The five couples take on absurdly non-ballroom styles in the semifinals. Plus: sparkle-infused champagne. Let's party!

By Annie Barrett
Updated May 14, 2013 at 05:40 AM EDT
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Dancing With the Stars

S16 E16
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It’s the semifinals! Time to abandon ballroom dancing as we know it and watch Mark Ballas presents The Lion King!

Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhh-ber!

Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: 30/30 Argentine tango + 29/30 Lindy Hop = 59/60 These two are officially the most-bleeped couple of season 16 during rehearsal footage, and that’s not even counting Sunday’s camera blocking session, at which Karina landed on her jaw during a Lindy Hop lift. (Sorry, I know this is serious stuff, but I kept thinking of Cher from Clueless describing her mother’s death: “Freak accident during a routine liposuction!”)

Krazy K decided to put her neck on the line and dance anyway, of course, and she positively shimmered in their round 1 Argentine tango. I could barely remove my eyes from the sparkly purple netting on her headpiece, let alone her body, especially as she slithered down Jacoby mid-lift as the music slowed. Hooray for all the “upbeat orchestra” tango music tonight, by the way! Lyrics can be so bothersome. Seriously.

This tango didn’t quite do it for me — I loved the platform setting, their costumes, and the music, but it seemed to have everything but the timing. I found him slightly sloppy in the background of Karina’s extreme polish. I didn’t see the “slick, clean, prowling predator” that Bruno did. I mean, I know they gotta give Jacoby a 30 at some point so that he’s firmly established as a contendah (not a pretendah!) in next week’s finals. But I actually thought Jacoby’s second dance, the Lindy Hop, was much more impressive. Not only did it electrify the ballroom in a very real way, but….

HAROLD WHEELER SPOKE! The band leader convincingly scolded Jacoby and Karina to quit being not-so-hidden gems as part of the brass section at the top of the Lindy Hop. “Get out of here… now!!!” He really sold me. The man has gotta protect his band from the Sparkalien species, who probably just want to use Team Harold’s jacuzzi (a figment of Tom’s imagination…or a real thing?) to treat their various injuries.

Unbelievably, Jacoby and Karina executed lifts just as freaky and complicated as the one that had given them trouble during rehearsal. From her adorable purple-toed flats, to the little number 12 on his left sleeve, to the speed of the dance that fit the NFL star like a sequined glove, this dance was pretty perfect to me.

“Without a doubt, I vote you the number one entertainer of season 16!” proclaimed Carrie Ann after the Lindy Hop — and this was much more eloquent than her first critique, which was NOTHING…just an apology for getting “all heated up again” and some contrived writhing. Tom, pressed for time, had to just be like, Okay, no. Enough now. “I think that said volumes,” he assured her, shooing the dancers away. “That said it all.”

Mama Jacoby, by the way, was remarkably subdued this week for someone with a sparkly ’10’ paddle. ***SPARKLEBARF ALERT*** After seeing all those photos of Jacoby and his mom during his Overcoming Obstacles segment, I had a sudden surge of love for her and no longer find her so annoying. Ah, the magic of editing…and timing. Happy belated Mother’s Day to that enthusiastic weirdo!

NEXT: Most Improved Player Aly Raisman has perfected the seething hug Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas: 30/30 rumba + 29/30 afro jazz = 59/60 Sometimes I think the judges try to force the “personal growth” arc, but I see it in Aly. She’s technically just as talented as ever, but the difference between week 1’s robotic stiffness and week 9’s relaxed vulnerability is significant. She’s hamming it up like never before (Mark must be so proud) and readily flings herself into those “seething hugs” mid-rehearsal. You know the ones I’m talking about, right? Where apparently the best way to convey SEXY is to get really ANGRY that you’re about to wrap your arms around someone? You totally know what I mean. Aly can do that now without laughing at herself. She’s come so far! Most improved dancer of the season!

Kudos to the costumers for finding Aly her most flattering look yet — I loved the raspberry-to-indigo gradient on the drapery wrapped around her black rumba bodice. Her shiny little gymnast booties made me a bit sad, but hey, if that’s what makes her comfortable, let’s just go with it. Flats City. The sensuality of the rumba can really trip people up, but Aly was ready for it. “You were all woman out there!” cried Carrie Ann, while Bruno insisted Aly had transformed into a butterfly.

Break out the loincloth, elaborate headdresses, and paper-punch dots for the face, because it’s time for Afro Jazz! Sure the costumes were trite and stereotypical, but they were nothing a severe eye roll and hearty swig of Project Paso red wine couldn’t fix. Aly rocked this dance, whatever the heck it was. I was exhausted after seeing even those two-second snippets of her Olympic workouts — so by the time she finished this 90-second Adventures in Athleticism display, I was sweating by association. Thank God for my recapping ice cream which was sitting right there to cool me off!

“QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE!” announced Bruno. Aly was at times a warrior princess, at times a bird of paradise. You know Mark was jealous that all of these comparisons weren’t aimed his way as well.

Len thought the dance caused Aly and Mark to “isolate each other a little bit,” which was absolutely true, but of course the crowd freaked out. “MY VIEWS ARE ONLY MY OPINION!” roared the head judge as Carrie Ann helpfully chirped “Old school….New school!” to delineate the great age difference between them.

Oh, people. I know it’s on TV and all, but this is still supposed to be a ballroom dancing competition. If the only ballroom traditionalist is gonna get booed after an Afro Jazz sendup to The Lion King for merely announcing the definition of a point of view, we might just need to call the whole thing off. Everyone please behave.

NEXT: The Fast and the Furious, Dancing Crayons Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: 30/30 Argentine tango + 28/30 flamenco = 58/60 Ooooooh, yes. That Argentine tango definitely deserved a 30 — much more than Jacoby’s, or Aly’s rumba, if you ask me. The only gripe I have about it is that against the hazy red background, Kellie’s moves were difficult to make out once she and Derek progressed beyond Silhouette Land. But oh my! Her lines in silhouette were so perfect. This was a cool callback to Derek and Ricki Lake’s Psycho tango from season 13…but better! Some of those lifted, split-leg spins were so quick I thought my DVR might have launched into fast-forward mode without my permission. (Like Mark, it was just really excited for Afro Jazz.) “Like watching Chita Rivera!” cried Bruno.

Kellie’s Overcoming Obstacles package was so sweet and inspiring (with guest appearances from Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and her often-jailed dad) that I wanted her best dance to be smushed up against it. The flamenco was not that. I’m sure Derek choreographed a true-to-form routine, but Kellie was visibly straining under the pressure of the week and the weight of her thousand-pound ruffly white dress. I got annoyed by all the clapping — yes, I understand it’s part of the dance; I deserve death! — and just wanted this particular round of the Feats of Strength to be over.

Bruno held up what Tom called “a Freudian paddle” — a 10 instead of the 9 he’d written down post-flamenco. Bruno may have been scoring Derek’s shirtless/suspenders combo instead of the dance. Happens to all of us, though I probably would have gone with a “seh-vehhhhhhhn!” to show solidarity with the burdened-by-too-much-fabric Kellie.

Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy: 25/30 quickstep + 30/30 hip hop = 55/60 Whaaaaat was this quickstep? The race car concept was really fun, but woof, those costumes.They looked like giant crayons! I could barely detect that Zendaya and Val were performing any dance at all amidst my great marvel, and concern, that these crayons had butts. That’s all I looked at the whole time: their butts. Two fine butts, to be sure — undulating fiercely in their deceptively loose-fitting polyester sausage casings. I’m sorry! But this is not my fault! Blame the person who thought of the crayon costumes! I’m sure Zendaya makes a fabulous quickstepper. We will simply never know. Crayon butts.

Big dress-up night for Val, actually — he was hilariously out of his element, and hotter than ever I might add, in that hip hop routine, but the teacher-cum-student made the transition work, big-time. There’s no use in wondering WHY the teenager who’s a professional hip-hop dancer got to dance a hip-hop routine in the semifinals of a ballroom dancing competition. All you need to know is that one-time Nutella spokesperson Kobe Bryant can vouch for her, and also Val looks hot in nerd glasses and pink All-Stars. That’s pretty much it. You’re cool with that, right?

NEXT: I’m a monster, and Ingo Rademacher looks super hot in Just a Vest I was always a little iffy on Zendaya, but her Overcoming Quasi-Obstacles package really sold me this week. Learning that she was a shy kid who made a better observer than a performer was so endearing, and helped explain her goofy/relaxed/self-aware vibe. I’d sort of been viewing her as a Disney product with no real soul, which was superficial of me. (Not surprising, though. You just read that thing about the butts. I’m an asshole!) Her 6’4″ mom is the best — the total opposite of your aggressive, cliched stage mom. Have I drunk the Kool-Aid? Whatever. I like the girl.

Anyway, along with stodgy old Len, I was relieved that this hip-hop routine erred on the “Pop” side of hip-hop (So You Think You Can Dance fans know the safe, music video-esque style I’m talking about) instead of the “crash-banging tension” the head judge expected. “There was a real cheekiness going on,” Len said. “Great rhythm.” And Val made sure to keep the rhythm alive with an adorable sideways Moonwalk on the way up to Brookebot Mountain.

Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson: 24/30 samba + 27/30 Charleston = 51/60 This week Kym and Ingo took their State of the Union chat outside, after-school special-style, because nothing says “Underdogs” like a BLEAK BRICK WALL. Their training package offered beautiful highs and lows. Ingo had put in extra hours — would he peak at the right time?

Sort of! Costuming-wise, YES. “Just a vest” is an amazing look on any fit, spray-tanned male, which is just one of the thousands of lessons I’ve learned from Dancing With the Stars. That all-black getup for his samba and the pink tie and brim-ribbon (on his hat from the Gavin DeGraw Collection) in the Charleston somehow both offset his ice-blue eyes perfectly. I realize I haven’t mentioned Ingo’s technique. Well, if I must! His hip action on the samba — though admirably jerked forth — was a bit awkward, and the pair appeared to be playing catch-up with the music during the final series of dips.

The Charleston was more Ingo’s speed, for sure, and Kym wisely made use of both his great frame and a static-y sepia-toned opening section. Len called this Ingo’s best dance without really explaining why — I think Len just might really, really like champagne. And who doesn’t, especially when it comes in a Peanut Rademacher-sized bottle and shoots out glitter upon corkage? Let’s party!

Two Speedo mentions tonight — I feel like this is an important thing to document on DWTS. Ingo’s wife Ehiku told the story of how they met — she was sitting on the Hawaiian sand with a friend and suddenly Ingo and his friend — both in Speedos — approached with the goods on display at eye level. “We were both like, ‘Hiiiiii….'” Ehiku remembered, ducking off to the side and shielding her eyes. She’s so cute!

Oh, and then Bruno announced that if Aly and Mark don’t make it to next week’s finals, “I’m gonna judge in Speedos.” Oh, Bruno. You know he actually wants to do this. Why not make the promise/threat to Ingo and Kym instead?

So who goes home tonight? Ingo, obviously, right? Discuss!

Nominate your hidden gems by 2 p.m. ET over on PopWatch.

XOXO,

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