Katherine Jenkins holds on to her lead with a nearly perfect waltz
It was an emotional week as the stars danced routines to commemorate the most memorable year of their lives. Most of them cried at some point during the show, which was honestly kind of weird. That said, all of the stars danced well, and it was a good show. Katherine's waltz was the standout performance. It was beautiful, moving and deceptively simple looking. Roshon's Michael Jackson-inspired samba brought the crowd to its feet and Maria's sexy rumba was a nice surprise.
This could be a tough elimination week as absolutely no one turned in a bad performance and we've got a five-way tie for last on the judges' leaderboard. I hope you all voted!
Here's a quick look at how the stars did this week:
Jack's happy-go-lucky samba was a bit more toned down than last week's jive, and that was a good thing. He and Anna moved beautifully together and Jack really had the choreography down pat. His knees were a bit stiff during some of his spins, but his hip work was great. Len praised Anna's choreography and called the routine Jack's best. Bruno praised his rhythm and Carrie Ann called the routine "effervescent." After a tough second week, Jack is back in the game.
Maria's sexy rumba was full of tricky spins and dips, as well as a maybe kiss? Derek really put his all into choreographing this one. Maria did an amazing job both keeping up with him and selling the emotion of the dance. Bruno compared Maria to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and praised her for dancing to a very difficult song. (A breathy slow-jams cover of Madonna's "Material Girl.") Carrie Ann praised Maria's flow from step to step, and Len called the routine fabulous. This was easily Maria's best performance.
Gladys' foxtrot was stately and elegant, if a bit simple. Her stage presence continues to impress, and her footwork was clean and precise. As always, Gladys' rhythm was perfect. Carrie Ann praised the improvement to Gladys' frame that was evident in this routine. Len was quick to point out that he and Gladys are the same age, which seemed like a precursor to some nasty criticism. Turns out he just wants to be a Pip. Gladys really showed us what she's made of this week -- let's hope she can keep it up.
Roshon's samba was nonstop fun. He brought a ton of swagger and style and honestly looked like he was having the time of his life. His hips were open, his knees were loose, and his spins were right-on. Honestly, I can't think of anything bad to say about the routine. The judges weren't much help there, either. Len grumbled a bit about a lack of "traditional samba content," but you could tell by the glint in his eye he loved it. Carrie Ann did feel there were some timing issues with the routine -- and got booed when she said so. Roshon really knocked it out of the park with this one.
Gavin's rumba was slow and sensual, but still a bit clunkier than a rumba ought to be. His hip work was excellent, though he had some trouble with transitions. He totally sold the dance emotionally, which is key with the rumba. Bruno pointed out that Gavin had a bit of an issue with some of his pivots, but the other judges were quite positive about the routine. Carrie Ann praised his attention to detail and saw a sensual tenderness in the routine. Len praised his hipwork and musicality and noted that Gavin has improved every week. One more good dance could make his disastrous Week 1 foxtrot fade from our collective memory.
Katherine's emotional waltz was close to flawless. She was completely caught up in the music and turned in a performance worthy of one of the pros. Her elegant carriage and gorgeous footwork were classic waltz, though there were a lot of fancy spins that set Len off. His criticism was all for Mark, though. He found no flaws in Katherine's performance. Carrie Ann was moved to tears by the routine and Bruno called the routine sensational. This was the best dance of the season so far.
Sherri's rumba was absolutely beautiful. It was an open question whether a slow dance would suit energetic, wacky Sherri. Well, it did! She moved beautifully and turned in some downright gorgeous legwork. Len praised the routine's triple spins and added a very emphatic "Well done!" Bruno praised Sherri's commitment to the routine and the emotional resonance of her performance. This was a truly moving dance.
The jive is a tough dance, but Melissa really put her mind to it and turned in amazing performance. Maks' routine was supercharged with tricky spins and kicks, but she mostly held her own. Her posture left a bit to be desired and she lost the thread of the song for a few beats in the middle. Bruno praised her mastery of the tricky opening sequence Maks crafted, and Len declared her a contender. This is definitely a comeback for Melissa -- but has it come too late?
Jaleel's suave rumba was a breath of fresh air during a round of intense emotional routines. He played it cool, but there were some tough spins and lunges in there. Carrie Ann declared Jaleel "back in the game," and praised his gliding steps. Len thought he was a bit stiff in the arms, but the crowd did not agree. Bruno seconded Len, though, and told Jaleel to work on his upper body movements. All in all, a good performance for Jaleel following last week's so-so jive.
William's open-shirted salsa was absolutely electric. His energy was incredible, and his feet were flying. The choreography was very intricate – so much so that William actually grazed the top of Cheryl's head with his thigh during a tricky spin – and never let up for a second. Len called him "William the Conqueror," and Bruno simply shook his hand and told William he hated him. Carrie Ann called the routine "ridiculously hot," and who am I to argue? This was a coup for William!
Donald's elegantly brooding rumba really showed us his emotional side. His knees were a tiny bit stiff, but his hip work was excellent and his movements flowed well. Carrie Ann called the routine mesmerizing, though she pointed out that there were "a few little lifts" thrown into the choreography. Bruno praised Donald for pushing himself to the limit, and commented on his excellent control and precision throughout the dance. Donald has been steadily climbing the leaderboard, so look out above.
Who won over the judges: Katherine, William and Maria
Who won over the crowd: William, Katherine and Roshon
Who needs to step it up: No one at this point!
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
The Scottish poser on the great divide, missing her kids and what's next for her
MTV's twin reality staples continue into their 20s
Resident jokester Heejun Han is the latest contestant to be sent packing
By Carla Patton
Scotty McCreery is back in the house, y'all, holding his microphone all weird and singing about young-boy things with an old man voice. Also, someone will be eliminated for choosing the wrong personal idol. Wouldn't it be great if their personal idol could eliminate them in person? Like, if Deandre goes home, Eric Benet would come out of the audience and wink at the camera. Cut to commercial! I think Deandre could be going home tonight, even though he may have reached a personal best with his performance.
After all the tears shed and all the standing and sitting the judges did last night, someone will have to go home. It's the same every week: Someone's gotta go! It's time to let Jesus and/or the voters take the wheel.
This week's results show introduction argues that "everyone has their favorite," and I just don't know if that's true. I am not sure I have a favorite yet. Wednesday night I was in quite the mood, so everyone was my least favorite. I wanted everyone to lose and go home and be sad like me! The life of a blogger!
Scotty McCreery and Nicki Minaj are performing -- hopefully together! That would be fantastic. But first, some "breaking" Aerosmith news: They're going on tour! The tour is called the Global Warming tour, evidently because they had to be warmed from their cryogenic freeze.
Then Ryan displayed some tweets from their personal idols, and brought Eric Benet out on stage. My dreams are coming true! I guess Eric Benet is really not that busy. He said everyone, specifically Deandre, did an incredible job. Deandre cried.
But you haven't cried for real until you've seen the Ford Music Video. The kids are trying to move a bunch of old TVs into their Fords. Then, they're stacking them up and watching themselves on the wall of TVs. What a fun party. Bye, Eric Benet. Thanks for watching that special video with us.
Next, another special video. The contestants are moving from the hotel into the Hollywood mansion, all to Lana Del Rey's "Video Games." Ugh, this song! The kids go tearing through the mansion, except Elise and Phillip, who handle the situation like adults. The mansion is absolutely sick, though. It's a shame these kids will soon be ruining it and leaving their dirty Tommy Hilfiger clothes all over the floor.
So, who has to move out of the lap of luxury this week? Results comin' at us hard! Elise, Hollie and Phillip hit the stage first. My guess is Hollie from this group. Jimmy Iovine says Elise did herself and "American Idol" a lot of good with her performance: She deserves to stay. Jimmy also dropped the hint that next week's theme is the 1980s. Awesome!
Jimmy says if Stevie likes Phillip, we all should. Phillip is a big, big star and flawless. They can't get enough of this kid! Jimmy thinks Hollie lacks experience and is a bit behind the pack, specifically Jessica, who is her direct competition. Love you for keepin' it real, Jimmy! Hollie is in the bottom three. Phillip and Elise are safe.
Nicki Minaj performs next, sans Scotty McCreery. But they really should collaborate at some point. She's giving Old Navy-commercial realness on this night and cleavage visible from space. This choreography certainly has a lot of jumping, doesn't it? Nicki Minaj looks uncomfortable at times and keeps tugging at her clothes. If you can call them clothes. Not to be out-creeped by me, Ryan comments on the "high-risk" nature of Nicki's choreography and costuming in tandem.
Colton, Joshua and Heejun join Ryan onstage. I think it will be Heejun from this group. Jimmy says Colton was "good but not good enough." He then adds, "This is not the end of your concert where you can lose it and cry and your fans will be with you." Haha, Jimmy is so harsh! Jimmy says Joshua delivered 85 percent of the song, but his emotion got the best of him. And he loved Joshua in the Michael Jackson medley. Jimmy says it was great to see Heejun come back, but it wasn't enough: "He doesn't sing as well as the other eight contestants." Colton is safe. Joshua is safe, and Heejun is in the bottom three.
Scotty McCreery! They put the mic on a stand so he couldn't hold it like a flute. He sure is trying, though! His song is about water towers and football and living in the South. Bless his country-lovin' heart! He seems a lot more confident now that he's on the charts and not auditioning for the judges' approval. This kid has some real stage presence now. Good for him. The song was just OK, but at least it wasn't that god-awful song about how boys like peaches or whatever Lauren Alaina was singing about.
Jimmy Iovine brought out Scotty's platinum record, which was pretty cool. I know you might not like him, but I feel like Scotty is the son I never had because I would have been way too young to bear children at the time.
Deandre, Skylar and Jessica get their results last. Jimmy says Skylar always gives something that makes him want to vote for her, but the song was too much of a "character song." He thinks she will be in the middle of the pack. What did Jimmy think of Deandre (man of the hour)? Jimmy is right in the middle: He's not going crazy for Deandre or disliking him, but he thinks Deandre needs more experience. Jimmy says Jessica is, as ever, a professional with skillful vocals and says we need a little "girl power" this season. Alrighty. Jessica is safe, and Skylar is in the bottom three. Say what?! Deandre is safe? Well, I never. Maybe it's backlash from last week? Backlash that didn't exist for Heejun, evidently.
It appears Heejun knows he's going home next to these two girls. Ryan sends Skylar to safety (where she belongs). And the singer at risk is Heejun. No! I mean, yes. But alas! The judges won't use their save on him: He's just too far behind. And he disrespected the competition, evidently. Man, this sucks. I'm going to miss the Heejun we didn't get to see this week -- the funny one! His personality was one of the main reasons I enjoyed this season. At least he'll have the best farewell clip package of all time!
Heejun thanks the crowd, knowing full well he is going home. Jennifer cries because Heejun was delightful. Steven lowers the boom: "You saw this coming yourself after last week ... We're gonna have to let you go, man." Oh, my god. It sounds like they're putting him down. Heejun's farewell tribute video reminds us of his hilarious feud with Richie the Cowboy -- his legacy.
What do you think of Thursday night's results? Did America get it right?
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Latest castaway to be sent packing says he's not surprised he was this week's target
Elise Testone rocks the house and judges on night dedicated to personal idols
By Carla Patton
Another week, another theme, although this week promises to be much entertaining than Billy Joel week. This week's theme, songs from your idols, is much broader and allows the contestants to sing pretty much whatever they want. If they pick a bad song this week, it's completely on them. Seriously, you could say pretty much anyone is your idol just to sing a certain song. And many contestants have gotten away with it in past seasons.
So, it's open season here on "American Idol," and the Top 9 had best take advantage of it! If it's a bunch of ballads again this week, I will eat my hat. That is a very real threat, and I hate the taste of hat.
Oh, but the best part of this week? Stevie Nicks! This episode opens with "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac, and I am reminded that Stevie Nicks is the mentor. Ryan tells the Top 9, "May the odds be ever in your favor," in a blatant, forced nod to "The Hunger Games." That movie came out this week, and Ryan knows it. He just wants us to know that he knows.
Ryan introduced a useless Tommy Hilfiger segment just to remind us who is providing the clothes again. But more importantly, look at young Jimmy Iovine with Stevie Nicks! Back before he was dried up and codger-y!
Colton Dixon is up first. Stevie Nicks scared him a little when she grabbed his hand and wouldn't let go. "Don't let them cut your hair! It is more precious than gold," she whispered. Sort of. Anyway, Colton is singing his "favorite worship song," "Everything" by Lifehouse. I don't think Stevie knew that it was a worship song and said she wants a guy to sing those lyrics to her. But they're for Jesus! Oh, boy. I think this will win him some big votes, but I just don't agree with the choice to sing a worship song -- especially to start. And whose idol is Lifehouse? I guess you aren't supposed to create false idols ... Colton started crying with the intensity of his very public worship and was brought to his knees to finish the song. I don't know how to critique this.
Jennifer felt his passion, and Randy likes Colton's coat. Randy declared, "There's nine people left! I think I could be looking at a contender for the title! He wants to win! Ryan!" Don't hold up the show for that, Randy. Colton again says that it's his favorite worship song of all time and that's why he cried. I just don't know if it's appropriate, but maybe someone else later down the line will have the freedom to choose their favorite satanic song.
Skylar Laine sings next, and her idol is, of course, Miranda Lambert! She chose "Gunpowder & Lead" by Miranda Lambert. Jimmy Iovine is a little worried because this is a Miranda joint and relies heavily on the singer owning the song. Skylar had a lot of energy and brought it with this song, but I agree with Jimmy that what little melody there is to the song is pretty narrow. It was more fun that it was a demonstration of vocal ability. But she's a little firecracker! The judges loved her energy and Randy complimented her range. I appreciate that Skylar really stayed true to the theme and sang a song from her number one idol.
All of a sudden, there's a trio performance. Not for Thursday night? What is this? Whatever, I'm happy to hear any tribute to Stevie Nicks. Colton, Elise and Phillip sing a medley. You can tell that Elise is consciously remembering to smile. It doesn't seem like the background vocals are live, but they certainly are being lip-synced! The trio was enjoyable enough, but I sure wish it was on Thursday night instead of being jammed into the solo performance night.
Heejun Han has been criticized for not taking the competition seriously, and he has been beaten into submission. Jimmy and Stevie submit their diagnoses for Heejun's new attitude, and I hope they're both wrong. I like Heejun just the way he is. But here is the new Heejun, and he still has his cute hat. He's singing "A Song for You" as performed by Donny Hathaway. It's an interesting choice, but, for the first time in the voting rounds, he is showing off his vocal ability. He really has a beautiful voice! The judges gave him a standing ovation. Thank you, their applause says, for playing by our rules now. "When you go there, when you believe, when you let go of all the other stuff," Jennifer says, "you move people." Randy admits that Heejun is back -- the "real Heejun." It appears that Ryan still does not know how to interact with Heejun, the real one or otherwise.
Jason Derulo broke his neck, but he did it for Coca-Cola. Now he's popping out a song about it and needs you to finish cleaning up.
Hollie Cavanagh is singing "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood. She made Stevie Nicks cry, but I think it was more about Stevie making Stevie cry. She grabbed Hollie at the end and clutched her small arms in her claws. "It matters what you feel and what is in your heart," she whispers to Hollie's face. Terrifying. Hollie gets fake snow and a snowy, wooded backdrop. She always gets the best backgrounds and lighting effects. The performance was mostly good, with a few off notes. It was a pretty good performance.
"Um," Randy begins, "I don't think, once again, it was perfect. There were a couple notes there ... "And then he was interrupted by booing. But he still managed to get in, "Carrie sang the I-don't-know-what out of it." Jennifer disagreed, thinking it was one of Hollie's best because she connected emotionally. But did the emotion transfer through the screen? Steven said he would have picked a different song, but he's not going to mess with Jesus or Carrie.
After Ryan's failed bit with a snowblower that he could barely lift, Deandre Brackensick performs. He's singing "Sometimes I Cry" by Eric Benet, who I am not familiar with. It's a lovely demonstration of Deandre's voice. He gets to show off that beautiful, floaty falsetto of his. But the song is so old-feeling, and not in a Motown way but a '90s R&B way. And it's too much in the higher range. It felt almost silly at times. But that is my opinion, and it seems like I'm full of sour grapes on this night. The judges loved it! "Vote for him!" Jennifer cries, and Randy uses the performance as an excuse to hype up what's so great about "American Idol."
Jessica Sanchez chose Beyoncé as her idol! Yes, yes, yes. She's singing "Sweet Dreams" by Beyoncé, but a slowed down version with lots of doors and a harp. She's doing a great job, but I wish she had chosen a faster Beyoncé song. I mean, if you're going to do Beyoncé ... But, whatever. Jessica is such a professional. I loved it right up until she awkwardly walked through that doorway and closed the door behind her. That part was odd. Guess who also loved it? The judges!
Deandre, Heejun and Joshua sing a Michael Jackson medley. Or is it a tribute to fedoras? Hard to tell at this point. I much prefer Deandre in this performance than in his solo performance. It was a little slapdash, but bless their hearts for whipping it together. And I had to laugh when Heejun couldn't remember the choreography. He exchanged a glance with Joshua that seemed to say, "Oh, well!" This performance doesn't matter anyway. PYT!
Stevie Nicks thinks that Phillip Phillips is going to be very famous. He has magic, and he's gorgeous. Stevie! Don't grab them anymore. It's the sign of an ineffective mentor. Phillip is singing "Still Rainin'" by Jonny Lang. He did a great job. Phillip, like Jessica, is a professional, and there's not much else you can say. He chose a good song for himself, and it's clear that he knows what kind of artist he wants to be. The judges gave their seventh standing ovation of the night. Randy loved it and loves being friends with Johnny Lang slash everyone.
Dionne Warwick is in the house sitting next to Jordin Sparks and the broken (but bedazzled) Jason Derulo. I haven't seen Dionne since her flawless performance on "The Celebrity Apprentice."
Joshua Ledet is singing "Without You" as performed by Mariah Carey. It is a challenge. But so is capturing that suit jacket on film! Why have they gone to such lengths to set up this imaginary desert around Joshua? There are just way too many fake, dead trees on stage. It's distracting. But let's talk about the performance. Yes! Another great Joshua Ledet moment that will certainly elicit a standing ovation from the judges. Joshua hung on until the end, when he turned away crying, but finished the song. Randy wished Mariah Carey a happy birthday because, you know, they're friends. He also called the performance flawless. Jennifer thinks Joshua is an angel from heaven.
Ryan comments on the emotion of all the contestants, and Randy claims it's because Colton "threw down the gauntlet." He keeps saying that. So once one of them cries, they all have to. Is that it, Randy?
Hollie, Skylar and Jessica are singing a medley of Madonna hits. I love Jessica's opening to "Like a Prayer," and I really want her to sing more Madonna. Though they had a promising beginning, this trio soon goes the way of the other two -- straight into the land of mediocrity. These poor girls are tired. They need a rest.
Elise Testone is last to sing, and she'll be taking on "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin. She has sung this song before with her band, so she's comfortable with it. She took advantage of this broad theme to just sing whatever. She even had some extra time to jam out with Stevie Nicks, which must have been just insane. Stevie likes Elise. Stevie didn't even clutch her and whisper at her! They busted out the smoke flumes for Elise in this performance! It was fun and exciting, though. There's a reason they put this one last. This is how Elise does up-tempo. In this performance, she proved not only that she's working on a professional level but also that she functions really well as a band frontlady, rather than a solo artist. Elise and Steven are wearing the same pants, and that's all we heard from Steven. Randy and Jennifer loved it, of course.
So according to Randy, who is friends with every famous person you can name, everyone is in it to win it! They all sang the you-know-what out of their respective songs! Everyone shed a tear and brought the judges to their feet. But if I may play devil's advocate (aka Jimmy Iovine), I thought some were certainly better than others.
What do you think? Who was overrated? Who's next to go?
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova is the first to get bounced
It was hard to say goodbye to tennis legend Martina Navratilova even after only two performances and a bit of a surprise to see her cut rather than singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw. It's clear that she worked hard on her routines, though her second round jive went over like lead with the judges. Martina seemed genuinely sad to be leaving the competition. She wished everyone luck and held hands with Tony as they walked to center stage for their last dance.
As always, the show must go on. Here's a rundown of the remaining stars' performances so far:
"Little House on the Prairie" star Melissa's cha-cha was just so-so and her energy flagged during her second-round quickstep. Melissa is a good dancer, but she has some very tough competition this season. Will she be able to take the heat?
Motown legend Gladys Knight turned in a sizzling cha-cha during the premiere, but had some trouble with the quickstep. She's got no shortage of stage presence and is elegant and fleet of foot, so she should be safe for the time being.
"Family Matters" star Jaleel's debut foxtrot got the crowd on its feet and earned him the highest score in premiere history. (Tied with Katherine.) Unfortunately, his second-round jive was a bit lackluster. Jaleel's stage presence is amazing and he and Kym have great chemistry, so expect him to land back on top next week.
Soap star William's quickstep cha-cha was absolutely smoldering – so much so that Bruno wasted no time in proclaiming William "the hottest package of the season." William's quickstep was excellent in terms of timing, hold and footwork, though he did lose the thread of the routine at one point. Since he's a good dancer and his smile alone seems to get the crowd on its feet, I'd say the sky is the limit for William.
Welsh opera star Katherine's endlessly elegant debut foxtrot earned her the highest score in premiere history. (Tied with Jaleel.) Her splashy, sexy jive worked just as well: she kicked her legs up like a pro and stayed on rhythm without any seeming effort. The judges have nothing but love for Katherine so far, and the crowd was right there with them. I can't wait to see what she does next week.
"The View" co-host Sherri's debut foxtrot was lively and elegant. She has a natural talent for dance and her passion out on the floor is almost contagious. Her round-two jive was energetic and Sherri's legwork was nothing short of gorgeous, though she did lose the thread of the routine at one point. Don't even think about counting her out – Sherri could very well be this season's Cinderella.
"Extra" host Maria's debut cha-cha was good, but not good enough to make her stand out. Luckily, her round-two, high-energy quickstep got everyone's attention! Maria's energy didn't quit, her timing was excellent, her feet were fast, and, most importantly, she kept up with Derek. Maria is a real contender.
NFL legend Donald Driver's frenetic cha-cha was a bit too much for the judges in round one, but the longtime "DWTS" fan toned it down in round two when he danced the quickstep. His footwork was phenomenal, his timing was great and his energy and enthusiasm were through the roof. Donald is a great dancer, and with his background knowledge of the competition – and the styles of dance – it should give him a huge leg up moving forward.
Soap star Jack's opening foxtrot was absolutely dripping with elegance. In the first round his timing was impeccable and his frame looked great. Jack had a bit more trouble with his second-round jive, which lacked precision and control. In fact, Carrie Ann told Jack he outright "over danced" the number. Let's hope he can rein it in – just a bit – next week.
Disney star Roshon started off the season with a hip-hoppy cha-cha that featured the best spins Carrie Ann has seen in fourteen seasons. In the second round he turned in a fresh, energetic quickstep that got the crowd on its feet and the judges in his corner. Roshon's one to watch!
Singer-songwriter Gavin's lackluster debut foxtrot was the biggest bump in a nearly flawless premiere and his round-two jive was not much better. Bruno complained about a lack of precision to his "kicks and flicks," and Carrie Ann criticized his posture but praised his bravery. If Gavin wants to stick around, he's going to have to get serious in rehearsals.
Who won the week: Katherine, William and Roshon
Who needs to step it up: Gavin and Melissa
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Welsh opera diva Katherine Jenkins once again steals the show
This week our stars took on the jive and the quickstep, two of the toughest styles of ballroom dance, and in most cases they triumphed. Welsh opera diva Katherine Jenkins once again stole the show, this time with a crazy sexy jive. Hot on her heels are Cuban soap star William Levy and Disney star Roshon Fegan, but the mirror ball trophy is still (almost) anyone's to win.
Our first star will be sent home this week, and there are certainly some contenders for the infamous Losers' Club. Melissa Gilbert flubbed her quickstep a bit and Martina Navratilova turned in a jive that was downright painful to watch. Gavin DeGraw is also hovering dangerously near the bottom of the judges' leaderboard at the close of the first round of performances.
Here's a quick look at how the stars did this week:
Disney star Roshon turned in a fresh, energetic quickstep after landing in the middle of the pack with last week's cha-cha. His timing was very good and his kicks were great. He seemed even more comfortable out on the floor than during the premiere and the judges took note. Carrie Ann said he turned his "swagger into sophistication." Overall, an impressively polished routine especially, this early in the competition.
Sherri's jive was every bit as electric as her foxtrot last week. Her energy level was incredible, and her legwork was nothing short of gorgeous, even though she did lose the thread of the routine at one point. (The important thing is that she recovered well.) Sherri has a natural flair for dance and, more importantly, she is so totally focused and into her performance that the result is breathtaking. The judges practically fell over themselves to praise the routine. Carrie Ann actually said, "I'm in love with you." Team CherVal could go all the way!
"Little House on the Prairie" star Melissa – who apparently dated Billy Idol back in the 80s – danced a fierce but flawed quickstep to his anthem "Dancing With Myself." It's kind of weird that the producers gave her that song, right? Her footwork was excellent and Maks choreographed some very tough moves, including some stair work. Melissa kept up but did look a bit breathless at times. Her spins were excellent too, but she almost dropped out of a hold right at the end of the routine. Carrie Ann commented on her shoulder work and Len noted that her energy level and thus her posture flagged as the routine went on. Melissa is a good dancer, but she has some very tough competition this season.
Soap star Jack turned in a jive that did not quit! His energy level was amazing and he certainly had the rather difficult choreography down. Len pointed out that his control was slightly lacking but praised the routine overall. Bruno agreed about the lack of precision and Carrie Ann took it one further and told Jack he "over danced" the number. Let's hope he can rein it in – just a bit – next week.
Motown legend Gladys Knight turned in a commanding quickstep. As with last week's cha-cha, she just owned the stage. She was perfectly on rhythm but her posture was a bit lacking. The choreography was also not as tough as it might have been. Both Bruno and Carrie Ann commented that Gladys needs to improve her frame, and Len felt that her technique was lacking. This dance was a bit of a comedown from Gladys' fabulous debut cha-cha, but I'm not giving up on her yet. Apparently Len is – he gave her a 5 and was soundly booed by the audience.
After an amazing debut foxtrot last week, opera star Katherine kicked things into high gear. You wouldn't think a slot-machine-themed jive would work, but it did! Mark's choreography was incredibly difficult, but she didn't show any strain. She looked sexy, kicked her legs up like a pro and stayed on rhythm without any seeming effort. The judges had nothing but love for this routine and the crowd was right there with them. The competition would seem to be Katherine's to lose.
Jaleel's debut foxtrot got the crowd on its feet, but his jive was a bit lackluster. Jaleel's stage presence was just as amazing as it was during the premiere and he and Kym have great chemistry, but the routine was a bit dull and verged on cutesy. Jaleel's movements lacked precision and his posture could have been a lot better. The judges praised the routine but couldn't help comparing it to Jaleel's much superior foxtrot. Carrie Ann might have summed things up best when she pointed out that the routine lacked sparkle. Jaleel is a long way from the bottom of the judges' leaderboard, so don't get too worried.
Maria's high-energy quickstep was a revelation! She turned in a good cha-cha last week, but this routine was close to perfect – though I could have done without the creepy eye masks, which gave the performance a weird Cirque du Soleil feel. Maria's energy didn't quit, her timing was excellent, her feet were fast but she was on the beat, and, most importantly, she kept up with Derek. The judges loved this one. Len praised her speed and control, pointing out how difficult it can be to maintain both during the fast-moving quickstep. A great showing for Maria!
Martina's jive was a bit hard to watch. She lost the thread of the choreography, was off rhythm and was just plain nervous. Tony did his best to encourage her, but Martina just couldn't seem to recover from a rocky start. The fringed, sequiny harem pants she was forced to wear probably didn't help matters either. Carrie Ann didn't know what to say she was so uncomfortable, and Len – somewhat oddly – called the routine "too neat and too precise." Let's hope this jive won't be Martina's swan song.
Last week, Donald's fast cha-cha looked more like a quickstep than a cha-cha and the judges told him to tone down the energy. This week he got it just right – his quickstep was fluid, on rhythm and – best of all – he looked like he was enjoying every second of it. Donald is a longtime fan of the show and it shows in his enthusiasm. Bruno praised his lines, his refinement and the elegance of the routine. Carrie Ann agreed, and Len, in a totally unprecedented move, apologized to Donald for "underscoring" him during the premiere. Wowza!
Singer-songwriter Gavin's debut foxtrot was the biggest bump in a nearly flawless premiere, and his round two jive was not much better. It was an improvement, however. Although he got off to a rocky start, Gavin found his way into the routine in the middle ... and then lost it again. Bruno complained about a lack of precision to his "kicks and flicks," and Carrie Ann criticized his posture but praised his bravery. Len liked Gavin's attitude and energy and called the routine an improvement over his last performance.
William's quickstep was charming, but that didn't obscure just how difficult it was! This was one of those routines that just plain works. William's posture was excellent, as was his timing, and his footwork was more than adequate. He did lose the thread of the routine at one point, but a dazzling smile helped matters somewhat. Carrie Ann praised William's technique, Len told him to clean up his footwork, and Bruno said a lot of stuff that no one understood but mentioned "The Artist." William is off to an amazing start in this competition.
Jive or Quickstep: 25/30
Who won over the judges: Katherine, William and Roshon
Who won over the crowd: Katherine, Sherri and Donald
Who needs to step it up: Gavin, Martina and Melissa
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT and and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.