Welcome back to Dancing with the Stars, where the sequins have been shined, the spray tans sprayed and the hemlines raised in anticipation of a drama-filled semi-final round. There are still five contestants competing for a chance to bring home a giant disco ball trophy and they are all (to steal a phrase from American Idol judge Randy Jackson) “in it to win it.”
Among the final five are four great dancers — and General Hospital star Ingo Rademacher, who is working hard while making the most of his underdog status. Tonight, the stars and their pro partners have been tasked with dancing non-ballroom dances, including hip hop and afrojazz. Will they fail? Will they succeed? Will they remember to tape their gowns to their cleavage? The only way to find out is to read on.
Here’s what happened on Dancing with the Stars:
Best Recovery: After Len Goodman’s temper tantrum last week, Derek Hough wants to make sure that the Argentine tango he and American Idol alum Kellie Pickler perform is both beautiful and technically correct. The red-and-black routine he concocted was perfect. Literally! At the end of the dance Len declared, “Close the door, call me Mary, that was fantastic!” which is code for 30/30.
Good Hair Day: Apparently an Argentine tango requires being a brunette, so Kellie opted to cover her normal blond ‘do with a brown pageboy wig.
Best Soundtrack: Underdog Ingo opted to skewer home his get-me-to-the-finals message with a subtly brilliant song choice for his samba: “One More Night.” One can only assume they back-masked the song with “Vote For Ingo.”
Most Back-Handed Compliment: Bruno Tonioli told Ingo, “I love your passion, you don’t give up, you’re like a dog with a bone.” Ingo got a respectable 24/30.
Best Reason Not To Have 3D Television: Len felt the need to apologize to “viewers with a sensitive nature” for all of Ingo’s hip thrusts.
Best Advice To Win DWTS: To prepare for their Afro-jazz routine, Mark Ballas told Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, “Even if you feel stupid, just go for it.”
Best Reaction: When Aly finished her rumba, the judges couldn’t stop screaming along with the audience.
Get Your Stories Straight: While Carrie-Ann Inaba states, “You were all woman out there!” Bruno thought she was a “beautiful butterfly. Which is it, guys? Aly probably doesn’t care, because she finally got a gold-medal worthy score: 30/30.
Best Foreshadowing: During rehearsal footage, Super Bowl champion Jacoby Jones moaned, “We can’t get a ten to save our lives!”
Most Obvious Statement: Midway through practice, Jacoby announced, “I’m very competitive.” And so is his mama.
Most Constructive Criticism: After Len announced that Jacoby’s tango was “cha-CHING! Right on the money! That was great!,” Bruno added, unnecessarily, “Best performance ever.” But Carrie-Ann won the judging, by uttering a string of nonsensical words, giving up and simply shaking her hair around. They earned a 30/30. And, yes, that was three perfect scores in the first round.
Best Role Reversal: Disney star Zendaya Coleman has been dancing hip-hop since she was eight, but her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy has never danced hip hop before. So Zendaya brought in her first hip-hop teacher, who taught Val a thing or two while Zendaya struggled to keep the grin off her face as Val got sent to school.
Mightiest Tumble: Before their hip-hop routine, though, Zendaya had to get through an incredibly fast-paced quickstep routine with a NASCAR theme. Which, in Carrie Ann’s words, “was kind of a mess.” Bruno added the death knell, “I loved what you were trying to do, and I loved the concept.” 25/30
Tightest Race: Going into the second round, there’s a three-way tie for the top spot with Kellie, Aly and Jacoby all earning perfect 30s.
Most Inspiring Back Story: Kellie’s mom and dad were both incarcerated over the years and she was raised by her grandparents, who, it must be said, did a pretty good job. Her rise to the top through so many obstacles? Fueled entirely by American Idol. Who said reality television was god for anything?
Best Surprise Guest: Fellow American Idol alum and country singer Carrie Underwood stopped by Kellie’s background video to help the star earn a few extra votes.
More Flamenco Please: As Derek and Kellie’s flamenco ended, host Tom Bergeron sighed wistfully, “We’ve got to have this dance more often.” Guess he was a fan of the off-beat clapping, emphatic foot stomping and watching Derek dance shirtless.
Best Excuse: After the judges noticed a few missteps in the routine, Kellie admitted, “My dress weighs 5,000 pounds!” To prove her point, she made Derek carry her up the stairs to get their score.
Worst Mix Up: When it came time to vote, Bruno loudly declared, “NINE!” but held up the “10” paddle. Oops! Tom called it “a Freudian paddle,” but the score was still a nine for a respectable total of 28/30.
Smartest Star: While Ingo grew up in Germany and Australia, works in Hollywood, and lives in Hawaii. He lives there! Who knew that was even possible?
Good Time To Shine: Ingo’s Charleston earned rave reviews from the judges. “You had a few boo-boos, but it worked with the dance!” Carrie-Ann proclaimed. Len called it “his best dance of the season” and he had the score to prove it: 27/30.
She’s An Olympian, Duh: If you didn’t know Aly’s backstory, then you haven’t been paying attention to this season or to last year’s Olympics, where she won more medals than any other gymnast on a team that won, like, all the gold medals.
The Afro-Jazziest: DWTS is a world where nothing can be understate or implied or subtle, so, of course, with the word “Afro” in the title, the dance had to be performed in (glittered) grass skirts on a tiger-striped floor with giant African inspired masks decorating the set. The most surprising thing with all the cultural clichés on display was that they didn’t dance to “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King.
Sassiest Bergeron-ism: When Len noted that he thought Mark and Aly were a little isolated on the dance floor, Tom of all people sassed back to the judge, “When you do Afro-jazz are you more connected?” They earned a 29/30.
Lindy Hoppiest: While Jacoby earned a perfect score for his tango, the judges had to give him a 30 at some point to prove he is a contender, when the truth is, he is made for slightly wacky free form dances like the Lindy hop. Len declared, “It was high energy, full on and fabulous!” with Bruno adding, “You got everybody powered up, including me.”
Most Honest Reaction: Brooke Burke Charvat tried to get Jacoby to talk about the obstacles he overcame to win a Super Bowl ring, but Jacoby was panting too hard from his dance to respond choosing instead to blurt, “Right now, I am not joking, I am dead.” 29/30
Most Surprising Back Story: Apparently, 16-year old Disney star Zendaya was an incredibly shy kid who quietly watched from the sidelines.
Scratch Carrie Underwood, Most Surprising Guest Star: Kobe Bryant, yes, Kobe of the LA Lakers popped on screen as a Zendaya booster.
The Hippest Hop: “That was so cool it gives me chills,” Bruno said about Zendaya’s hiphop routine, adding, “Zendaya forever!” Even Len, the ballroom traditionalist, couldn’t help but be impressed, “I thought it was wonderful.” 30/30