At age 34, Poppin John is an old man by competitive dance standards (I’m a year older, so I guess a krumping side hustle isn’t in the cards for me). But he’s one of the best known contestants in season three of “World of Dance,” having accumulated millions of views on YouTube for his popping animation. But is he still competitive at this level? Watch his Duels routine above and decide for yourself.
Poppin John came into the Duels with a lot to prove. He made it through the Qualifiers, but just barely. He squeaked through with an average judges’ score of 85.3, just three-tenths of a point above the 85-point threshold needed to advance. What’s more, he was challenged to this Duel by DD Flection, the second highest scoring Upper Division act from the Qualifiers and the champions of “World of Dance” in Thailand. Though DD Flection are a contemporary duo, they were inspired by Poppin John’s hip-hop style, which was part of why they chose him to compete against. But that admiration didn’t soften Poppin John’s attack. His routine was the dance equivalent of a diss track, and the judges ate it up. See what they had to say below.
Jennifer Lopez — “That was sickening, okay? You were talking shh through that whole routine … You’re such a seasoned performer. The musicality was off the charts … I really felt it was super intentional.”
Ne-Yo — “That was Isolation 101. You’re not human! I loved all the burns, like the slow-motion with the bat … However, after a while I felt like you were freestyling a little bit — not taking away from the quality of the freestyle, per se, because we already know you’re amazing at what you do, period, point blank.”
Derek Hough — “From a Duel perspective, that was solid. Every move was intentional, and that I appreciate so much.”
Even though Poppin John came into the Duels at the bottom of the pack in the Upper Division, he emerged a winner. He scored 91s from Ne-Yo and Hough and a 92 from Lopez, giving him an average of 91.3. He defeated DD Flection by 2.3 points, so he’s moving on to the next round, the Cut, while his opponents will have to settle for just one “World of Dance” title.