The top 20 is finally here! Look at them dance! Your host is Cat “best host ever” Deeley. Your judges are Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Adam Shankman, who just wants you to know he loves the whole world and everything in it. Be prepared for an onslaught of praise, because “top 20 week” is synonymous with “be generous to the dancers so everybody will think it is a good season regardless of how good the actual dancing is.”
– Jeanine and Philip: hip-hop. I feel that I should call Philip Philipchbeeb, because everybody thinks of him by his full name thanks to his decidedly non-average trajectory to the top 20 and also because when your last name is “Chbeeb,” you are Chbeeb for life. Anyway, he absolutely killed this. Killed it. This wasn’t a particularly hard-hitting routine by any means (come on, it’s Napoleon and Tabitha), but Philipchbeeb’s stops and starts are some of the crispest and cleanest I have ever seen, and he elevated what would have otherwise been a perfectly average Naptha lyrical faux-hop to something pretty damn good. Jeanine, for her part, was present, but Philipchbeeb partnered her very well, pointedly drawing the eye to her with his armwork on more than one occasion.
– Asuka and Vitolio: Broadway. This was god-awful shit. Asuka and Vitorio did not dance it well, and Tasty Oreo’s routine was a boring, boring, boring number (and Adam Shankman was pretty clear that he wanted to say so, but Adam Shankman is a polite nice man who loves the whole world, so clearly he could not do that). This was a mountain of suck in a mountain rage of blow-ass. Asuka clearly drew the short stick tonight, being the sole non-contemporary dancer to have to dance entirely out of her native style. But in fairness, Vitolio was stiff and generally not very entertaining either.
– Karla and Jonathan: cha cha. The judges raved about this, but I wasn’t very impressed; for a Latin ballroom dancer, Jonathan’s dancing wasn’t exactly inspired, the tricks weren’t executed very cleanly and Karla’s basics weren’t that great. On the plus side, the two of them have good chemistry, and that should carry them along for a while. On the down side, sooner or later you have to deliver, and based on this performance I’m not hopeful for delivery.
– Randi and Evan: jazz. Tasty Oreo again, but I am more generous to Tasty’s (usually good) jazz pieces than his overhyped Broadway numbers. This was a strong number, both in the choreo and in Randi and Evan’s dancing. Not as glorious as the judges made it out to be, not by any means – but it’s good. Good partnership, good chemistry, good technique, good everything. I have nothing else to say, really, because this was Perfectly Acceptable Dancing.
– Paris and Tony: hip-hop. This was pathetic. Tony was actually not as good as Paris in this, and hip-hop was, as I recall, supposed to be his specialty. This is not to say that Paris was particularly good, because she was not good; off-beat for most of the routine and hitting her beats softly. She was just better than Tony. The design of the routine itself was mediocre at best. Hopefully after this week we can have different hip-hop choreographers than Napoleon and Tabitha, because they are very nice people who very frequently choreograph very whiteboy hip-hop.
– Caitlyn and Jason: Bollywood. This felt kind of auto-pilot for me. Caitlyn in particular just seemed to be doing the steps rather than actually feeling the dance; she never really lost that look of “I’m concentrating on the routine” and got into the moment. Jason was better and sharper, but wasn’t in sync with Caitlyn for the unison movements. Still, this wasn’t a bad routine by any means, but it was very middle-of-the-road in terms of quality; good enough to get by this week (especially with the novelty factor that Bollywood still has for the voting public), but not good enough down the line. Then again, Bollywood is a hard style to do on this show, so it’s hard to assess them.
– Jeanette and Brandon: foxtrot. Brandon started out very, very stiff and eased up as the routine progressed, but never really got to that slinky glide that really good foxtrot demands; his footwork went from nervous stutter to okay-but-nothing-special steady walk. However, his lifts were nothing short of insane. He’s like one giant muscle. Also, he looks like Donald Faison on Scrubs, and Jeanette’s hairdo could make her a plausible J.D. substitute. (Not that this matters.) She, for her part, was very good. The routine as a whole was good. Not great, just good, and a promising start.
– Ashley and Kupono: jazz. It’s a Wade Robson thing about crash test dummies, and – well, Wade Robson sure does avoid the choreographer cliches, you got to give him that. This was memorable and weird and fun and danced really well. Kupono’s headbobs in particular added a lot to the piece, but Ashley was good as well. This was strong.
– Melissa and Ade: contemporary. It’s a Mandy Moore piece about falling in love, so if you’re playing the SYTYCD drinking game, take a shot. Melissa, we are reminded, is a
slutty naughty ballerina who is 29 and therefore must chug Geritol every night. Ade, for his part, likes music! And this is a very strong piece indeed; the unison is dead-on for some extremely difficult portions of the dance and Ade and Melissa have excellent chemistry. Neither of these two were favorites coming in, but I think they’ve got a shot at frontrunnerdom now.
– Kayla and
Maksim “Max”: samba. This wasn’t quite as good as the judgegasm would have you believe, but it was definitely very strong; Kayla’s footwork and bodywork in her role very good, especially for a ballroom novice, and she and Max played to the camera and the crowd excellently. Hot ending to the show.
Predicted bottom three couples: Asuka and Vitolio, Paris and Tony, Karla and Jonathan.
Should go home: Paris and Tony.
Will go home: Asuka and Vitolio.