Lady Boohoo and friends: So You Think You Can Dance, Week 8
WARNING: The following recap is not the musings of a certified dance expert. My qualifications for writing this column are: I am a reality TV lover with a DVR machine that I only sort of know how to use.
It's Week 8 now, and there are two hours to fill, eight dancers left, 12 routines in the night, two guest judges and one host dressed like a vanilla cupcake. (It's getting to be like the 12 Days of Christmas up in here.)
For those of you keeping score, Clarice and Mitchell went home last week. It was hard to see them go, but we’re alright with it because it gets us closer to crowning Melanie the ultimate victor.
The guest judges are announced, and it's a real treat for the evening. Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) is one of the judges. He knows about dancing and acting and apparently, spray tanner.
Any other night, Rob Marshall would be a fantastic guest judge. But he is instantly outshined and outscreamed by the appearance of a green-haired colonel of the red pleather military, Lady Gaga. She's got the silly outfit, the ridiculous hair and the terrible makeup. You know it's going to be a good night.
Sasha (dancing with Season 3 All-star Pasha):
It’s quickstep time, and it’s going to be good because these two flavors taste great together. Sasha-Pasha. I'll take two of those please.
They're dancing to an updated “Puttin' on the Ritz” which is fine but looks nothing like a ballroom routine.
She’s definitely the focus of the dance, but she HAS to be in that sparkly purple fringe get-up. I just love it when the wardrobe people go shopping in the Jim Henson Studios sample sales.
Their spin tricks look good, her angles are great. Pasha looks more effortless than Sasha, but Sasha has more work to do than Pasha. The dance is unmemorable. Ultimately, Sasha + Pasha = Pssshaw.
Sashsa is apparently one of Rob Marshall’s favorite dancers this season. He knows the genre doesn’t highlight her talents but applauds her efforts. Mary Murphy starts delivering her critique in her normal pitch, but she jumps into her terrifying screams by the end. Nigel Lythgoe tells Sasha she’s his favorite dancer, citing a 5 star performance.
Gaga sees the sparkles on Sasha's inside and enjoys her interpretation of the quickstep. Turns out Gaga is cogent on her critiques. I was hoping for more references to baby monsters and glory edges.
Caitlynn (dancing with Season 2 All-star Ivan):
Marty Kudelka directs this downer hip hop routine. It's set to the Mario song “Let Me Love You,” and the goal is to let Caitlynn show she has soul.
The song is a quiet downer, and the routine starts with her crying on a bench. Caitlynn proved earlier she can handle this style of dance, but she does it like a white girl from the suburbs. True to form, this dance looks overly practiced, while Ivan looks totally comfortable slouching into it. They’re both smooth, but she’s worried more about accuracy than swagger.
Mary takes a moment to gush about Ivan before remembering Caitlynn's there. Nigel encourages Caitlynn to sit down fuller “into the pocket” and spread her legs a bit further. Of course he just said that.
Gaga calls Caitlynn sexy, which is fun praise from a lady that wears meat in public. Rob asks Caitlynn to lose herself in her dance, the way "Queen Gaga" does. Gaga deflects the awkward praise by calling Nigel the biggest queen on the judging panel. Well played, Gags.
Jordan (dancing with Season 5 All-star Ade):
Tyce Linebeard is back, directing Jordan and Ade in what he calls “badass jazz.” Ade is practicing in glasses and a wallet chain? Dancing danger!
The song is “Nutbush City Limits,” a lesser known kicker from Tina Turner. Jordan and Ade don't waist any time. He's a huge muscle beast, and he’s just flipping her and bending her and dragging her every which way. She’s going to have some serious spinal complications one day from this dance.
It’s very sexy and impressive--more caveman than badass. It's a bit all over the place, but absolutely fun to watch. It's clear these two had fun posing her like a Barbie doll.
Nigel asks what Jordan’s “little body can’t do” and we all squirm. Gaga states that Jordan gives her hope for little ladies. Then she shows us her ridiculous three-foot-tall, physics-defying shoes.
Rob flirts with Tyce and then expresses his wishes to scream like Mary. We’re thankful he can’t because one is more than enough. Mary takes the invitation to go nuts and talks for a solid minute using only sonar. Bats come swooping into the studio and dive bomb her hair.
Melanie (dancing with Season 4 All-star Neil):
Mandy Moore is back in full form with an 80s-inspired dollop of perfection in “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” It's amazing this song hasn't been done before.
I’m dying. This is perfection. Like she loves to do, Mandy lit the stage with stars, dressed them both in white, and makes them writhe around in unrequited yearning. Neal is wearing his sparkling white linen pants. Melanie’s in her best flowy white jumper. They're everything you wish the Hamptons could be at nighttime.
We already know this is going to go over perfectly. They’re in synch, they’re up, they’re down. They’re doing things that are strange and yet familiar. Then she runs from the opposite side of the stage and jumps approximately nineteen feet into his arms. It’s incredeible.
Then there's a sad, breakup ending. Lights go up, boom, standing ovation. Gaga’s taller than everyone.
Gaga has to take her hat off to fan herself. She calls Melanie her favorite and offers to hire her to dance on her tour once this silly SYTYCD Tour is over. Who cares what the others are gonna say? Nigel starts talking and Gaga starts grabbing his arm and draping her seaweed hair on his shoulder. They’re having the biggest BFF night, and we’re just lucky to experience it with them.
Ricky (dancing with Season 3 All-star Anya):
Jason Gilkison is directing a jive routine to Celine Dion's cover of “River Deep, Mountain High.” Jive is always rough. But then this song happened. Who in gay media hell decided this nightmare needed to happen? But more importantly, what was Tina Turner thinking giving this to Celine in the first place?
Oh, right, dancing. They’re moving so quickly, it really is astounding. Anya's mango fringe dress has all the attention, but he’s keeping our attention with his explosive dancing feet. He can absolutely handle this.
Then out of nowhere, SHE flips HIM over her shoulder. The song crescendos, but the choreography slows down. A strange closing pops with an awesome ending pose. She straight up almost lost her head.
Rob loves Ricky's technique and calls him a star. Mary recognizes the challenges involved here, but has little more to say than that he’s a great dancer.
Nigel tells him one of his lifts looks like it "came out of a meat locker.” Woof. Gaga tells Ricky the dancing felt a bit too much like Dancing with the Stars. Now I want to see Kirstie Alley trying these moves. Talk about meat locker. Double woof.
Jess (dancing with Season 3 All-star Lauren Gottlieb):
Hip Hop choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon lead Jess and Lauren in a routine of “Take a Bow” by Rihanna. The innocent little ditty is about cheating and apologizing, so of course Jess has a flower in his hand. It’s awesomely cheesy.
The movements are expertly specific. Jess can absolutely handle this, though she’s more accurate than he is. It's a pretty standard hip hop routine for the show, but Jess's honesty and lack of mugging helps me not hate him as much.
Mary’s word for Jess tonight is “progress.” She calls him “really good,” which is her code for mediocre. She and Nigel practice saying the word “swag” while tossing palsied gang signs like ocotgenarian grandparents.
Gaga didn’t like the flower and criticizes the choreographers for being over the top. And she knows Over the Top. Rob Marshall reveals that he already knows Jess from when he was on Broadway in the stage version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He's already been on Broadway?! What’s the little moppit doing here? That's just rude.
Tadd (dancing with Season 7 all-star Lauren Froderman):
Mandy Moore back again for more. But this time, she's choreographing a Pink Panther-esque dance. Ruh-roh, Shaggy. This can only go badly. Tadd and Lauren are supposed to be criminals. You can tell because they both have black hats and fingerless gloves on.
Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” is the soundtrack for their Michael Jackson dancing. There's a lot going on that doesn't quite jive, though. He looks good, she looks silly. They're doing a contemporary routine, but he's b-boying.
His hat falls off mid-routine and sits on the stage like an unfortunate clue left behind as evidence. She hits him in the face at one point. This is starting to feel more like the Keystone Cops than Smooth Criminal. The routine isn't cool enough or sexy enough or fast enough to justify the over-the-top choices. Mandy looks disappointed with the result.
Nigel is proud of Tadd for venturing out of his comfort zone. Gaga just loves the costumes. Rob applauds Tadd for leaving his hat on the floor, forgetting they were meant to be stealthy criminals. And Mary calls Tadd coooooool, drawing out the vowel the way my Midwestern mom says it. She predicts Tadd's gonna be in the finale. But, really? This routine totally bit the dust.
Marko (dancing with Season 2 All-star Alison):
Sonya of the Highlands is directing this final primary routine, and it's time for some high drama. Appropriately, she chooses Jeff Buckley's “I Know It’s Over” and the stage is red and heavy. Marko is shirless and jumping and rolling and yearning. Their spatial relationship is amazing. They keep ending up right where they need to go.
Sonya just can't get enough of love stories where everyone leaps. This is exactly what the people want. Everything feels sad and passionate and hopeless, but beautiful and impossible. Oh, the power of dance.
Afterward, Gaga is straight up crying. Cut to Marko's mom who's also crying. Everyone’s just standing and crying. So sweet, sensitive Marko can’t help but cry too.
Gaga’s proud of him and starts talking about all the mistakes she made as a child and channels all of her past mistakes into mascara-ruining tears. Mother Monster is indeed mostly still human. Cut to Marko's mom who can’t stop standing up and waving and crying and sitting down again and waving again and crying again. Let’s just watch moms cry all night long every night!
Mary is crying too but holding it in for all our sakes. She declares that Marko is her favorite dancer now. Nigel takes this moment to remind the viewers that we should all love our mothers. And to show you why, they cut back to Marko's crying and waving and standing mom. Loving all of it. Hooray for television, y'all.
Caitlynn and Tadd pairing:
To fill up the rest of the unnecessary two hours, the eight dancetestants are paired up for afterthought dances.
First up, Jonathan Roberts directs a foxtrot for Caitlynn and Tadd set to Ella Fitzgerald's “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails." It's a quaint song with a classic feel, and they both look like the tiniest pageant kids dressed up in funny adult costumes.
It’s really impressive that Tadd learned all these steps having had no official training at all. He's smiling a lot, which makes it look like he’s acting the whole time. My attention is on her, though. Mostly because of that ridiculously beautiful feathered dress and hair corsage. She looks gorgeous.
Rob Marshall loves the partnership of these two and reminds people that ballroom dancing is hard. Mary gets on her ballroom kick and wants more power expressed between them. Realizing this dance is a throw-away, Nigel and Gaga offer to get up and waltz together. Since she's wearing three-foot-tall shoes, she offers to let Nigel borrow some of her other pairs.
Best phrase of the night happens when Gaga reminds Caitlynn "not to hold all of her trophies in her hands" while she dances. Take-away Gagaism to live by: “Forget about the trophies and work that flower, honey.”
Marko and Ricky:
Tabitha and Napoleon direct poor, sad Ricky and bad luck stricken Marko in a janitor-themed b-boy dance set to Diddy's “Bad Boy for Life." Huh? Neither of these guys qualify as bad boys (for life or otherwise). The brooms-and-overalls combination and the dainty leaps all categorically defy this title completely.
Cat Deeley calls it when she says they look like Broadway's version of Super Mario Brothers. Perhaps Mario Brothers on Ice? I would not pay for that.
Mary is screeching about loving it, launching two obnoxious 'Whooooo's out into the crowd. Ugh, Nigel cannot stop making sweeping and cleaning puns. Gaga loved the broom jumping, too, but calls their interpretation of hip hop contrived. Rob still gives them a shout-out despite looking like extras from Stomp!.
Jordan and Jess:
In an unexpected turn of events, Jess has met a partner who matches him height-wise. Their Rumba routine is set to Adele's fantastic song “Set Fire to the Rain.” It's an angsty piece and there's going to be a lot of spinning, so it's a big ol' mess of a dance.
Jordan’s wearing all the fringe. Nothing but fringe. She’s essentially naked. One little costume malfunction and this is over. Boring ol' Jess is just wearing a black shirt and pants. He's like an Amish Ghost compared to her fiery Beyonce getup. This is clearly all about her. He's basically a prop so she can look better.
Jess stares slack-jawed while Nigel explains how he didn’t feel their chemistry. Gaga disagrees with their interpretation of the song. Rob takes his time to say Hooray for Broadway and tells them they’ve got big careers as chorus members on stage. Eek. Mary wants more Rumba in her Rumba routines, but I just want less Jess.
Sasha and Melanie:
Mad Max Beyond ThunderSonya is directing Sasha and Melainie in the final pairing of the night. Without even starting, you just know this is going to be Lady Gaga's dream come true (if she even has dreams).
The techno song “Game On” by District 78 starts up, and it's time for some weird, robotic machine dancing. Sasha is fiercer than Melanie, and she's hitting her marks better. But it's so good to see these two dancing together. It’s just so cool and weird. Just what you’d hope for from Sonya.
Song's done and the judges are immediately on their feet. Gaga’s slapping the table with her monster show and then tosses it on the stage so Sasha may wield it above her head like a freshly-killed trophy. We just need a gallon of warm wildebeest blood to smear on these lionesses' faces.
From here on out, everyone's making out with each other and reminding us again how many Emmy nominations they have. Sonya’s approaching Gaga for a dance-fight, but Gaga defuses the animalistic urge by hurling her other boot at her lopsided haircut. The show quickly devolved into a Thunderdome. Lady Gaga is the new Master Blaster. I'm pumping my fists in the air.
This week's Winner Winner Chicken Dinner:
Melanie and Marko are still at the top of the pack this week. Melanie was more consistent, but I’d say Marko will walk away with it because of the mom display and making Lady Gaga weep like a baby.
Sorry 'bout ya, Bottom Three:
Ricky (The saddest jiving Super Mario Brother that ever did dance)
Caitlynn (She looked great, but she can't stand up to the other strong ladies)
Jess (His hip hop almost redeemed him for me, but his Rumba left us numb)