Monday, July 20, 2009
So You Think You Can Dance - Top 10 (5x16, 5x17)
Maybe this week was a letdown compared to last, or I've finally said all I can say about reality television morals, but I'm having trouble scratching up anything remotely interesting to say about the top 10 performances. I guess mildly funny lols are ahead, but consider that fair warning, after the jump.
I said that Mia's addiction piece was going to be the most violent choreography the show is likely to see, but Travis gave her a run for her money with another number that placed a premium on confrontational physicality. Unfortunately, I didn't like it much -- too much frantic melodrama set to yet another iteration of an acoustic singer-songwriter whose earnestness masquerades for a good songwriting. (Apparently, the singer-songwriter in question is Jason Mraz -- and to think I was going to refer to him as a "singing ovary.")
Nor did I care for the solos from either of the... well, Ade has shown that he isn't exactly a frontrunner like Brandon, but the two of them, I found their solos overloaded and ill-suited for the music they each chose. "Unchained Melody" doesn't jibe well with Ade's expansive, dramatic dancing -- the song sounds big, it's produced by Phil Spector, of course it'll sound humongous, but it's seared into popular consciousness as a song about romantic love that clashes with Ade's exhibition of athleticism. In Brandon's case, the music was generic, and I'd rather he had stuck with his pattern of using orchestra bombast and borrowed "Dies Irae" from Randi and Kupono, who didn't otherwise seem to be using it.
Brandon could've sorely put Randi's wig to better use, as well.
(The earrings make him look more "Yaaargh" than "Groovy, dude.")
In fact, the most memorable thing of the night was Brandon's explosiveness in Tasty Oreo's whatever in which Melissa happened to make a convincing flower child
Verbatim Melissa: "We're like, I guess it's in the '70s, just where there's no worries, no cares, yeeaaahh, it's wild." Spoken like someone who was there. Because, you see, she's old? Also, on her height conundrum with Brandon: "Hopefully I won't have to wear heels, or I might just have to shrink a little bit." No worries there, let age take care of that for you. (Because, you see, old?)
It's like she's that bird that never stops drinking the water.
Theoretical bookkeeping ahead, which you can skip by clicking here. I should probably correct last week's thoughts on the importance of form, which I'm initially reluctant to do because I'd have to redefine my central concepts more finely, more narrowly, which would necessarily erode their philosophical integrity. (If I were in more of a contentious mood, I'd call it being more nuanced.) The context in which I mentioned "form" does not include the form or process by which the show is produced, i.e. how the dancers are paired with each other and how they pick or are assigned weekly styles. In this regard, I'm all about the ends, because these means -- whether Nigel explicitly pulled strings to get Ade and Melissa that pas de deux -- are behind the veil, the administrative efforts that make the show function as a show, but not what defines its artistry. These mechanistic processes are the Krebs cycle of the show -- I don't need to know about the chemical reactions that go into cellular respiration in order to, you know, be a functioning organism.
But within the rules and physics that the show sets for itself, that's where the magic of form occurs and differentiates itself from everything else, from the dumb beasts and from other sorts of artistic endeavors, and I was talking about form in this context last week.
This shot of Cat is one lusting Clinton Portis short of making Janice Dickinson ask her if she escaped from a mental institution. Cat lucks out, though, that this is a waist-up shot.
Actually, with that birds' nest she sported atop her pate, Cat was also evoking the other end of Top Model (postmodelity?), Allison.
This is one competition where Creepy-chan actually comes out on top.
Cat's not done with the doppelgangery, vis-a-vis a certain gangly acid-test-fashionista Hawaiian:
And on the subject of Kupono, I think that he gets a bit of a raw deal, especially if I apply the same metrics of outrage/grievance that I used for Chbeeb. Both departed guys qualify along the "he's had two awesome routines" measure, which is still more than Evan and Jason as far as I'm concerned. And although I'm not ready to say that Kupono was an indispensable reason for the potency of the addiction piece, none of us can really go back in time to swap him out for another dancer. The past is what it is, and Kupono ought to receive the credit for his part in it.
Cheers to Melissa last week for soloing (not once, but twice) to Lamb, who are probably among my 30 most favorite artists ever. Back when they were still a going concern, you could lazily call them Portishead (trip hop outfit fronted by female torch singer) with fat drum 'n bass beats (at least earlier in their career). The singer, Louise Rhodes, has a weird voice choked down into a childlike coo that new listeners might find odd or distasteful, but Lou could knock it out of the park with unaffected vocals, too.
Melissa would've impressed me so much more, though, if she'd picked something from Lamb's self-titled album -- "Gabriel" is a pretty song, certainly a highlight of What Sound?, but I prefer the seething urgency of tracks like "Merge" or "Lusty" or skronk like "Trans Fatty Acid," and I would've utterly died if she'd danced to "Gorecki," which is on the short list of all-time heart-stoppingly beautiful songs ever conceived.
Debbie Allen was right to fear for her the honesty of all young women when presented with the shady specter of one Dr. Funk, because anyone who's anyone knows that having "funk" in your name means a whole lot of low-down dirty no-good, no matter what title you give yourself ("Dr. Funk," "The Right Honorable Justice Funk," "Adm. Funk," "Rev. Funk"). ("Funktopus," however, remains now and forever full of class.) (All apologies to people whose last name is actually Funk.) Janette was fortunate in her encounter with the Notorious F.U.N.K., as she showed that, even under the influence of hypnagogic strategems for untowards purposes, she had the knowledge -- and the wherewithal! -- to fight against his wiles with some cheese-smacking pro rasslin moves (bodyscissors into a sunset flip, to be exact), thus demonstrating yet again the virtue-preserving effect the sport entertainment promises for all chaste young women of good breeding.
(I'm going out on a limb to guess that the wrestling move was Napoleon's idea.)
Wade's group routine reminds me of the look of Matthew Barney's Drawing Restraint 9 (which I haven't actually seen, nor do I want to, ever, but this won't be the first time I'd be talking authoritatively about something with which I am only superficially acquainted), meaning that it's mostly a triumph of costuming and set design (Amanda's handiwork, I bet) and lighting (Brandon's) -- but the camerawork asserted itself again in a bad way, and I guess Janet Jackson is a fitting soundtrack for an aesthetic that drips of '90s fetish for medieval Japan chased by the turgid plasticity of the era's early CGI. That said, Homogenic-era Bjork or some other minimal avant-electro would've fit the bill better.
The best parts of the routine were the isolated bits where each group/pair was showcased, but when everyone comes together, moves get messy. (Moves get messy, and the wrong people die.)
He gets his steps and his words from his brother, so it shouldn't be shocking that Evan is just as sweaty as Ryan. Here he is entering the studio to rehearse the Viennese Waltz.
You know, before he's actually started to dance.
Not that I think Cat minds, generally speaking.
While the level of generic diversity among our current group is dismal, I should note that the guys' side is remarkable for its diversity, and before Nigel and the editors decided to make hay out of it, for how it's otherwise not that remarkable. However, maybe the demographics line up favorably for Evan as the last pale face who'll get the focus of white love -- call it The Wire Season Two Effect. He could pass for a Sobotka, couldn't he?
Maybe this season's bunch see their solos as finite resource -- call it the conservation of solos. After all, since they're all guaranteed to dance for their lives again (until they're out of the competition), they may not want to burn through their repertoires at double the pace. (Not everyone has as deep a bag of tricks as Twitch, right?) And when we all see their (presumably) new solos next week, that would certainly trump any qualms we might hold over this week's repetition.
Paula Van Oppen, whom we saw semi-prominently in Vegas, has already auditioned for Season 6. It's kind of insane, that she went through the rigors of Vegas callbacks and mere months later is already starting the process all over again (glutton for punishment is the term I'm looking for).
The Bane of the Middlebrow, AKA the Black Eyed Peas, get far more hate than they deserve. I have no idea what turns people off to them -- something about Fergie, but I couldn't care less about stuff that doesn't weigh on the music. "Boom Boom Pow"? It's the Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" laid on top of Autechre's "Stud," and anything to bring Autechre to the masses is aces in my book (like that old VW ad from way back).
Anyway, "I Gotta Feeling" is like Opus III's "It's A Fine Day" for this millennium, while the live performance itself was actually pretty rad, starting with will.i.am styling his asymmetrical flat-top fade and peaking with the frenzied explosion of anthemic hands-in-the-air excess (and confetti!) -- without hauling ornate pyrotechnics onto the stage, quite an accomplishment that they managed it all with shredded paper and human bodies. A-a-a-and how can you hate on a song where its singers randomly yell out "mazel tov" for no discernable reason?
Word from within the show is that Kupono wasn't available to provide a postmodern spin this week.
But that's not to say that we can't work one more Corner in, as we've got an equally talented substitute to fill in for what may be the last Corner, ever.
Indie rating: The Raveonettes - "Here Comes the End"