It seems like several past routines have been just as strong and scored lower. Here are three examples of what we mean.
Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya, Season 10
Evan & Anna only got 8s for this Footloose routine. The judges were brutal with their comments. This wasn't what they wanted to see. Bruno Tonioli thought Evan looked like he had a "screw loose" rather than being "Footloose." Carrie Ann Inaba said simply, "That was odd." It didn’t seem THAT bad from here.
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani, Season 8
This energetic routine is all lifts and tricks and everything you expect in a Freestyle. It's set to "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" and the audience was really into it. So why did it get straight 9s? Carrie Ann called the choreography "disjointed." Len Goodman didn't get it. The cheerleader thing wasn't his cup of tea, he said. Which is weird, since both Chelsea Kane and Kym Johnson did cheerleader stuff this season and he gave them 10s.
Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough, Season 10
Nicole & Derek went on to win the season, but only after getting straight 9s for this routine. Did this Freestyle deserve the same score as Kirstie & Maks? Should extenuating circumstances like Kirstie's age and Nicole's natural ability come into play or should it just be about the routine? (If age is meant to be a factor, Buzz Aldrin should’ve gotten 9s from the start of Season 10.) It seems like this dance is pretty similar to what Chelsea just did with Mark. Sure, Nicole & Derek had an awkward lift at the end, but overall it was no worse than anything on Season 12.