Canada Sings: Hamilton Police vs. GoodLife Fitness (spoiler alert)
I think the lesson to be learned from Wednesday's episode of Canada Sings is don't mess with men in uniform.
It was their bad luck to be matched against the Hamilton Police team. We've already seen men in uniform (the Air Canada team, which dressed like pilots, and the Toronto firefighters, which was more out of uniform than in, but that worked too) sing and dance off with trophies and $10,000 donations to their charities.
Mind you, when this episode first started, it looked like GoodLife's Power Chords might end the streak.
The Hamilton cops' Hammer Cruisers were, as coach Sharron Matthews put it, "every shape and size," older, bad dancers, not blessed with strong soloists and very, very nervous.
But this is the point where I have to bow down to Sharron and choreographer Christian Vincent. They'd be the first to tell you it was all the cops' hard work and dedication that did the trick. And no doubt, it was, but Sharron and Christian worked some magic here, coming up with a really fun, unexpected song mashup and choreography that was simple but looked great when done in formation.
By contrast, it looked like Kelly Konno and Scott Henderson had the easier task. The fitness crew was raring to go; they were comfortable with their bodies and moved well; and they had some charismatic people on their team.
Personal trainer Fred Kuhr, for instance, who described himself as older and gayer than most trainers, made an immediate impression by pinning Kelly against a wall while he sang Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" during the tryouts. He also had a backstory about being teased and taunted in school and using fitness to overcome an inferiority complex.
Head customer service rep Gabriel Ramos had a great voice.
And then there was the force of nature known as Sang Il Jo or Trainer Jo, who was gunning for nothing less than a Nobel Prize for fitness. He wasn't just dancing, he was back- and front-flipping across the room, which made choreographer Kelly very happy.
General manager Sarah Sclafani stood out for her pink-tipped blond hair, but she also had a personal sense of connection to the charity, the GoodLife Kids Foundation, which helps children stay active and fit. Sarah had weighed more than 200 pounds before shedding more than 60 pounds in a year and a half and boosting her confidence.
On the police side, we met Det.-Sgt. Glenn Jarvie, who's been with Hamilton police for 33 years and told a heart-rending tale of being called out to the sudden death of a 4-month-old infant and having to tell the mother that her baby was gone.
Sgt. Scott Collings seemed like a no-nonsense fellow who specializes in bloodstain pattern analysis. "It's like CSI, only different.... We don't do (forensics) quite as quickly as they do on television."
Const. Perry Mason (yes, that is his real name) had a backstory too: his daughter was bullied so much she had serious issues with drugs and mental illness; now he shares her story with school bullies and their victims as the police service's school resource officer.
Their charity was Project Concern, which hands out officer donations within Hamilton, and specifically Lean on Me, a program that helps the families of homicide victims.
Only their devotion to their charity could have convinced the fellows to buy into Sharron's plan to make Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time" part of their song mashup. Perry commented, "Britney with a bunch of fat white guys? I'm not sure. We'll see how it works."
But Britney was the least of their problems. The real issue was getting them moving, especially, as Sharron noted, since they were all used to having their game faces on, and she and Christian would be busting "through all of their shells."
While the fitness folks were flipping and kicking and gyrating through their complex routine, the cops were struggling with basic steps.
"Their hands are going in the air, their bellies are coming out a little bit. They can't dance at all," said Sharron.
Complicating things was Perry's health: after having a heart attack less than three months before, stress could be life-threatening for him, he told Christian and Sharron. He was having too much trouble with the dancing to be in the forefront, so Christian had to move him.
What the police had in their favour was their size (23 members to GoodLife's 11) and the pleasing way all their voices blended. That was obvious when Kelly and Fred visited for a sneak peek at their competition. What wasn't obvious was their bad dancing because Christian had them stand still while they sang for their visitors, which Kelly saw as playing dirty.
Christian and Scott had already been to GoodLife and seen how great their dancing was. "I'm just impressed I got a room full of people who can see their toes," Scott joked with his competitors.
By Day 5 of rehearsal, Sharron had to give the police a pep talk, reminding them that they needed to transfer the calm they bring to their jobs to the stage.
On the same day, GoodLife had a setback. Trainer Jo dropped out of the routine because he hurt his back. "It truly affects each and every one of them," worried Kelly. "They have to learn new formations right away."
So how'd they do?
GoodLife had way more complicated choreography (there was even a teeny bit of breakdancing and ballroom) and an energetic blend of songs, including "That's the Way I Like It" and "DJ Got Us Falling in Love." My only quibble would be that at times the choreography was a little too frantic and the patterns got confusing.
The judges praised the team's athleticism, with Jann Arden saying, "I don't know how you sang through that routine" and Vanilla Ice declaring, "The dancing was really hot, man."
The Hammer Cruisers' choreo was about as simple as you could get, but the moves looked good in unison and the pelvic thrusts during "Baby One More Time" (blended with "Proud Mary" and "C'mon Feel the Noise") had everyone laughing and smiling. Glenn's falsetto on "Feel the Noise" was also a hit.
You couldn't help but smile at the incongruity of who they were and what they were singing.
"I never thought I'd see Britney Spears meets Quiet Riot meets The Chipmunks meets Tina Turner," said Vanilla Ice.
Jann had the best line: "Glenn, I don't want to pick you out of anybody, but I want all the young women in the audience to know what Justin Bieber's gonna look like in 50 years."
All the judges commented on how entertaining the routine was.
In the moment of truth, Ice picked the Power Chords for the win, but Jann and Pierre went with the Hammer Cruisers. Hopefully that $10,000 for their charity will blunt all the teasing they're bound to get around the police station.
That's it until next Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Global TV, when Scarborough Hospital takes on The Keg. You'll find my recap right here.
(The photos of the Hammer Cruisers and Power Chords are courtesy of Shaw Media.)