grammys live blog 2011

Hello, readers! Thank you for humoring me and stopping by to check out my second annual live blog of the Grammys. Hopefully we have a night full of entertaining performances ahead of us, if Lady Gaga’s trek down the red carpet in a placenta/womb/egg-like thing is any indication. Also, I’d like to go on record and say if Justin Bieber wins any awards tonight, I will never watch the Grammys again.

8:00 – Kicking things off with a tribute to the one and only Aretha Franklin.

8:03 – Quite a wide variety of ladies singing this tribute. Christina Aguilera needs to tone down the clown hooker makeup.

8:06 – Martina McBride never seems to age. She is gorgeous.

8:07 – LOVE Florence Welch. If her band doesn’t win Best New Artist tonight, there is serious injustice in this world.

8:08 – The longer I look at Christina, the more I’m convinced her and Snooki are the same person.

8:11 – Hell yes to “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves.” I love this song. (A special shout-out to my sistahs!)

8:14 – Lovely message from Aretha. She looks quite healthy.

8:17 – Damn, I missed Christina trip at the end of the tribute. Poor girl; this is just not her month.

8:20 – Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group goes to…Train for “Hey Soul Sister.” I hate that song, but you can’t deny the fact that it revived their career and took over the radio last year.

8:22 – Oh dear lord, Ricky Martin, why are you wearing silver pants?

8:23 – Pod person Lady Gaga has arrived in a relatively tame outfit, too.

8:25 – The pointy shoulders are creeping me out. A lot.

8:26 – Of course she’s playing an organ with dismembered heads on it.

8:28 – Say what you will about Gaga, but she has a legit voice. No need for AutoTune or lip-syncing during her performances.

8:33 – Blake Shelton is introducing his fiancee. Precious.

8:34 – Noooo, Miranda! Not this song! I love it, but I can’t listen to it without crying.

8:38 – Happy to say I made it through that song with dry eyes. It helps to have developed a two-sizes-too-small Grinch heart.

8:40 – Muse is awesome. I have never encountered a song of theirs that I didn’t like.

8:43 – I wonder how Kate Hudson feels about the fact that the father of her unborn child just appeared on national television in a sparkly suit…

8:45 – My mom, on Bob Dylan: “Is he dead yet?”

8:49 – Major props to whoever organized the trio of Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Janelle Monae.

8:52 – I’m in love with Bruno Mars’ voice. And his freakishly perfect teeth.

8:56 – I’m going to prematurely call this performance of the night. It’s going to take a lot to top these three.

8:58 – Finally…another award. (Not that I’m complaining. I love that the Grammys are so performance-heavy.)

9:00 – Best Female Country Vocal goes to Miranda Lambert, shocking absolutely no one. This song absolutely deserves to win a ton of Grammys.

9:05 – Oh no. I feel a Bieber performance coming on…

9:06 – Bieber is talented, but he has such a punchable face. I’m a terrible person for saying that.

9:08 – Seeing Bieber perform makes me feel elderly. It’s been so long since NSync’s heyday…Justin Timberlake just turned 30, for god’s sake.

9:10 – I have a hatred for precocious child stars, but Will Smith’s son Jaden is adorable.

9:11 – “OMG” is, hands-down, my least favorite song of 2010.

9:15 – Best Rock Album goes to…Muse, aka the only band nominated in this category that wasn’t alive in the 60s.

9:20 – “From ‘Blue Bloods’ and New Kids On the Block,” is a great introduction.

9:21 – Best Pop Vocal Album goes to Lady Gaga. Duhhhh. She’s dressed like a lunatic but I love her.

9:25 – This performance is…odd. A banjo, a convulsing keyboard player and a lead singer who looks like Tim Tebow. My brain hurts.

9:27 – Is this the Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons? Or does it even matter? They’re both equally boring.

9:28 – Everyone on this stage right now looks like they escaped a polygamist cult.

9:30 – People actually pay to listen to Bob Dylan sing? This disturbs me.

9:32 – This performance quickly turned from strange to AWFUL.

9:34 – Thank god that’s over. I need a Top 40 palate cleanser after that hipster/roving band of weirdos explosion.

9:39 – Clay Matthews looks so. uncomfortable.

9:40 – I love Lady Antebellum so much. “American Honey” is a beautiful song.

9:42 – I have a strong feeling “Need You Now” will win one of the major awards tonight. (Song or Record of the year…I can’t keep them straight.)

9:44 – Best Country Album goes to…Lady Antebellum. A deserved win, for sure.

9:46 – Okay, now why is Gwyneth Paltrow singing with Cee-Lo? Just because she sang this song on Glee?

9:48 – Oh. My. God. I love this acid-trip-meets-the-Muppets performance. “It’s like Elton John on crack,” according to my mother.

9:50 – Gwyneth should be ashamed that she let someone talk her into appearing on the Grammys in a unitard.

9:53 – That performance brought the crazy and cuckoo that Gaga was lacking. Loved it. (Minus Gwyneth.)

9:57 – I hope “Not Like the Movies” is Katy Perry’s new single…great track off of “Teenage Dream.”

10:00 – Go ahead and make fun of me, but I love this song. A lot.

10:01 – Oh my god, how cute was Nicole Kidman singing along to “Teenage Dream”? Love it.

10:03 – Liking the sassy bob on Norah Jones. Not liking John Mayer’s homeless look.

10:04 – Song of the Year goes to…”Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. Totally called it.

10:12 – Thank you, Seth Rogen, for making a ‘Miley Cyrus getting high’ joke.

10:14 – Rihanna looks stunning in this dress.

10:17 – I’m now intimately acquainted with the veins in Eminem’s face. He’s a bit intense, isn’t he?

10:19 – I just had to google Skylar Grey to see what she looks like, since they seem averse to showing her face on TV.

10:21 – Best New Artist goes to…Esperanza Spalding. Who the F is she? I mean, I kept chanting, “Anyone but Bieber,” but I was hoping for a Florence + the Machine win. Congratulations, whoever you are!

10:30 – It’s kind of cool that a jazz musician won Best New Artist.

10:35 – I find it very hard to believe that this is Sir Mick’s first Grammy performance. He’s such an old kook, but so talented.

10:37 – Stars: They’re just like us! They rock out! (I’m looking at you, Nicole Kidman. You’re too cute.)

10:40 – If the rest of the telecast was just Mick Jagger performing, I would be perfectly okay with that.

10:47 – The extensions on Barbara Streisand’s head are atrocious. Sorry, Babs.

10:50 – Nicki Minaj is loco, but I love her.

10:51 – Best Rap Album goes to…Eminem.

10:59 – This is one of my favorite Rihanna songs, made even better by Drizzy Drake.

11:02 – Oh look, it’s my new favorite American Idol judge and her creepy, possibly undead husband!

11:04 – Record of the Year goes to…”Need You Now.” Wow, both Record and Song of the Year. Crazy.

11:11 – Jason Segal, I love you.

11:12 – Arcade Fire needs to lay off the strobe lights a bit. Do not like.

11:15 – I hate this. Make it stop.

11:22 – FINALLY. Album of the Year goes to…Arcade Fire. Say whaaat? That’s ridic. Should have gone to Gaga.

That’s a wrap, kids. A giant THANK YOU to everyone who popped in to read what I had to say…as of 11:25 tonight, my blog has 691 page views. I can’t even wrap my head around that.

have we found the song of summer 2010?

Every year after Memorial Day, the music industry scrambles to name the song that will be the song of that summer; a song so ubiquitous that it’s forever associated with that year. I can’t hear Rihanna’s “Umbrella” without thinking of the summer of 2007, and the summer of 2009 belonged to Lady Gaga and “Love Game.” It’s still technically spring until mid-June, but it’s safe to award the title of song of summer 2010 to Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.”

Whether you’re from “the golden coast,” the east coast, or somewhere in between, there’s no denying the song’s sunny, upbeat feel. It practically begs to be played somewhere sandy and warm. True to summer song form, it’s as commercial as it gets, the most profound lyric being Perry’s assertion that “there must be something in the water.” The bass line is straight out of the 70’s, evoking images of roller skates and hot pants. Were this song released any other time of the year, it just wouldn’t feel right.

That doesn’t mean it’s without its faults, though. The first verse is fun, and you can’t help but sing along with the chorus, agreeing that California girls are “fine, fresh, fierce.” I start to grit my teeth in the second verse, especially on the line “We freak in my Jeep/Snoop Doggy Dog on the stereo.” Perry’s voice turns into some AutoTuned mishmash of sounds on the last note. The chorus helps restore my faith, but then a guest rap by Snoop Dog makes me turn up my nose. I can’t explain why, but I’ve always found Snoop a bit creepy, but I do appreciate a man who knows what a tankini is and is able to rhyme it with “martini” “weenie” and “in betweeny.” That’s the sign of a linguistic genius, folks.

All criticisms aside, I do turn up the radio every time this song comes on (which is quite often.) Because when your life consists of driving a 15-year-old Buick around northern Connecticut, you can’t help but be jealous of someone who can get away with Daisy Dukes and a bikini top as daily attire. I raise a gin and juice to you, Katy Perry. Enjoy your reign as the summer song of 2010.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.

10 things i learned at fenway park.

Field On Sunday, I visited Fenway Park for the final game of a Red Sox/Yankees series, and while the Yanks were unable to pull off a sweep, I saw and heard many interesting things. I will preface all derogatory statements by saying this was my first professional sporting event, so behavior like this most likely occurs at arenas/stadiums/baseball fields across the country. Also, I am a card-carrying Red Sox Hater, so suck it, Boston fans! (I kept this vitriol to myself on Sunday night, for fear of bodily harm.)

1. No matter how cold it is, people will gladly and repeatedly shell out $8 for a beer. Despite it being May, I was bundled up like it was late November, and I couldn’t finish the one beer I bought because my hands were too cold to hold the cup. This did not deter anyone around me; one girl had eight beers during the course of the game. Yes, I counted. This girl spent upwards of $60 in a three-hour period. This is mildly concerning.

2. Kevin Youkilis has questionable taste in facial hair and at-bat music. I could be very wrong, but from what I could hear over the incessant shouting (more on that later,) seemed to be Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” Really, Youk? Out of all the songs in the world, you choose this one to announce your presence at the plate?

3. “Sweet Caroline” was a bit of a letdown. Maybe it’s because I had it built up to be this big spectacle, but it was just like drunken karaoke en mass. It was still cool, but not as memorable or mind-blowing as I hoped.

4. Red Sox fans chant “Yankees suck!”…even when the team they’re playing isn’t the Yankees. Obviously I didn’t experience this firsthand, but I heard about this at the game, and many people have since corroborated this fact. Again, I’m fully drinking the Red Sox Haterade, but does anyone not think this is incredibly pathetic? I get it…you eternally hate the Yankees and their 27 World Series wins, their players’ high salaries, etc. But to chant “Yankees suck” when you’re playing the Braves or the Marlins? It just makes you seem petty and bitter. Be a little more creative.

5. Some people don’t shut up. At all. I had the pleasure of sitting near a young gentleman who spent the entire game, and that is not a hyperbolic exaggeration, shouting at the top of his lungs. He yelled negative things at the Yankees (“Swishah! Yah mom’s a whore!”) and positive things at the Red Sox (“Don’t pull a hammy, JD! We need you!”) I have never wanted to wire someone’s jaw shut so badly. It was just non-stop shouting for nine innings. He wasn’t the only one, of course; there were thousands of others joining in to create one loud, Boston-accented ruckus.

6. There were so many physical altercations in the stands that the game could have been called WWE Raw: Chowderheads Edition. In the sections surrounding me alone, there were three scuffles in the bleacher seats, a girl-on-girl fight that involved major hair-pulling, and an incident where a guy spit in another guy’s face from point-blank range. The latter two skirmishes happened within 10 feet of my seat. I assume this is a common occurrence at Fenway, possibly made worse by the heated rivalry playing out on the field and the free-flowing booze, but it was still ridiculous. It got to the point where people around me stopped paying attention to the game and started scanning the crowd for fights.

7. Wally the Green Monster apparently has a female counterpart, who just looks like Wally in drag. You can just barely see her near home plate in the picture above, but Internet research has not led to any conclusive information on her name or why the Red Sox need two terrifying mascots. Although I’m one to talk; the Yankees’ former mascot, Dandy, is the stuff nightmares are made of.

8. Based on the cheers, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis are the favorite players among Sox fans. Alternately, A-Rod got the loudest boos and Derek Jeter got the least, so I take that to mean he’s the one Yankee player they can tolerate. Some of the A-Rod taunts were a bit off-base; a guy next to me kept shouting, “Hey A-Rod? How’s Madonna?” It appears this man stopped reading gossip columns in 2008.

9. Sox fans (and the few Yankees fans in attendance) love them some Lady Gaga. “Poker Face” came on between innings and the place went nuts. Beers were raised in the air, fist bumps were exchanged and everyone was loving it. I didn’t see that coming at all.

10. I squealed like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert when Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan appeared in the bullpen. I’m shameless.

Regardless of all the nonsense, Fenway is a historical landmark and a unique sports experience. Having taken in the luxury and splendor of the new Yankee Stadium last season, it was interesting to visit Fenway, arguably on the opposite end of the baseball field spectrum. There’s something very cool about an almost hundred-year-old ballpark in the middle of a big city, and I’m glad I got to experience a game there, especially one as high-profile as Red Sox vs. Yankees.

live-blogging the grammys!

Greetings! Welcome to my first-ever live blog! Tonight I’ll be picking apart the Grammys, probably my favorite awards show because we get lots of great performances and very little filler. Just a warning: I may give up if this turns into a disaster, and there’s a very good chance I’ll go to bed before the show is over. Wow…if that’s not confidence in my abilities, I don’t know what is. Stay tuned!

8:00: Another crazy spectacle from Lady Gaga. Hopefully this turns into the piano duet with Elton I heard about…

8:02: I think I’m uncomfortable seeing this much of Gaga’s pelvis.

8:05: This is a Grammy performance for the history books, kids.

8:08: Jay-Z was VERY unamused by Stephen Colbert.

8:10: Colbert is killing it. Why doesn’t he host more award shows?

8:12: And song of the year goes to…Beyonce for “Single Ladies.” Great song, but I think it should have gone to Taylor or Gaga.

8:14: J Lo, you’ve come a long way since that infamous Grammy dress all those years ago…

8:16: This is weird…like Green Day meets “Rent.”

8:19: I actually like that song a lot better with the Broadway treatment.

8:24: Kristen Bell looks TERRIBLE. You are so much better than that dress and “When In Rome,” Kristen.

8:26: And Taylor Swift’s domination begins…now. Aww, Mama Swift is so happy.

8:27: Simon Baker is struggling with his TelePrompter. What’s up with the Groucho Marx glasses?

8:29: I really dislike Beyonce. She’s not as great of a singer as everyone claims her to be. This performance is terribly boring…”If I Were a Boy” is one of her weakest songs.

8:32: And now she’s covering Alanis Morrisette? This makes no sense.

8:42: Something tells me Pink won’t keep this demure white robe on for very long…

8:43: She’s taking pseudo-nudity to new heights. (Pun intended.)

8:44: Between Gaga and Pink, the Staples Center must have a team of bikini waxers on staff.

8:46: Oh Miranda Lambert, I love you and your real-woman figure, but honey, that dress is doing you absolutely no favors.

8:47: Best New Artist is always my favorite award…welcome to the club, Zac Brown Band! This is a surprising win; I thought MGMT had this one.

8:54: Go away, Miley. Your dress is ugly, too.

8:55: BEP is not sounding good live. I can’t look at Fergie without thinking of her peeing her pants.

8:57: “I Gotta Feeling” is such a sing-along song. Also, Fergie may or may not be wearing a futuristic poker visor. I’d like to describe this performance as a hot mess.

9:00: JoBros introducing Lady Antebellum? Yes please.

9:05: Joe Jonas, you look foolish.

9:07: Love me some Lady A. They’re one of the few country artists on my iPod.

9:08: Fun fact – Lady A singer Charles Kelley is Katherine Heigl’s brother-in-law. (She’s married to his brother Josh.)

9:09: Yes! Stephen Colbert is a Grammy winner.

9:11: Colbert’s daughter is an insta-celeb now…she’s going to be the coolest kid at her high school/college tomorrow.

9:17: Norah Jones is like the musical equivalent of wallpaper. She’s talented, but she puts me to sleep.

9:18: Wow…Kings of Leon came out of nowhere for song of the year. “Use Somebody” is a great, anthemic song and definitely deserved to win, although I’m quite shocked they beat out all those other pop hits.

9:20: Much like Miley missed the memo about stilettos, I apparently missed the memo about thick, black glasses. Robert Downey, Jr. is like the 5th person to sport Buddy Holly glasses tonight.

9:22: Why does this song merit a Grammy performance? I find Jamie Foxx unnecessary.

9:24: Seriously, what is going on? Everyone in the audience looks pained, especially Josh Duhamel, who looks like he’d rather be anywhere but watching this.

9:26: Ke$ha and Justin Bieber may be the most awkward pairing of the night. Nice recovery though, Bieber, although you might want to avoid Jay-Z for the rest of the night.

9:28: Also, Ke$ha (dollar sign totally ridiculous and difficult to type) looks like a less-cute version of Ashley Tisdale.

9:32: Alice Cooper is like Russell Brand in 40 years. Take it all in, Katy.

9:33: Kind of an underwhelming selection for Best Rock Album. “21st Century Breakdown” is like a watered-down version of “American Idiot.”

9:35: “Chicken Fried” is incredibly cliched, but it’s such a feel-good country song.

9:40: Just realized the telecast ends at 11:30…I’ll be wicked ired in the morning, but I’ll be blogging until the end credits roll. Have no fear.

9:46: Only Taylor Swift can sing the lyrics “I wore a dress/You wore a dark gray t-shirt” and not get laughed at.

9:47: My parents are not T. Swift fans…Mom thinks she sounds flat, and Dad think she “sings like a 10-year-old.” Clearly they aren’t Grammy voters.

9:49: I love Taylor Swift, Stevie Nicks and “Rhiannon,” but I don’t love them all together.

9:50: My family room has turned into a Taylor Swift-bashing festival. There is no love for Miss Swift among my parents.

9:52: I love Lionel Richie…he’s so comfortingly bland.

9:54: Dang, no 3-D glasses for the MJ tribute.

9:55: Carrie Underwood looks fabulous, as usual.

9:58: LOVE the shots of the celebs in the audience rocking their 3-D glasses.

10:00: Call me insensitive, but that was kind of a lackluster “tribute.” Maybe if it was a more familiar song?

10:01: Paris and Prince seem so well-adjusted and normal. They’re very cute kids.

10:08: Sheryl Crow still exists?

10:10: This may be the most formulaic and boring Bon Jovi song in their entire songbook.

10:12: Jennifer Nettles is a country goddess. I love Sugarland.

10:14: Bon Jovi are such seasoned pros that they can play “Livin’ On a Prayer” with one second’s warning.

10:16: Mos Def and Placido Domingo are totally failing at their witty banter.

10:17: PLEASE LET “I’M ON A BOAT” WIN.

10:19: Who is this cute child with Jay and Rihanna? Also, was Kanye not invited for fear of a VMA repeat?

10:26: Must. Stay. Awake.

10:28: I’m sure this is a lovely tribute, but I can’t stop yawning. We need some upbeat performances, stat.

10:31: Drake, Lil Wayne and Eminem will definitely inject some life into this dying telecast.

10:39: Mr. Grammy President, let’s wrap this up. You’re very eloquent and important, but it’s too late for long speeches.

10:41: Adam Sandler looks old and lost. Love that they played “The Hanukkah Song” as he walked onstage, though.

10:43: Maybe I should take up playing a stringed instrument so I can be featured on the Grammys…maybe the viola?

10:44: This is not a great DMB song. Also, Dave Matthews should never dance. Ever.

10:46: Lea Michele is GORGEOUS. I may prematurely name her best-dressed of the night.

10:48: Beyonce is in the running for worst dressed…that getup is a Lady Gaga reject, and her poor boobs look like they’re being cut in half.

10:53: I’m really hoping Gaga pulls of a win for Album of the Year…”The Fame” is a fantastic pop album.

10:55: Excuse me while I take a nap during Maxwell’s performance.

10:58: The first time I ever saw Roberta Flack in my life, she was on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” singing a spoof called “Killing Me Softly With This Thong.” It was a wonderful first impression.

11:03: The “In Memorium” segments are always so sobering. The music industry loses so much talent every year.

11:04: This lady singing with Jeff Beck has her hair shaped like a Cinnabon. I’m very hungry all of a sudden…

11:12: Quentin Tarantino scares me. A lot.

11:13: I think this is Lil Wayne’s last public appearance before he goes to jail. I love Travis Barker so much…he kills it on the drums.

11:16: I always think of “Degrassi” when I see Drake. I’m sure that does a lot for his rap credibility. Also: Jamie Foxx, you are one of those embarrassing people who sings along at concerts even though you don’t know the words.

11:20: I’m getting very anxious to see who’s going home with Album of the Year!

11:25: Here we go…TAYLOR SWIFT WON?? HOLY CRAP! I was hoping for a Gaga win, but Taylor totally deserves this award. To be that young and that talented – congrats, Taylor.

So there you have it…the 52nd Grammy Awards. Thank you to anyone who bothered to read this; I had fun writing and I hope you had fun reading. See you at the Oscars : )

“so you think you can dance”: random thoughts and judging the top 10

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on So You Think You Can Dance, and a lot has happened since then. We’ve had injured dancers (RIP Billy Bell), eliminations on performance nights thanks to the World Series, and some semi-interesting dances. No dancer has really reached out and grabbed my attention like previous seasons, but the top 10 will definitely show who the true front runners are, and who will be heading home soon.

Before I get to my thoughts on the top 10 dancers, I need to take a moment to address the atrocity that is Victor Smalley’s elimination last night. His solo was so much stronger than Nathan’s last night, and I’m perplexed as to how Victor went home while the judges’ personal punching bag will live on to annoy for another week. Victor was never a standout to me, but I felt the grounds of his elimination were unfair, and for once, I actually agreed with Nigel Lythgoe. Scary. Also, I’ve been in love with Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” since the first time I heard it on the radio, and I knew it was just a matter of time before it would make an appearance on SYTYCD. Imagine my disgust when terror queen Laurieann Gibson choreographed a clunky, forgettable routine for sparkle twins Mollee and Nathan. So disappointing. I wish we could put the song back into the rotation for, say, a Nap/Tab routine for Jakob and Kathryn. Someone make this happen, please!

On to the top 10…

I expressed my dislike of Ashleigh at the start of the top 20, and while I was able to quash my annoyance so far, I feel like her gig is up soon after leaving her partnership with Jakob. Her obnoxious facial expressions have been kept to a minimum, but after each routine, I couldn’t help but notice she never did much dancing. A lot of hair whipping and posing, sure, but nothing incredibly substantial. The judges have fallen over themselves to praise her, constantly raving over how much she’s grown. I have to challenge them on that…I think people who have been voting for Jakob and Ashleigh are only voting for one half of the partnership. Also, expect Ashleigh to “randomly” draw her husband as a partner in the upcoming weeks.

Male ballroom dancers usually light up the stage on SYTYCD (see: Dmitry, Pasha, Artem and Ivan), but Ryan has left me unimpressed so far. He’s a good dancer, but he’s really nothing special. I think his overt masculinity was nicely balanced out by Ellenore’s quirky grace. He has no discernible personality outside of working out, doing extreme sports, and obsessively waxing his eyebrows. He’ll go pretty far in the top 10, but I don’t think he’ll crack the top four.

Russell was an early favorite of mine, but there hasn’t been much to keep him on my favorites list since the top 20 started. So far, it’s been a lackluster foxtrot, an awkward hip-hop, a pretty good Afro-jazz, another lackluster foxtrot, a clunky samba and an overpraised contemporary piece. That track record doesn’t exactly scream top four to me. I do love Russell’s personality, and when he performs in his own style, I remember why I loved him so much in the Vegas round. He really needs to step it up and be more consistent if he wants to make it far.

Mollee, Mollee, Mollee. SYTYCD‘s resident Cindy Brady (thank you to Entertainment Weekly for making that comparison) annoys me more and more each week, a feat I didn’t think possible. Despite having been in the bottom a few times and delivering solos that were nothing but glorified gymnastics routines, Mollee is still in the competition. She is a pretty decent dancer, but we haven’t really seen her in a genre that she’s completely owned. She can’t do sexy, she can’t do hip-hop, and everything else has been just so-so. I’m waiting for her to blossom into the woman the judges repeatedly claim her to be, because right now, she really does look like a graduate of “Dolly Dinkle’s regional hip-hop class 101.” (Help…I’m agreeing with Grandpa Nigel again!)

Jakob has been the shining star of season six thus far. His technical ability seems to be endless, and he comes across as very personable in his interview packages (not to mention he’s BFFs with season five winner Jeanine…can they please do a duet on the finale episode? How awesome would that be?) I think Jakob will excel even more once he’s ditched his cheese ball, coattail riding partner. I beg you to show me a genre this guy can’t do, therefore making him a lock for the top four.

I’m pretty lukewarm about Noelle, considering she’s had the same middling lineup of dances as Russell. She’s definitely got great lines and technique, as shown in her contemporary piece this week, but her attempt at sexiness in the samba was kind of hard to watch. I think my biggest problem with Noelle is that she reeks of dance school competitions. The cheesy grins and some of her posturing are so reminiscent of my own dance school experience, and I don’t think that kind of dancing will get her very far into the top 10.

There is nothing I love more than a relative unknown at the start of the top 20 turning into an absolute dynamo by the top 10. This is how Jeanine evolved last season, and I think Kathryn is following the same trajectory. She’s gone from unknown crying girl to talented tamer of emotional b-boys. From a cave woman in a Dave Scott hip hop to a fiery vixen in a Tony Meredith paso doble, Kathryn has handled whatever she’s been given with her extensive talent. I absolutely adored her partnership with Legacy, and while I’m sad to see them break up, I’m anxious to see how she’ll grow with other partners.

I was unnecessarily harsh on Legacy before the top 20, thinking him irritating and overhyped. I am definitely eating my words now. What I used to think was insincere is now an emotional dancer learning a lot on a once in a lifetime journey. His lack of technique is sometimes very evident, but the fact that he was able to pull of a haunting contemporary piece, an attention-grabbing paso doble and an emotional Viennese waltz speaks to his ability to learn quickly. Kathryn has definitely taught him a lot, and I fear that Legacy may falter without her helpful partnership, but his sincerity and eagerness will hopefully carry him far.

I can’t really recall why I thought Ellenore was annoying during the Vegas round. Sure, she’s quirky and definitely unique, but I’ve enjoyed watching her dance. She is so versatile and so good at what she does. I don’t think I even watched Ryan during their Broadway piece this week because Ellenore was just so phenomenal. The idea of a potential partnership between her and Jakob has me anxious for Tuesday nights.

Oh, Nathan. How quickly you’ve gone from young upstart to judges’ punching bag. As soon as I found out he was paired with Susie Sunshine, I knew things couldn’t be good for him. I knew Nathan had talent, but there was something about his partnership that brought out the irritating brat in him. The judges latched on to this, with both Nigel and Adam Shankman taking turns handing him slices of humble pie. I think he would have been so much better off with someone else as a partner, because he’s now been so strongly associated with giggles, skipping and annoyance. It will be interesting to see how Nathan internalizes Adam’s advice to watch what he says, as well as how he fares with a less obnoxious partner.

‘so you think you can dance’ recap: top 20

Last night was the first performance show of season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance, which has easily overshadowed its reality TV cousin American Idol in showcasing talent and keeping viewers (namely, me) interested. The first week can often be shaky as dancers adjust to their partners and the show’s format, but this season’s top 20 proved otherwise. Here’s my take on the ten performances.

Philip and Jeanine: Freaky popper meets unknown contemporary dancer. I think Philip lucked out by getting hip-hop his first week, and despite Jeanine’s lack of hip-hop training, she really kept up with him during Tabitha and Napoleon’s routine. I wouldn’t rank it among SYTYCD’s most memorable dances, but it was good.

Vitolio and Asukah: This was the one routine that really missed the mark throughout the 2-hour show. Both dancers focused way too much on their technique instead of really embodying the characters of Tyce Diorio’s Broadway number. Technically, the dancing was great, but it was lacking the personality that was so desperately needed to turn the choreography into a true performance.

Jonathan and Karla: A cha-cha to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” sounds terrible, but these two made it work. I expected Jonathan, a ballroom dancer, to do well, but Karla’s skill was surprising given her contemporary background.

Evan and Randi: Another Tyce Diorio routine, this time jazz, and this time executed much better than his previous piece. It was very obvious tonight that Evan’s dancing skills go far beyond his Broadway stylings. Randi (formerly known as Unitard Girl,) was wonderful too, and the whole dance was fluid and beautiful.

Tony and Paris: Another weak routine in an otherwise strong first episode. I liked the choreography (again, Tabitha and Napleon,) but I didn’t like the performance. Something was off. It seemed like both Paris and Tony were trying too hard, which is something that becomes very evident on a show full of natural talent. I agree with Nigel that their costumes were too distracting, but that’s an issue to take up with the costume department, not the dancers.

Jason and Caitlin: The Bollywood style of dance has become a great addition to the show, and all of the numbers thus far have been energetic and sharp, Caitlin and Jason’s included. This is definitely a couple to watch this season. While I don’t think the number was as perfect as the judges claimed it to be, (some sloppy feet and weak arms) it was definitely memorable and great to watch. I’m just glad they didn’t dance to the Pussycat Dolls’ version of “Jai Ho” and stuck with the original instead.

Brandon and Janette: Usually, the mention of a foxtrot makes me want to change the channel, but tonight I actually found it enjoyable to watch. Dancing with the Stars pro Louis van Amstel’s choreography was great, although he was mysteriously absent from the audience while the judges were showering his work with praise.  Brandon may be this season’s most controversial contestant, only because of Mia Michaels’ inexplicable hatred, but I think he’ll be around to have a dance studio showdown with her if he continues to dance as well as he did last night.

Kupono and Ashley: Wade Robson’s routine about crash test dummies falling in love was very strange, but that’s what any regular viewer of SYTYCD has come to expect from him. Both Kupono and Ashley fully embraced their characters and made them believable, something Asukah and Vitolio should have done earlier in the night. The dancing was great, too, but it was hard to focus on the steps when the dancers’ skin was painted white and there were robotic dogs and flying tires onstage.

Ade and Melissa: Having taken ballet for most of my life, it’s only natural that I want to see Melissa do well, since other ballet dancers have short shelf lives on SYTYCD. She may be the oldest contestant at 29, but I don’t think that’s a handicap at all. It seems to be more of an advantage, because while younger dancers were still eating Cap’n Crunch and watching Full House before going to school, Melissa was already five years into her dance training. The contemporary routine, choreographed by Mandy Moore (not the one married to Ryan Adams,) was beautiful and even made judge Adam Shankman tear up.

Max and Kayla: Wow. Talk about ending the night on a high note. Their samba, another Louis van Amstel masterpiece, was phenomenal. I think that ballroom dancer Max was outperformed by Kayla, a contemporary dancer, but as Adam Shankman pointed out, Kayla wouldn’t have looked half as good as she did without the strong partnering that Max provided.

Bottom 3 predictions: I think it’s a safe bet that Paris and Tony will be in the bottom 3 couples, as well as Asukah and Vitolio, but I honestly have no idea who could be joining them. If I absolutely had to choose, I would say Ashley and Kupono, simply because Wade Robson’s number may have been too strange for America to understand. Out of those six dancers, I think that Paris and Vitolio will be going home.

Check out the results show tonight on Fox to see whose dancing days are over.