Or maybe it's just because I think the contestants' agenda is a little more pure. What I mean by that is, while Idol contestants can hope their involvement on that show will lead to lucrative record deals and Daughtry-sized success, there simply isn't as much fame and fortune in dancing. Sure, the finalists can hope for jobs dancing in music videos, Broadway shows, and Vegas revues, and later on maybe they'll teach or choreograph, but let's face it--they're never going to amass the fame or bank accounts of Idols like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. So I do believe that the competitors on SYTYCD are on the program mainly for the sheer love of movement.
Also, the level of talent on this show is so astoundingly high. On Idol, viewers at home can instantly notice a wonky note or telltale pitchiness, and figure out that this season's Sanjaya du jour needs to be voted off pronto. But on SYTYCD, there are no Sanjayas, really. Everyone's pretty impressive, and the errors are far less egregious. It all comes down to a foot being turned out three millimeters too far to the left, or a dancer's hips not being squared off just so, or a bent-wrist angle being off by a few indiscernible degrees. You know, nothing a non-trained eyed would ever notice. So when someone inevitably has to go home, it's especially sad, because it seems like everyone truly deserves to be there.
OK, please indulge me and let me vent a little more here: I think it's kind of unfair that the top 20 have to dance in possibly unfamiliar styles right off the bat. At least on Idol, the singers get more of a chance in the beginning to show what they're really about. (This AmIdol season started off with decade themes, so the singers could still choose songs in R&B or rock or country or whatever, and in past seasons the semi-finalists could sing whatever they wanted, from any style or era.) But on SYTYCD, b-boys like Gev are immediately forced to do disco and swing dancers like Jamie have to do hip-hop, before the audience has really gotten familiar with their true talents. Plus, certain tamer styles of dance are less popular with viewers, particularly younger viewers--for instance, a sweet, downtempo waltz is never going to light up those 866 phone lines like a hot hip-hop routine will. So that seems a bit unfair to me, too.
Also, these dancers are ultimately at the mercy of their assigned choreographers--much more so than Idol singers are at the mercy of Ricky Minor's band and arrangements. On Idol, the judges will say stuff like, "You're so good you could sing the phone book"--but a dancer can't dance the phone book, so it doesn't matter how amazing he/she is if the choreography is lackluster. In the end it is the choreographer's overall vision that viewers remember most (think of awesome past routines like "Park Bench" or "Flowers," which were way more about Mia Michaels than the actual dancers). So if the choreographers don't deliver, then neither can the dancers, sadly.
And finally, these dancers are ultimately at the mercy of their assigned partners. They don't get to choose whom they dance with, and if they get matched up with the wrong partner, it could spell disaster for them. I think that is what happened to Kourtni and Matt--they weren't a perfect match for each other, their chemistry wasn't quite right, and as a result they dragged each other down to the bottom. Again, this seems unfair. They never made David Cook sing with Amy Davis on American Idol now, did they?
Also, I'd prevously assumed Matt was the weaker link in the Kourtni/Matt partnership...but his solo tonight was great as well. He truly did dance like he was dancing for his very life. Like he was dancing on hot coals. In a good way! Jamie was fine at his chosen style, West Coast swing, but I found all that shirt-ripping and pelvis-thrusting a little cheesy. Jamie just was not sexy enough to pull off that himbo schtick. He was no Dmitry!
Because this wasn't a surprise: Will was freaking AMAZING. His solo must have made Debbie Allen proud. The only reason this guy was in the bottom six was his partner, Jessica. No person in their right mind would ever want a major talent like Will to go home so soon. A blind person could see that this guy is awesome. He's this season's Danny. Jessica had to be to blame, sorry. No other logical explanation.
Just my not-so-humble opinion...
Anyway, when the judges came back with their unanimous verdict, for some reason Raven was cut and Jessica was spared (the way Raven's mother bawled in the audience upon hearing this news was truly heartbreaking). This means Will will be weighed down by Jessica for at least another week. Hopefully some of Will's greatness will rub off on Jess and they'll be safe next week.
So all nine continuing couples will remain intact for next week's show. This means Kourtni & Matt and Jessica & Will better find a way to make it work. Soon.