Your guest judges this week are Dan “Best Judge In SYTYCD History Who Is Not Jason Coleman From Australia” Karaty and… Karen Kain? For reals? Holy shit.
Melanie and Cody: hip-hop. There isn’t too much to say here: this was fantastic, another example of how Luther Brown can choreo hip-hop without any need for elaborate stuntwork and still be better than just about anybody else. Melanie continues to be ridiculously good at almost everything. Cody was in his element and did not disappoint. Karen Kain starts off an entire evening of being absolutely goddamned awesome by admitting that she can’t accurately judge hip-hop technique, but then critiques them on their general physicality and presence absolutely brilliantly.
Amy and Vincent: cha-cha. Amy was a lot better this week than she was in her first week doing salsa. This is not to say that she danced it like a white girl, because she did, but at least she danced it like a skilled white girl rather than an awkward, clumsy white girl. Vincent was as predictably excellent as always. Karen Kain, who is awesome, notes that her feet were a bit off in parts, but then politely thanks them for good work. Amy and Vincent are really developing good chemistry together; it’s a pity that I think they’ll have a bit of a challenge making top ten.
Tara-Jean and Everett: house. The judges went wild for this: Dan accurately explaining how difficult house is as a dance style, Karen Kain (who is awesome) admitting her unfamiliarity with the style again but then explaining how good Tara-Jean and Everett’s chemistry is (and it’s very good), Tre just offering props and Jean-Marc being Jean-Marc, but justified for once. This wasn’t quite as good as they said: Everett in particular shorted his steps just a little bit and they were probably lucky that the brief bit of floorwork was brief. And it wasn’t as good as Vincent and Lisa’s house last year. That having been said, this was very strong overall and the first time Tara-Jean and Everett have really impressed me.
Kim and Emanuel: contemporary. Stacey Tookey is mega-exploding-laser levels of hot. I am just saying. This was pretty much perfect. Karen Kain (who is awesome) pointed out quite eloquently that unlike a lot of routines on this show, there was a lot of quiet, non-melodramatic artistry here. GODDAMNIT, KAREN KAIN, STOP BEING AWESOME BECAUSE YOU ARE QUEERING UP MY GIG HERE.
Jayme-Rae and Daniel: disco. Much better disco routine from Melissa Williams this time around after that disaster in the top 20 week. This was… okay? Good, even. But not great: whenever the two of them went to close holds, their footwork got a bit hesitant, and disco needs full commitment, not only to the characters but to the steps. Jayme-Rae also seemed a bit unwilling to really embrace the cheese factor of disco: in comparison I thought Daniel nailed that. Still, they’ve been justifiably popular until now, so they should be safe.
Natalie and Danny: West Coast swing. Pretty much the entire judging panel went “okay, maybe it’s not really West Coast swing, but hey, Benji Schwimmer says it is, so what the hell.” Which is pretty much what it was: Benji being a dance dork and doing whatever the hell he wanted in terms of choreo, throwing in hip-hop and contemporary flourishes wherever he felt it appropriate, and making it work. (SYTYCD nerds will note that Donyelle was his teaching partner and that she’s apparently learned a lot of ballroom since season 2.) Anyway, this was weird (and I fucking hate “Love Lockdown” – fuck you, Kanye, fuck you sideways for your shitty-ass song where you pretend to be minimalist) but very good. Karen Kain (who is awesome) nailed it on the head when she pointed out that Benji designed the routine to take advantage of Natalie and Danny’s respective dancing strengths.
Corynne and Austin: jazz. Choreographed by John Byrne – not the cranky old comics John Byrne but the choreographer John Byrne. (That having been said, please take a minute to make up a John Byrne joke in your head if you are so inclined. I personally like the one where he angrily yells at the dancers not to call Batman “Bats.”) This was very good, a worthy cap to one of the strongest overall episodes of SYTYCD I’ve ever seen. Corynne doing that super-fast running leap in heels was just ridiculous, and Austin’s tricks didn’t feel out of place given the storyline of the piece.
Probable bottom three: (Christ, this is hard this week.) Amy and Vincent, Jayme-Rae and Daniel, Natalie and Danny.
Should go home: Amy and Danny.
Will go home: Amy and Danny.
Should come back every week: Dan Karaty and motherfucking Karen Kain.