Howard and LeKeith Talk About America’s Best Dance Crew – Season 7, Week 4

It’s week 4 of ABDC and this episode has it all – triumph, tragedy, drama, comedy, and even manages to fit some dancing in the mix. So who lived to dance another day? Read on to find out…

Howard: Drake Week! Or as I like to call it, Showing Our Age Week!

LeKeith: HAHA! I Take It You Object to Drake being called an “Icon” also?

Howard: A little bit, but I’m sure there’s enough fans that’ll disagree with us. I just feel like Drake and Madonna shouldn’t necessarily be on the same plane.

LeKeith: I agree with you on that one.

Howard: That being said, there was still some damn fine dancing on stage this week.

LeKeith: I don’t remember objecting so much to Nicki Minaj though

Howard: I feel like Nicki’s outer space booty gives her a pass.

LeKeith: HA! That is True.

Howard: I mean, seriously.

LeKeith: Yeah, it’s Out of This World and I wasn’t going for the Pun on that one.

Howard: Nope.com But let’s talk about the groups this week. Your thoughts on NXT?

LeKeith: I agreed with D-Trix. This was their best routine of the 3 routines they’ve done. It may be 4, but I think it’s funny that how D-Trix kept saying it was the best/worst of the season .

Howard: HA!

LeKeith: I felt a little bad for Bailey though: first he doesn’t get to be Madonna, then he doesn’t get to be Drake…

Howard: Everybody puts Bailey in the corner. I thought JC’s critique was on point – the routine felt too “samey” to me. Everything was in the same general area, but in terms of the stage and the height of the performance.

LeKeith: That was a very valid point and I don’t disagree but I couldn’t tell if that was because of NXT or because of the song. I will say that the good thing about not knowing Drake’s catalog as well let me focus on the everything but: the dancing, the staging, the lighting, iCarly in the crowd…

Howard: You do love some iCarly.

LeKeith: Especially when it’s 10:28 on the digital clock.

Howard: Someone will get that reference!

LeKeith: But the lighting helped NXT’s “revisit the past” moment look even better.

Howard: I actually felt let down by that bit. I think the sequence wasn’t choreographed to really catch your eyes as a time reversal.

LeKeith: Interesting. Because it was so tight?

Howard: Yeah, they were in a cluster the entire time. And re-watching it, I could see that they were going backwards through some of the movements, but it felt very perfunctory.

LeKeith: I can’t say I disagree. It’s a moment that doesn’t hold up as strongly during on re-watches.

Howard: Not to mention, they actually excluded the one bit that would have really sold the time reversal.

LeKeith: I was able to look past the strobe like effect the lights have on the sequence upon revisiting.

Howard: Going into the “Revisit the past” lyric, they had a sequence where they started a wave of elbow dips from the first person to the second row to the third.

LeKeith: Yes.

Howard: But when time rewound, they didn’t reverse that wave. They just got up.

LeKeith: Huh. I didn’t catch that. I though the rewinding was over after the trust fall. Or before the trust fall? Time travel is hard.

Howard: Oh, it totally was. But in regular order it was trust fall to choreo to elbow dip wave. Then time rewinds. So it should run elbow dip wave to choreo to trust fall. But instead, they just skipped to standing then choreo then trust fall.

LeKeith: Huh. I’m trying to come up with a Sci-Fi or SyFy explanation for you but I don’t have one

Howard: It’s the kind of minor detail that separates a great performance from an OK one. Plus, the trust fall is a terrible way to highlight the rewind. Since she goes from standing to falling to standing again – both forwards and in reverse – you don’t really get a sense of one being the forwards version and the other being the backwards version.

LeKeith: Well, it’s told more with the position of the rest of the crew. Presumably the crew would be more spread out before the fall than afterwards. But since spacing is a problem for them, the “revisit the past” effect isn’t as noticeable.

Howard: I think it’s just a failure of conceptualization.

LeKeith: It all goes back to JC’s comment.

Howard: Something as simple as moving from right to left and then left to right would sell the time reversal better. Or even the hated ABDC peel off.

LeKeith: Well, I think ABDC has established that NXT is a more technically proficient crew than a conceptually proficient one.

Howard: I’m hoping that they can learn something from M.O.S. Def or Fanny Pak about that. Though I have to admit that M.O.S. Def kind of disappointed me this week.

LeKeith: I didn’t like their routine either. I thought it was vert similar to NXT’s crew but with better stage positioning.

Howard: Before we get to them though, I have to acknowledge that Lil’ Mama was starting to unleash her crazy with her NXT critique and it only grew as the show continued.

LeKeith: Yes!

Howard: But back to M.O.S. Def. I think they raised the bar pretty high for themselves. D-Trix was on point – doing some as basic as the hat relay they did isn’t an option for them anymore.

LeKeith: Yeah, it’s funny. That was a little of my issue with Quest Crew back when they were on. And Shane Sparks (‘member him?) used to call them out on it. It looks like with great perv hat comes great responsibilities.

Howard: HA! Yeah, Quest definitely got complacent towards the middle of the season. But this is only M.O.S. Def’s third performance. Way too early to get lazy.

LeKeith: That’s kinda why D-Trix’s proclamations of Best/Worst are so interesting. It may have something to do with the Bottom 2 results, I think.

Howard: Maybe. All this being said, they had some cool moments. The corkscrew spin out of the group that JC highlighted really popped. And they had good levels and use of the stage.

LeKeith: I can’t remember any big moments other than the hat relay and some corkscrew leaps.

Howard: I think if NXT had done this performance, I would have been blown away. But M.O.S. Def needs to step their game up.

LeKeith: I agree. Also, I want to say something about the whole too many cooks in the kitchen but I don’t have anything.

Howard: HA! Too many chiefs, not enough Indians! etc. etc. etc.

LeKeith: My rule of thumb is if you have an objection, make sure you have a suggestion. Don’t just say no without offering a solution. So maybe if M.O.S. Def does that, they’ll be okay. Teachers are students too, you know?

Howard: Does this mean that the greatest lesson they’ll learn is from each other? Will their final performance be a Dead Poet’s Society homage? Because I’d kind of lose my mind.

LeKeith: That would be amazing!

Howard: Speaking of students, let’s discuss Baskin Robbins. And how we cannot possibly critique this performance.

LeKeith: Yup! Except for JC, who’s been hardened from his years of being in N’Sync.

Howard: He has no mercy for tweens.

LeKeith: Well, I don’t fault him for doing his job. And he wasn’t mean or anything.

Howard: Yeah. This whole situation was seriously heartbreaking. Because I’m fairly certain that Angel’s mom passed away the day of or the day after the taping.

LeKeith: Yeah, I think that’s what happened. And it shows in the performance. I respect both Angel and Baskin Robbins for performing given the circumstances.

Howard: Agreed. It was a display of pure emotion and you could see Angel just barely holding it together throughout the performance.

LeKeith: Yeah, it was a little overwhelming to watch, to be honest. And I wasn’t sure whose decision it was to make Angel the focus of the routine.

Howard: I’m assuming it was the crew as a whole. The end result was some really beautiful imagery, so I think it was the right call.

LeKeith: No, I don’t disagree with the call. I kinda feel like MTV said “bring out the iCarly” for the backstage spirits of Baskin Robbins, you know?

Howard: Yeah. For all her crazy, Lil’ Mama had some great words for Angel. And I hope that she got an opportunity to see or speak with her mother after that.

LeKeith: Yeah. I’m Glad Lil Mama has some control over the crazy and was able to be poignant in that moment.

Howard: Yup. There’s not much else to say other than our thoughts and prayers go out to Angel.

LeKeith: The show must go on. What are your thoughts on Final Destination?

Howard: I thought they did a pretty good job.

LeKeith: Interesting. I didn’t like elements of their routine.

Howard: Though without someone explicitly telling me, I don’t know if I would have been able to tell that was a car. “That’s a one man submarine, I guess?”

LeKeith: I agree. If we didn’t see their other attempts at car formations, I wouldn’t have put it together. Then again, seeing that that version was their best “car” was kinda like a shrug and an “Okay.”

Howard: HA!

LeKeith: They had really nice elements that were new to show. Their interpretation of tutting was nice with very big movements instead of the tight ones we’re used to seeing. And they have a whole groove that is a refreshing change from the rest of the show; they can just kinda throw flips into their routine without incident. But, I didn’t care for the car and I didn’t care for the helicopter at the end.

Howard: Yeah, the helicopter was about as intricate as their car. You know what it was like? When you’re a kid and your mom buys you a bucket of Legos. They’re not for any particular set – it’s just a random bucket. And you’ll piece together things that are vaguely recognizable as a car or jet or helicopter. That’s what these formations felt like.

LeKeith: That’s a perfect analogy.

Howard: I do appreciate that they cut out the dude falling down out of the cartwheels when they did the slo-mo. Props for not embarrassing him in slow motion, MTV!

LeKeith: I will say though, of all the crews, The Final Destination seem to be having the most fun on stage when they perform.

Howard: Agreed. I think it was their happy vibe and swag, especially in light of the heaviness of Baskin Robbins’ performance that made it a really bright spot in my memory.

LeKeith: Yeah, in terms of show positioning, they were probably the best choice. The alternative was Purple Stuff or as I’d like to call them this week “Chris and a Six Pack of Purple Stuff”

Howard: HA! Did you notice that Chris was back?

LeKeith: In eleventy thousand ways. And I’m glad that he got to perform on ABDC but it’s clear he’s not able to move like he was before or in the way they need him to be. He was either directly in front of or behind another crew member the entire time.

Howard: Yeah, he’s still getting his sea legs back.

LeKeith: At one point he was just crouching!

Howard: HA! I’m not sure why they hid his big flip at the start in the back of the formation.

LeKeith: I don’t know either. I thought their formation was really designed for 6 but they had 7. Maybe there was a chance Chris was going to bow out this week?

Howard: Yeah, his medical clearance was probably touch and go.

LeKeith: I mean, I didn’t expect him to come out flip flopping and flying or anything. I think he needs to find out a way to be dynamic for the group if he can’t do backflips anytime soon.

Howard: Yeah, hopefully he’ll be better incorporated next week.

LeKeith: Oh, Also! That Jacket Floating Thing was Stupid.

Howard: HA!

LeKeith: I’m sorry but it was really silly. Like bad magic silly.

Howard: Yes. We’re not six year olds. It was the dance equivalent of “Got Your Nose!”

LeKeith: Yes!

Howard: Also, I want to call for a judges moratorium on the “I disagree” fake out. It was funny in season 1.

LeKeith: HAHA! But D-Trix didn’t get to use it then.

Howard: I’m 99% certain he used it last season.

LeKeith: No, I’m sure he did. But Lil Mama and JC have had SEVERAL season to fake-disagree. D-Trix only got 1!

Howard: One is more than enough!

LeKeith: Howard, with all due respect, I have to say I disagree.

Howard: …

LeKeith: It HAS to go!

Howard: HA! Speaking of things that need to go, let’s jump to the Battle Round! Thoughts on Fanny Pak?

LeKeith: I think they’re the Chris Jericho of ABDC. Remember how awesome he was before he left? And then he came back but he was still awesome but in a different way? That’s how I feel about the Pak.

Howard: HA! I thought this routine started out great with an interesting narrative. And the treadmill was a fun illusion.

LeKeith: I agree.

Howard: I wasn’t super in love with it overall though. I feel like the narrative got discarded for a little bit.

LeKeith: I think they’re focusing on narrative more than they are on dancing and it’s affecting their routines. I also liked how the best dancing part of the routine was done to the Nicki Minaj part.

Howard: Honestly, I think the reliance on props is starting to hurt them more. They always used little props and things to create moments, but their bodies used to be their main props.

LeKeith: Did I spend a portion of their routine wondering if someone was going to flip over the table? Yes.

Howard: HA!

LeKeith: But I do like they way they move props up and down stage in time to the routine. So I was a little bummed that Preston, I think, just ran to get the salad bowl and ran back. Fanny Pak is usually really careful about that. They need to be more Chris Jericho and less Steve Blackman.

Howard: The early FP routines that really stick in my head are the ones where they just move in ways and formations that other crews hadn’t. Missy’s “Get Your Freak On”. Or the Flashdance performance.

LeKeith: That’s the one I was thinking of too – the Missy Elliot one. That was a clever use of props and movement. And it was just the tongue, I think.

Howard: Though the props there were almost nonexistent. It was just the tongue and at one point a piece of tape over the mouth.

LeKeith: Oh yeah, that too. Didn’t they use streamers for the long tongues?

Howard: Just at the start and just one tongue. It’s literally the first three seconds.

LeKeith: But it’s stayed in my head for years.

Howard: Even in the Flashdance performance, the judges table is utilized in the opening sequence, but the majority of the routine is them dancing as a group. They need to adopt a less is more mentality with the props. And give me the visual spectacle via dancing.

LeKeith: I agree.

Howard: Like the time walking that M.O.S. Def did last week is something I’d expect to see from Fanny Pak. I want to see something like that next week.

LeKeith: This routine reminded me a little of Fanny Pak East also, which is not a good thing.

Howard: Agreed. But let’s talk about Howard’s biggest disappointment of the night: Hipster Crew.

LeKeith: You were disappointed? You called that they were going to be on the chopping block

Howard: They’re Asian b-boys wearing a BEAR MASCOT. And I still didn’t love them.

LeKeith: They did a Helicopter Toss!

Howard: Honestly, I don’t know how they could fit more things I love into that routine without having a beagle puppy deliver a pizza to me personally. And I agree that the helicopter toss was pretty phenomenal. But the rest of the routine was just blah, as they had been in weeks prior.

LeKeith: I was so scared for them.

Howard: As someone who has worn multiple mascot costumes and played dodgeball in some, the lack of vision definitely is a huge disadvantage. And kudos to the guy in the suit for pulling it off.

LeKeith: Is it really like 2 cardboard tubes for eye holes?

Howard: In a best case scenario. Sometimes you set the eyeholes too far apart and it’s like having one cardboard tube for eye holes. In any case, the rest of the crew didn’t really match his level of excellence.

LeKeith: I actually thought this was a step in the right direction for them as a whole though. The jokes were bigger.

Howard: It was a step in the right direction, but they should have been at that point in week 1.

LeKeith: Yeah I agree. Talking to you has changed my mind. I thought that given the complexity in the stunts – particularly the bear spin – they would have stayed if up against a lesser crew. But maybe not.

Howard: It’s possible. But the basic nature of their choreo means they can’t match up against Fanny Pak.

LeKeith: Yeah but the way JC goes on and on about Moments, you can’t deny there were moments in this routine.

Howard: It’s true, but his point is that moment alone can’t make a routine. That’s Hipster Crew’s big failing. They can’t really create a cohesive tapestry to hang their moments from.

LeKeith: It’s true.

Howard: And while I don’t feel like it’s as strong as their prior appearance, Fanny Pak does that a lot better. I am, however, concerned to see them in the Bottom 2.

LeKeith: As am I.

Howard: The good news is that Lil’ Mama almost threw on the full crazy hat.

LeKeith: Oh, with the Flash Mob Thing?

Howard: No, when she got pissed at D-Trix for interrupting her.

LeKeith: Oh, that wasn’t crazy.

Howard: And a big boo to D-Trix for raising the old “you can’t criticize if you can’t do it” chestnut.

LeKeith: She went Brooklyn on him!

Howard: I did love how some of the people in Fanny Pak had visible WTF expressions when she called them a flash mob.

LeKeith: I dunno, I thought he felt that they were unfairly ganging up on Hipster Crew.

Howard: If that’s the case, he needs to raise an argument for why their critique is flawed. But challenging them to do that routine is a BS rebuttal.

LeKeith: You know how Lil’ Mama just tends to repeat whatever JC says but in Lil Mama Language.

Howard: HA!

LeKeith: I thought he was just preventing that. Well, I think Lil Mama’s flaws are the finer points of judging so it’s a tough bind.

Howard: So who do you think will be our Bottom 2 next week?

LeKeith: Well, hopefully the Pak Army voted in full force this week. So I think Chris and the Purple Stuff 6 Pack will be in the Bottom 2. Possibly with Final Destination, if Fanny Pak makes it out.

Howard: I concur with your assessment.

LeKeith: Did we not discuss how the Bear made out with D-Trix? Maybe that’s why he defended them? He got some action?

Howard: It’s true. D-Trix’s secret furry tendencies have been revealed! No yiffing on the ABDC Stage, D-Trix!

LeKeith: Listen, if Furry Week happens next season, we’ll know why.

Howard: On that horrific note, we out!

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