Monday, June 11, 2012

Don't Stop the Music: How "So You Think You Can Dance" Finally Won Me Over

First Top Chef, now this.

And once again, it was all about a boy. Well, several of them -- only in the beginning, though. I probably would have passed right on by Thailand's Sony Channel yesterday when the remote control led me to So You Think You Can Dance, but one of the male contestants -- a tanned, toned 20-year-old named Robert Roldan who had all the right moves -- stopped me dead in my channel-surfing tracks. Much to my surprise and delight, there were four others just like him.

I haven't been living under a rock since 2005 (just, for the most part, outside of the U.S.), so it's not like I was completely clueless about the show. But I'd avoided it over the years with pretty much the same fervor I apply to skipping Dancing with the Stars because, well, I don't like to watch -- dancing, that is.

Or so I thought. Even in real life, I've never been the wallflower. If there's a dance floor nearby, I'm probably the guy in the middle of it, stepping on toes, flailing my arms about, mangling the lyrics to everything the DJ plays (if I'm not over there, trespassing on his domain with playlist instructions).

Better there, making an ass/nuisance of myself, than standing on the sidelines, folding my arms. I just never saw the point of watching other people have all the fun. I tried to go to the ballet once at Lincoln Center in New York City, and I spent all two hours of it stifling yawns, dreaming of being anywhere but there, preferably on a dance floor somewhere downtown. That must be why it took me seven years to finally watch an episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

I couldn't believe how much I didn't hate it. It wasn't all about the male dancers either. The girls were just as impressive, and it was nice to see an emcee, Cat Deely, who is like a blonde, British Anne Hathaway, earning her paycheck. That woman's a charmer!

Even the judges impressed me, particularly Nigel Lythgoe, the show's creator/executive producer and an accomplished choreographer, with his attention to detail and encyclopedic knowledge of Bob Fosse. Lythgoe, choreographer Mia Michaels and Rock of Ages director Adam Shankman (also a choreographer) offered constructive criticism that actually made sense to someone like me who knows nothing about the intricacies of dance. Even when they were being brutally honest (as they were when panning Roldan's Argentine tango), they delivered the bad news with the right balance of admonishment and encouragement.

My lone complaint (besides the pointless Justin Bieber video): The "brand new song" that Deeley kept plugging by guest performer Usher ended up being "OMG," not his current single "Scream," which was what I was looking forward to, and which meant I was watching a show from two years ago. (The ninth season premiered on May 24 in the U.S.)

No problem. The rest of the music, the songs the contestants chose for their routines, were, for the most part, timeless -- the sort of left-of-center modern and vintage pop that you'd never hear on American Idol, a show where the judges are always saying that it's all about song choice. That couldn't be more true on So You Think You Can Dance.

Here are five that almost upstaged the dancing.

Annie Lennox "Wonderful"

Amy Winehouse "Amy Amy Amy"

James Brown "I Got the Feeling"

Sylvester "Summertime"

Tha J-Squad "So U Think U Can Krump"

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