. Blige

Melissa and Ade continued their strong showing tonight with this Ron Montez waltz. Melissa was allowed to be as graceful and beautiful as a ballerina is taught to be, and I thought Ade partnered her well. Mary commented on how Ade’s only fault was that his twinkles weren’t good enough, but I’d have hardly noticed. Critiques then rapidly descended into a discussion of English muffins and Brooklyn brownies. What is a Brooklyn brownie, Miss Deeley? Does it have weed in it?

The Mediocre

Randi and Evan (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by TabNap
Song: “Halo” by Beyonce

This one winds up in the mediocre category not because of its choreography or because it wasn’t danced well, but because, compared to everything else, it just seemed to fall short. It was a nice piece danced nicely. Nigel made an astute, if slightly culturally insensitive, comment about how TabNap allowed Randi and Evan to dance a hip-hop routine as themselves rather than being “urban.” I understand what he meant, but the way he said it definitely rubbed me the wrong way. What he probably should have said would have been something like, “It’s great that they gave you two a softer, more lyrical hip-hop, rather than asking you to do something very hard-hitting and edgy.” He also made another off-color remark expressing his dislike for people who have babies out of wedlock, which I’m sure didn’t gain him any fans. He was kind of a douche tonight in general, actually. And those are only two examples. But enough about Nigel! I enjoyed this number, but would find it wholly unforgettable if not for the awkward incorporation of the titular “halo” as Evan looped his arms around Randi’s body. That I will remember, which is unfortunate, because I didn’t like that part at all.

Randi and Evan (Samba)
Choreography by Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis
Song: “Ritmo di Bom Bom” by Jababa

I was very excited to see a Pasha and Anya number on the show, as I love when SYTYCD alums return to choreograph. However, the execution of this piece left something to be desired. Mary seemed to think that Randi was flawless in it and gave her a Hot Tamale Train ticket and an Official Mary Murphy Scream, but I didn’t think so. I thought she was better than Evan in it, if only because she had a little bit better extension and shimmied more easily, but she still wasn’t her best. My poor Evan was not at all comfortable in this style and his posture and extension left something to be desired overall. Tyce attempted to explain this to Evan by quoting the onomatopoeia from “Cell Block Tango.” Tyce made no sense tonight.

I think she's actually doing the Snoopy Dance right now.

I think she's actually doing the Snoopy Dance right now.

Jeanine and Phillip (Jive)
Choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin
Song: “Stuff Like That There” by Bette Midler

My husband may have been way into Jeanine’s breast- and booty-shaking, but I was not into this piece. I think it showed of Jeanine’s ample talents beautifully, but also exposed Phillip’s weaknesses, even though Nigel declared that this was the best Phillip’s ever been out of his own style. (I dunno about that. I think Tyce’s Broadway hid that better than this jive did.) Chbeeb’s floorwork in the beginning was really rocky for me, and he did improve toward the end. It was definitely not their best, even if Jeanine got her own Official Mary Murphy Scream and a ticket to the Hot Tamale Train. (Man, there be a lot of ladies up on that train this week, no?)

Jeanine and Phillip (Kalinka)
Choreography by Yuri Nelzine and Lila Balenko
Song:  “Kalinka” by Barynya

And then there was the Kalinka, a Russian folk dance that I was pleased to see if only because you all know I’ve been begging for more ethnic dances on this show ever since Bollywood started cropping up. I’ve tossed this one into the mediocre category because I agree with the assessment that the dancers both could have been stronger throughout the piece, especially Phillip, who made several errors in his footwork at the beginning. However, I have to express my disappointment in Nigel’s reaction to the dance, a dance he, as executive producer, presumably greenlit to add to the mix because he knew what it would look like. Instead of saying that Jeanine and Phillip could have performed it better, he chose to possibly insult a whole cadre of Russian folk dancers (and the choreographers!) by calling the piece “childish” and not strong enough to be on the show. He kept comparing it to the trepak, which I think is also a conceptual mistake on his part because the trepak and the kalinka are different dances. For him to compare the two as though they’re the same style because they come from the same country would be like comparing a waltz to a jive just because they’re both in professional ballroom competition. So what gives? Yes, Jeanine and Phillip didn’t perform it as strongly as they could have, but I didn’t dislike the dance itself or its inclusion on the program.

You may notice that I’ve left off a category this week, and that’s because we truly are at a level in the competition where we’ve successfully separated wheat from chaff and I believe that everyone left is good enough to make the top ten. Even the two couples that I think were the most mediocre of the bunch this week are fully deserving of Top 10 status, and I’d be happy to see any of them on tour as no one was bad this week. However, all things considered, I do have to make predictions and enter them in the EW Predicitify SYTYCD game, so here goes:
I think Jeanine and Phillip and Randi and Evan will definitely land in the bottom three this week. Ideally, I’d like Caitlin and Jason to join them. This is not because they didn’t perform well this week, but because of their general performances up until this point. If I had my druthers, Caitlin and Jason would both be gone. But I think that when you compare the guys, it will probably be between Phillip and Evan. I like them both. In fact, I love Evan. And as much as I like Chbeeb and what he does in his own style, I think he has begun to outlive his usefulness in the competition. I think this might be his last week with us. (But don’t worry! He’ll still be on tour as an alternate!) As for the girls, the judges love Jeanine, so we know she’s safe. Between Caitlin and Randi, I think Caitlin’s the weaker of the two dancers, and we already know that she doesn’t have as big of a fan base as Randi does. So my choices for the dancers that will be leaving us tonight are Chbeeb and Caitlin, who will both make fine alternates on the tour this fall.

But I’m still worried about Randi and Evan. I just don’t want to think Evan could be leaving me so soon!

Other thoughts:

  • I loved Cat’s very vintage LBD, but I think the makeup folks did her a disservice with that shade of red and the smoky eye. She needed a brighter red to liven up her face against that messy 40s-inspired coif and that austere frock.
  • I do not understand at all what Mary was wearing.
  • Most tragic moment of the night: when Nigel complimented Caitlin on being Grace Kelly-like in her foxtrot, followed by the completely blank look on her face because she clearly had no idea who Grace Kelly was.
  • Remember back in the day when the guest judge du settimane always choreographed the results show group number? I almost wish they still did that so I’d know what to expect, because now I never have any idea anymore.
  • So, following the theory that TabNap only choreographs about their marriage, should I assume that Tabitha is incubating a tiny little hip-hop choreographer in her womb? Yes or no?
  • Total Hot Tamale Train Tickets tonight: 4
  • Total Official Mary Murphy Screams: 6, plus an enthusiastic woo.
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The Husband:

The Judges’ Save had to be used this week. Pretty much guaranteed. Had it waited until next week, they would have been forced to use it just to prove that it wasn’t a worthless threat. Not only that, then they would have had to save somebody from Disco Week, which will in my foresight probably be kryptonite to at least half of the contestants. (All 3.5 of them.)

Here, it was to save a rather talented performer, one who has continued to surprise, going for a very bad song selection. And as a result, I must now reintroduce the Children Of Saint Clare Kibosh on both the Bryan Adams songs used this week. Sorry “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” from Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. It’s just too easy of a choice, and even delivering a rather heartfelt and unique rendition of it, as Anoop did this week, could still get your ass in the bottom three. And, of course, the craptacular “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?” from Don Juan DeMarco also gets the COSC Kibosh, as it’s a piece of shit that was somehow nominated for an Oscar, and even somebody like Chris Daughtry back in s5 (you know, the guy who proved that ending up in fourth place can still make you a megastar) couldn’t do a good job no matter how hard they tried.

Thank you for not sending me back to that dueling piano bar where I work!

Thank you for not sending me back to that dueling piano bar where I work!

(I pointed out to my wife that the song from Don Juan DeMarco was so bad, it lost the Best Original Song Oscar to Pocahontas’ “Colors of the Wind,” but I had forgotten that, in the same year, Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got A Friend” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dead Man Walking” were also in contention, and either would have been superior choices for the award. But why Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Eddie Vedder’s better Dead Man Walking song, “The Face of Love,” wasn’t nominated in Springsteen’s place is a reason I really hate the Oscar category some of the time. It’s all political, bitches.)

This COSC Kibosh, however, does not completely eliminate Bryan Adams from the competition. I still think “Heaven” and “Summer of ‘69” could be worthy additions to the Idol repertoire (or has “Heaven” already been done once?), as they are better and less sappy songs.

As for the rest of the folks, Kris Allen made the smartest decision to go with “Falling Slowly” from Once, a glorious song well-suited to his talents. (I’ll let my wife talk about the ‘net’s reaction to choosing this song.) But, honestly, you know who could have done it better? I hate to say it, but Danny Gokey. He would have nailed it. But, as usual, Gokey is a lazy song selector, and no matter how well he may croon a Lionel Ritchie schmaltz fest, his laziness will always bother me. And yes, I do think it matters, because that means if he wins Idol and makes the 19 Entertainment record, he won’t have any discerning tastes and will end up with a piece of shit album. This stuff matters, people.

His mind's made up.

His mind's made up.

I actually have to give Lil Rounds some credit for reaching into the Bette Midler handbag and pulling out the gorgeous “The Rose,” because it told me that she was finally thinking outside the box. Maybe she wasn’t as lazy of a song selector as, say, Lakisha back in s6. But she couldn’t figure out how to transfer it to her own skills despite a half-assed attempt at “churching” it up. And her post-critique attitude was completely uncalled for, as she has seemed to completely misunderstood the difference between musician and artist that Simon brought up last week. Lil, he wasn’t telling you to pick a different kind of song; he was telling you to be your own performer no matter what the song, instead of a well-voiced karaoke performer. Don’t get mad at him because you fucked up. You can pick any song in the world, but if you’re not making an individual impression and creating your own persona, you’re nothing.

As for this week’s decision to split up the judges’ panel into two groups of two, and yet still managed to run over into Fringe, I think it was an okay idea executed poorly. But me? I have a solution. It’s called A COUNTDOWN CLOCK! Give each judge a gigantic red sign that counts down from, say, 25 seconds to zero, and when it hits that big “0,” shut your mouth. Secondly, tell Paula and Simon to stop interrupting each other, because not only is it a waste of time, it’s disrespectful to the contestants. Both are equally guilty of this crime. Third, tell the judges to ignore the audience. No matter how loud they may get, we can still hear every word the judges say on the microphones, because they are DIRECTIONAL MICROPHONES. The sound of their voice is what’s being picked up the highest, because it’s right in front of their fucking mouths. If the crowd stars booing, don’t hesitate, don’t talk back and don’t worry. They’re just people who waited in line for six hours in the crappy Los Angeles sun and have zero clue what they’re talking about.

Except for the Observer. He knows what’s up.

And yes, the song choices were mostly kind of balls across the board. I know that Idol only has a short list of what songs can actually be selected, but these are a few songs, for example, that would have been better. And these are just the songs that won Oscars. This isn’t even counting the many worthy nominations in the category in years past. (Shit, like 1999’s “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story II or Aimee Mann’s “Save Me” from Magnolia, which both lost to [shudder] Phil Collins.)

(Thanks be to Wikipedia for this list.)

  • “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Lil could have turned into a jazz queen with this)
  • “Flashdance…What a Feeling” (you know, the good song from that movie)
  • “I’m Easy” (even Megan Joy could have done well with this had she been around)
  • “Into The West” (I actually would have loved to see Gokey go against type and do this Annie Lennox song. It would have been made of actual emotion and not just whatever it is that he gives us every week)
  • “Streets Of Philadelphia” (Giraud would have done this justice)
  • “Take My Breath Away” (Allison did a good job with Aerosmith, but imagine if she pulled off this Berlin song with her trademark roughness. It would have brought down the house.)

Okay, I know I’m going to hell for this, but I would have loved to have seen Anoop just completely fuck with everybody’s mind if he dressed up like Aladdin, full wardrobe, and did “One Jump Ahead” with full choreography and blocking, and the Ricky Minor band could have done the ensemble work, like have the trumpeters yell “Scoundrel!” and “Take that!”

The Wife:

But how could Anoop get an Aladdin outfit when he was too busy doing the ONE THING I ASKED HIM NOT TO DO and donning an honest-to-God letterman’s jacket? Okay, it was the bastard love child of a letterman’s jacket and a blazer, but still, that was the one collegiate look I asked him not to do, and he ignored me. And you know what it did? It got him in the bottom three. (Look, I realize it was mostly the song that did that, but I’m going to pretend it was also the jacket. Because it was a shitty song, but he sang it well. Thus, I think America voted nay on the over-the-top jacket.)

Everything I do, I do it so you won't wear this damn jacket again!

Everything I do, I do it so you won't wear this damn jacket again!

I’m running out of things to say about this show, fashion-wise, as the contest is a sausage fest and the guys have definitely got their signature looks figured out. Lil still desperately needs Tim Gunn’s help, going from another strange black vest concoction on performance night to a lime green shirtdress made out of the worst polyester in the world on elimination night. She got longer extensions this week, which made me realize that she’s a lot prettier with shorter hair and that she probably should have kept it short for the whole competition. I’m afraid someone told her that she wasn’t getting America’s votes because she didn’t look feminine enough, or something, but that advice has lead her down a long, dark path of hair extensions cast-off from Tyra’s modelettes. Let me remind her that Fantasia had a super butch haircut back in Season 3 . . . and that lady won.

I wasn’t fond of Allison’s performance garb, especially the twice-tucked corner of her black shirtdress, but it was way cuter than the rainbow-sherbert concoction she decided to wear for eliminations. Allison, honey, I know you’re 16, but you are on national television. You are not going bowling with your friends; you have to look like the rock star we know you are. Please don’t disappoint me again.

And on a couple of non-fashion related notes, I wish Adam Lambert hadn’t chosen “Born to Be Wild,” but what he did to it totally reminds me of his performances at The Zodiac Show. Like this one:

(Yes, I have been stalking him on YouTube!)

But I am super-duper glad Kris Allen chose “Falling Slowly” from Once, the most amazing little Oscar-winning musical movie ever! I am a Kara defender, but I wanted to punch ladyface in the teeth when she dubbed the song “obscure.” As my husband mentioned above (and I just did, too), it won an Oscar very recently. People may not have seen Once, but they have encountered the song. And I cannot be happier that the Internet exploded yesterday with searches for the movie, the song and the lyrics — all because of Kris Allen. So, perhaps Kara was right, and its obscure for Idol‘s audience. But it won’t remain obscure much longer.

I couldn’t find the scene from the film in which that song appears on the YouTube, but here’s Fox Searchlight’s official music video thing of the song and clips from the film:

And here’s another song from the film, that I totally love called “When Your Mind’s Made Up:”

Featuring one song from Once on Idol’s approved song list almost made up for two shitty Bryan Adams songs, and I can only be thankful that Idol and Kris Allen brought more people to this lovely little indie film.

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