Just about every performer on Monday’s episode of Dancing With the Stars had mighty big shoes to fill.
Andy Grammer had to perfect dance steps first made famous by Gene Kelly. Bindi Irwin had to master that lift from Dirty Dancing. Heck, even DWTS alumna Leah Remini had to take Erin Andrews’ place as this week’s sideline reporter — and boy, did she make Alexa PenaVega angry.
All things considered, though, the remaining competitors on Dancing’s 21st season rose to the occasion as they re-imagined famous dances in pop culture history, from John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever hip thrusts to Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike striptease.
Before we get to the results, let’s break down five of the evening’s most note-worthy routines:
BEST OF THE NIGHT
Tamar Braxton and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (Jazz, Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation”) — Tamar’s flawless footwork would have been enough to warrant a perfect score on Monday; the fact that she also lip-synced Janet Jackson’s lyrics for the entire performance was merely icing on the cake. Tamar was so committed to the jazz routine, in fact, that I nearly forgot she was an amateur performing among a gaggle of pros. Judges’ Score: 40/40
BEST OF THE NIGHT (RUNNER-UP)
Andy Grammer and pro Allison Holker (Jazz, Singin’ in the Rain) — As recently as two weeks ago, I would not have expected Andy to master such an intricate Gene Kelly homage — with a smile, at that! But the “Honey, I’m Good” singer managed to build on his momentum from last week’s Switch-Up, turning in a performance that was energetic, nostalgic and practically perfect. Judges’ Score: 40/40
LOOSEST INTERPRETATION OF THE DANCE STYLE
Carlos PenaVega and pro Witney Carson (Rumba, Magic Mike) — For all the hoopla surrounding the alleged awkwardness of Carlos and Witney’s routine, their rumba was still the most smoldering dance of the night by far. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it can actually be called a rumba, seeing as Witney was only on stage for about 60 percent of the routine. (Not that I’m complaining, though. Carlos’ body rolls would even have made Playing House’s Maggie jealous.) Judges’ Score: 38/40
Bindi Irwin and pro Derek Hough (Rumba, Dirty Dancing) — If that iconic Patrick Swayze/Jennifer Grey lift weren’t already a tall order to fill, Bindi and Derek did nothing to allay our (or each other’s) nerves in their pre-performance video package. (Derek, you’re not supposed to say that you don’t specialize in lifts!) Fortunately, even though Derek didn’t look like the sturdiest companion as he raised Bindi above his head, they managed to pull off the move under immense pressure. (After all, Johnny and Baby had weeks to practice!) Judges’ Score: 40/40
WORST OF THE NIGHT
Paula Deen and pro Louis van Amstel (Jazz, Madonna’s “Vogue” at the 1990 MTV VMAs) — Let me be clear: If I never have to watch Paula shove a male dancer’s face into her cleavage again, it will be too soon. (And whether or not she was channeling Madonna this week, let’s not pretend this is the first time Paula has gotten uncomfortably sexual with one of her dance partners.) Unfortunately, even without the motorboating incident, the routine consisted of little more than Paula getting pulled across the dance floor by the men. Oh, and hand motions. Lots and lots of hand motions. Judges’ Score: 24/40
TWO COUPLES IN JEOPARDY
Paula Deen and pro Louis van Amstel
Alexa PenaVega and pro Mark Ballas
Paula Deen and pro Louis van Amstel
OK, your turn. Were you happy to see Paula and Louis get the boot? Which Famous Dances routine stood out the most? Hit the comments!