It’s the most wonderful time of the Dancing with the Stars year! No, not when we crown a winner, but when the contestants must deliver an interpretative dance set to the beat of the most memorable year of their lives. Last night the memories ranged from morbid (death of a father, broken back) to bizarre (dressing up as Steve Urkel’s cool cousin), but they all had one thing in common: They generated lots of tears. Yes, last night the stars, the pros, and the judges were all doing their best rain cloud impressions as the tears rolled down. Also in attendance were a whole lot of 10s from the judges (not Len, obviously, it’s not the Apocalypse!) even though it’s only the third week of the season and only poor Martina Navratilova has gone home to sign up for What Not to Wear.
Let’s see how the pitter patter of little feet played out this week:
Best Career Reminder: To mark his most memorable year (2011, if you’re keeping track) Jack Wagner is dancing to a samba. The song was one he sang at a concert (which is a thing that he does, apparently) right after a bawling girl hugged him and announced she was his daughter. He squeezed a few teardrops out as he told the tale of his new daughter, who was now sitting in the audience. She’s joined a family with good genetics. Her daddy had his shirt unbuttoned to his belly button, because even though he can collect social security benefits, he still has a great body. The judges gave him a 24.
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Worst Madonna Cover: In 1988, when Maria Menounos was a wee thing she helped her Greek immigrant parents clean nightclubs in Boston. So when she announced that she and Derek Hough would be dancing a rumba to Madonna’s “Material Girl,” it was less nostalgic and more “adult.” Len Goodman said it had a “smoldering intensity,” while Carrie-Ann Inaba nailed it by calling it “the true horizontal desire,” which sounds so Victorian it makes you wonder what Carrie-Ann reads. Maria and Derek Hough earned a 27.
Best Quid Pro Quo: After watching Gladys Knight’s smooth dance to Sam Cooke’s “Cupid,” to mark 1957, the year of her first national tour with the Pips, she earned a 24 and a plea from Len. During the judging, he uncharacteristically dropped a thousand compliments and then asked if he could be one of her Pips. Can we vote for that?
Worst Wig: Disney star Roshon Fegan chose 1996 as his most memorable year, because it was the year he was born or something. He opted to do a samba to the Jackson Five. While Bruno Tonioli felt like he was watching Michael Jackson, he was probably just confused by the afro wig that Roshon chose to wear. Luckily Carrie-Ann and Len saw through the charade and Roshon ended up with a 25.
The Most Shocking Reveal: Oh my, I have done Gavin DeGraw a great disservice. Turns out the hat he always wears is a pure sartorial choice and not covering a continental drift in his hairline. Yep, he’s not bald. Also he can dance a samba to “New York State of Mind” and it’s not half bad. Then the emotion of finally letting America know that he’s not bald was too much for him and he cried. Karina Smirnoff had to talk to Brooke Burke Charvat for him and then he earned a 24, his best score ever.
Biggest Tearjerker: The adorable blonde Welsh singer who is winning this competition, but whose name I can never remember, broke down in tears over the memory of her father dying. Katherine Jenkins chose to dance a waltz to a Josh Groban song to commemorate the loss and honor her father. By the end of the song Katherine was in tears as was Carrie-Ann, and shockingly, Bruno was rendered speechless. She earned a 29, which if you remember math (or maths in honor of the UK resident), includes the first two 10 of the season.
Best Sound Effect: The camera cuts before Sherri Shepherd could really tear up about the fact that her son was born prematurely and was fighting for his life from birth. To encourage her to dance her best, Val Chmerkovskiy brought her son Jeffrey to their rumba rehearsal so she can remember what she is dancing for. In case you missed that this was dramatic, to really bring the point home, the song started with ten-seconds of thudding heartbeat. She got a 24.
Wrongest Costume: Melissa Gilbert told a tragic tale of breaking her back during a rehearsal for the Little House on the Prairie musical that I did not know existed. But that tragedy did not explain why she showed up in a purple spangled ice skating outfit to dance the jive to Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days are Over.” Then Len started talking about getting her a happy ending and I covered my ears and started crying. She earned 24 points.
Least Moving Story: Apparently Jaleel White has has a pretty easy life, because the most memorable year of his life was that time on Family Matters when he played Steve Urkel’s cool suave alter ego Stefan Urquelle. Ditching the suspenders and thick glasses gave him the strength to persevere in his desire to be a cool dude and not a nerd. Don’t worry kids, his partner Kym Johnson’s been there all week for him, being strong, helping him through the memories. The judges hand him a 25.
Hottest Salsa: While it’s no Stefan Urquelle experience, in 1995, William Levy’s family did escape from Cuba to start a new life in the U.S. He and Cheryl Burke (a.k.a. the luckiest woman alive) danced a sultry salsa where she got to (contractually had to?) rip his shirt open. Then Len made a Free Willy joke followed by a King William reference and the crowd went wild at the thought of Freeing Willy. The salsa earned them a 28, including a ten from a gaping and gasping Bruno.
Best Use of a Boston Accent: Donald Driver told the tragic tale of the loss of his best friend to cancer in 2010 and then danced a sultry rumba that Carrie-Ann deemed “mesmerizing.” Len echoed her enthusiasm, calling the dance “awesome,” which Boston boy Tom Bergeron corrected, noting that the dance was actually, “Wicked awesome.” He scored a 26.
Come back tomorrow when the 11 remaining couples face elimination. Were you moved by Katherine Jenkins dance? Did Maria Menounos and Derek Hough actually kiss? Tell us what you think in the comments.