T hey started the show reminding us of some of the best dances each couple had performed earlier in the season, and it was a great segment, because it reminded us of all the competitive pieces we had forgotten that brought the dancers to the finals.
Last week, Lance was the top of the heap. We felt he had a great chance this week and this was his competition to lose.
Tonight’s votes will count for half the total. Tomorrow in a final chance, the judges get to score the other half.
They had to draw numbers to see who would go first. Brooke drew the short straw and had to go first. If she wins going first, she deserves it.
Lance drew going second and Warren gets the finale dance of the night.
So, we will skip all the fluff and get to the competition. The first dance was a combo dance with all three couples dancing the Samba in the Samba Smackdown!
1. Brooke & Derek (8/10)
Derek started great, but Brooke was flat-footed and still. Then they started moving about a minute into the dance. Then, it started to get fun, but Brooke didn’t do it for us. Her knees wee bent and none of the splits or moves looked finale quality to us.
2. Lance & Lacey (9/10)
This is Lacey’s strong point, and she brings Lance into an almost Benjie style. He obviously has more style than any of the other dancers in this segment and the choreography by Lacey is spectacular.
3. Warren & Kym (7/10)
This dance is just too fast for Warren to keep up. He looks awkard and silly, and without Kym to offset his moves he wouldn’t be in the finals. People like his lovable personality, and we have to admit he won us over. But this is a dancing contest, not a personality contest.
Now the judges got in their 2c.
1. Brooke & Derek (28/30)
Way over the top scoring. How you could give that bent knees performance a 10, we have no idea. Lance was way better in this segment, so the judges stole away Lance’s chance if the audience listens to their influence.
2. Lance & Lacey (26/30)
This was sad. Lacey and Lance won this segment of the competition easily. It was more entertaining, better choreographed and had more style than Brooke & Derek. Could they possibly come back after winning a segment, and then losing in the judges’ eyes?
3. Warren & Kym (25/30)
Now, Warren & Kym did lose this round. No question! And it wasn’t close. The scores should have truly differentiated Lance from Warren here. They didn’t.
At this juncture, we had Lance in the lead, Brooke second and Warren a distant third.
So let’s get to the next segment. Free style. The couples get to choose their own dance. And the key here is to pick a memorable song and a dance that the audience has fun with.
1. Brooke & Derek (10/10)
Brooke & Derek chose to dance to “You’re The One I Want” from Grease. Their start was so cute with Brooke using her hand to look like a beating heart in Derek’s shirt. The moves were beyond cute after that; they were professional. Brooke was not missing a step. You have to see the performance to understand how professional this looked. Brooke was leaping off of the judges stands into Derek’s arms, spinning upside down in the very next move with a huge smile on her face as she realized she nailed it. The finale works into a dual tumbling role we cannot describe, so we will show it. Brooke didn’t miss anything; everything was perfect, fun and gave us a chill. We have not given any couple a 10 all season, and we have been under-whelmed by some of Brooke’s earlier performances. Not this time. It was the best dance we have seen on the show. Period. Judges gave all 10s, they agree, it was stupendous.
2. Lance & Lacey (8/10)
Lance & Lacey chose to do a hip hop in the free style. It is so out of character with the typical dance style in the show, and it just didn’t fit. Lacey can pull this kind of dance off, but hip hop for men has to have some butch moves, and honestly, Lance just isn’t butch. It starts off cute with some dancing behind the judges’ stand, but it went downhill from there. The dance never grabbed us. It had no strong theme, Lance couldn’t hit hip hop like we would expect if they really thought this was a finale dance, and most of all, it was just the wrong dance style for this competition. Judges: 27. They were kind.
3. Warren & Kym (9/10)
Warren & Kym did a more formal dance, at least at the start. Kym knows Warren is very strong. Lifting her is effortless, so the couple focused on lifts to get the most out of the dance. The way he can effortlessly spin Kym around made this a winner and placed them ahead of a hapless Lance in this round. Half way through the dance they changed costumes and picked up the pace. And the lifts, flips and moves were fast and furious. Every lift move was killer. Another dance you just have to see to believe. Judges: 28. Pretty much right on.
So who won?
Brooke brought it tonight. She won the night hands down on that last dance. Lance had his chance, but the hip hop choice in the freestyle was all wrong and done like an amateur. Warren showed us how powerful he really us, but it really served more to dress up Kym than to demonstrate his dance style.
We are calling Brooke the hands down winner tonight. It really wasn’t as close as the judges made it. If she doesn’t screw up badly tomorrow, Brooke takes home the trophy, but Lance and Warren are waiting to steal if it she does.
Tonight, AGT was better than usual thanks to President Bush. AGT compacted the show and reduced the commercial count because the President had used up a ton of time to tell us how badly the economy is doing and how they want a scant 700 billion bucks to save the day. How did it happen? We don’t know, but we aren’t thinking too many people would vote for Bush in this competition.
We were grateful for the result though. AGT was short, compact, tight, quick and entertaining. Normally it would have been so drawn out, and it was so much better with the judges being quick and Jerry talking much less, awesome.
Now the acts.
Nuttin But Stringz (8/10)
As usual, very dynamic with tons of energy, and, with help, the only act that could do a Vegas performance someone might pay for long term. The audience loved it. The judges stood for the ovation. An amazing performance after which it took a while to calm the audience. Their biggest problem. They went first. That is a very tough slot to win when the voters can’t vote until the end of the show. We didn’t give them the highest score because they are depending more and more on hired hands. Other dancers and performers to enhance their performance. We suppose that is normal for Vegas, but for us it cheapens the act.
Donald Braswell (6/10)
“You Raise Me Up” after I have fallen asleep listening to you. Donald sings “nice”, We could see him doing the national anthem nationwide, I could see him doing Broadway, We could see him doing anything but a concert weekly in Vegas that anyone would want to see. Sorry Donald. You sing great. Honest. But the judges even looked asleep at the end.
Neil E. Boyd (8/10)
They cleared the stage for Neil. They had to because he wouldn’t fit on one stage otherwise. But the adjustment was something they would have to do for Queen Emily anyway. Neil has a hamburger eating competition next week if this doesn’t work out. He listened to the judges and did some incredibly boring opera. And you know, maybe if someone is looking for a real huge man to sing Opera, he will do fine. He has a quality voice and could perform in Opera just about anywhere, but he could not have his own show on Vegas. Maybe a permanent Opera show though, something that centered on him but was a much bigger show. That could work. But we are not sure enough America will recognize it, and they would need a massive stage to hold him and anyone else.
Eli Mattson (9/10)
Time for some Phil Collins, “Against All Odds”. Eli had a problem with tonight’s song, which has to do with a disappearing voice at the beginning and end of verses. We think it could be just be a proper microphone adjustment because of his style. Eli has a lot of inflection in his voice that leads to soft and louder moments that are part of his technique. But the microphone cannot be set flat or it doesn’t pick up his voice on the softer moments. Eli was great, but has one major problem; he is no Vegas act. So, what do you vote for? Talent or Vegas?
Queen Emily (6/10)
We said when we originally saw her, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings”. Well, they are once again going to have Emily sing last. An advantage clearly, but so far, we haven’t thought much of her talent since her first week. She had a chance to choose a killer song, and chose a boring one. “One Moment In Time” is a classic, but it is boring and has to be driven by an incredible voice. Emily doesn’t have it. Back to donuts.
Here is our selection:
Eli was once again better than anyone on the stage. He needs a quality microphone, but overall, no one touches his creativity and talent.
A dark horse is Nuttin But Stringz, but they went first and by the end, America may forget to vote for them. We think they are the only unique act left so deserve the votes to at least be close with Eli even if they don’t win.
Neil was great, and if you could picture a long running Opera show on Vegas, Neil could pull it off as the center of that show, but it would have to be a large show. Very large.
Eli and Nuttin But Stringz are so close that it could go either way. We will leave it for you to pick.
One major complaint. There are more commercials between each act on this show than there are acts in the entire show. It is pathetic. This is a 30 minute show that lasts two hours, and the number of commercials is abusive.
We were right. 5 out of 5 this week. We hate to blow our own horn, (that is not true, we love to blow our own horn), but we were 4 out of 5 the past two weeks.
Nuttin But Stringz
So, now for this week.
We have decided this week we should not comment on the judges at all, or Jerry. They are just distractions at this point from the talent, and they could be eliminated from the show entirely along with the commercials.
As this show gets closer to the end, the talent gets much harder to judge. Not only is it usually pretty darned good by this stage in the competition, it is so diverse. How do you judge a magic act against a singer against a choreographed set of dancers.
We have no idea, but we do our best. Terry Fator was a standout way above the crowd last season, but we don’t see a specific standout this year, although we do have our favorites.
Lets’ go baby.
1. Cadence (8/10)
We didn’t like Cadence last week. Their Blue Man Group imitation was cheesy, and their act way too loose versus their initial tight act. They were all over the stage last week, and instead of focusing on a small set of instruments, they tried to play everything percussion under the sun. They got voted through, but it wasn’t good and they were not on our list to even make the top 20.
This week…they were tight. Back to limited instruments; they brought in a real popular rap song. Sounded like noise early, but then got it together as they focused. Still a bit too spread out, but we blame that again on the horrible camera men on AGT. The end was great. They all played in close proximity on plastic buckets. That is what got these guys started; get away from the bull. Good show. Vegas? Maybe.
2. Queen Emily (6/10)
Too corny of an intro. She says her whole life has changed, but we don’t think her diet has.
Last week Emily buried herself in the background of the Supremes and we said she had to sing by herself this week to keep on. She did, but it had no energy.
She sang a slow song. She sang it nice. She is going home.
3. The Wright Kids (8/10)
You know, we don’t like kid acts and last week, these kids were kind of flat and karaoke. So, we weren’t surprised they sang a song focused more on a kid’s voice. “Rockin’ Robin”. This song was written specifically for a kid’s voice and they did it much better. We liked them a bunch. Lead was still a tad flat. But fun.
4. James Gang (7/10)
We like this group of guys. Their Broadway talent is there and the dancing is great, but the singing isn’t there. So what do you do? Send them home. Sorry guys.
5. Daniel Jens (2/10)
The Army asked Dan to re-enlist. Piers thinks he should. We do too. You shouldn’t have gotten this far Daniel. You stink. Bye.
6. Zoo-Perstars (8/10)
You know, the judges don’t get this act at all. It is hysterical fun and total satire. But when someone does not get satire, you can’t explain it, and Piers is not smart enough to get it. Oh well. He didn’t have to for this performance. We loved it. We laughed; we cried. But they needed to take the costumes to something stratospheric. A Hillary inflatable or something creative, but we were still laughing our heads off. These guys are great. A Walrus break dancing on one hand in an inflatable outfit deserves extra points.
7. Neil E. Boyd (9/10)
This guy is a Zoo-perstar. We mean it. This guy is so big that he is as large as any of the inflatable Zoo-Perstars, so perhaps he is exactly what that act would need to excel.
While Neil looks like he eats about ten salamis a day, he can sing. His voice is powerful, you can’t get away from it. His presence is HUGE!! Whoops. Sorry.
8. Jessica Price (6/10)
When you perform a song that is the key hit of a star, you get compared to that star. Colbie Caillat does the song Jessica chose; it is Colbie’s earmark, and it is fantastic to hear live. Jessica’s guitar was amateur at best. The lyrics were off tune. The chills Colbie’s song gives you just weren’t there. Sorry Jessica. You are cute. But that ain’t gonna cut it this week. Try a coffee shop. Bye.
9. Extreme Dance Fx (8/10)
These guys are fun. Always have been. They clog well, the choreography is consistently good. They were a step above where they were last week. Great. We are not sure clogging is where it is at in Vegas, but we couldn’t take our eyes off this act. They were much stronger this week, and they earned the points.
Here’s a sample of their act from last week’s:
10. Paul Salos (8/10)
It was funny, the judges did not like Paul this week, and we thought he was better. He did “Come Fly With Me” and he sounded like Frank this week. Last week he didn’t. We didn’t give him the elderly pity vote this week. We think he earned the points.
So, what does that leave at the top?
1. Neil E. Boyd
2. Wright Kids
3. Paul Salos
4. Extreme Dance Fx
Oh no, we have to have an elimination. And it isn’t easy. The bottom of the barrel here is the top of the bottom. Neil is a shoe-in and easy. The other five are so close in our minds that we cannot separate them easily.
We have to cut out one, and even though we liked him this week, we don’t think he has an act that will have staying power. We are going to say goodbye to Paul Salos, with a very close vote with Cadence and the Zoo-Perstars. We believe all three are so close, any one could be sent packing or continue hacking.
Our pollsters this week were overwhelmingly in favor of Katee. She was ahead nearly 2 to 1 over the nearest competitor, Joshua. Twitch and Courtney were taking up the rear with only a fraction of the votes. Our contributors have gained our respect from their past calls, but were they right this time?
We again apologize if this review is long, but this was a two-hour show with little anyone should miss. Each piece was spectacular and there were slight variations in the quality of the performances that we believe screams out who won this competition. If you are only interested in the prediction, and voting in our polls, it is at the end of this article. If not, read on, because this was one amazing show.
Now for the show.
The show didn’t waste time, and the first pair to take the stage was Twitch and Courtney. The theme was a crazed emotional girlfriend and the man that has to confront such emotion. It was a Hip Hop routine, and was well done. Courtney struck us, somewhat, as too cute for the part. She looked just a tad nervous, but in this competition finale, you could understand that. The dance was great, finished by an attempted pinwheel head spin. They blew the last move though, as Courtney dropped off Twitch’s head too soon. Fortunately, he caught her.
The judges tried to get the audience to look past the final slip and did not mention it. “I felt that from you!” exclaimed Mary, followed by her deafening scream. The thing that stood out in the judges’ comments at the end was that they seemed to focus on Courtney and promoted her performance more than Twitch’s. Nigel remarked, “Twitch, if I were you, I would be grateful I was dancing with Courtney and not Mary”. If you recall, this is the second time that Twitch has drawn the crazy girlfriend. In one of our absolute favorite performances from the season, Katee goes ballistic on Twitch, her indifferent partner.
Courtney had to now take her turn at the interview and solo. She danced the solo to “They Weren’t There” by Missy Higgins. Following her graceful and superior solo, Courtney broke into tears as the judges praised her. Courtney always wins the solo, but would it be enough to bring her the votes to win?
What was to follow was almost unfair. They paired Katee and Joshua to dance in competition against Twitch and Courtney’s initial performance. Katee quipped in practice, “Joshua’s my boo”. Could this be for real? They do seem wonderful together. The two have been astonishing as a pair all season. Twitch and Courtney have barely been noticed in their few pairings.
Wade Robson choreographed another contemporary masterpiece, performed to “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” by John Mayer. Katie begins the piece quivering with evident despair, totally relating her character to the audience. The emotions burst through the television and into our hearts. The synchronization in this dance has to be seen. It cannot be conveyed in words. Every move is pure grace, with a particularly beautiful reverse fall by Katee onto Joshua’s leg, as he gently kicks Katee upright. Our response before the dance was that no one could beat Katee and Joshua as partners in any competition. Our response after the dance was that it wasn’t going to happen tonight. Round one to Joshua and Katee.
We were shocked by a rather muted response from the judges. Mandy Moore commented to Katee, “You could have used a little more work through the legs and feet.” We have no idea what Mandy was speaking of. Katee’s feet are among her most spectacular features during a dance. Mary did praise the dancers, but did not give them her scream or a trip on the Hot Tamale train. Nigel commented that Katee and Joshua were “Two of the best dancers we have ever had on this show”.
Courtney and Katee: dancing together!
Next up were the “girls” as the show refers to them. Courtney and Katee performed a Broadway dance for the audience complete with spinning umbrellas and puffy colorful outfits. Tyce Diorio choreographed the piece, and it was danced to “The Trolley Song” by Rufus Wainwright. The two dancers started off slightly out of sync, but they pulled it together as they progressed. What became evident during this dance is what makes Katee extraordinary. Her lines are impeccable. It was hard to place before you saw this dance scene. Katee almost makes Courtney seem awkward, and Courtney is far from awkward. Katee has lines that are nearly perfect. We would be inclined to say it was a height advantage, but Sabra last year dispelled that theory. It is grace and beauty in her motion that can only be seen and felt, not expressed in prose.
Nigel said it all, following the dance. “Katee finishes every move just a little bit further than you.” You could see the pained facial reaction to the comment on Courtney’s face, but Nigel was right. Katee was smoother and more graceful throughout.
Now it was time for Twitch to speak to the audience. He said he would be in the military now if it wasn’t for this opportunity. Twitch was asked what his favorite routine was, and he said it was clearly the Viennese Waltz with Kherington.
Twitch did a very entertaining mixed Pop and Hip Hop solo danced to “It Was All In Your Mind” by Wade Robson. Twitch started with a back flip and followed with moves throughout the dance that seemed downright impossible. The judges were unanimous in their praise.
Joshua and Twitch: sparring partners!
Joshua and Twitch were up next in an all male pairing. This dance made us glad that Mark was eliminated. While it was sad to see him go, and we believe he won last week, Twitch and Joshua made superb partners for this dance, and we believe it could have only been possible given these two specific men. It was a Russian dance called the Trepac, choreographed by Youri Nelzine and danced to the Nutcracker.
The costumes were ridiculous gypsy outfits, though, that made us think of Halloween. Twitch did all the floor work, effortlessly executing Russian squats, kicks and walks as he crouched. Joshua executed leaps that were six feet off the floor. We have never seen such height in all the time we have watched the show. There were body flips, twirls and jumps that were spectacular and had the audience screaming on every move. The audience and judges were on their feet. Mary expressed that it was great to see “two Hip Hop dancers for the first time in the finale”, and broke into another deafening scream. The men’s dance was clearly stronger than the women’s. The two dancers followed by attempting to show who could jump higher. Joshua left little doubt with a standing back flip.
Katee was up next, and the show reflected on her near elimination at the auditions. At the time, she said she would give up and not come back next year if not selected. Nigel then called for another vote, as though they would not let her through for her careless comment. Of course, the judges did put through Katee, and we think there was no doubt this was little more than theatrics on Nigel’s part. Katee said her favorite dance was with Joshua in the performance to “No Air” by Jordan Sparks. A championship dance performed to another champion’s hit song.
Katee did her solo to “Hide and Seek”, by Imogen Heap. It was beautiful and expressive, but not as well danced as Courtney’s. Courtney again won the solo competition. The guest judge, Mandy Moore, once again stated Katee should work on her knees and feet. We suggest Mandy visit her optometrist; near sightedness can be fixed these days. The other judges were rather muted in their praise of Katee here. They just said it was great and not much else. Could Katee’s grip on first place be waning?
So, Twitch and Katee were to now perform the Fox Trot. This brought consternation to our faces as we remembered how badly Twitch danced last week with Chelsie. It seemed unfair to do this again, but this time to Katee. Could she survive it? The piece was danced to “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble. Katee was in a killer light blue full length gown with frills, and this dress was perfect for this dance. Katee brought it to life in every spin and every lift. Katee even pulled off something we had never seen before, a cartwheel in a full gown!!
Now for the surprise. Twitch was superb. While the dance accentuated Katee, that is what a leading man is supposed to do. Twitch worked this dance. Every lift and move was graceful and strong. Every smile, nuance and point perfect on Katee, raised up in Twitch’s strong arms.
The judges appeared to praise Twitch more than Katee once again, especially commenting on his strong lift of Katee directly over his head. Katee merely got the comment, “Bravo” from Mary. Nigel, at least said a bit more, saying that the men were so strong this year that they spoiled the choreographers. Twitch was pouring sweat after this dance. That tux was on its way to the dry cleaners for sure!!
Joshua came on next for his interview and, as it turns out, was quite the high school athlete in football and track. His coaches, he stated, were quite upset when he quit to pursue dance. It seems obvious that with Joshua’s leg strength, he must have been an absolute star in track. Joshua’s quote touched us, as he reflected on the show, “This is a blessing, everything here is a blessing.”
Joshua followed with his solo. It was quite fun with some spectacular moves and then breaking off the stage to pop and perform a finale split on the judges’ stand. He hammed it up just enough to be cute at the end, expressing the personality that makes everyone love him. Mary said that he has been riding first class all the way on the Hot Tamale Train. Nigel added, “You have set the standard for untrained dancers.” But this made us wonder. They say that he is trained on the SYTYCD website. Which is it Nigel?
Courtney would now have her chance to dance with Joshua. Joshua began with a strong leap over Courtney. Courtney was keeping up beautifully, but it was apparent, the costume department totally blew their assignment. Courtney’s outfit looked like a one-piece bathing suit. It should have been more of a skirt or a garment that accentuates movement. The high boots made her legs look short; this dance is made for high heels!! The outfit was completely wrong. It did nothing to augment Courtney’s lines and did not contribute at all to her performance.
Joshua’s attire didn’t help much either, because he was wearing sneakers and jeans, which are also all wrong for this style of dance. There were two spectacular moves though, a brilliant slide back bend between Joshua’s legs, followed by a lift up. And the killer move in the finale, which Nigel informed us is called “around the world”. In this move, Joshua swings Courtney around upside down behind is back, with one arm, and brings her back around perfectly just to gently lay her on the floor. Joshua finished with a cartwheel that effortlessly moved into a back-flip.
Mary and Mandy were quick to praise the two dancers, but Nigel then brought them back to reality. “There were a lot of things I was disappointed with; it didn’t have the great feel the Jive should have. It wasn’t brilliant, it was tired”. To that we respond, Nigel, this dance was anything but tired!! We believe the costumes totally negated the performance and made it seem slow and clumsy. You do not dance the Jive in a bathing suit and sneakers. It was simply a poor choice by the costume department that detracted from the execution of what could have been a championship performance.
Final Dance of the Top 4
In the finale, Mia Michaels choreographed a piece for all four dancers. They start off with a large blue scarf that spans the stage. The dancers move back and quickly discard the scarf after they exploited it for opening effect. We once again were disappointed with the costumes. They were dressed in Scottish Kilts that did nothing at all for the dance. As Nigel later quipped, he felt the dancers looked like “the Scottish Olympic Team”. In this instance, plaid was clearly bad.
Mia will get no Emmy for this choreography. The dancers did not seem in sync. There were some fantastic lifts and spins, but overall, while entertaining, the performance did nothing for us, and it did not help in differentiating any of the top four contestants. After the dance, Nigel commented, “Two untrained dancers in the guys”, and “I think these two boys deserve to be here”, finishing with “You are inspirational for others that could not be trained as dancers”.
Once again we are puzzled, because we have said all along that from what we could find, Joshua and Twitch are not trained dancers, and yet the Fox website contradicts both Nigel and our research. Maybe it is all a matter of degree.
So, we can finally conclude, and we appreciate your patience in reading our review. Our pollsters will want to know if they did it again. Did Katee indeed win? Did Joshua pull an upset, or Courtney bring it strongly enough to draw votes and take this contest? Could Twitch have pulled out a miracle with his astonishing performances?
This wasn’t as close as it seems. Joshua and Twitch’s dance together was spectacular and better than the ladies’ pairing, but even six foot leaps could not overcome Katee’s grace. After her prior performances, this competition was Katee’s to lose. She didn’t.
The polls are showing Jim Tavare as the clear winner in Last Comic Standing. Iliza is second, but it isn’t close at 45-13. Taking up the rear are Marcus and Louis. Louis I think hit a sour note this past week with his comments on the Amish and Rednecks.
Playing the reverse racism card isn’t going to work on a national audience. It is just racism, no matter which way you play it, and the audience sees through that. So Louis has actually drawn more “Worst Comic Standing” votes than anyone.
Time to learn Louis, racism is racism, no matter how you play the card.
UPDATE: August 4, 2008
The voters all agreed, Jim Tavare killed the competition in “The Hills Have Eyes, The Musical”. He is so far ahead that the polls show no one else stands a chance. The big surprise was the second place went to Jeff Dye. There has to be something in this guy we don’t see. His material needs an overhaul, but if he gets a good writer or a sit com, he could do quite well considering his popularity, which we know cannot be based on any of his performances in this show.
But Jeff is behind 44-8. It isn’t likely he wins.
In another poll, our contributors proved that Amish Jokes weren’t funny and Louis Ramey blew an opportunity last week to be the winner. He got the ranking of “Worst Comic Standing”. What is most interesting about this poll is it confirms the first. Jim Tavare was the only comic that did not get a single vote!!!
Jim Tavare WINS easily according to the polls.
We have also had another wave of votes for SYTYCD. Katee is pulling away, Joshua is a distant second, and it looks like the pollsters agree, Twitch has no prayer. Twitch was the joke last week in his first dance and got voted through. Chelsie paid the price for having him as a partner, but he got voted through. We love Twitch and think him a fantastic raw talent. But he isn’t diverse enough, and when it comes to this show, that is what it is all about.