ABDC Season 7 Week 7 – Rihanna Challenge

DANGER. – Photo by Frank Micelotta

Originally posted May 24th, 2012 on Intersections.

Week 7: Rihanna Challenge

***Spoilers. Disclaimer: I wrote this as I was flying home… flight was mad delayed soo… this is 1000 words longer than my typical reviews. Sorry.***

While it is Rihanna Week for the 239847139471th time on America’s Best Dance Crew, I really don’t mind all that much. Girl is gorgeous. Also, it seems pretty clear that she’s only doing this to promote Battleship – but necessary? It’s obviously the kind of movie you go to when you just want to look at explosions and pretty people. The crews also seemed genuinely excited about Rihanna week from the artist announcement in the video package. This week was a pretty decent one in my book, despite the theme of the challenges this week was my aaaabsolute favorite, props (sarcasm, folks). All the crews did a decent job with the challenges, overcoming the respective limitations of their props.

Other notes: Mario Lopez’s shirt confuses me – two different color sleeves? Why? Lando’s hair is straight?! Lil Mama had some strugs with words this week. Maybe I should ditch my Lil-Mama-is-dressing-normal-and-pulling-the-Angelina-Jolie-all-black-gig section for weekly commentary on Lando’s hair.

Group Performance – “We Found Love”
Summary: Two of the Elektro boys start us off with some flips on the trampolines in the back and run off the stage, opening it up for RNG. 8 Flavahz breaks through the caution tape and sasses up the camera. I like the hits on the drum beat at 1:31. Fanny Pak crawls onto stage from the back, strikes a pose and then one of the 8F girls hits a stunt. All three crews turn and point at Mos Wanted in crowd, working the column, lol. Glenda does some waacking and then gives us some booty work at the center at 1:51. I like the group choreo from 1:54-1:58; it’s simple, but its somehow groovy and hard-hitting. The group breaks up to let Elektro come in through the center. JP comes downstage at 2:25, teasing and working the crowd with some footwork. Everyone gets down on the ground at 3:02 and hits some wrist rolls (3:04) and James Brown splits (3:05)– did anyone else think the 8F twins jumping on the trampoline at 3:14 was hilarious? D-Trix was amused.

Thoughts: My goodness was the stage crowded. Why there were caution barriers/tape hanging everywhere? Also aren’t there usually separate costumes for the group opening numbers? Everyone was wearing their routine costumes… It makes me wonder if the decision to save both crews last week was a last minute thing and costume wasn’t expecting to have to do another group outfit this week. It’s always fun to see the crews dance with each other. Nothing mind blowing, but cute and fun!

Bailey. – Photo by Frank Micelotta

RNG – “You Da One”
Challenge: Wear bowler hats & perform a hat trick
Summary: Look at Jeannique’s hits at 0:04! Like so much! Dope transition at 0:08. Super fast, too. Jeannique steals Bailey’s hat at 0:18 and RNG starts a cool section filled with dynamic changes (or fast-slow/slow-fast according to the judges). Bailey’s solo at 0:36. YES. The other girls perform a sick group hat trick involving the flipping of the bowlers into a checkerboard at 0:38 – pretty dope considering the lining fabric is also checkered :O Bailey & Jeannique’s pseudo kiss can’t really be seen, damn you low camera angle. Grimey section, check. Anyone spot 747 and Millie of I.aM.mE in the crowd?

D-Trix: Last week, y’all were in the bottom and y’all just pooed on the bottom. This right here was your guys’ best show of the whole season so far.

Thoughts: D-Trix also mentioned how ridiculously clean RNG is, but that what makes them great is how they live within the choreography; they don’t just execute, they milk each moment and you can see it in their faces and the way the perform the choreography. I love that RNG isn’t afraid to do simpler things like just grooving. To me, amazing dancing doesn’t always have to be about the fastest choreography or the most intricate, but it can also be just really feeling the music and reflecting what you’re hearing through your body. I guess that’s why I always get excited about RNG’s performances; they move me, like Lil Mama said. JC thought that the routine started off slow, which I don’t disagree with, but I think that’s more of a limitation in the remix – “You Da One” isn’t exactly the fastest song ever. I will admit this wasn’t my favorite RNG performance either. I’m still blown away by the rewind moment of Drake week and the all-around amazeballs of Pitbull week. Still, it was a good performance, props.

Werk. – Photo by Frank Micelotta

8 Flavahz – “Birthday Cake”
Challenge: Create a fire effect & extinguish it
Summary: Angel just had her birthday and Camren’s is coming up! Happy birthday, girls! Video package emphasized how scary the fireworks were and highlighted that with epic music in the background. Before this episode aired there was a rumor going around that Charlize’s hair caught fire during the performance. Lies! But still amazing quote from one of the girls:

Kaelynn: We have big hair, so if we get close to a flame… we goin’… be bald.

Large birthday cake center upstage. The Rapp twins and Charlize start off on top of it while the other five crawl out from underneath it. The twins perform synchronized aerials WHILE holding hands at 0:06. Tamara & Charlize pair up and do a pretty dope lift where Charlize does the side splits in mid-air and comes down in front of Tamara into a dip (starts at 0:13). Girls do some group tutting at 0:33. Tamara does some swipes on top of the cake at 0:39– which don’t look as fabulous because of the low camera angle. Charlize gets on top of the cake and does some flappy waving?  Girls run around for a bit and then the twins, JAIRA, and Kaelynn get on top of the cake and hold up the candles turned fireworks. After the routine, the four younger girls do a whole “stop, drop and roll” and turn into dead bugs flailing their limbs in the air.

10:20 – NancyT (BloggingABDC): The end looks like dying cockroaches in front

Thoughts: I’m betting that the playing up of the danger of the fireworks and the whole “stope, drop, and roll” thing was actually necessary. I mean, without all those dramatics and clearly extremely educational fire safety moment, it would seem like MTV was promoting children playing with fire. In all seriousness, considering how overtly sexual this song is, I think 8F did a good job making it tasteful. I will agree with JC in that it was uncomfortable to watch the girls at first, but once you got over it the routine was decent. I also agree on his point about 8F reusing a lot of their stunts. 8F is made up of great dancers, not just acrobats. I would love to see a routine where 8F did straight dancing and no stunts, but probably not going to happen since their athleticism is part of their identity as a crew – which makes them extra marketable, might I add, I mean little girls who can do major stuntwork, bboy, and hit hard just like the big kids? They appeal to pretty much everyone.

D-Trix: I actually loved the routine, JC. I’m sorry. And I do understand, like, the things he was talking about, but for me when you guys got into that deep pliée, to me that shows technique that not many crews can actually do.

Wait, hold up, D-Trix, not many crews can do a deep pliée? I feel like there was supposed to be another word there…

D-Trix: I love that you guys had four candles representing the average age of your crew…

Lol. There were eight candles total, four lit, four not.

Lil Mama: Y’know I know y’all had fire in your performance and all, but I just want you guys to know that y’all are ON fire, for sure.

Hunger Games? Lol. ANYWAYS, I do agree with Lil Mama on the fact that 8F is a PERFORMANCE crew. They always make sure they look like they’re owning what they’re doing, even if they’re not super confident with stuff like the pyrotechnics of their routine. That being said, I agree that this was an entertaining performance, but it wasn’t mind-blowing. I feel like 8F brought it so hard early on *coughcough*VOGUE OMAGAH*coughcough* that they’re now struggling to live up to those expectations. Admittedly, I’m one of those people waiting for another knockout performance, but I think these girls are fully capable of bringing another top-notch performance like that. So let’s see it! Go team! Ugh, that was peppy of me, ew.

Lando? – Photo by Frank Micelotta

Mos Wanted Crew – “Cockiness (Love it)”
Challenge: Use jackets to create an image of confidence

Rihanna: What’s up Mos Wanted Crew?
Puspos: You are SO fine!!!

Summary: MWC starts off with the GRV boys front and center, hitting the big back beat switching to the higher beat right before Rihanna’s voice comes in, at which point the choreo’s focus switches to the way RiRi is singing. Lando comes downstage with a spin kick as half the boys jump on the other half’s trenchcoats and are pulled out from the center, revealing Ricky hitting that nasty 90 to on the “Youuuuuuu” at 0:21 (the slightest stumble as Bam pulls Lando, but not major) as the rest of the boys hit that high ting sound. Ian gets thrown front and center, working the crowd and Lil Mama during the next group choreo section set to the looped voice in the background – no idea what it’s saying. The boys switch back to the beat during the transition to the jacket illusion at 0:34. Transition the next illusion where Jun is thrown back between Bam and Jawn (0:40)–  hilarious symmetry due to the fact that both of them have shaved heads – while Puspos acts as his arms behind him. JP pulls out some ridiculous moves then gives the camera some smoulder (starts at 0:48). Puspos moves to center and pulls up the other boys on the “I love it”s at 0:54. End with jackets being thrown at the camera.

: JP of “Most Wanted” crew!!!! That lil move my niggaaaaaa??!!!!!!! You’re legit as phuck

Thoughts: As much as people are still hating on MWC’s performance last week, I still can’t get the opening of that performance out of my mind. Also, if you were sitting around watching pregnant women on MTV right before the show aired, you might have caught the flashback to last week’s episode that includes a shot from the unused take, of the jump over Jun being performed perfectly. Anyways, I spent a little more time on Mos Wanted’s summary this week, just to show what I mean by musicality. I haven’t exactly been hiding the fact that I’m a Mos Wanted fan, but I thought I should articulate specifically what I find amazing about them. Throughout the minute of choreo, MWC was able to dedicate some part of the choreo to literally every sound in that mix of “Cockiness.” Check the summary again and you’ll see that each member got a moment front and center. Ricky’s 90 was crazy, it looked even more ridiculous in the replay. How is he so twisted in an invert? I don’t understand how you can stay centered doing that. Shenanigans.

Overall, this performance was certainly a redemption performance for the guys, especially from what we saw on TV last week. They did a good job using the jackets in a variety of ways throughout the performance. Yes, it was creative. Yes, the musicality was top notch. Yes, the guys were feeling it. But besides Ricky’s moment, I wasn’t jumping out of my seat. Yeah, I realized the song was slow, but I am glad that the tempo allowed them to really choreographically illustrate everything that was happening in the music. Again, this may be due to the fact that I watch a lot of Mos Wanted’s material on Youtube and have exceedingly high and perhaps unfair expectations (especially if you consider the fact that they have complete creative freedom in those vids). I’m just glad the boys are back on their game. I also appreciated the fact that the boys were being appropriately cocky without oversexualizing the inherently sexual song; as Lil Mama said they danced like gentlemen.

Lil Mama: Well let me say, that was definitely cocky, okay? You guys came out confident, just like how y’all came out last week. You know y’all ran over a little milestone or whatever…

Lol, I think she meant that they ran over a pothole or a pebble or some other obstacle of some sort. Otherwise, she has a point, MWC came out wanting it just as much as they did last week. Speaking of wanting it, anyone else notice that Puspos looks like he’s kinda losing his shit everytime the camera’s on him? During the judges’ comment, he always looks like he’s on the verge of tears. It’s like this every week though. In the post-performance interviews and during the judges comments the guys are all nervous as hell! They aren’t just sitting there nodding their heads and blowing the judges off; they are actually waiting to hear the criticism. They actually really really really care about this competition.

@JawnHa: Yo Haters.. BAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA-@MosWantedCrew #MdubGang #MdubArmy

One could argue that Mos Wanted needs the ABDC title the least out of all the crews this season, if you just look at their careers as choreographers and performers. However, just like they said in their introductory video package the first week, THIS is what THEY want the most right now. I’m sure they all had to cancel gigs and other obligations to be on the show – from their tweets, I know Jawn and Bam miss performing with GRV, and were bummed out since they couldn’t go to World of Dance: Los Angeles and won’t be competing in Body Rock this weekend.

That being said, I don’t think “coasting” is the right term to be throwing around. True, not all their performances have been stellar, but part of the downside of having a crew of choreographers is that a competition like this is structured in a way that severely limits their creativity. But why does this affect Mos Wanted more than a crew with a single choreographer? I’m banking on the fact that when a crew has a single choreographer that the choreographer is used to working with limitations, whether it’s a weakness in a particular style, or simply dancer preferences; they have to work around the dancers they have. While they are all incredibly versed in many styles, ABDC is probably the longest stretch of time these guys have all danced together as Mos Wanted. I think people assume that Mos Wanted has it easy on ABDC and call them out for what they perceive to be “reclining on the throne of their fanbase.” Even with a massive fanbase like Mos Wanted’s, you still have to live up to expectations or you’re fanbase might give up on you.

ELEKTROOOOOOOOOO – Photo by Frank Micelotta

Elektrolytes – “Where Have You Been”
Challenge: Perform with a mic
Summary: Opens up with some warps, paying attention to that sweeping noise in the background. Cue group footwork at the section that isn’t adjusted for Ben even though he was holding the mic. Joey  gliding downstage with the mic stand while the rest of the guys were housing was DOPE (starts at 0:15). Chris left the main formation walking on his hands into a freeze ON THE BEAT (starts at 0:25). Someone gets tossed into the air while he does a 360 turn. Funky pelvic thrusting at 0:33 by Sal followed by a HUGE flip off mic stand at 0:43 – granted video editing did slow it down to match the timing of the song. Ohai Marcus’ abs at 0:53. He and his abs then coin drop across stage 1:00. Anyone catch Stepboys in the crowd after the performance?

Thoughts: Nice one guys, can we get this level of performance every week? I do think part of Elektro’s success in this routine is that they did get the hypest song. Good thing too since energy is sort of a thing of theirs. Lots of good moments in this routine. Stunts were on point and creative too! Everyone had the mic at some point, as well. My favorite dance moment was the gliding downstage framed by the house. Sick. JC made a great commment on the point that this was a good juxtaposition of different textures of movement – the smoothness of the glide matched the build of the beat while the housing hit the main beats. Not only was it dope, but this was also the technically best section of the routine.

This leads me into my main critique of Elektro in terms of technique. The guys are decently versed in a variety of styles, but often I don’t pick up on what style they’re doing until I rewatch it a couple of times. At first I thought it was just uncleanliness, but then I realized that they weren’t all confident in their movement and that variety of self-assuredness feeds into that messiness. Elektro knows the movement vocabulary, but they need to be a little bit sharper and attack those movements a little harder. For example at 0:10, I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be locking or if it was just choreography. Also, during the transition right after that, just before the gliding, when the guys were in a scarecrow/robot position at 0:13, not all of their arms were positioned correctly, and even if they were there position-wise, it wasn’t sharp or confident. The iso would-be chest inflation transition at 0:28 right before the big flip was also really small, and one of the guys in the front didn’t even really do it.

This is related to what JC said in terms of some of the boys getting a little lost at the beginning of the routine. It’s all related to their confidence. Yeah, they’re projecting energy and hype, but there wasn’t the conviction in their faces or in their bodies like Ben during J. Lo week. I’m sure part of this has to do with the minimal rehearsal time that ABDC gives the crews; it’s harder to emote confidence when you’re just worried about getting the movements. However, it’s Top 4 now, you gotta go for broke or you won’t be able to outshine the competition.

Serious Fanny. – Photo by Frank Micelotta

Fanny Pak – “Talk That Talk”
Challenge: Rifle spins and throws
Summary: Serious Fanny rocking out to the drum roll at the beginning. Do you see those faces? When the beat drops, the melt into a more recognizable FP full of smiles and dropping the fists for peace signs (0:05). The slam of the guns into the ground at 0:14 was CLEAN and mad sharp. I like the musicality of the drop to the ground at 0:21. Unfortunately the section with the front row on the ground suffers from the low camera angles so you can’t really appreciate any of the leveling here. Rifle spins at 0:36! Nice grooving at 0:51. Pelvic thrusting at 0:00. Ending with an aerial shot of the peace sign.

@glenda23fp : Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Thoughts:Hold up, Fanny Pak definitely got the hardest challenge. Not only do they have a prop, but there’s actual set stunts that they had to do. Also, that shit is just straight up hard. Drill team stuff is ALL about precision and I’m sure FP was losing their minds a bit trying to make it clean, and it was! So clean! FP also did a good job incorporating grooves when their challenge burdened them with rigidity.

Yeah, I know I’ve been hard on FP, but honestly it was because I know they can do more than they’ve shown this season. In terms of message, this was my favorite performance of theirs this time around. Yes, Drake week was beautiful and super theatrical, and it did move me, but hey I dig the message this week. Call me a hippie, maybe. FP got seriously shafted this week in terms of challenge and song selection. While I think the island feel of the beat did them a favor, it was mad slow. I would’ve loved to see an FP uptempo reggae performance.

Thing that bugged me this week about FP has nothing to do with FP, but D-Trix and JC’s comments, actually. Their comments were goodbyes!!! I’m not a Fanny Pak fan at all, but that’s just straight up rude. Yes, they were praising FP, but like… technically they hadn’t deliberated yet. Even if they had already decided to eliminate Fanny, they should’ve disguised it better… Granted I caught JC chewing his lip and holding back tears(?) right when D-Trix starts his commentary.

@ChrisTrondsen: I’m really sad to see those two crews in the bottom but honestly none of the crews deserve it. The top 5 crews this season are crazy!

I’m guessing the higher ups weren’t comfortable with keeping a crew that’s been received so negatively on the show (in terms of voting) and they probably forced the judges’ hands. Part of winning America’s Best Dance Crew is the amazing commercial opportunities that come with the title. MTV probably was worried about FP’s marketability to a more general audience, which is understandable from a business perspective, but sucks from the competitors point of view. Right now I’m sure all of FP’s fans are fuming. Seriously though, FP will be alright, they’ve got the strongest cult following of any crew that’s ever been on ABDC.

@fannypak: We just gettin started!

Side note: Not gonna lie, the tattoo thing kinda freaked me out. I understand that it’s supposed to represent their commitment to each other and what the group does, but yikes.

Eliminated: Fanny Pak

Final Thoughts: Not a bad week, but I still want MOAR. I liked a lot of things, but I didn’t feel moved by any of the performances. Maybe next week will change things with LMFAO. I mean, it’s party music, routines should be hype, at the very least. Also guyzzzz top 4! Routines are numbered! Make every one of them count! Also, how did this happen so quickly?

Anyways, check back in next week for the LMFAO challenge review.

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