So You Think Can You Dance: Lady Gaga Loves the Top 8 (But Not the Choreographers)
Alternate headline: Rob Marshall may be an Oompa Loompa, but at least he sticks up for the So You Think You Can Dancechoreographers!
Last night was, as my BlogHer colleague put it: A lotta show.
Starting with the guest judges: Rob Marshall, whose liberal use of the tanning salon has left him looking like John Boehner, or maybe an Oompa Loompa; and another guest judge, who would rather explore the significance of the Oompa Loompas as a critical treatise on cultural enslavement by the patriarchy...all while adorning herself with the accoutrements of bondage herself: Lady Gaga.
Image courtesy FOX
(Did that even make sense? I was really just going for pretentious hipster talk.)
Don't get me wrong. There was also a whole lotta great dancing last night. These are all talented dancers, and I can't really say I'd be too upset with any of them making it all the way to the final. But I do think Gaga brings this air of the surreal to any endeavor. And given I'm not much of a fan myself, the way everyone was acting like it was having Jesus or, I don't know, Stephen Sondheim on the judging panel was a little disconcerting. Chacun a son gout, right? (Yes. More pretentious talk.)
Last night each dancetestant first danced with an all-star, and they were put into pairs and danced with each other. Here's how it went down.
1. Sasha and all-star Pasha danced a Jonathan Roberts quick step to Terry Snyder's cover of "Puttin' on the Ritz."
I think Jonathan might have oversold the quirkiness on this just a tetch. It didn't strike me as that weird. Now, if one of them had been dressed like Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein? That would have been the appropriate level of weird, given the song choice. So, not that quirky, but there were a couple of odd moments (like was that supposed to be a lift at the end?). All in all it was fun and snappy, and she pulled off looking like she'd done the Quick Step 100 times. I just didn't think it was that weird!
2. Caitlynn and all-star Ivan danced a Marty Kudelka hip-hop routine to "Mario's Let Me Love You."
Well, let me channel Len from Dancing with the Stars and say that this routine took a really long time to get going. And even when it started to heat up, it seemed to feature Ivan way more than Caitlynn. She was totally competent. But this was a total throwaway number. The most interesting part came during the judging. NO, I have to say: I don't like it when Nigel tells girls to "open their legs a little bit more," either. However, I do think Gaga pointing it out only made me think about him saying that to young girls more, and that is not OK.
3. Jordan and all-star Ade danced a Tyce Diorio jazz routine to Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits."
Yes, yes, Jordan is a sex kitten who can kick really, really high. I get it already. I mean, this was, again, competently done, no complaints. Well, OK: one complaint. I didn't think there wasn't a ton of connection between them. She was playing out to the audience most of the time, and it meant there wasn't a ton of the infamous chemistry you hear about. My main issue is just that I'm tired of it. I guess you could blame the choreographers. They're playing the same keys every time they work with her. Either way, I'm all Evil Willow "Bored now!" about Jordan.
4. Melanie and all-star Neil danced a Mandy Moore contemporary routine to Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
Much as it pains me to say it, I think I'm starting to suffer a similar ennui with Melanie. Now, let's be clear: That ennui is about a level of performance and technique that, in my opinion, is among the best they've got up there. This number was really good. Excellent. But I'd like to see Melanie do something fun and light. I'd like to see her do hip-hop. I'd like to see her do a frothy foxtrot or jumping jive. Is it just me? I feel like it might be just me.
5. Ricky and all-star Anya danced a Jason Gilkison jive to Celine Dion's "River Deep, Mountain High."
This had some stellar moments, particularly some lifts and releases that were breathtaking. And yet I felt Ricky didn't have the bounce. I agree with the judges that he was quite upright, and quite stiff. Most of all, he didn't have quite Anya's sharpness. About halfway through, the music kicked into high gear, and Ricky did too. But all in all, I felt he was a step behind his all-star. Apparently Gaga disagrees, though, because unless I'm mistaken she called Anya some version of old during judging. OK, maybe she meant old-fashioned, but it came out sounding like she thought Ricky was modern and cool, and Anya was old and cheesy. Shocking!
6. Jess and all-star Lauren G. danced a Tabitha and Napoleon hip-hop routine to Rihanna's "Take a Bow."
I loved this, and I really do love Jess. He moves like nobody else up there, with so much nuance and style right in his bones. I think that's an advantage he may have as a theatrical or Broadway dancer; the other dancers seem more like blank canvases compared to him. Once Gaga broke the ice on being critical in her judging, there was no turning back, and for this routine it was NappyTabs' turn to get some not-so-subtle digs, especially about the props. She hated the prop flower. Now I just saw Gaga perform live at the American Idol finale, where she danced upon some huge Close Encounters of the Third Kind monolith with dancers randomly draped about the base of it. It was pointless and distracting, so she ain't lying when she says she "loves a good prop." So why she be hating on the innocent flower? Yeouch.
7. Tadd and all-star Lauren F. (last season's winner!) danced a Mandy Moore jazz routine to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust."
Image courtesy FOX
This was a fun one, and I'll agree 100% with Nigel, who couldn't believe how much maturity and style Lauren brought to it. I wasn't a big fan of hers before, but I thought she was hot in this. I thought it was dynamic and sharp and sexy. I liked Lauren better in this than I ever liked her last season. But you might notice that's a lotta talking about Lauren: She outshined Tadd. The most I remember about him is that his hat fell off. I mean, OK, he was an effective foil to her, but it was all about her.
8. Marko and Allison all-star danced a Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine to "Jeff Buckley's I Know It's Over."
I love Allison. Seriously, like Rob Marshall said: She's an artist. And some other guy was dancing, too. OK, yes, Marko was good. The routine was beautiful overall, not least because of the Jeff Buckley soundtrack. I watched it twice to make sure I wasn't so distracted by her that I didn't notice him being totally amazing, because the judges were just over the moon. And I'll stand by thinking he was really, really good, but simply doesn't yet have her commitment and artistry.
Then, the dancers were paired off with each other:
1. Caitlynn and Tadd danced a Jonathan Roberts foxtrot to Ella Fitzgerald's "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails."
This was...nice, especially considering it was outside their style. When they were dancing side by side, showing off their personalities, it was especially good. When they were dancing in frame, it wasn't quite as on the money, but I was impressed in general. Caitlynn has really made the best impression on me in ballroom, first in last week's tango and now with a lovely foxtrot.
2. Marko and Ricky danced a Tabitha and Napoleon hip-hop routine to Diddy's "Bad Boy 4 Life."
This old-school hip-hop routine, complete with Marko and Ricky dressed up as janitors, did not drive me wild. I only really started to really like it when the music picked up. So I totally get why Gaga did not go gaga over it. But again with the dissing of the choreography (and the props) -- Gaga was even harsher on this routine than she was on Nappy Tabs's first number. You see, they just don't do that on this show. Now, sometimes, on Dancing with the Stars, the choreographers get a little bit of the criticism -- because the choreographers are the pro partners, and technically they're competing too. On SYTYCD, they typically leave the choreographers alone. No one gave Gaga the memo. Luckily OompaLoopmaBoehner was there to come to the choreographer's defense, basically telling Gaga to back off. Thank goodness they were seated on opposite sides of the judging table!
3. Jordan and Jess danced a Jason Gilkison rumba to Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain."
This was maybe the most meh routine of the night. I didn't get caught up in it. I didn't buy that there was any real attraction there. I can't say they didn't do the steps; I'm sure they did, but meh to the meh anyway. And? Her dress was really unflattering.
4. Melanie and Sasha danced a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine to District 78's "Game On."
So yeah, put two girls in Blade Runner outfits and mohawks, acting like Mad Max robots, have cool lighting and techno music, and have it go last -- that, apparently, is the recipe for a mutual, simultaneous judgegasm about the number. Was it really all that? I feel like I've seen it before (poor, jaded moi!), and I actually thought they weren't always really well synched. I just didn't quite love it like everyone else. Again...just me?
To end the night there was a weird shoe-throwing ritual involving Lady Gaga and her big-ass Alexander McQueen horse hooves, if horses were red and had two-foot-high hooves.
By then I was a little over the drama.
Bottom Line for the Bottom:
So, are they really going to do a bottom three when there are only four of each gender left? I'm going to guess there's a bottom two, and that they will be:
Boys: Ricky and Jess, with Ricky going home.
Girls: Caitlynn and Jordan, with Caitlynn going home.
But what did you think?