Honestly, this may be the weakest finale performance night I think we’ve seen since season 5. I think almost everyone did worse in the “judges’ choice” round than they did the first time; only one freestyle really wowed me, and the rest ranged from “eh, ok” to “WTF???” Oddly enough, the only dance I found myself really enjoying was the cha cha relay – seemed like everyone just let loose and had fun with it. I think the judges made their agenda quite clear tonight, and I know I can’t be the only one that’s a little suspicious that the online voting is down on finale night FOR THE SECOND SEASON IN A ROW. No excuses, Muppets – you should have had it sorted out by now so that this type of thing doesn’t happen. Curious to me that you haven’t (or chose not to) worked out the kinks yet. Hmmm…but anyway, let’s start in reverse order, shall we?
4th Place: Jacoby & Karina
Poor Jacoby…he just really seemed to fall apart tonight, and it’s sad because 3 weeks ago I would have said that he had the MBT in the bag. Now, thanks to the machinations of TPTB, I think the poor guy is just suffering from a major case of burnout and just broke down tonight. While I agree that his judges’ choice jive was slightly better from a technical standpoint, I still prefer the first iteration – because it was SO DAMN FUN. Jacoby looked downright miserable doing this one – like he was so focused on getting the technique right that he forgot to enjoy himself…and that was really the appeal of Jacoby’s dancing all season: he just looked like he was having so damn much fun. Was a 27 rather kind? In the great scheme of things, probably; but since the judges were handing out 30’s like Oprah again tonight, I think 27 was relatively fair. I actually found myself enjoying he & Karina’s portion of the cha cha relay most – and I don’t think anyone can really disagree that they had the best ending transition ;-) The slide through Aly & Mark was pure genius and totally Jacoby :-) And speaking of “being totally Jacoby” – I actually liked his freestyle, and wasn’t expecting some of the incredulous responses I was getting on Twitter when I *gasp!* said I enjoyed it. “But Courtney, it was SO MESSY!!!!” Was it messy? Yes. I saw the exact same routine you guys did, and I’m fully aware when something is messy. But at the same time, I think there’s more to a good freestyle than clean footwork and execution – there’s also HEART, and staying true to who you are. And while some of you may have balked at his freestyle as if it were the 2nd coming of the Marie Osmond doll freestyle (it wasn’t THAT bad, guys), I applauded him for sticking to his roots and sending a dance love letter to New Orleans…that routine was NOLA & Jacoby FOR DAYS. The band, the stepping, the tapping – I think he perfectly captured the dance culture of the Big Easy, while also dancing a routine that felt like something he’d do. He didn’t try and act like something he’s not (unlike a certain other couple…), he didn’t pick some random theme that he had no connection to – Jacoby did Jacoby, and I dug it. And he seemed to enjoy himself, which is why I’ve been a fan all season. But, thanks to the judges, who have given Aly a pretty comfortable cushion, I don’t think Jacoby can really hope for any better than 4th place tomorrow. He may, by the “grace of god” (as he put it), somehow bump Aly and take 3rd, but I’m not feeling optimistic. But I’m glad he made it to the finale, and got to dance for his hometown :-)
3rd place: Aly & Mark
My least favorite couple of the evening, and my big gripe with their dances was this: they weren’t Aly AT ALL. The hair flipping, floor humping, super-shimmying samba? I HIGHLY doubt that came naturally to Aly, and I think it actually crossed the line between being fun & looking kinda trashy. If it were Pam Anderson, it would have played; but a girl-next-door Olympian gymnast? Not really. And Mark just can’t resist the urge to throw in the Afro-Cuban flailing arms in his sambas – and unless your name is Yulia Zagoruychenko, they generally look kinda crappy. Then there was the freestyle – and for all of the reasons I praised Jacoby’s freestyle above, I panned Aly’s. Stripper poles??? REALLY?! Sure, it was “something different”, but it was “something different” than I could picture Aly doing in real life. The freestyle, to me, is the celeb’s one chance to say “hey, this is me!”, and it should reflect the celeb. I doubt Aly has ever laid a hand on a stripper pole in her life – and I also get the feeling that all the lasers and the crazy face paint & costumes were more reflective of Mark than Aly. Unfortunately for her, I got shades of Chelsea’s season 12 freestyle when watching this – basically the impression that Mark was the one that came up with all of the elements in this freestyle, and Aly just kind of said “Cool! Whatever you think is best!” Parts were cool, yes, and I think they handled the pole choreography decently well – but nothing really “popped” for me, and it felt more like a routine that Aly was just going through the motions of than something she really connected to. I think I would have actually been happier with a routine that was straight gymnastics – at least I think Aly would have connected more to it. I actually thought their cha-cha relay dance was the weakest, and Jacoby’s was actually a bit stronger – Aly still seems to have really stiff hips, especially when doing chasses. Not really sure what to make of Aly tomorrow night – from the way the judges scored, I think they were probably gunning for Kellie & Zendaya in the finale 2; however, they really didn’t score Aly too far below Kellie, which makes me wonder if there’s a scant chance of her actually making the final 2. But I’m gonna go with my gut, and say she takes 3rd.
Runner-up: Kellie & Derek
The only couple tonight that I think came close to knocking their dances out of the park :-) Can I just say that I’m thrilled they used “Peppy & George” from The Artist as a quickstep??? I’ve been dying to hear that song used on the show, and I’m glad Kellie & Derek got it. Thought they handled the dance well, and did seem to improve on their connection; however, Kellie seemed a lot more stressed out this time around, and I did see a couple of missteps…which I’m a little surprised the judges didn’t point out. Kellie seemed a little nervous in her cha-cha relay too, but was still quite cute and I think she turned better than Zendaya. Their freestyle, though, was the dance of the evening for me – I was skeptical about them going the slower route and “stripping the dance down to basics”, but it totally worked – it showed us the softer, more vulnerable side of Kellie, and some of those tricks & lifts were TO DIE FOR. I can’t believe they actually went for the “ship’s mast” move with Kellie leaning precariously close to the floor with Derek holding her aloft – to give you an idea of how difficult that is, I’ve only see professional theater arts champions do it – and Eric Luna & Georgia Ambarian are the masters of it. That move was in the same league as that death-defying tumble trick Derek did with Shawn last season – and why I think Derek is still the master of the freestyle. If I had my way, these two would win tomorrow night – because I’ve enjoyed every single dance they’ve done, and they made the best showing tonight, in my eyes. And who knows – they might, because the spread between them and Zendaya & Val is nearly non-existent. But call it the pessimist me – I unfortunately don’t think they can compete with those bratty little “Zswaggers”, and I’m now even more skeptical because the ABC site is down. Just prepare for the worst & hope for the best, I guess…
Winners: Zendaya & Val
If TPTB that be had only resisted the urge to tinker with this season in order to get their desired outcome – I might actually like this couple, and be happy about them winning. But it’s all just too tainted for me – the OTT praise, the Twitter contests, the innumerable appearances in the pimp spot & encores, the bizarre plugging of her album during a critique…it all just reeks to me. And I was already skeptical going into this season…now I’m wondering if I’m even going to be blogging next season, if this is the kind of manipulation I have to look forward to. But anyway – I thought Zendaya did decently tonight, but the perfect score and some of the gushing was not quite earned. I can’t be the only one who noticed how SLOW her samba music was – and there was no way that samba was better than her Beyonce one. She, like Kellie (and Jacoby), really seemed to get a little reserved during that dance – she wasn’t moving to the same degree she was the first time around, and I did see some teetering on some of the turns. The girl still moves like Bambi, which I was hoping Val would have sorted out by finale week. As for the freestyle – it was cute, but did it feel a little short to anyone else? Given the seemingly truncated length, I could have probably done without the intro from mom & dad, and the part of her standing in the light and reaching to the sky. She handled the choreography well, but she always does; the other problem I had with it is that, though Val tried to pay tribute to all the different dances they did this season, it felt a little disjointed – “Look! Remember this from our cha-cha??? Oh, now we’re doing contemporary! And now it’s onto salsa!” I see what he was going for, but I think it would have flowed better if he had tried to intermix the choreography more, instead of doing a section of dance A, a section of dance B, a section of dance C, etc. I agree that they were the strongest in the cha-cha relay, but I’m still seeing some wobbles from Z in her turns…again, something that I would have hoped would be gone by now. *sigh* Well, if they win, maybe Val will finally shut up about not having a trophy…and hopefully the “Zswaggers” go back to actually doing their homework…
So what did you guys think of tonight’s show? And who do you think will win? Has anyone had any luck getting into abc.com to vote? And did anyone else find it funny that they basically said “Yep, the website is down!”…and then didn’t bother to say anything like “But we’re working hard to fix it!” It just seemed like “Yep, the site is down…sorry!” Ahhh…those Muppets :-P