The remaining seven contestants danced to emulate their musical icons this week, including Freddie Mercury, Tupac Shakur, and Britney Spears. I think that all the remaining celebrities embodied their respective icons well. The opening to the show was so incredibly corny, but I couldn’t stop watching it. However, I laughed out loud when Nelly smelled the “fragrance” and said, “this smells like s***”. Tyra’s emulations of Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj were good too. She is becoming a better host of the show week by week. Of course, she is no Tom Bergeron, but she doesn’t have to imitate him. She can make that spot her own.
Speaking of imitations, let’s get to the dances:
Justina Machado (partner: Sasha Farber)
Dance: Rumba to “Crazy for You” by Madonna
Thoughts: I thought it was adorable that she was obsessed with Madonna when she was younger. However, her dance was not her best. She started out well with her hip action, finished the movements in her arms, and was graceful throughout. Justina lost the movement in her hips as the dance progressed though. I agree with Derek that it wasn’t exciting. I think she has a lot of potential and think that she could make it to the finals. However, I think she has the potential to be eliminated if she doesn’t improve next week.
Nelly (partner: Daniella Karagach)
Icon: Tupac Shakur
Dance: Jazz to “California Love” by Tupac feat. Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman
Thoughts: Nelly admired Tupac and thought that he would have crushed it on Dancing with the Stars if he were still alive (I’m not sure he would do the show, but I digress). He also recreated “California Love”, which he ended up dancing to. While I like the recreation of the song, I wasn’t as impressed with the dance. I felt like he was holding back and I was expecting more out of Nelly. The movements were good, but some of the lifts were messy.
AJ McLean (partner: Cheryl Burke)
Icon: Freddie Mercury
Dance: Viennese Waltz to “Somebody to Love” by Queen
Thoughts: It was sweet that AJ talked about his grandmother was his biggest cheerleader and how the song “Somebody to Love” reminded him of her. However, the dance was a big letdown. The opening was great, but it seemed like he was off time, the transitions were messy, and the frame should have been better.
Kaitlyn Bristowe (partner: Artem Chigvintsev)
Icon: Britney Spears
Dance: Argentine Tango to “Toxic” by Britney Spears
Score: 30 (finally!)
Thoughts: Kaitlyn talked about how Britney Spears influenced her so much that she decided to release a single after she moved to Nashville. Her song wasn’t my favorite, but this dance was. Each of her movements were perfect and she embodied the sexpot that Britney Spears played in the “Toxic” music video. I do think this was her breakthrough dance and I hope she keeps this momentum to continuously get 10s and end up in the finals.
Johnny Weir (partner: Britt Stewart)
Icon: Amy Winehouse
Dance: Quickstep to “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse feat. Mark Ronson
Score: 30 (well deserved)
Thoughts: The producers made a weird connection between the struggles that Amy Winehouse had throughout her life to the struggle that Johnny had while he was competitively ice skating. I commend Johnny’s message to keep going, march forward and dance on despite adversity and hard times, which Johnny has experienced. Johnny’s dance was one of the best of the night (next to Kaitlyn’s). His hold was perfect, his footwork was great, and his hops were on perfectly on time. I also agree with Derek saying that Johnny is the perfect representation of being enough. I said this last week, but it remains true: the longer that Johnny is on the show, the more I love how he is his own person and doesn’t apologize for it.
Skai Jackson (partner: Alan Bersten)
Icon: Janet Jackson
Dance: Paso Doble to “If” by Janet Jackson
Thoughts: Skai talked about her admiration for Janet Jackson, specifically with her activism. I didn’t realize that Skai was an activist as well and I commend her for speaking out on issues at her age. She mentioned that your voice does matter and that it should be used for great, which is something I wholeheartedly agree with. However, her dance was not as impressive as the judges thought. She was trying to look intense, but it still looked like she was dead or lost in the eyes. Skai looked a little stiff in her arm and it didn’t look like she was moving with any conviction.
Nev Schulmann (partner: Jenna Johnson)
Icon: Elton John
Dance: Jive to “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” by Elton John
Thoughts: It’s great to see how his parents and the show have shaped his love for musicals and dancing. I would pay to see him in a musical once Broadway opens. I loved his costume but wasn’t as impressed with his dance. I didn’t think it was his best, specifically with the fact that his feet were not pointed as they should be in a jive. I hope he improves next week because I would like to see him in the finals.
We are at the point where each of the couples have two dances and the producers decided to do a dance off with the remaining celebrities. Below is the breakdown:
Cha Cha Dance Off – “Telephone” by Lady Gaga
Couples: Kaitlyn and Artem and Justina and Sasha
Thoughts: I thought that Kaitlyn was better technically, but I thought that Justina had more flavor and was more exciting to watch. I agree with the judges that Justina was more deserving of receiving 2 more points.
Salsa Dance Off – “The Cup of Life” by Ricky Martin
Couples: Nelly and Daniella and Skai and Alan
Thoughts: Each of these couples had their strengths and it was hard to tell which one was better. Nelly had a groove that I could not take my eyes from, but Skai was better than Nelly technically. The judges decided to give Skai the additional 2 points, which I’m okay with.
Jive Dance Off – “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!
Couples: Johnny and Britt and AJ and Cheryl
Thoughts: I thought Johnny was easily the winner between these two couples. While AJ’s performance was fun, Johnny had improved immensely from the last time he performed the jive. I couldn’t take my eyes off Johnny. I disagree with the judges.
The producers did a piece where each of the remaining celebrities were talking about how much being in the semi-finals would mean to them. I’ve said before that at this point in the competition, it gets harder to eliminate who is left because of the high caliber of everyone’s dancing. It was difficult and slightly shocking to see AJ and Cheryl and Johnny and Britt in the bottom two this week. There are other contestants that I feel should have been there, but such is the competition. Unfortunately, AJ ended up being eliminated. While I am shocked, I’m not surprised he was eliminated next to Johnny. Johnny is a far superior dancer to AJ and it seems like AJ improved one week and then wasn’t really improving all that much over the next couple of weeks. If I would have seen more progress from him, I could have seen him easily going further.
The semi-finals will be interesting to see, especially with the fact that there will be a double elimination next week. I’m hoping to see Nelly and Skai go home as I feel they are the weaker dancers out of the remaining six contestants. Justina, Kaitlyn, Nev and Johnny are the most deserving to be in the finals and would make it an interesting playing field, but you never know with this show. Sometimes popularity will put a contestant in the finals that shouldn’t be there, and I hope this isn’t the case this year.
(Picture Courtesy of Freepik)