Tonight was Rock Week — and time, Tom Bergeron said, to turn the stage into The Glitter Dome. Instead of the middle of glitter on the Staircase Of Horror, we were greeted by a guy-linered guitarist playing riffs and the announcement that we were going to have to sit through some fluff to get to the "rock-inspired Tangos and Paso dobles."
The filler this week was the "Top 10 Dances of All Times."Oy. Number 10 was a reminder that Mark Ballas loves him some mask-action — a.k.a., his Season 8 winning freestyle with Shawn Johnson. Number 9 was Donnie Osmond’s Season 9 Tango with Kym Johnson; number 8 was Helio Castroneves’ Season 5 Quickstep with Julianne Hough, like we all really completely remembered the dance and not the Dick Tracy suit. Number 7 was Apollo Ohno’s Freestyle with Julianne Hough. Then it was time for a commercial break, natch, followed by number 6: Joana’s Krupa’s futuristic Paso Doble with Derek Hough. Number 5 was Mel B’s and Maks’ Paso from Season 5. Number 4 was Nicole Scherzinger’s 50s-style Paso with Derek from last season; and, then, of course it was time to pay some more bills. Back at number 3 was Apollo Ohno’s Season 4 Samba with Julianne Hough. Number 2 was the Season 8 Tango between Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke; and, finally, it was time to reveal that the number 1 dance — Drew Lachey’s Freestyle with Cheryl Burke from Season 2. Only then did they let the dancers from this season take the stage -— and you know when we’re looking forward to Bristol hitting the floor, it was an interminable opening segment.
Audrina & Tony
Tony then tried to teach Audrina — "a sweet wholesome person"— intensity, which didn’t work. So, he took her to some boxing lessons where she punched a dummy with Bruno’s face taped to it. Before the commercial break, we paused to roll our eyes at everything about that rehearsal segment.
In order to look "intense"during their Paso to "Another One Bites The Dust" (a poor musical choice), Audrina added tons of eyeliner and a definitive pout. What she lost by adding that, was the fluidity of her arms in the opening sequence and the punctuation in her feet the dance required, making the whole thing look stilted in a way we hadn’t quite seen before. It had its moments of power and sensuality — but in the biggest moment where they were almost there, Audrina got a mouthful of hair and broke the dance to pull it out.
Len said she was getting on his nerves because she had the potential to be a great dancer but, week after week, was missing the character except for during the Waltz. Bruno agreed with Len, saying she needed to get to the next stage. Carrie Ann agreed, but said that she had a great deal of technical improvement — but she lacked the "intention behind the movement.”
The judges awarded them unanimous 8s, for a total of 24.
Kyle & Lacey
In order to help push Kyle out of class clown mode (though we like him that way!), Lacey decided it would help to have him dance at home with his brother wearing one of her shirts. Maybe it was to get it out of his system? He thought it helped.
In yet another odd choice, Kyle and Lacey ended up Tangoing to Adam Lambert’s "If I Had You"and if the drag-inspired practice sessions were intended to get the comedy out of Kyle’s system, it worked: it was the least Kyle-esque performance to date. His posture was good, his arms weren’t flippity-floppity, his toes were pointed, his footwork was reasonably tight, and his demeanor was way more realistically intense than Rick Fox’s the other week. There were no major lifts — goodness knows I wouldn’t probably trust him not to drop me, either — but if the judges wanted less "Kyle,"they got it.
Bruno loved his footwork, his posture and his arms — but noted his slight error. Carrie Ann loved his carriage and his Kyle-ness, but also noted the error. Len noticed that he worked hard and the dance was better: He said Kyle always brings performance but that this week he was able to bring more of a balance on the technique side.
Carrie Ann and Bruno gave them 8s and Len a 7, for a total of 23.
Jennifer & Derek
Derek blamed last week’s performance on Jennifer’s "not connecting" to the Foxtrot — but that her intensity would lend itself better to the Paso. And, if rehearsals were any indication (or, at least, the glimpse we got from producers!), he seemed to be right. And she seemed to be more ready both to push her limits and to get back into the performance.
In what we are just going to have to accept was a week full of terrible song choices, Jennifer & Derek were "gifted"with P!nk’s "So What," which they and Jennifer’s massive set of hair extensions used to maximum effect. She definitely seemed to be having more fun this week, singing along with the song, bringing the right attitude, and even cracking a smile at the one point where it might be appropriate...right up until the end, where she lost the footwork in a spin, laughed at her mistake, missed another handhold, and nearly missed the final dip. Ouch.
Carrie Ann told her to calm down, adding that the dance was "disjointed," her leg came off the ground and she was all over the place. Len said they got aggression but lost the control. Bruno said that she had the rage right but she lost the quality of movement.
Len and Bruno gave them 7s and Carrie Ann gave them a 6, for a total of 20. Yipes.
Rick & Cheryl
Rick wanted an analysis of the steps, but Cheryl told him to stop analyzing the steps and start feeling the flow and the emotion. But then she gave him this weird faux-hawk with a grey streak, which didn’t help him look sexy in the bumper to commercial.
After that, though, in the first not-perplexing song choice (Van Halen’s "You Really Got Me"), the faux-hawk, the guyliner, the overwrought vest-with-tails thing, and Rick’s pronounced sneer all darn well worked together. Performance? Heck yeah. He lost the carriage at moments, but he looked fine all the while. It was the first music-dance-couple combination of the night that really, really worked.
Len liked the hold and posture and thought he did an excellent job. Bruno loved the intensity, but feared it lacked a little romance. Carrie Ann did amazing by missing the intensity of the performance with the Tango. She did worry that he was occasionally too stern, though.
Backstage, it was clear that Rick had resisted the tyranny of manscaping this week, and we swooned a little. Down with manscaping! The judges awarded them unanimous 8s for a total of 24.
Bristol & Mark
Just before the reminder-rehearsal segment started, Bristol & Mark played like rock stars backstage, where the world discovered that Bristol has a tongue like Gene Simmons. Whoa. Then they decided to go air-guitar in their Tango. Yikes.
Why the producers saved all the good song choices for the end, we’ll never know, but tangoing to Orianthe’s "According To You" was a great idea. The guitar solo was just about the only time Bristol broke her stern face. The footwork was decent, except for a few catch-up steps in the fast part, and the carriage super-accurate — but in a song that goes, in part, "According to you I'm difficult, hard to please ... But according to him I'm beautiful, incredible," you would think she could at least manage a triumphant look directed at ex Levi Johnston, who told Bill Maher on Friday that he was rooting for her (but was a "big fan"of Trojans these days).
Bruno called it her best performance and technique to date. Carrie Ann was equally keen on the performance. Len, however, said he’d have to drop them a point for breaking their hold for the air guitar segment.
Carrie Ann and Bruno gave them 8s and Len a 7, for a total of 23.
Kurt & Anna
Kurt, of course, found the Paso and the rocker attitude hard to squeeze out of Kurt so she, too, brought in some assistance in the form of, no lie, Bret Michaels. He proceeded to dress Kurt up like a giant version of himself. It was a little creepy.
In a sign that the producers hadn’t completely lost their minds but were keen to shake up the leaderboard, Kurt & Anna got to Paso to Europe’s "The Final Countdown." Anna did a magnificent job hiding Kurt’s hands as much as she could, and an even better job coaching him how to hold them to minimize their size. If his posture wasn’t perfect the entire time, he nonetheless managed to give a powerful, dominant performance where he hands didn’t look like dinner plates and his footwork looks pretty fine.
Carrie Ann called the dance scruffy — she said she admired him for the commitment to the character but it didn’t come together. Len agreed that it didn’t come off and he felt awkward watching it. Bruno said it was clear that the intensity was there but that the lines of his arm movements were more karate than Spanish dancing.
The judges awarded them all 6s for a total of 18, to the continuing, loud boos of the audience.
Brandy & Maks
Brandy & Maks were back to arguing this week, and she was back to feeling frustrated and emotional. But the emotion, Maks thought, helped bring more passion to the Tango and he told Brandy, "Trust in us as a couple." Oh, really?
Tangoing to — again, a far superior song choice than in the first half — Bonnie Tyler’s "I Need A Hero," Brandy& Maks had passion, intensity, difficult choreography, and sheer sex appeal. Brandy also had good posture, tight footwork and a lot of fun throwing Maks around the dance floor. Who wouldn’t, really? And she knew she nailed it.
Len called Maks "his hero" and it "the dance of the night." Bruno agreed it was great. Carrie Ann said it gave her goosebumps, despite a few tiny missteps.
Len and Bruno gave them 9s and Carrie Ann an 8, for a total of 26.
The couples were allowed the do moves from the jive, swing dance and Lindy hop, with legal lifts allowed. And once there are four pairs left, they’re allowed to break formation and start to crowd people out.
Kurt & Anna were the first out, even though Kurt looked pretty cute. Bristol & Mark were next, even as Audrina apeared to be dancing in slo-mo. Nonetheless, Rick & Cheryl were next. Then it was time for Kyle & Lacey to head on out, despite watching Audrina mouth the steps. Finally, Audrina was called out, leaving a panting Jennifer & Brandy to duke it out amongst themselves. With Jennifer’s energy clearly flagging and Brandy & Maks making the most of their mutual unwillingness to capitulate to anything — fatigue, this time, instead of one another — Jennifer & Derek got second, leaving the extra 10 points to Brandy and Maks.
That left the leaderboard as follows:
Kurt & Anna: 18 +4 = 22
Bristol & Mark: 23 +5 =28
Jennifer & Derek: 20 +9 = 29
Rick & Cheryl: 24 +6 =30
Kyle & Lacey: 23 +7 =30
Audrina & Tony: 24 +8 =32
Brandy & Maks: 26 +10 =36