Kelly Clarkson comes for a visit as two of the Top 14 have to go ... and one of them refuses to leave without really showing what we'll be missing

By Adam B. Vary
July 03, 2009 at 10:23 PM EDT
Mike Ruiz/Fox
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All week, I’ve been daydreaming that, after Nigel’s classy eulogy for Michael Jackson (as well as Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon) last week, the producers would put together a fitting tribute to Jackson’s iconic contributions to dance as this week’s group performance, perhaps even choreographed by Jackson protégée Wade Robson. Instead, we got a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine — scratch that, we got a meandering, incoherent, shapeless mess that Tyce Diorio inexplicably took credit for creating, especially considering it would’ve looked terrible even if Michael Bay hadn’t apparently been hired to direct the camera work like a sequence from Transformers: Revenge of the Tulle. I guess one could nominally glean it was an oblique homage to Jackson’s role as the Scarecrow in the 1978 film of The Wiz given that it was set to ”Everybody Rejoice (Brand New Day)” from that musical, but only if anyone in the Top 14 was dressed like the Scarecrow — or, for that matter, like Dorothy, the Tin Man, or the Cowardly Lion, as opposed to creatures in what evidently was a discarded sequence from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Face Paint and Feather Headdresses. Next week, look for Tyce to restage ”Surrey With the Fringe on Top” from Oklahoma! with a surfboard prop and his dancers in Bermuda shorts, followed by a number from Cabaret re-imagined on a kindergarten playground, and a group production of The Lion King‘s ”The Circle of Life” set on the International Space Station. The man’s a friggin’ genius.

As for the actual results, well, the moment Cat Deeley — who had apparently spent a full day of driving along the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down, only to discover she’d left her best frocks at home and had to go on in her metallic print jammie jams — told Karla & Vitolio that they were in the bottom three, I think we all knew the duo were goners. The news got even worse after unambiguous judge favorites Kayla & Kupono and Jeanine & the Chbeeb landed in the bottom three. And yet Karla refused to make it an easy decision for the judges, delivering a thoughtful, well-constructed solo that was by far the best choreographed of the night. If Kayla hadn’t been so consistent this season, and especially if she hadn’t just turned out the best routine from Wednesday’s performance show, I personally would’ve been hard pressed not to send her home after a solo that had me thinking only about how much her hair resembled a tangled clump of raw cotton. Jeanine, meanwhile, simply continues to impress; my boyfriend pointed out how savvy she was to plan a solo that showcased her ample technical skill as if it was gentle ballet routine, given how much the judges lauded classical ballet as the preeminent (and most unforgiving) of all dance genres. Thank jeebus for Cat, who stood up for Jeanine after Mary Murphy blatantly snubbed her while gushing over wanting to see her partner’s solo.

NEXT: Why is Kelly Clarkson singing here?

Although, I can’t really blame Mary too much, since the Chbeeb really did buh-ring it. I guess I can see what Nigel was talking about when he called the solo overworked, but with so little time to show off the goods, I’m happy to get a concentrated helping of what the Chbeeb does best, especially in the face of so many similar seeming contempo solos. Now the noodle-boned dude just has to figure out how to dance well in, um, any other genre; maybe this trip to the bottom three is just the metaphoric kick in the pants he needs? It certainly didn’t seem to motivate Kupono, whose fancy-walking routine I could pick up and perform myself (given six hours of intensive rehearsal and at least two spotters at all times, of course, but still). While the handsome Hawaiian is reminiscent of my beloved Mark from last season, there’s something lost-on-his-own-little-planet about Kupono that keeps me from fully embracing him. Fortunately for his sake, Vitolio wasn’t a judges’ favorite and didn’t share Karla’s dogged refusal to go away easy, giving an unfocused shrug of a solo that did nothing to prove why he still deserved to remain on the stage.

As for Kelly Clarkson, I found myself wondering why she was even on the stage in the first place. I mean, I obviously love SYTYCD, dearly so, even when it’s kinda boring or crazy frustrating, but even I recognize that Kelly Clarkson’s star shines brighter than SYTYCD‘s. So it really truly pains me to type these words: Did anyone else think she looked like a tired soccer mom and sounded more than a smidge flat? Uff-dah. I just took a gander at Clarkson’s tour schedule, and the sheer number of state fairs this woman is playing in the next two months is, well, it’s enough to make me want to stop writing about it, for starters. I’d move on to guest dancers Desmond Richardson and Patricia Hachey, but every time I try to think about them, for some reason my brain keeps picturing Ms. Hachey squatting over a public toilet, her legs at perfect right angles, her toes flawlessly en pointe, flipping through the latest EW as she takes a most righteous dump. Honestly and truly, as much as I’ve been trying to deny it all night, this is the first thing that popped into my head when I saw them take the stage and it’s stuck there ever since. I mean, hey, at least it beats having to lay down a toilet-seat cover, right?

What did you think of last night’s results show? Do you prefer your Mia Michaels hair as a Dairy Queen swirl or with perfect Brüno bangs? Do you agree with Mary Murphy that this is the closest SYTYCD ever? Would you have kicked off Kayla and Kupono instead of Karla and Vitolio because of their lackluster solos? Or is three-bottom-3-appearances-and-you’re-out a pretty fair rule to follow?

Don’t forget to hop on over to the the SYTYCD Prediction Challenge to make your picks for next week, and be sure to check back on EW.com this weekend for host Cat Deeley’s behind-the-scenes blog! Happy Fourth!

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
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  • 07/20/05
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