Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top 5 Crunch ABDC Performances

Okay, I have been lazing about long enough. I have stuff for you backed up on the old notepad and it's time to clear the rolls. Since an ill-fated bike sojourn to buy new kicks ended with a sudden drenching on my way back and I'm feeling kinda out of it, let's start with something easy that's been ready for eons.

No, this isn't soccer, but there is still plenty to appreciate on this list apart from some fly breakdancing. America's Best Dance Crew (now set to audition for season seven) has a format which sees every episode end how they do it in the streets: the battle. The bottom two crews in viewer voting from the week prior square off. One moves ahead in the contest, one goes home. For these competitors, it's the 90th minute of a World Cup knockout, only decided by three judges instead of the next goal.

I'll tell you what I like in people, players or whatever ya got. I like the people who find their cool in the heat. I like when they handle business under pressure, that make their one shot the best they have when it matters most. Those are the people that inspire me and show me how to handle myself. Bumps, bruises, mishaps, fierce opposition... screw that, it's gettin' it done time.

This list encompasses all six seasons of ABDC to date, picking out the absolute cream of the crop from crews with their backs firmly up against the exit door. They didn't panic. They didn't doubt. They just went out and grabbed the W for taking.

Honorable mentions: Blueprint Cru (won in the final four, season five) Kaba Modern (lost in the final three to JabbaWockeez, season one), We Are Heroes (won, season four)

#5 - Fysh N Chicks w/ "Freakum Dress"

I'm aware most of my cuttin' it up clips feature the fellas, and even the ladies that get posted are coming rather hard onstage. This crew is one of those female groups that all dress like thugs and dance like dudes. Only this time, it was Beyonce week when they got pushed into battle and they had to completely leave their comfort zone behind to stay in the game. So what did these ladies do? They murdered it times seven (with previously ill member Taeko in splendid form), bringing the song and video to vivid girly life. In season one, it took three battles to eliminate these tough Chicks. Go on ahead, ladies.

#4 - Poreotics w/ "Hip Hop Nation Challenge"

Not one single ABDC crew that went through every round cleanly to the final without battling has won the title. In fact, four of the six champions faced multiple battles on their way to the crown. The Clown Princes of Popping, Poreotics, did not go into the do-or-die cauldron until they had to battle for the second spot in the season five final. All season long, the judges enjoyed them, but continually asked them to expand their game. Given three new styles of hip hop to master in one week for the longest routine they'd do in the competition, it seemed to some like time may have run out for the Tic Tic boys. As always, they had brilliant, hilarious, crowd-pleasing other ideas.

#3 - JabbaWockeeZ w/ "Evolution of Hip Hop Challenge"

The mighty, mighty masked men also were forced into battle for the first time with the second place in the final on the line. These penultimate episodes usually involve these types of encyclopedic run-throughs of different styles. Predictably, with the challenge set-up and everything down to the last few, this show often ends on the best battles. Going up against the incredible, intricate silk of Kaba Modern (See honorable mentions), JabbaWockeeZ pulled out their collective heart and slammed it on the stage with an old school tutorial bit that turns into a proper house party, courtesy of Kid Rainen.

#2 - Fanny Pak w/ "Get Ur Freak On"

This crew was a bit older than the norm for ABDC, but they were intentional oddballs with a quirky, playful, bubbly style that was always telling a story. It took three battles to kill off Fanny Pak, who eventually shed the underdog tag and won over the fans to finish third in season two. For this final four battle, they actually had to perform in front of Missy Elliott, adding even more pressure. What's more, one member was having major back issues (watch the bearded guy holding on to the girl in front of him as the judging starts). Always surprising, they saved their best freak-getting-on for this creepy spectacle that brought the roof down. Series producer Randy Jackson made his own Top 5'er a while back, placing this as the third-best all-time number in the show's entire run. There are a lot of eye-popping crews out there, but there is only one Fanny Pak.

#1 - Quest Crew w/ "Hip Hop Decathlon"

It's our third such final three compendium set and our third eventual champions that avoided battling until the final trio were left. Here's a little nugget I haven't mentioned yet: every champion thus far has had to fight for the stray place in the final, meaning they came from behind in the voting from this particular show. No crew took this chance and ran with it like Quest. From the tutting to the slow motion to the housing to b-boys doing synchronized krumping (!) to D-Trix - now an ABDC judge - doing flares on his elbows (!!) to a four-man table supporting a jump and then collapsing to Victor's threading hops to Steve nailing a back-flip from an Indian-sit (!!!!!), this season three master-class had it all, yo.

- Greg Seltzer

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