The Wife:

I thought perhaps it was just me, coming off an evening of less-than-normal sleep because I was having the most cathartic rock concert experience of my life at the No Doubt show on Tuesday night and preparing for the arrival of my dear friend Magen today. I thought the first few numbers on SYTYCD tonight felt a little slow. They were all passable, but not wholly engaging. And I assumed it was just me, with my mind being off in a million different places. But, no. Even despite the presence of the effervescent Ellen DeGeneres on the judging panel, Nigel felt the evening was a little slow. But for all the creeping waltzes and the slower than slow rumbas, the show really picked up in its final three numbers to remind us what this whole thing is about.

The Excellent

Melissa and Ade (Contemporary)
Choreography by Tyce DiOrio
Song: “This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell

I’ve said multiple times that Tyce’s jazz and contemporary work is so strong, creative and beautiful that simply knowing he can be that brilliant is why I harbor so much hatred for his contrived, hackneyed and startlingly unoriginal Broadway routines. When I saw this absolutely stunning and evocative piece of theatre come out of him, danced with sheer grace by a reunited Melissa and Ade, I was extremely moved. Although I’d mocked the costuming choice of putting Melissa in that “I’m going through chemo” headscarf, there really was no other way to make the piece specifically about cancer. If we all agree to pretend that we didn’t hear the intro package about how Tyce created this piece to honor his friend who struggled with breast cancer, it was the headscarf that informed us of just what the struggle here was. Without it, I think the idea of disease would have still been communicated through the movement – those flying leaps of faith Melissa took into Ade’s arms, the moment where he was the strength to her weakness when he lifted her up by her delicate wrists, the moment where she wilted around his body – all of that informed us that Melissa’s body was falling apart. But would the piece have been as moving without that headscarf? No, I don’t think it would have been. The piece has to be about cancer because cancers are the most terrifying diseases, the most trying diseases I can think of. At their core, they are about the body turning against itself. Some of them are preventable (certain types of lung, cervical and skin cancers), but others aren’t. There are only a few things I can think of that are more horrifyingly unjust than the human body destroying itself from the inside out.

And so, having lost a family member to mesothelioma, another to metastatic melanoma (henceforth called Izzie Stevens Disease) and having had a malignant melanoma removed from my own arm, this piece was extremely affective to me, as it was to all of the judges and, I hope, to everyone else who saw it. It was a gorgeous piece of choreography that told a clear, emotional and riveting story, danced by a pair of brilliant performers.

Cancer Vixen.

Cancer Vixen.

Jeanine and Brandon (Pop Jazz)
Choreography by Laurieann Gibson
Song: “Battlefield” by Jordin Sparks

I loved the choreography and costuming for this piece, and I agree with Nigel that this pop-jazz number really woke us up from what we saw earlier in the evening. But although I loved it and agree that it was one of the best of the night, I wonder if anyone else noticed just how much better Brandon was in this piece than Jeanine. There was a whole segment of the dance where I wondered if he was a little too fast, or if she was just slow, and finally decided on the latter. Brandon completely and totally nailed this number (and should go hang some paintings at Ellen’s house), enough to fully convert detractor Mia Michaels to a Brandon Bryant lover. Seriously, Laurieann Gibson put a horizontal leap (over Jeanine) into the floorwork segment of this routine, I think, specifically because she saw Brandon Bryant’s amazing audition and knew he could do it absurdly well. And he did. The best compliment the judges could give Jeanine was that she “kept up” with Brandon . . . if by keeping up with they mean being ever so slightly behind. Don’t get me wrong, Jeanine is really a stunningly good dancer, but I think this is the first time in the competition she’s been with someone better than her so that you can actually see she has faults. He definitely outdanced her, but she still performed well (and put on a good tough-gal face) and contributed to a strong performance overall, which received what I’m counting as three Official Mary Murphy Screams. (It was hard to tell. They came in short, exaggerated bursts.)

Kayla and Jason (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Shane Sparks
Song: “They’re Everywhere” by Izza Kizza

I’m starting to realize that I really like anything that involves dancing zombies. Here’s my evidence to prove that: I love Wade Robson’s “Rama Lama (Bang Bang).” I truly enjoy Evil Dead the Musical. I like “Thriller.” And I really liked this fun show-closing number in which undead Jason turned sexy schoolgirl Kayla into his zombie mistress. I feel like the guys from Mutation are a little bit jealous that they didn’t get to perform this number, but I think Jason and Kayla were great in it. I’ve always loved Kayla, but my feelings for Jason haven’t been so universally positive. He really put himself into this performance, though, and I think my husband most enjoyed the solo segment where he kills Kayla, dances with glee for about five seconds, and resurrects her. It’s his “I just killed you!” dance, and it was pretty damn adorable. I also agree with Mia about the final image of this piece, where Jason lifts Kayla up by strangling her, which walked the fine line between cute and creepy. And I like things that do that. Mary Murphy liked it enough to give what I’m assume are two Official Mary Murphy Screams.

Tyra would call this an experiment in ugly-pretty.

Tyra would call this an experiment in ugly-pretty.

The Good to Very Good

Melissa and Ade (Cha Cha)
Choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin
Song: “Yeah (Gomo Gaza Mi Morena)” by Chino Espinoza y Los Dueños Del Son

That Spanish-language cover/sample of Usher’s “Yeah” really threw me off a bit because I kept trying to figure out if I was actually hearing “Yeah” in there or if the name was just a coincidence. As such, I was a little distracted. This ended up being not my favorite cha cha, but I nevertheless couldn’t take my eyes of Melissa. As Mia said, she really broke it down here and got into the sultry sex kitten vibe, so much that I didn’t even notice Ade was there. Mary thought Ade danced it too high off the floor, and Mia thought it was Ade’s worst performance. I guess I agree with them, as he didn’t command any attention from me here at all.

Evan and Jeanette (Jazz)
Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
Song: “Move (Metrononomy Mix)” by CSS

A band named after a programming language wrote the song to which this piece was choreographed, which isn’t totally surprising. I liked this piece, but I had pretty much forgotten about it by the end of the show. I think it suffered from being set to such a weird song, allowing it to get lumped in with the other slow-tempo numbers that plagued the beginning of last night’s show. However, I thought Evan and Jeanette were good in it and the choreography was very interesting to watch. Mia is right, however, that Evan is just wrong for Sonya’s work. I realize that one of the things we look for on SYTYCD is a very versatile dancer who wows us in many genres and thus becomes our favorite, but what Mia said about Evan here is spot the fuck on. Just like in acting and modeling, I wouldn’t cast Evan in a Sonya Tayeh show simply because he doesn’t have the right look. That’s like trying to turn character actor Patrick Fischler into a romantic lead in a rom-com – it just wouldn’t work. It doesn’t matter how good of an actor Fischler is or how good of a dancer Evan is, sometimes the performer simply isn’t right for the work.

Jeanette looks so sublime in this leap.

Jeanette looks so sublime in this leap.

Kayla and Jason (Broadway)
Choreography by Tyce DiOrio
Song: “Mr. Monotony” by Kim Kriswell

This was another pretty bland number from Tyce, with no real sense of story of dynamism, which I guess is okay because the song is called “Mr. Monotony.” I didn’t like Jason very much in this piece, actually, because every time I watched him do those Gene Kelly-esque floor-pops, I wanted to see Evan doing them instead. Jason’s another dancer this season that I just don’t think has the universal casting appeal of some others. Remember how I said his baby face was incongruous in his foxtrot with Caitlin because it doesn’t look right sitting atop a double-breasted suit? Same here. He doesn’t look right in a faux-1940s setting, chasing after a poisonous dame like gorgeous, leggy Kayla. The zombie thing worked for him, but this didn’t. It’s not that he danced poorly, per se, it’s simply that someone else would have been better for this role. Kayla, on the other hand, was spot-on, and Mia thinks she should take some singing and acting lessons so she could take Broadway by storm. Or she could audition for Chicago because she doesn’t need to know how to do either of those things to be in that show. (I know. That was mean to Kander & Ebb. But let’s face it: Chicago only exists on Broadway because it’s an easy show to fake-sing and fake-act in, making it an ideal place for celebrities of moderate renown to make their Broadway debuts in. How else do you explain the fact that it was so easy for Melanie Griffith, who cannot sing, to just take the role of Roxy Hart because her husband was starring in Nine in the theatre across the street? And why Jerry Springer is being allowed to play Billy Flynn when we already know he cannot dance?)

The Mediocre

Brandon and Jeanine (Waltz)
Choreography by Hunter Johnson
Song: “May It Be” by Hayley Westenra

I thought this was danced with pure loveliness, and I have to give Brandon and Jeanine credit for that, but it was a real snoozer of a waltz. I mean, you play me “May It Be” and all I can think of is the sleepiness of the Shire and Samwise Gamgee dreaming about fair Rosie Cotton. There’s nothing technically wrong with this piece, it just wasn’t very awe-inspiring. I would, however, like to gloat that I remembered this song was both an Enya cover AND from Lord of the Rings and yet my film geek husband didn’t. Nigel really seemed to hate the song, which means he hates things that are good and nominated for Oscars. Mary called the piece respectable, and all of the judges agreed they’d wanted more from it.

But for the record, this yellow dress is my Outfit of the Night.

But for the record, this yellow dress is my Outfit of the Night.

Jeanette and Evan (Rumba)
Choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin
Song: “Heartless” by Kris Allen

Although I really like Evando and Little Miss Fire, Spice and Flavor, I was really confused by this slow rumba. SYTYCD is all about slow rumbas, but this one was probably the slowest of them all, and I think its major failure comes down to song choice. Kris Allen’s cover of “Heartless” was not a good choice, and I felt there were many moments where the choreography didn’t match up with the music. By far, the best slow rumba on this show was done in season three, choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereux and performed by Sabra and Dominic to the Pussycat Dolls’ “Stickwitchu.” At least, that’s my favorite. The song provided a good, consistent beat to which the dancers could sensually groove. I didn’t get that from “Heartless.” It would have been a good choice for a contemporary routine, but not for this rumba. Even Jeanette, that Miami heat, couldn’t get into the Latin ballroom flavor of this one. I would, however, cast Evando in a rumba, if only because I like his serious and sexy face – it makes him look like James Van Der Beek as Sean Bateman, as my husband pointed out. P.S. Did you guys see a single rumba walk in this number? Did I miss them? Because I didn’t see any and that really bothered me.


1. Brandon: “Ain’t Nothing Wrong with That” by Robert Randolph and the Family Band. He wowed me tonight. I don’t know how the fuck he moves this way, but it’s amazing.

2. Jeanine: “Let the Drummer Kick” by Citizen Cope. She once again provided a solo that combined technique, musicality and personality. I really think Jeanine is the most competent soloist in the competition. She never disappoints.

3. Kayla: “The Moment I Said It” by Imogen Heap. This solo reminded me the most of her wonderful audition in Denver. I know she’s a graceful, strong and altogether lovely dancer, but here she reminded me of her own quirky interest in movement. Remember that move where she pulls her shoulderblades together and jerks her arms back? She did something similar here, which is why I liked it so much.

4. Evan: “Old Devil Moon” by Jamie Cullum. Hey, everybody! I’ve got a great idea! Let’s keep Tyce from ever doing Broadway routines ever again by inviting Evan Kasprzak back to the show to be the new Broadway choreographer! Hooray! My idea is awesome! Really, though, Evan choreographs marvelous, fleet-footed Broadway baby solos and I enjoy them so much that I want to see what he’d do with an entire piece.

5. Ade: “Hater” by Various Productions Artist. I didn’t think this was anywhere near as good as his other solos, until he did that ridiculously high leap. How does he get so much air under him? I simply don’t understand.

6. Melissa: “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Melissa tried to break away from standard ballet here a little bit by doing something that ended up being both modern and dated. It would have made choreographer Mandy Moore proud.

7. Jason: “Slowdance on the Inside” by Taking Back Sunday. Taking Back Sunday is clearly Jason’s Lifehouse. To that end, this was like a weaker version of a Nick Lazzarini solo. Boo-urns.

8. Jeanette: “Seduces Me” by Celine Dion. This was a complete and total failure of concept and execution. I was baffled as to why she tried to do a contemporary solo when her strong suit is salsa, and even more confused when she tried to toss some salsa moves into a non-salsa song. What the fuck?

Simply because neither of these two dancers were in the top three pieces of the night, I think we’ll be losing Evan and Jeanette tonight. I really thought Jeanette would make the top 4, but she lost her way big time tonight. As for Evan, I adore him, but he’s definitely not as good as Brandon or Ade, and he doesn’t have the benefit of a top dance to keep him in the running tonight. Alas.

Other thoughts:

  • Ellen DeGeneres is such a joy. Her timing is amazing. I adore her. It was impossible to write down all of her improv, because she’s just so quick, but I think my favorite moment was when she started a critique with, “I’d been asking for tickets to a taping for a really long time, and these were really good seats, so I sat here, but I didn’t know they were going to make me judge.”
  • Furthermore, Ellen’s jacket was très adorable.
  • Cat dressed up like the Emmy she’s never going to get!
  • Travis Wall’s group number to “Let It Rock” by Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil’ Wayne was like a futuristic version of Conan O’Brien’s “In the Year 2000.” Excuse me, it was like “In the Year 3000” went to a rave.
  • “It should just be this huge banana extravaganza.” – Travis Wall, discussing his routine and, perhaps, some sort of sex act.
  • “It’s crazy off the chain!” – Mary Murphy, saying something she should never say again.
  • Mary got a train whistle. I approve of this. It emits a much more pleasant sound than her screaming when she gives train tickets.
  • I’m sorry to report that I don’t have a Hot Tamale Train Ticket count for the night, as I evidently forgot to write them down. I have failed you all.
  • Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for the night is 5, though!
  • Did anyone else immediately think of Dracula when they saw that the “May It Be” cover was by Hayley Westenra? No? Just me?
  • Mia Michaels wants to brutally beat and eviscerate Jason. Don’t you test her. She will do it, because she is a cutter!
  • Where did Mia get that cross-referencing dictionary? Is it from Hogwarts? And can I get one so I can look up three things at once?
  • “When [your grandparents] first sent you to dance class, did they ever expect you’d be a zombie mistress? – Nigel Lythgoe

The Wife:

While we watched Chris Hardwick on Web Soup to kill 30 minutes prior to the glorious, glittery dance fest that is SYTYCD, I sat squirming on the couch, making the kinds of noises the Marlowe cat makes when he meets another cat he doesn’t like (or, more recently, makes at our other cat, Calliope, when she doesn’t have her collar on because, apparently, he can’t recognize who she is without it). Marlowe makes this lengthened, low, whining growl, which I’ve interpreted as his sign of extreme anxiety – I thought it was appropriate to make a similar sound in anticipation of So You Think You Can Dance. And all that pre-show tension (momentarily alleviated when Hardwick showed a “palate cleanser” segment which featured furry rodents nomming noms to an adorably, annoyingly catchy nomming song that I will now sing ALL THE TIME) was totally worthwhile because this first competition episode of the season already shone with moments of true brilliance. The wonderful things were truly wonderful, and even the bad things weren’t atrocious. Overall, it was a great way to start the season.

Before I talk about the dancing, though, I’d like to note that I think Mary was on something last night that might throw my scream count out of whack. I counted a total of 6 scream-like entities, but four of them were more like extended woos, so I’m not sure if I should include them in the Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for the season. I mean, the woman admitted to Botoxing the hell out of her forehead on national television last night – which on the one hand I applaud in terms of her honesty, but on the other hand I think might be the best indicator that her new happy pills are working a little too well. (Not the Botox, but the admission of its use.) I’ll not where the screams/woos occurred in my discussion of each performance – let me know in the comments if you think I should count the woos in the Official Mary Murphy Scream Count, but for now, I’m only going to count full-fledged, ouch-my-ears-are-hurting screams. (Husband Note: As you should. A woo is not a scream. Thousands of TRL teenagers could tell you that.)

I also feel the need to express my love for “occasional swing dancer” Adam Shankman, and not just because he gave us an update on the fate of Step Up 3D, but because he and I had apparently participated in a Vulcan mind meld at some point as my comments about the dances were more often than not the exact same as his. I’d say I had them first because I said them out loud while the dances were happening, but I know that honor technically belongs to him because the performances were filmed hours before the episode was even shown. Either way, Shankers and I shared some headspace last night, and it was pretty uncanny.

As far as the dancing is concerned, rather than list them in order, I’m going to separate the performances into various categories of greatness: Brilliant, Good to Very Good, Mediocre, Problematic and, just for tonight, a special category for a special dance. I will include pieces under those subheads in my order of preference.

The Brilliant

Kayla and Max (Samba)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstrel
Music: “Jum Bah Day” by House of Gypsies

It is absolutely unbelievable that Kayla “Radomkulous” Radomsky has never danced ballroom before because she was fantastic. This couple closed the show, and it was pretty clear to me by the strength of the Official Mary Murphy Scream they received that they were the pinnacle of the evening. Barely three seconds into the dance, I wrote, “If this doesn’t get on the Hot Tamale Train, I don’t know what will.” It was hot, spicy, passionate and danced beautifully by both partners. Max’s footwork and carriage were very, very impressive and he partnered Kayla effortlessly. She was a joy to watch in that pink fringed dress, which easily trumped Randi’s blue dress for my Outfit of the Night prize. And for the record, can we all agree that the best part of the choreography in this number was when Kayla freakin’ mounted Max and grinded down on his sexy Russian junk? I’m pretty damn sure that was the best thing I’ve ever seen. My other notes for this piece, before universal judges’ praise and Mary screaming her head off basically go like this: “YEAHHHHHHHHH! HAWTT SHIZZ! SHE FUCKING RODE HIS NADS, YO! RADOMKULOUS!” It’s appropriate that Kayla and Max closed the show with this hot samba, because it was a motherfucking SHOWSTOPPER.



Randi and Evan (Jazz)
Choreography by Tyce DiOrio
Music: “I Only Have Eyes for You” by Jaime Cullum

You all know I am a Tyce complainer, but I only complain about his lesser works because pieces like this show me how absolutely great he can be. Believe me, I will get angry later about his Broadway routine, which was a total fucking disappointment, but this jazz number, like many of his past Jazz numbers (an African one for Pasha and Jessie that was so vivacious, and “Why” for Ivan and Allison in season 2 stick out) was utterly breathtaking and beautiful. I actually got a little misty about how well I could believe the passion between lovers Randi and Evan (and enjoyed the rehearsal package in which Evan said he was worried Randi’s husband might kill him if he got too into character with the married lover of unitards). And how fucking cute was Cat riffing on the prospect of Randi’s man coming from the audience to maim Evan, as well as pretending like she wasn’t a bajillion feet taller than the show’s most “vertically challenged” couple? She’s the best fucking host on television, as none of the corny stuff she pulls ever comes off as anything less than authentic, bubbly and cute as all get out. Randi’s blue dress in this piece was easily my second favorite of the night, and I apparently share part of my brain with Nigel because he also noted how much more beautiful she is when her “Pob” (that’s the Posh Spice bob, for those who have not worn it, as I did for about a year) is curly. I would never be angry with Tyce if he always choreographed this spectacularly for dancers who can dance this beautifully. I think Nigel is totally correct in his assertion that this piece will make Randi and Evan a memorable couple for whom people will pick up the phone. I know I will. (This got an extended woo from Mary, which should have been a full on scream.)

Jeanine and Phillip (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Tabitha and Napoleon Duomo
Music: “Mad” by Ne-Yo

This was the first piece of the night and, just like last season, TabNap started us off with soulful, slow hip-hop that was a brilliant piece of storytelling. While I miss Shane Sparks a great deal and his particular, hard-hitting brand of hip-hop, I love anything Tabitha and Napoleon choreograph that is, in some small way, inspired by their marriage. Last year, they graced us with two genius pieces, “No Air” for Katee and Josh and “Bleeding Love” for Chelsie and Mark, that will forever flicker in my mind. The Duomos best work comes from their hearts and enacted in the bodies of these dancers, and “Mad” was no exception. They interpreted the lyric in their short piece about why couples shouldn’t go to bed angry, and Jeanine and Phillip executed the rise and fall of this dance very, very well. It was pretty clear to me that Phillip was much better at this than Jeanine, but she did keep up, and for that I commend her. It’s hard to dance with a man whose bones are rubber. This piece was universally loved by the “jidges,” and I think I teared up a little bit at the end of the piece where, after the couple has their fight, they lay back down in bed and Phillip spoons Jeanine with his arm draped over her. Cat Deeley referred to that as “schnoogeying,” which just made it all the more adorable. (Another extended woo from Mary Murphy that should have been a scream.)

The Bizarrely Brilliant Wade Robeson Piece

100% Wade Robeson. 100% Bananas.

100% Wade Robeson. 100% Bananas.

Ashley and Kupono (Jazz)
Choreography by the Bizarrely Brilliant Wade Robeson
Song: “Felt Mountain” by Goldfrapp

I am never unamazed when I see Wade’s choreography. He is always such a unique and strange storyteller, and those are probably the best two words I could use to describe this piece. He created a non-jazz-handed jazz number about two crash test dummies, exploring the idea of “living life like you’ve never been hurt.” Kupono played a broken and used crash test dummy, while Ashley played one that was younger and newer. She described keeping her fingers closed as dancing with “jazz blades,” which was pretty awesome – almost as awesome as the piece itself. The movements were simultaneously jerky and cold, but so fluid that they couldn’t be considered robotic at all. Kupono had a moment during this piece where he held his arms together in an acute angle and then proceeded to perform a very fluid shimmy from his head to his tailbone, like he was both breaking down and coming to life again, which struck me as a movement similar to those Matthew Bourne used to create his Edward Scissorhands ballet. Prior to that movement, though, he reminded me a bit of what Sheldon Cooper would be like were he a crash test dummy. This piece was fucking bananas, but I loved it. Like, I would pay to see a whole show with those characters, that’s how good it was. Freaky. Scary. Awesome. Totally Wade Robeson. My only critique is that I wish Ashley hadn’t smiled quite so much – I understand that her character needed to smile, but it was the manner in which she did it rather than the act itself.

The Good to Very Good

Caitlin and Jason (Bollywood)
Choreography by Nikhul, whose last name I will apparently never learn
Song: “Jai Ho” by A.R. Rachman from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack

For me, Jason was spot on in this piece. He danced powerfully and gracefully with hard-hitting execution. There were sections of this where Caitlin was off a little bit, but she always managed to find her footing again rather quickly. (And I’m glad Shankers noticed she was off and commented on it, because I thought I was the only one who saw it. It’s that shared brain we have, apparently.) However, her gymnastics training came in handy during a 15-second handstand, in which she still had to dance with her feet in the air. That was probably her greatest moment in this piece, and its enough to make me forget about her weaker points. This one also got an extended woo from Mary, but not really a full-on scream. Nonetheless, it was very, very good – and I’m so happy to have Bollywood dance on this show! I look forward to the inclusion of more ethnic dancing down the line! (Truly! Let’s go global, SYTYCD!)

Truly, this is one of the most dynamic shots I've ever seen.

Truly, this is one of the most dynamic shots I've ever seen.

Melissa and Ade (Contemporary)
Choreography by Mandy Moore
Song: “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx

I’ve always liked Mandy Moore’s choreography, and the piece that stands out the most to me is the piece she created for Sabra and Dominic in season three, which I always remember as being like A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This piece she created for ballerina Melissa and her very, very strong partner Ade was pure loveliness. Both dancers’ lines were beautiful, they looked beautiful together and were so effortless in their performance. For me, Melissa was the standout of the pair, especially because she has amazingly strong legs. She wrapped herself around Ade like a sexy little lemur, and was most amazing when she leapt up behind him and held there for about 20 seconds, only to have him raise her up in the splits over his head and catch her in his arms again in front of his face. This piece got a real, true Mary Murphy scream – not quite of the same caliber as the one received by Kayla and Max, but a real, true scream nonetheless.

Jeanette and Brandon (Foxtrot)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstrel
Song: “Come Fly with Me” by Michael Buble

While the Foxtrot is nowhere near as horrible as the Quickstep, it’s probably one of the least well-received dances on SYTYCD. Couple after couple has fallen due to a disliked Foxtrot, but I doubt such a thing will occur to Jeanette and Brandon. They were graceful, lovely and well-paired. Jeanette’s pink dress for this number was another of my favorites for the night – it just made every single leg extension she did look more compelling and fluid. Brandon was a stellar partner for her, but I was worried about his facial expressions during the dance. I surely thought Nigel was going to call him out on pulling faces, but Nigel actually thought it showed he was dancing with character and personality rather than his usual stoicism/disingenuous smile.

The Mediocre

Karla and Jonathan (Cha Cha)
Choreography by Tony Meredith, who got a new redheaded assistant this year – where’s Melanie?
Song: “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga

Despite my excitement for “Poker Face,” which is probably my summer anthem, there was a point where this piece started sliding a little bit downhill. Karla, former Boogie Bot, just couldn’t get her back into it correctly, and there were definite moments where I knew she wasn’t doing something right. For instance, there was one point where she leaned forward to go into a lift with Jonathan, but she bent herself in entirely the wrong shape, causing a weird lull, after which the dance picked up again when Jonathan slid between her legs, only to fall into another lull because of Karla’s lack of carriage. Shankers saw it, too, which meant I wasn’t alone. He also commented on the fact that Jonathan needs just a skotch more roll to his hips to carry of a Cha Cha properly. No one else seemed to notice, though, that the dead drop in this piece was kind of lame, probably because of Karla’s weak back. It was an okay effort by both dancers, and definitely didn’t live up to the awesomeness of the music. How many more Lady Gaga tracks do you think will hear this season, btw? I fully expect a Maria Torres disco number to “Love Game,” if only because I want to see someone actually take a ride on her partner’s “disco stick.”

The Problematic

Paris and Tony (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Tabitha and Napoleon Duomo
Song: “Let the Beat Rock (Remix)” by Black Eyed Peas

This piece is how I knew Adam Shankman and I shared a brain: the minute I saw these two take the stage, I took one look at what they were wearing and couldn’t concentrate on their dancing. As such, I can’t really comment on it because I, like Shankers, found the costumes too distracting. The judges were hardly about this piece, though, complimenting Paris on the fact that she danced it well (and dance is really important to her because she crushed her leg in a car accident and thought she might never dance again), and warning Tony that it’s clear he needs serious improvement – even in his own style. Oh my god, you guys, I feel it . . . I feel it coming on . . . here it is: “We could have had two Kasprzak brothers, but instead we got this guy.” If Tony can’t even compete adequately in HIS OWN STYLE, I certainly think we’d have been better off with two Broadway Babies in the Top 20. (By the way, is anyone else with me in the fact that “Broadway” shouldn’t be a dance style, in the same way that animation is not a film genre, because anything can be animated, just like many kinds of dancing appear on Broadway? Maybe that’s an argument for another day, but after five years, and tons of bad Tyce routines, it’s starting to irk me . . . kind of like . . .)

Auska and Vitolio (Broadway)
Choreography by Tyce DiOrio
Song: The worst version of the “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago that I have ever heard.

Oh, fuck me gently with a chainsaw. This is quite possibly my least favorite Tyce routine ever. Remember how earlier I praised his Jazz piece for its beauty and grace? Neither of those words could be used to describe this fucking debacle. In theory, I liked the concept – a sort of pastiche of Busby Berkeley and Charlie Chaplin, what with the bowlers and the minstrel show gloves and Vitolio’s unfortunate Chaplin-stache that just doesn’t look right at all on a black man from Haiti. But in execution, Tyce did nothing to make this piece anywhere near good. He squandered every opportunity he had to create something fun and interesting, something that would utilize the old-school conventions of popular Broadway dance in the 1920s and 1930s and SUBVERT them, MODERNIZE them and SAY SOMETHING through them. Furthermore, Auska and Vitolio danced it without any life or joy, although did so with great technicality, so the piece felt completely and totally inauthentic and flat. I believe Shankers also used similar words, completing our mind meld. I hated every moment of this, so much so that I wanted to punch Tyce square in the face.

Even they can't stand this number.

Even they can't stand this number.

I definitely think that Karla and Jonathan, Paris and Tony and Auska and Vitolio will be in the bottom three couples tonight, and that the judges will send both Karla and Jonathan home. They should send home Tony, but Nigel seems to have a great deal of faith in him, so he won’t go quite yet until he commits some totally irredeemable offense that can’t partially be blamed on the wardrobe department. So, in advance of tonight’s results show, sorry, Karla, reality dance competition programs just aren’t for you to win. Go back to the Boogie Bots and your national tours of Broadway shows – you may think that isn’t the world for you, but it is. And Jonathan, I’m sure Kenny Ortega will hire you back to work on another installment of High School Musical. I wish you both well.

Other stray thoughts:

  • I thought the majority of the intro solos were kind of lame, except for Phillip Chbeeb’s and Evan Kasprzak, although I might be biased because they’re already my favorite two dancers.
  • I cannot hear “You Found Me” by the Fray without thinking of the Lost promo commercials for season 5, and it makes me really sad that there won’t be more Lost until Jan. 2010.
  • Cat was wearing a dress made out of glittery Greco-Roman spiderwebs and jewels. Someone should wear that to my upcoming Greco-Roman murder mystery. I’d do it myself, but I already am debuting a dress I’m very proud to have purchased one of the last of. Also, I’m not quite a bajillion feet tall like Cat Deeley, so I’m not sure I could pull that white shift off.
  • Good to know that Kupono’s name technically should be pronounced with a long u, if the bar above it is any indication.
  • I like that Mary gave the RoboPuppy in Wade’s piece a ride on the Hot Tamale Train, thus bringing Hot Tamale Train Tickets to 1.25 for this episode.
  • The Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for the episode stands at 2, with 4 enthusiastic woos for backup.
  • Jazz blades!

The Husband:

I think the New York Times said it better than I ever could. (That’s why they’re the New York Times and I’m not.)

“It’s possible that American Idol viewers’ selection of Kris Allen over Adam Lambert says something about the mood and mores of the country, that viewers are too conformist to anoint a sassy, androgynous individualist. Then again, maybe not: Mr. Allen’s victory may merely reflect the voters’ conventional taste in pop music…Mr. Allen never fell out of character as the humble, earnest country boy from Arkansas.”

Oh, and besides Jordin Sparks (who is still from a Red State in the West), every single Idol winner has been from the South. It’s a hard trend to beak.

I don’t hate Kris Allen. If you’ve been following the show along with us, you know that I grew to love him. But I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed at the outcome. But the above quote shows that there were a lot of reasons Kris won, and some are more valid than others.

A formidble set of opponents.

A formidble set of opponents.

Personally, I think it comes down to more how Adam lost than Kris won. At the beginning of the Top 12/13, I don’t think anyone thought Kris would ever beat Adam, so here are a few items of interest.

Adam became too safe of a choice:

Yes, the wildly flamboyant and sexual Adam was actually too safe of a choice, the complete opposite of what a lot of people may cry about today, that America was being homophobic. (I think that while some Kris voting may be due to this very thing, it will turn out to be a minor blip on the bigger scale.) The bigger problem, and this was way more subconscious, is that everybody assumed Adam was going to win. Simon went on Ellen and said so. Entertainment Weekly did a friggin’ cover story on him most of the way through the competition. The judges kept on praising him until it felt like the end was preordained. Everybody said the same thing. And Adam, well, he did stop surprising us right around disco week. He was consistently passionate and bombastic, a competent performer. And he was humble about it. But after a while we could already imagine the song before he sang it. Which is a great trait, but not for the attention-craving America. America wants to reward the underdog, to keep things interesting, and Adam stopped being dangerous. He stopped reaching for the “holy shit” factor.

Adam was not Danny:

Last week, we already saw that Adam had lost his considerable lead over the rest of the competition when we were told that only one million votes separated first place and second place, while the remainder was lost on a losing Danny Gokey. But where did Danny’s votes go this week? They went to the other good ol’ American boy, Kris. And that pulled Kris ahead. If we’re going by DialIdol, Kris did not beat Adam by very much, so I’m surprised that some of Danny’s votes may have actually worked their way into Adam’s number — perhaps those who liked Danny for his voice and didn’t give a shit about his story or spirituality, but at the same time were originally afraid to vote for Adam — but I’m willing to bet that the majority of them went to Kris or disappeared outright. Kris was more Danny than Adam could ever be, whatever that may mean to you.

Adam strutted too much:

Yes, I actually believe that if Adam had performed “Mad World” like he did originally, sitting down and letting the music and his spoke speak for themselves, instead of descending a staircase into way too much fake fog, he could have won. He definitely could have gotten Simon to agree that he won all three rounds on Tuesday instead of merely two, but he had to indulge in his theatricality. Which is fine. But I think it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, just like he got into the Bottom Two for performing “Feeling Good” in roughly the same way. But this is saying that his performance tactics are bad. No, they’re not. They’re fucking great. But not everybody is like me, and, for some indiscernible reason, there will still be millions of people out there who outright hate musicals and drama. (Then why are they watching television? I’ll never understand it.)

But let’s get down to the bottom of this: Adam is a much better singer than Kris will ever be. You know this to be true. He was damn near perfect. Oh, and that scream you Adam haters consistently complain about like a broken record? That is a perfect rock wail, a glorious sound you can find in all of the best rock ‘n roll music for the last 50 years. A release of sheer force, emotion and performance. All your complaints really tell me is that you don’t listen to rock music, and you wouldn’t know a good rock singer if it kicked you in the nuts and spit whiskey and glitter in your eye.

But Kris is good, and he’ll make a good album for 19 Entertainment. As I said, “his is the face that launched a thousand glittery posters taped to a teenage girl’s walls and ceiling, right next to her dolphin art.” He has a long career ahead of him.

And not to sound like I’m justifying a loss or acting like the battered wife/husband, but Adam losing might be the best thing to happen to him. As I was fine with the competition going either way (with me, of course, leaning toward an Adam win), I considered Adam’s future, and while he is still to cut an album for 19 Entertainment, he will be free of much of the Idol machine that tends to crush people. He has a better chance of making the album that he wants to make (for one, without Kara’s crappy song), he can more easily pursue acting on stage and screen if that is what he so chooses, and he can be a music star and not have to live up to or live down the label of being an American Idol, a label that often turns a lot of people off in the actual real world. And yes, I think if they make a movie version of Wicked, they’d be insane not to cast him as Fiyero. Some have said he would overdo the role. 1.) From the clips of him understudying as Fiyero, he does it just fine, thank you. 2.) If he does overdo it, it’ll definitely help define a horribly underwritten character in an overrated musical. He could potentially save the entire second half of the story.

I think that’s about it. What other stuff can I say to wrap this up?

Had Allison been in the Top 3 instead of Danny, perhaps Adam may have had a chance to grab her votes and win in the finale had she been voted out. The number of votes that would have gone to her despite her losing would have been far greater than her Top 4 votes, which in turn got Danny out in the actual Top 3.

I think Kara is a great judge and should stick around. She is the only one besides Simon who gives actual friggin’ advice to the contestants, advice that is mostly useful, instead of just being judgmental. She knows what she’s talking about, and I don’t know how that strikes most of you out there as “annoying.”

This is without much hindsight, but I think the finale was definitely one of the best they’ve ever had. And yes, they have done awards in the past. If you thought this was new, either you haven’t watched the show for too long, or you’re an idiot. But I will leave most of the finale talk to my wife. But I do have something to say to the Black Eyed Peas. If you guys really have that “future sound” and are “so 3008,” then why does your #1 hit single sound like techno music from 15 years ago?

I am, above all else, extremely grateful that the top two contestants were exciting, interesting, evocative and [mostly] original. It’s tough to get that on Idol, so despite my misgivings with the results, glad that this show can still surprise me. This was one of the best top 12/13s in the show’s history, with far more talented individuals holding on and only a few non-talented ones eking by. It’s nice to be able to pick on a singer for subtleties instead of just simply declaring that they’re bad, and sparking discussion, even on a show as cookie-cutter as this, is never bad.

And now, it’s time for So You Think You Can Dance, which is, in a lot of ways, a better overall show than American Idol. But if FOX’s decision to also create a fall version of the show right after this summer season ends up overplaying and killing the entire program, I’m going to be pissed.

The Wife:

I’m going to summarize my feelings about Adam Lambert’s strange un-victory per a text message I sent to my friend Magen last night after she had long since gone to bed over in DC:

“Fsdfhsdfgsdfshvgyugsdufh! I die. That outfit was bananas! I was clearly not mature enough to handle that fantasy duet between Adam and KISS because all I did was squee and figdet and wonder where the hell those epaulettes and those fucking boots came from. This was a great finale. KISS. Queen. Allison and Cyndi lauper. Amazing. Even though Adam didn’t win, I cannot wait to buy tickets on his first tour. He is now free to make the gayest, rockingest record ever, and no one will stop him. Glambert saved. Stevecrest out.”

As my husband mentioned above, I think Adam is better off without the Idol win, although I’d have liked him to have it because, well, I love him. He and Kris will both sell records and will both have long careers, and I can have no ill-will toward someone like Kris who is so humble that he conceded to America that he thought his competitor deserved the win more than he did. Both men are winners in my book, really. So now, let me talk about how thoroughly pleased I was with the finale, despite an outcome that didn’t actually go my way.

Idol Awards

First of all, I came late into the Idol game, having only watched since season 6, so the Idol awards were odd to me, but I actually found them pretty enjoyable over all. I never thought I’d be so happy to see Norman Gentle aka Nick Mitchell, and while I hated the idea of him being on Idol, he is funny. And weird. And I’d definitely see his cabaret show, so I’m glad to be reminded of why he’s likeable. I was not happy to see Bikini Girl, especially because she’s so tan now that she looks like she’s been living in South Florida since she was 22 and is now 60. Someone needs to give her the message that pale is the new tan . . . and someone kind of did, actually. Kara. Although I’m bothered by Kara’s pop culture solipcisms, I like her as a judge, and now I like her even more as a singer. Bikini Girl cannot sing at all by comparison and I now know that Kara also looks better in a bikini than bikini girl. She has some damn hard abs, that Kara DioGuardi. I would not be surprised if Bikini Girl has either tried to kill herself or developed an eating disorder after being upstaged by a woman in her 30s who sings better and has a nicer body than she does. As for Tatiana Del Toro . . . I do not know if that was real or not and I don’t care because watching security guards chase that crazy bitch around the stage was funny as hell!

I mean, really, Bikini Girl got nothing on this.

I mean, really, Bikini Girl got nothing on this.

Fantasy Duets!

  • I love that Allison Iraheta got to sing one of my favorite songs ever, “Time After Time,” with Cyndi Lauper. I also love that Cyndi plays the dulcimer. She just gets more amazing every damn day.
  • Kris Allen and Keith Urban are very similar in that they both have scruffy facial hair, play guitar, have a country twang and have blonde wives. I liked this duet because it proved that Kris Allen can easily transition into a country-rock artist if he ever wanted to.
  • Kris + Adam + Surviving Members of Queen = truly spectacular way to end the show. This is the point where I kind of stopped caring which one of them won because I saw that they had such an amazing camraderie while singing “We Are the Champions.” It was clear to me that these guys were having the fucking time of their lives, and that’s exactly what I want to see on Idol. Plus, I enjoyed watching Adam touch the guitarist several times during the performance, as though he couldn’t believe he was singing with fucking Queen. That’s probably what I would have done if I were singing with Cyndi Lauper.
  • But, of course, there was no greater fantasy duet (although, really, not a duet) than Adam Lambert in his King Henry VIII-from-Space outfit with the blinged out epaulettes and the giant gold platform boots he clearly borrowed from Gene Simmons’ closet singing with KISS. Magen was right; I straight up died. I mean, this performance was just the cat’s fucking pajamas for me. I had to cover half my face with a blanket because I was so excited that it was incredibly difficult to not ruin the whole performance with squeals of joy. I don’t even like KISS all that much, but Adam singing with KISS I FUCKING ADORED. I mean, this was a perfect moment for him and he performed the hell out of it, as he does with everything. If I had to pick a favorite moment from this performance, though, it would be when he delicately raised his eyebrow in innuendo when he sang the line “Me and the boys will be playing all night.” Oh, I know, honey. And I wouldn’t have you any other way.
Other performances:
  • At first, I hated the fact that the whole American Idol gang was going to sing Pink’s “So What?” as I adore Pink and never want to hear her stuff sung by anyone else, but I think this was one group number that worked really well. It had a ton of energy and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.
  • I do not dislike Megan Joy, but she was kind of very not good in her duet with Michael Sarver over Steve Martin’s banjo music. Moreover, while I’m sure Steve was happy to be there, I don’t think he was happy to hear “Pretty Flowers” sung the way those two completely oversang it. My fantasy duet for that song? Dolly Parton and Anoop Desai.
  • Speaking of Anoop, I loved that he and Alexis Grace got to do Jason Mraz right by singing the intro solos to “I’m Yours.” That said, this group performance of the song with Mraz was way better than when one third of the Top 36 tried to sing it back when there was a Top 36.
  • Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah? Strangely disappointing. Although I should note that during this number, I sang a bit of “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago to my cat. And I changed the words to be about my cat. That’s how uninteresting this number was.
  • The minute Fergie came on, I screamed, “SING ‘BE ITALIAN’!” because she’s playing Sereghina the Whore in Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Nine and I all kinds of love her super minor-keyed version of a song that, in the stage show, is very bright and somehow not about molestation at all. Here’s the Nine trailer, so you can hear it and be just as excited as I am:
  • But once the Black Eyed Peas came on, I became very frightened of their strange cybertronic zebra dancers. Why were they putting their feet in’s crotch? Not okay! (I bet that was choreographed by Shane Sparks, though.)
Fashion notes!
  • I’ve already talked about Adam’s KISS outfit, but in case you didn’t catch it, I fucking loved it. I die. I channel Rachel Zoe and I die.
  • Alexis Grace got to wear two pairs of very sexy over-the-knee boots. She is one hot mama.
  • Another hot mama? Adam Lambert’s mom, who gets a million extra cuteness points for wearing armwarmers!
  • I was very embarassed for Megan Joy’s pink hot shorts during “Glamorous.”
  • Oh, Lil Rounds. No one knows how to dress you. That top with the strange leaf-like skirt just accentuated your huge booty, and not in a good way. I do not understand why everyone is just a step away from making you into Josephine Baker, as you’ll never, ever be as good of a performer as she was.
  • Allison looked amazing tonight. Staight up.
  • I like that Anoop went for a seersucker jacket as if to say, “I’m from the South and you will all deal with my desire to drink sweet tea from a mason jar, bitches! Get me a fucking mint julep!”
  • Janice Dickinson was totally trashed throughout this whole show, or at least she looked that way.
  • I want my legs to be as shiny and toned as Fergie’s.
  • Matt Giraud looked his best during his Santana number. I think Abuelito shirts are really a good look for him, and they work with his obsession with cubano fedoras.
  • It was very bold of Rod Stewart to pair the Coach leather that is his skin with that faux Burbury jacket.
All of that stuff ads up to a wonderful two hours of television. I’ve been saying it all season, but I’ll reiterate: I can’t wait to see Adam Lambert on Broadway someday. If Constantine Maroulis can get nominated for a Tony for Rock of Ages (and let me say that I saw him in Rent pre-Idol, and while I thought he was the most Roger-looking Roger I’ve ever seen, he certainly wasn’t the best), surely Adam Lambert will one day win one. I will see him in anything. I will follow his ass around the country like my mother-in-law does with Clay Aiken because while he may not be the American Idol, he is my American Idol.