live-blogging the american idol season 11 finale

ImageSeason 11 of American Idol comes to an end tonight; we find out who inherits the sash and tiara from Scotty “Baby Lock Them Doors” McCreery. Will it be southern heartthrob and Dave Matthews impersonator Phillip Phillips, or will it be ballad-bot Jessica “BB Chez” Sanchez?

I think both have rabid fanbases that voted their fingers off last night, but Phillip’s excellent coronation song “Home” may have given him the lead. I have no horse in the race, as my girl Skylar Laine was eliminated fifth, but it will be interesting to see if Jessica can be the first female to win the title since Jordin Sparks.

8:01 – What do you think Phillip and Jessica talk about? I just spent 30 seconds pondering this. Thirty seconds of my life I’ll never get back.

8:03 – Oh top 12…so much potential, so much disappointment.

8:04 – Is this a tie-in for So You Think You Can Dance? Reminder: it’s back tomorrow. Watch it!

8:06 – I love how Jane Lynch has a better seat than Scotty McCreery.

8:08 – Phillip Phillips in his finest henley and white pants. What a dapper gent.

8:10 – Idol will never limit the number of votes a person can cast, a la Dancing With the Stars, because they love to brag about the record-breaking number of votes.

8:12 – Seriously geeking out over Phillip and John Fogerty singing together. What a great pairing.

8:14 – Um, I might have spoken too soon, because this is not audibly pleasant. Sorry Phil, I think it’s you.

8:15 – Phillip’s vocal limitations are so apparent when put next to a legend like Fogerty.

8:18 – The first of many filler segments: the judges acting wacky. Or, Steven Tyler being himself while J. Lo and Randy look on bemusedly.

8:20 – Full confession: I never got the Joshua Ledet hype. Too much hollering and screaming for me.

8:21 – Holy s#*t…Fantasia looks downright hideous. Whoever put that weave on her head and shoved her into that sequined sausage casing should be shot.

8:23 – Thank you to Fox for cutting to a commercial break. My retinas were starting to burn the longer I looked at Fantasia. I’m all about loving your body, but there comes a point where you put on a sequined and mesh catsuit, look in the mirror and go, “No, this won’t do.”

8:30 – I can’t decide if Jimmy Iovine’s mental block with Jennifer Lopez’ name is funny or sad.

8:32 – It’s almost criminal how early the uber-talented Erika van Pelt was eliminated.

8:34 – Chaka Khan continues tonight’s trend of vulgarly tight bodysuits. If I can see the outline of your labia and ass crack, take it up a size.

8:40 – “Here, Phillip Phillips. Have a new Ford car, despite not appearing in any of the music videos!”

8:45 – I’m trying to come up with something to say about Rihanna’s performance…but I don’t even know where to begin.

8:51 – Oh Skylar. You should be competing for the title tonight. Life is unjust.

8:53 – Reba is like Skylar in 40 years. I’ve been saying all season that Skylar is like a mix of Reba and Miranda Lambert, so this duet is perfect.


8:59 – Jessica Sanchez is singing a ballad. There’s something new and exciting. Even her little brother is bored.

9:01 – The girls were so much better than the guys this season.

9:11 – I chuckled at the ‘singing the phone book’ bit. Help.

9:14 – Didn’t J. Lo perform two weeks ago? Why is she back, in drop-crotch pants, no less?

9:15 – “Tonight we go orangutan/Bananas.” Jennifer Lopez, lyricist extraordinaire.

9:20 – Couldn’t comment during the second J. Lo song, as I was demonstrating some of my Zumba moves. Everyone in the room with me, cats included, implored me to stop.

9:25 – A live engagement of two former Idol contestants. The circle of life, folks.

9:28 – Hollie, my favorite little pixie British Texan. She sounds lovely with Jordin Sparks.

9:32 – Funny how this whole shebang is about Phillip and Jessica, yet the two of them have barely been on screen the last hour and a half.

9:35 – If the guys are singing Bee Gees, I bet the girls are doing a Donna Summer medley.

9:37 – I didn’t miss Colton’s straining emo faces one bit. Between his neck tendons and Phillip’s forehead vein, this was the season of overwrought body parts.

9:40 – I’m not sure what’s going on with Jennifer Holliday’s mouth, and that concerns me.

9:43 – That was over the top in a very uncomfortable way.

9:47 – Wow…Joe Perry and the rest of Aerosmith finally got over their Idol snit and are performing. Also, Steven Tyler looks like Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter.

9:49 – I can only assume that, to round out the judges performance trifecta, Randy is going to recite some poetry about his time with Journey and working with Mariah.

9:52 – Aww, how cute. Jennifer is pretending she knows the words to “Walk This Way.”

9:58 – Praise the fashion gods…Phillip Phillips is wearing a suit jacket. Over a henley. Of course.

9:59 – Phillip and Jessica singing together is like the musical equivalent of peanut butter and vinegar.


10:03 – “Home” is the best coronation song since “A Moment Like This.”

10:04 – Despite my aforementioned ambivalence, I am tearing up watching Phillip cry.

Well, there you have it. Phillip Phillips, winner of American Idol season 11. Another guy with a guitar. C’est la vie. Thanks for reading! Watch So You Think You Can Dance!

‘so you think you can dance’ top 20: boobs, blood and bollywood

After last week’s oh-so-controversial non-elimination on So You Think You Can Dance, we got to see the top 20 dance again last night. Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds joined Nigel and Mary on the judging panel. While it was amazing to have someone who starred in Singing in the Rain involved with the show, she functioned more like your entertaining great-aunt with a penchant for sequined mauve jackets. It was still very cool to have Debbie on the show, Woody Woodpecker imitation not included.

First up were Ryan and Ricky with a “sexy” jazz dance by Mandy Moore. Both dancers were clad in ugly bondage-inspired gear, with Ryan sporting a ponytail mullet to boot. The choreography was a bit over-the-top, but I confess I was distracted from the actual dancing by Ryan’s Joker grin, so much so that I totally missed her wardrobe malfunction. She had absolutely no connection to Ricky throughout the dance, grinning away and hungrily searching her line of sight for the camera. I hope and pray they’re in the bottom three tonight, but the judges seem to have a Lauren Alaina-eqsue crush on Ryan, so I fear she’ll live to smile another day.

My favorite dance of the night was a contemporary piece danced by Caitlynn and Mitchell. There was so much to love about this dance; from the song (Adele’s “Turning Tables”) to the perfectly staged chairs and lamps. Caitlynn, looking lovely in a floral dress, was all lines and extensions, while Mitchell had a lot of strength in his dancing. He maybe had a bit too much strength, as he clonked Caitlynn in the nose, prompting what may be the first live bloody nose on primetime television.

Poor Missy and Wadi missed all the marks in their Jean-Marc Genereux-choreographed cha-cha-cha. This dance is all about hip action, which neither Missy nor Wadi showed much of. I didn’t even bother watching Wadi dance because he so clearly had no idea what he was doing. The judges praised Missy, but I thought her moves were lacking, too. She was wearing a dress with fringe, which should have been moving all about if her hips were moving correctly. They weren’t. I’m sure they’ll be in the bottom three.

Nick and Iveta danced a Bollywood routine by Nakul Dev Mahajan, which was passable, but it was far from the best routine in this style in SYTYCD history. That honor belongs to season four’s Katee and Joshua. Both Nick and Iveta kept up with the speed of the dance, but it lacked the crispness and precision that Bollywood requires. It just wasn’t very memorable.

Tabitha and Napoleon have returned to torture us with their mostly mediocre hip-hop, this time creating a woodpecker-themed routine for Miranda and Robert. A woodpecker routine? Seriously? I’d like to know what kind of shrooms NappyTabs are smoking, because that is the most bizarre theme they’ve come up with. I thought Miranda hit the moves harder than Robert, which is a bit surprising considering this is his style. Again, not a terrible piece, but not very memorable, either.

I confess: I fast-forwarded my DVR through most of Clarice and Jess’ contemporary routine, choreographed by Stacey Tookey. The choreography was boring, with Jess visibly struggling with some of the lifts. This affected Clarice’s dancing too, as she appeared hesitant to enter some of the lifts for fear of falling. Even though I haven’t been impressed by either of their dances together, Clarice and Jess’ solos were phenomenal last week. I’m in the minority amongst SYTYCD fans, but I find Jess incredibly talented and a joy to watch. I’ll be devastated if he’s eliminated tonight.

The night’s second foray into ballroom was much more palatable. Jean-Marc’s Viennese waltz for Tadd and Jordan was fluid and pretty. It was nice to see Jordan play a role that wasn’t sex kitten for once. Tadd continues to impress me, because there is no way a breakdancer should be that natural at a waltz.

My second favorite routine of the night was Marko and Melanie’s jazz, courtesy of Mandy Moore. It was funky yet classic, and the two brought a lot of energy and charisma to the dance. I mostly had eyes for Melanie, though; that girl has a magnetic presence when she’s dancing. She makes everything look so effortless, too.

Napoleon and Tabitha’s second routine was allegedly wonderful, moving, emotional, etc. Alexander and Sasha played a soldier coming home from war and his waiting girlfriend, which is basically like a sequel to Nappytabs’ season four “No Air” routine with Katee and Joshua. I’m usually the first one to start tearing up/getting goosebumps/generally being affected by dances, but this one left me cold. Alexander was so stiff and so unnatural that it was more like a one woman show. I don’t know what I’m missing, but I won’t be adding this to the Nappytabs hall of fame.

I would like to thank Spencer Liff for doing a proper and entertaining Broadway routine; Tyce DiOrio needs to take note. Chris and Ashley were tasked to play a jailed man and his visiting sweetie, complete with prison bars. Nine times out of 10, I’m against props in dancing (see: Mia Michaels’ overrated “Mercy” dance with the doors from season four), but the bars were visually interesting and allowed Chris to do some crazy acrobatic stuff. This dance had all of the sexy that Ricky and Ryan lacked. I’m not feeling a lot of chemistry from Ashley and Chris as a couple, but I hope this routine pushes them in the right direction.

My picks for bottom three couples are: Ricky and Ryan, Missy and Wadi, and Clarice and Jess. Out of those six dancers, I’d really only like to see Ryan go home. Can you tell I don’t like her? Check back tomorrow for an update on the results show.

‘so you think you can dance’ top 20 recap: beauty and the beasts

Praise Jesus, the performance round of So You Think You Can Dance has started. Unlike its bigger, bolder cousin American Idol, SYTYCD zips through the audition/Vegas rounds and gets right to the meat of the competition. Nigel “If I’m being frank” Lythgoe is on the judging panel, as usual, but I’m so delighted to have Mary Murphy and her ear-splitting screeches back. I’ll take the Hot Tamale Train over Mia Michaels’ nonsensical hippie musings any day. Filling in the rotating third spot this week is Megan Mullally, a former ballerina and Broadway veteran. I’m pleased to see she’s moving on from her I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Commercials. Megan, you were Karen Walker and you’re married to Ron Swanson, for chrissakes. You’re so much better than “Turn the Tub Around.”

The couple with the honor of performing the first dance of the season is Jordan and Tadd, dancing an Afro-jazz piece by Sean Cheesman. The dance is fast-paced and a bit frantic, which led to them falling out of sync a few times. A routine like this requires a lot of strength and control, something both dancers need to work on. Tadd was impressive; I think he’s one to watch among the guys. As for Jordan, I’ve yet to see her do anything to really wow me, other than the sheer stupidity of her wanting to be a Pussycat Doll.

Sasha and Alexander were next, with a contemporary piece from SYTYCD golden child Travis Wall. The choreography was just so-so; nothing like past dances of his that still give me goose bumps. Sasha was very light yet powerful in her dancing. It’s too early for me to form an opinion on the heretofore unseen Alexander, but I think he’ll be safe for a while, considering his partner was heavily featured in the Vegas rounds and is allegedly a frontrunner.

Clarice and Jess were saddled with a boring Tyce DiOrio Broadway number. Watching this dance felt like it was going backwards and in slow motion. Nothing seemed to happen. Jess, being in his comfort zone, was impossible to look away from. His technique appears flawless; I’ve never seen such crisp, precise pirouettes. Clarice was trying so hard to keep up with him, but the cheesy smile she plastered on her face didn’t help.

New choreographer Christopher Scott choreographed a lyrical hip-hop number for Ryan and Ricky. I need to be up front and admit I do not like Ryan. She’s a great dancer, no doubt, but her personality and stage presence reeks of entitlement. Just because you almost made it last season and you’re Mia Michaels’ assistant doesn’t mean you get a free pass in this competition, blondie. The choreography was great, and while both dancers performed it well, it was hard not to be distracted by the gigantic smile plastered on Ryan’s face throughout the routine. When the judges questioned her on why a perma-smile was necessary for a dance about lost love and longing, she spewed some nonsense about remembering happy moments. It was ridiculous and a bit defensive, to which I say she needs to learn to stand there and take whatever the judges say to her.

Caitlynn and Mitchell were supposed to dance a jazz choreographed by Sonya Tayeh, but poor Mitchell hurt his elbow in rehearsal and had to sit out. Not a good thing for the first week of performances, when the audience is still trying to learn who’s who. Season seven’s Robert filled in for the injured dancer, which I feared could take the spotlight away from Caitlynn, but she held her own. To be honest, I haven’t been crazy about a Sonya routine since Mark and Courtney’s dance to “The Garden” in season four, but this dance strayed a bit from her typical style, which was nice. My heart broke a little seeing Mitchell crying in the audience after the performance.

The first ballroom routine of the season belonged to Miranda and Robert, aka “Woo Guy,” courtesy of Jason Gilikson. Their jive, set to a Bruno Mars song I happen to love, appeared great on first glance, but the high energy of the routine hid the technical missteps. Robert’s feet weren’t pointed and Miranda’s posture was a bit too hunched. Personality-wise, Miranda needs to come out more and Robert needs to reel it in. Nigel was right in telling him to tone down the “woos,” which are already getting old. They could be making an appearance in the bottom three tonight.

Sean Cheeseman’s second routine was a jazz danced by Missy and Wadi. The Pandora’s box theme was a bit of a stretch, but the end of the dance was cool, watching Wadi do his free running/parkour on the prop box. I don’t recall much about Missy’s dancing, other than her waist-length hair is quite distracting. She needs to cut it or contain it.

My favorite dance of the night was easily Melanie and Marko’s contemporary piece, choreographed by Travis Wall. The dance’s story, of two marble statues falling in love, made me roll my eyes, but Travis’ choreography, combined with the two dancers’ talents, was wonderful to watch. Melanie is a superb dancer, with gorgeous lines and great strength. Marko was good too, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Melanie. This is going to be a great partnership.

I need to interrupt myself to beg Nigel to stop calling the female dancers ‘beasts.’ I’m sure he thinks it’s edgy and flattering, but it’s just stupid and kind of offensive. Yes, the female dancers are a talented group, but find another term to use to compliment them. All right, I’m stepping off my feminist soapbox now. Carry on.

Ashley and Chris danced the weakest dance of the night, a hip-hop choreographed by Christopher Scott. It was fun and cute, but having this dance follow Melanie and Marko is like eating a fillet and having a Slim Jim for dessert. Neither Ashley nor Chris was particularly great, which I think means they’ll be in the bottom three.

The final dance of the night was the “dreaded” quickstep. Every single dancer who has ever performed the quickstep in SYTYCD history has been eliminated. Tapper Nick and world quickstep champion Iveta may have changed that trend. Jason Gilikson’s choreography was dynamic and fun, two words I never thought I would use to describe the quickstep. The odd couple, paired most likely because Nick is tall enough to properly partner Iveta, danced well together. Despite never having danced ballroom before, Nick’s tap training had to help, as both dance styles have fast footwork. While I enjoyed this routine, I’ll resist judgment on this couple until I see Iveta attempt another style of dance.

I don’t feel confident predicting who’s going home tonight, because there were so many dancers that America basically saw for the first time last night. It should be an interesting results show.


RESULTS SHOW UPDATE: After witnessing five wonderful solos and two so-so solos (I’m looking at you, Jordan and Robert,) the judges decided not to send anyone home, giving America the chance to see the top 20 dance again next week before eliminating anyone. A lot of people were upset by this decision, but I think it’s wise. I’m still at the point where I can’t put names to all of the 20 faces, so this works in favor of both the dancers and the voting audience. Four dancers will go next week, but I think after two performance shows, it will be a bit more obvious who was suffering from nerves/weak choreography and who just needs to go home.

‘american idol’ finale live blog

This season of American Idol started out with so much promise; new judges, no more Simon, the promise of new blood in the fading franchise. Things went south quickly, thanks to the early elimination of Pia Toscano, the Judges’ Save used way too early, lack of criticism from the judging panel and obvious examples of producer pimping/manipulation. Tonight, the season 10 winner will be crowned, an underwhelming competition between Scotty “Lovechild of Alfred E. Neuman and Howdy Doody” McCreery and Lauren “Toddlers and Tiaras All Grown Up” Alaina. For me, it’s the battle of who could care less, as my favorite, the sublime Haley Reinhart, was eliminated last week. Stay tuned as I live blog all of the filler segments and performances, and of course, who is crowned Wholesome Southern Teen Idol.

8:02 – When I think that more people vote for American Idol than the presidential election, a little part of me dies.

8:03 – Something that’s plagued me all season: is ‘Alaina’ actually her last name, or is it a middle-name-as-last-name sort of deal? Boggles the mind.

8:05 – Jacob Lusk is loving this Lady Gaga choreography.

8:07 – This isn’t a knock on Lauren’s weight, but she appears to be wearing an outfit from the Fat Elvis collection.

8:08 – Commercial Break Twitter Update (CBTU) “@realityblurred: Um, Lauren’s hometown Idol finale party had tons of empty seats. The camera couldn’t even conceal that.”

8:11 – The fact that both Judas Priest and Iggy Pop have appeared on Idol this season does not bode well for the future of the music industry.

8:15 – No, Ryan, do not go to Randy for any soundbites/reactions tonight. Please.

8:16 – It has occurred to me that I’d enjoy kickin’ it with the Dawg, but in the context of Idol, I’d like to sew his mouth shut.

8:18 – I would rather listen to seven hours of Randy saying, “You’re in it to win it!”than a three-minute Jacob Lusk performance.

8:21 – CBTU “@votefortheworst: Jacob Lusk needs time to queen out by himself. Eliminate Kirk Franklin and Gladys Knight and let Jacob go to town on his own.”

8:26 – I shouldn’t be enjoying this Casey Abrams/Jack Black performance as much as I am.

8:30 – I forgot most of these girls even existed.

8:33 – The top six girls are dressed like strippers at a post-apocalyptic strip club.

8:36 – CBTU “@mattmitovich: True story: Jack Black thinks he’s dueting with Will Ferrell.”

8:40 – Steven Tyler…everyone’s favorite crazy uncle.

8:42 – LOVE Haley’s dress. I wish she was singing with someone a little more current than Tony Bennett, but she sounds wonderful, as usual.

8:46 – J. Lo’s hair, flesh and jumpsuit are all the same color. It’s unsettling.

8:48 – Seriously, who dresses these girls? I can’t even find the words to describe how atrocious their TLC performance ensembles are…

8:50 – I appreciate the sentiment, but “Live Like You Were Dying” is my least favorite Tim McGraw song. Of course he’s singing it with Scotty.

8:55 – CBTU “@rilaws: It’s so weird that Tim McGraw is being styled by George Michael these days.”

8:58 – I can’t wait for this Idol nonsense to be over so we can get to the goodness that is So You Think You Can Dance.

9:02 – Sorry, Mr. J. Lo, but this performance reminds me of the “Island Fantasy Spectacular” put on by my resort on Spring Break.

9:06 – Oh Stefano, don’t ever sing in falsetto again.

9:08 – I think I can safely say this season’s top 13 is the most adept at choreography. Yes, this is something I thought about and analyzed. Help me.

9:11 – This medley is painful. These six voices do not mesh well together.

9:12 – The girls got to sing with Beyonce and the boys get…Tom Jones. Naturally.

9:14 – CBTU “@EWMandiBierly: I wish they’d made the Top 13 girls be Marc Anthony’s feather girls.”

9:23 – This show needed a heavy dose of Gaga’s insanity. Love her.

9:25 – I love playing “Spot Mark Kanemura” during Lady Gaga’s performances. He’s one of my favorite SYTYCD alums.

9:27 – CBTU “@adambvary: Ummm. Is Scotty a little hot for teacher?”

9:31 – Loving that Carrie Underwood is wiping the floor with Lauren. Bow down, bitches.

9:33 – Again, this isn’t a knock on Lauren’s weight, but I couldn’t help but notice that her butt is about three times the size of Carrie’s. I wish I had a screencap so I could marvel at the difference.

9:36 – Beyonce’s back. Snooze.

9:40 – CBTU “@EWAnnieBarrett: Carrie Underwood’s “sun”-kissed legs are the skinniest hot dogs I’ve ever seen.”

9:44 – I will never tire of the commercial where the guy is doing a one-man flash mob in Grand Central.

9:46 – This unknown dude onstage with Bono and the Edge looks like a mix of Ethan Hawke, James Franco and Kris Allen.

9:50 – CBTU “@EWAnnieBarrett: Sorry Bono and the Edge aren’t home right now they’re walking into spiderwebs so leave a message and they’ll call you back.” (Follow her. She’s hilarious.)

9:54 – Uncle Steven woke up from his season-long nap to perform, everyone!

9:57 – CBTU “@MichaelSlezakTV: I am going to have to ‘rise above’ the show’s failure to give a couple of my fave finalists a solo performance slot. #HijackedBySpidey”

10:02 – Okay, folks, here we go…the 2011 American Idol is…SCOTTY MCCREERY!

10:03 – Congrats to Scotty, but ugh, that means we have to hear his stupid “Love You This Big” song ad nauseum.

10:05 – “@rilaws: Time to sing the baby song for babies. Baby gets a bottle after sing-song is over.”

An underwhelming ending to an underwhelming season. I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things…SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE starts tomorrow night : )

‘so you think you can dance’: let’s hear it for the boys.

This week’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance marked the first time that a dance has moved me to actual tears. Sure, many of the routines have evoked strong emotions, but I’m talking tears in the eyes, threatening to spill over onto my face. More on that routine later. While I wasn’t getting weepy, I was swooning over the male dancers on the show. Contestants and all-stars alike made me wish I still had a Trapper Keeper so I could write “Alison ❤ Neil” on it (among other names.)

The injuries plague that claimed dearly departed Alex Wong last week struck again, this time in the form of a rib injury for Ashley. Forgettable as she may be, she’s a consistently good dancer, so I hope there isn’t an early departure in her future.

The last time SYTYCD attempted a foray into cultural dance, it resulted in the Russian folk dance fiasco that Jeanine and Phillip were saddled with in season 5. When I heard that Lauren would be dancing a Tahitian dance with Mark, I feared the worst. Before I get into the dance, I would like to thank the Dance gods for bringing Mark back to our TV screen this week; an episode without Mark is an episode without joy. I can’t imagine a better partner than him for this dance, because he brought the perfect amount of masculinity and strength. Lauren got that swively hip action just right, and while I can’t say I want to see this dance every week, it was a welcome
departure from the overwhelming amount of angsty contemporary pieces.

I was all for Adechike and Anya’s salsa last night, but the more I think about it, the less sure I am about its awesomeness. The tricks were great, especially Anya’s prolonged backbend and Adechike’s cartwheel over her arm, but the rest of the dance seemed to be lacking. It was a bit too stop-and-go to accommodate the tricks and lacked the fiery feel of a salsa. Choreography aside, Adechike did a great job of stepping out of his technical comfort zone and attacking something completely different.

One dance that I definitely did not like was Jose and Courtney’s Broadway routine. Joey Dowling’s choreography is hit-or-miss for me, and last night was for sure a miss. I get that they didn’t dance together due to the story of the dance, but the meager steps Jose did perform were executed poorly. I would have rather watched Courtney shimmy around the stage in that ridiculous showgirl costume by herself for the entirety of the dance. Don’t even get me started on that wounded puppy face Jose was pulling during his judging…

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, it was Travis Wall’s contemporary, danced by Robert and Allison, that moved me to tears. The one-two punch of Coldplay’s “Fix You” and the emotional backstory of his mom recovering from surgery was too much for my fragile emotions to handle. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Travis Wall is a genius. His choreography was so strong and so lovely that it would have been just as breathtaking without knowing the inspiration behind the piece. Robert put a lid on his oversized personality and allowed himself to connect with the piece, which definitely showed. I’m going to make a bold statement here and name Allison the best female contemporary dancer in SYTYCD history.

I’d like to thank the Dance gods again for the return of Dancing With the Stars pro Louis van Amstel as a choreographer. I missed him last season, when the new fall format of SYTYCD conflicted with DWTS. I love the jive as much as I love Louis, so one choreographing the other must equal greatness, right? Almost. Billy was able to overcome his nervous laughter from rehearsal and connect with Anya, but I wouldn’t rank this among the show’s top jives. Chopping up Meatloaf’s epic “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” into a minute and thirty seconds seems sacrilegious, and it gave the routine a slightly disjointed feel.

Let me offer another hearty “amen” for Neil. Not just last night, but in general. If they changed the title of the show to So You Think You Can Watch Neil Dance Solo For an Hour, I’d be all for it. I know this season is about the contestants and not the all-stars, but I thought Neil totally ruled this dance last night. Tyce Diorio’s Damn Yankees-themed Broadway piece was shockingly enjoyable. Okay, so Kent was good in this routine, too, because it allowed him to fully embrace his “gee-shucks-Kent!” persona, but I can’t believe Nigel told Neil he was outdanced. No way, no how.

Moving on to the contestants-only dances, (which I’m glad they’re continuing with) Lauren and Billy had a fun jazz from Mandy Moore. Her choreography isn’t usually that great, but this funky, peppy routine to “Boogie Shoes” was enjoyable to watch. (Not to mention I want a pair of those bejeweled Chuck Taylors they were wearing.) Adam was right; Billy truly did just let go and dance, and it showed.

I was shocked at the praise the judges were throwing at Jose after his b-boy dance with Dominic, who he was paired with since there was an odd number of contestants left. There is no way that you could sit there and watch that routine and not see that Jose is nowhere near as good at b-boying as Dominic. This was so obvious when they were dancing side-by-side; the leg windmills (or whatever they’re called) come to mind. I’m sick of all the passes Jose gets from the judges. He needs to be in the bottom three tonight.

Not taking into account the weird story behind the dance, (Kent’s girlfriend is a chair and Adechike doesn’t like her?) Dee Caspary’s contemporary piece was strong, masculine and really used the strengths of both dancers. The use of chairs could have hindered the routine, but the choreography was interesting and different.

The last dance of the night was the first disco of the season, and while I had been wondering when we were going to finally see it, I realized after last night’s routine with Robert and Kathryn that I didn’t really miss it that much. Doriana Sanchez’s choreography used to be non-stop good times, but now it’s evolved into death-defying trick after death-defying trick. Robert wasn’t fabulous in this, but he and Kathryn worked well together considering she had to fill in for the injured Ashley.

I think Jose and Billy or Robert will be joining Ashley in the bottom three tonight, and hopefully she’ll be well enough to continue on in the competition and Jose will be b-boying his way back to Miami.

Photo courtesy of Mark Kanemura’s Twitter account, @mKiK808.

so you think you can dance: judges gone wild

Greetings, Dance fans. Let’s take a journey…through this week’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance. I love how the producers are, in essence, making this up as they go along, changing the format this week to include an all-star pairing as well as a pairing with another competitor. Wise choice. There’s lots of dancing to be done, so let’s get right into this, shall we?

Lauren started the night doing a cha-cha with Pasha and his ballroom jeans. Her costume made her look like a sexy skunk, but she worked every last centimeter of that fringe. Her athleticism definitely worked in her favor this week, as her moves were strong and commanding. When the camera pulled away to a long shot, I could have sworn it was Anya up there. That’s how effortless Lauren made it look. She is improving every week, but I still can’t fully embrace her. I don’t know what it is about her…

Jose and all-star Lauren (she of the bodacious booty,) were the lucky recipients of another 80’s power ballad contemporary courtesy of Mandy Moore. INXS this time, for those of you keeping score. The choreography was weird; Jose barely danced, instead acting as a human prop for Lauren to twirl around. The judges, of course, loved it, praising his “technique” and growth and whatever other cliche phrase they dragged out in their critiques. I understood what Nigel was saying about Jose being true to himself, willing to learn, willing to grow, etc., but the bottom line is that the kid’s technique will never rival any of his competitors’, even on their worst day.

Kent and hip-hop should, in theory, go together about as well as Lindsay Lohan and alcohol, so I was pleasantly surprised by his routine with Comfort. He brought a crisp jazziness (not a real word, but work with me here) to the moves, which at first I thought to be his spin on the moves, but I think it was actually Dave Scott’s smart choreography. Cat was right; there was a bit of a Timberlake-ish vibe from Kent.

Adechike and Courtney’s jazz split the judges, but I thought it was sweet and charming. There was a bit too much prop work at the beginning with the counter and stools, but as Nigel pointed out, the part where they danced off to the side was sublime. Courtney is just adorable and radiant in anything she does, and I don’t care what McBitchy Mia had to say; I thought Adechike was personable and fun to watch. I think her headband was cutting off all blood flow to her brain.

I’m sure Billy and Allison’s Broadway would have been lovely, had the all-star not suffered a flare-up of a rib injury. Have no fear, for season 4’s favorite female dancer, Katee, was conveniently nearby to fill in for Allison. Spencer Liff has proven to be the most consistently great Broadway choreographer on the show, and this thief-themed piece really brought out the precise nature of Billy’s dancing. Katee’s great, but I had my eyes on Billy the whole time.

I was unable to properly assess Ashley and Dominic’s Nap/Tab hip-hop routine because my judgment was clouded by the horrendous song chosen to accompany the number. Ludacris’ “How Low” is one of the most inane songs to ever grace the radio, and now it’s stuck in my head. Thanks, Tabitha and Napoleon. I was also dismayed by the costuming for the dance; I get that it was a ninja theme, but someone in the costume department must really hate Ashley, because those drop-crotch Hammer pants were hideous. Regardless, it was refreshing to see her do something other than contemporary, and she kept up with Dominic quite well.

Robert and Kathryn, or should I say “Bob” and “Kathie,” were dolls come to life in Sean Cheeseman’s jazz. The concept was great, and it played up to Robert’s inherent cheesiness, but the synchronization was very off at the beginning when they were dancing in the boxes. Robert stumbled few a through lifts and turns with Kathryn, bumping her butt on the ground and making her seem awkward and cumbersome. Something was just a smidge off throughout the entire dance.

I have to applaud Nigel and crew for allowing the actual contestants to dance together last night. Some people think this make-it-up-as-we-go format of season 7 is unprofessional, but I think it shows flexibility on the producers’ part and a willingness to try something new. (Take note, American Idol producers.)

Alex and Adechike should have danced a powerful Bollywood together, but an Achilles’ tendon injury sidelined Alex last night. Now, this was definitely not the sharpest Bollywood I’ve ever seen danced, but I think the judges failed to give Adechike any credit. Not only was he dancing with a new (and female) partner, but I’m sure some of the choreography at the end was tweaked to make up for Alex’s absence. Did any of the judges acknowledge this? Of course not. Instead we got freaking Mia Michaels snidely declaring she “missed Alex so much right now.” You know who I missed so much last night? Mary Murphy. Props to Cat, though, for calling out the judges on their hypocrisy. How dare they praise Jose for doing a more lackluster Bollywood a few weeks ago, yet rip Adechike apart for doing the same, if not better? I could have strangled Mia with her stupid headband after she responded, “Jose has heart…” Bring back Mary. Please.

Lauren and Kent’s contemporary was the highlight of the night. Travis Wall is such a genius when it comes to choreography, and last night’s piece was a great showcase for both dancers. The prom story behind the dance was subtle and relatable for Kent and Lauren, considering they both just graduated from high school. This is one of the most emotionally real dances on SYTYCD thus far, and that’s counting standouts like “Bleeding Love,” “No Air,” and “Addiction.” And then there was that kiss at the end….wow.

The producers were cruel enough to “randomly” give Ashley and Robert the quickstep, aka the kiss of death on SYTYCD. This leads me to ask, why continue to include this dance? If it consistently leads to eliminated dancers, then drop it from the lineup. Robert and Ashley did the best they could with this dreaded dance, although the music Jean-Marc and France picked was awful. Fingers crossed that these dancers are spared the fate of other quicksteppers.

The final dance of the evening was an African Jazz, danced by Billy and Jose. This was a meeting of the two SYTYCD staples: personality vs. technique. The premise involved Jose’s hunter preying on Billy’s panther, but I’d say the panther ended up victorious. For a routine that required power, strength and athleticism, Billy excelled while Jose floundered.

If I had to pick a bottom three for tonight, I would say Jose, Robert and maybe Adechike, but I think he’ll get enough sympathy votes to be safe this week.

so you think you can dance: thoughts on season 7 so far

I’ve been unable to catch the entirety of both performance episodes so far, (reason #69263 why we need a DVR, parents!) so I haven’t been able to write recaps like I had wanted. I’m not totally wowed by anyone yet, and I’m still unsure if I like the all-stars format or not. Here is my take on the remaining nine dancers.
I don’t know if it’s the extremely high bar he set for himself during his brief appearance in season six, but Billy Bell has been just so-so in his first two performances. Lame choreography dragged him down in his Tyce Diorio Broadway number, and the poor kid never stood a chance next to Comfort in a krump routine. He needs a contemporary or jazz piece soon to really shine.
Kent Boyd is the cutest, most adorable thing to grace my TV screen since the Gosselin sextuplets. He has enough personality for three people, and regardless if you find him entertaining or not, there’s no denying the boy’s got legitimate dance talent. It was impossible not to smile during his cha-cha-cha with Anya, and even though the costume department saddled him with some heinous S&M-type getup in his jazz with Courtney this week, his technical ability shone through any sartorial missteps. I can’t wait to see him in a hip-hop or Broadway number.
I was ready to send Lauren Froderman back to her cheerleading squad after week one’s disastrous pop-jazz with Ade. Technically, it was great, but that cheesy perma-smile was so off-putting. Her redemption came in the form of a Tessandra Chavez lyrical hip-hop. The cheerleader-y grin was gone and she absolutely nailed the choreography. I’ll warily give her my support, but I’m unsure how successful she’ll be with ballroom or something more obscure, like African Jazz.
I keep forgetting that Ashley Galvan is even on the show; the little airtime she received before the top 11 combined with two routines that didn’t really stand out make for a forgettable dancer. Her contemporary with Neil during week one was okay, although I was confused by her declaration to the judges after she danced that she thought she might be in love. With Neil? You best step off, sister. Week two’s jazz (or contemporary if you’re Nigel Lythgoe,) was better, but she needs something really different to make her stand out next week. Give her a hip-hop with Twitch or a jive with Pasha.
Robert Roldan seems to be doing everything in his power to make himself extremely unlikable. The hammy antics and the spastic mugging for the camera have got to go. Personality aside, I think he has a lot of talent left to show us. The guy’s in an Alvin Ailey dance troupe, for crying out loud. I thought he was better than his all-star counterpart, Courtney, in week one’s African Jazz, and while I missed his Argentine tango with Anya last week, from what I saw, he seemed to hold his own. If he could just stop trying so damn hard to be funny, he could make it pretty far.
Jose Ruiz fashions himself to be Legacy 2.0, but he’s not even close. Legacy rose to the occasion each week and made it seem like he’d been doing whatever given genre his entire life, whereas Jose seems very limited in what he can do outside of the b-boy style. Take this week’s Bollywood number, for example. The judges praised him to no end, but I thought it was the sloppiest performance in that style throughout the entire show’s history. I dread the week where Jose picks contemporary.
Judging by the fact that she’s been in the bottom three both weeks so far, I seem to be in the minority of people who like Melinda Sullivan. Nigel sees an inability to connect with the audience; I see someone who isn’t trying desperately to get votes (I’m looking at you, Robert.) Her week one jive with Pasha was a bit off, and terrible costuming and choreography ruined her week two contemporary piece for me, but I’ve loved both of her “dance for your life” solos so far. I do wish the judges would stop praising her technique for being “just a tapper,” though, because Melinda has repeatedly admitted to taking classes in other styles of dance.
Towards the end of Vegas week, I had hoped that Adechike Torbert would survive and make it to the top ten/eleven/whatever number the producers decided to settle on. I’m starting to forget why I wanted him to move on, because his two performances so far have been less than memorable. In his defense, he was forced to stand out while dancing with all-stars Kathryn and Allison, a seemingly insurmountable task. He needs a dance this week that forces him to show some personality, otherwise he could be gone before top five.
Alex Wong‘s technique is so perfect that even Baryshnikov would feel inadequate. However, I don’t foresee him winning, because as SYTYCD history shows, technically flawless male dancers never win. Just ask Danny, Brandon, Jakob, etc. I don’t think he needs to win this show to have success in the dance industry, though. His Broadway number with Lauren was fun, so I hope he gets something like hip-hop or an upbeat ballroom number to showcase his personality and take some of the focus away from his freakishly amazing technical skills.
As far as the new all-star format, I love it and I hate it. I love it because I get to see people like Neil, Pasha, Mark, Kathryn and Courtney dance again, but that’s also the reason why I hate it. Sometimes I’m so focused on watching the all-star dance that the actual contestant becomes an afterthought. I understand what Nigel and co. wanted to accomplish with the all-stars, but I think cutting down the field from 20 to 10 and putting well-known and well-loved dancers into the mix alters the natural balance of SYTYCD.

“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”: handicapping the top 20

Even though it seems like we just crowned Jeanine Mason “America’s Favorite Dancer,” So You Think You Can Dance has quickly segued into their first fall season, giving us another group of talented dancers to entertain us each week. Here are my thoughts on the top 20.

I love tappers, and I loved Phillip Attmore’s audition, but last night’s conveniently placed clip of his backtalk to the judges will surely turn some people off to him. I think a lot of Phillip’s success rides on which female dancer he’s paired with.

Billy Bell is an early favorite of mine. The strength of his dancing comes as somewhat of a shock, as though it’s not possible for this skinny, pale kid to bring Adam Shankman to tears. I really look forward to seeing Billy’s growth in the top 20.

My spotty viewing of the audition rounds prevented me from seeing Channing Cooke before last night. Athletic strength doesn’t always translate to strong dancing, but she seems to have a balance of both. She’s like the Kherington of season 6, albeit less annoying, so I think viewers will become well acquainted with her.

I’ve literally never seen Ariana DeBose before finding out she was in the top 20, and the producers couldn’t be bothered to show much of her dancing. Depending on her partner, Ariana could make an early exit just from the fact that the viewers don’t have much of a rapport with her.

The less I have to see of Ashleigh DiLello, the better. She’s clearly hamming it up for the cameras every chance she gets, and the faces she makes while both dancing and talking are obnoxious. I get the whole husband and wife shtick the producers are going for, but her dancing is mediocre, and “personality” can only get you so far.

Ryan DiLello is far more talented than his elastic-faced wife. A strong male ballroom dancer has been missing from SYTYCD for the past few seasons, so if Ryan’s prowess extends beyond ballroom floor, I think he has a good chance of making the top 10.

Russell Ferguson is the earliest of my early favorites. When I saw this krumper excel at Louis van Amstel’s insane cha-cha-cha during Vegas week, I was shocked. Russell further shocked me by completely killing it in the following jazz, contemporary and Broadway routines. The cynic in me finds his claims of having no previous training suspect, but I hope it’s true and he’s simply a wealth of untapped talent.

Detest is not a strong enough word to describe my dislike for Mollee Gray. Nigel was completely spot-on when he told her that she dances like a 14 or 15-year-old. I’d place her maturity level at about the same age. Sure, she has great technique, but the emotional connection to her dances is lacking. Can she master the fiery paso doble? The sultry rumba? A hard-hitting hip hop? Mollee will definitely alienate older viewers, but the younger crowd will text enough votes to keep her around for longer than I’d like.

As far as female ballroom dancers go, I’ll take Karen Hauer over Ashleigh any day. Her audition was strong, but her lack of camera time throughout Vegas could hurt her.

Hip-hop is often over-represented in the SYTYCD top 20, but this season, Kevin Hunte is the sole hip-hopper (not counting krumper Russell or b-boy Legacy). He’s very versatile, as glimpses of him in Vegas showed, but there are a lot of strong males this season, so Kevin’s versatility will have to go a long way.

We haven’t seen much of contemporary dancer Jakob Karr thus far, but the little we have seen shows a lot of promise. I hope he does better than my early contemporary favorite from last season, Jason Glover, who was kind of a disappointment.

The only thing Noelle Marsh has going for her is that she’s mildly less obnoxious than her “best friend” Mollee. (Side note: How fast can one become someone’s best friend? Apparently for these two, it’s the length of time it took some random PA to put them in the same hotel room.) We haven’t seen much of her dancing, so Noelle’s run in the top 20 is TBD.

Throughout Vegas, Paulina Mata was one to watch for me, so when she suffered that terrible ankle injury before the Broadway round, I thought she was a goner. Her spirit seemed a little beaten post-injury, so hopefully being in the top 20 gives Paulina the spark she needs to become a true contender.

Kathryn McCormick is a great dancer, as seen in the clips we saw last night. Viewers may have a hard time remembering her talent, however, after witnessing the horrible sound of her voice when she cries. When the tears started, her voice reached octaves that only dogs and dolphins can hear. Unless Kathryn can pull it together and keep the tears in check, she’s going to have a hard time getting votes.

I’ll keep my thoughts about Jonathan “Legacy” Perez short: he’s annoying, and I don’t get the hype. The end.

Tapper Bianca Revels is very talented and has a lot of personality to back it up. She also has quite a fan following, as this is her third season on SYTYCD. Her tapping is great, but I fear she may struggle with ballroom or contemporary.

Peter Sabasino rounds out the trifecta of tappers this season, and while we haven’t seen much of him yet, I have to applaud Nigel and the rest of the judges for not pulling the “we need to keep the genres equally represented” card when it came to the tap dancers. Now if only we could get some more ballet dancers on the show…

All I can really recall about Ellenore Scott is that I declared her “really obnoxious” after her audition. We know Nigel loves personality, and Ellenore has plenty to go around.

Victor Smalley’s curly Mohawk suffered the same fate as Kupono’s floppy Mohawk last season: shorn off in a Las Vegas bathroom. The haircut is definitely an improvement, and from what I saw of Victor last night, he has great technique.

Nathan Trasoras has the advantage of being a favorite from way back in season 5. His audition was phenomenal, but he was too young to qualify. Nigel, in a rare moment of clarity, saw Nathan’s potential and gave him a ticket for Vegas in season 6. For being so young, Nathan is a great dancer, and I think he’ll fit nicely into the requisite non-threatening male that makes the teen voters go crazy.

Be sure to tune in on Monday October 26 for “So You Think You Can Dance: Meet the Top 20,” where viewers will get to see each dancer perform in their own style, as well as in choreographed group numbers. The judges will then pair up the dancers at the end of this SYTYCD special.

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‘so you think you can dance’: judging the final four

  It’s hard to believe that we’re already down to the final four in SYTYCD, with the finale less than a week away. Here are my thoughts on the remaining dancers:

Evan: The one positive thing I can say about Evan’s inclusion in the finale is that he adds some diversity, with the other 3 dancers all being contemporary. Looking back at Evan’s performances throughout the season, I’m pretty underwhelmed. He didn’t even perform well in the two Broadway numbers he was given, which is weird considering it’s his own style. The only time Evan stands out is when he does his solos, and this shows nothing but his inability to adapt to other dance styles, this being the entire point of SYTYCD. He obviously has a rabid fan base, given he is the only dancer going into the finale who has not been in the bottom two.

Brandon: Looking back at Brandon’s performances so far, I’m still left scratching my head as to why he’s been in the bottom two. Brandon ranks among the top 10 male dancers to ever dance on this show, but I don’t think that guarantees him the win. Thinking back to past seasons, technically flawless male dancers have made it far but never won (see: Travis, Danny and Will for examples). There’s a good chance he’ll be in the top 2, but I’d be very surprised if Brandon wins.

Kayla: Obviously the judges’ darling, Kayla has given strong performances all season. However, she has also made three appearances in the bottom 2, indicating that America hasn’t really embraced Kayla. There’s no question that she’s a talented dancer, but I think she’ll be eliminated first or second in the finale, much like season 3 judges darling Lacey.

Jeanine:This girl is the winner. Is she the best dancer out of the four remaining? That’s questionable, but her growth throughout the season has been wonderful to watch, and she’s just so genuinely likable. I remember Jeanine admitting in her interview during the top 20 performance show that she doesn’t have amazing legs or perfect turnout, but that she does have passion for what she’s doing. That’s always stuck with me as I’ve watched her dance throughout the season. Towards the beginning, I thought she was riding along on Philip’s popularity, but when she saved their horrendous top 18 tango and was the best part about their top 12 jive, I knew I was very wrong about Jeanine. Once she lost Philip as a partner and got to dance with guys who equalled her talent, Jeanine quickly became my pick to win. (I think it was the Travis Wall-choreographed piece that she danced with Jason that did it for me.)

Just to recap, I’d like to see Brandon and Jeanine as the final two, with Jeanine taking the title of America’s Favorite Dancer. (Until December, when season six crowns a new favorite.)