Slip into some cowboy boots and grab yer partner because it’s ‘Country Night’ on Dancing With the Stars! This celebration of the music genre means lots of live performances from big country artists (it probably doesn’t hurt to have Bobby Bones as a contestant), and our first team dances of the season, all making the evening feel like a big party. But every party has a pooper, and that’s why DWTS invited a double elimination. Yes, there will be TWO couples going home this evening and most likely it’ll be someone you aren’t expecting. Hold on to your cowboy hats — it’s going to be a doozy.
John Schneider and Emma Slater
Jazz, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver
Well, I certainly did not expect to kick off ‘Country Night’ with tears in my eyes, but then John here starts talking about his awful divorce and how he misses his three kids, who he is constantly searching for in the audience Monday night and I need to reach for a plaid hanky. His jazz has nothing at all to do with that, so it’s a bit of a jolt to jump into this fun, quirky country routine — but it’s definitely the best way to kick off the theme of the night. Surprisingly, Len Goodman is the judge who enjoys the routine — complete with line dancing — the most: He thought it was full of fun and energy. Apparently, the dude is a sucker for a good hoe-down.
Judges’ Score: 25/30
Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe
Rumba, “Every Little Thing” with a live performance by Carly Pearce
Personal update: I’m still crying. This time it’s hearing Evanna talk about all the “colors” she has inside and that Keo sees them and is helping her let them out. You guys! This understated team is tugging at my heartstrings. Evanna was feeling quite emotional this week, too, thanks to Carly Pearce’s heartbreak ballad that hits close to home. She and Keo channel those emotions into a classic, “proper” rumba. Len goes gaga over the articulation in Evanna’s feet and the expressiveness in her hands, and Bruno and Carrie Ann can’t get over the transformation they’re seeing in Evanna. All of the rave reviews lead the couple to their first perfect score. Keo celebrates by planting a wet one on our head judge. Will this happen every time? Fingers crossed!
Judges’ Score: 30/30
Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke
Charleston, “One Shot” by Hunter Hayes
Juan Pablo and Cheryl are feeling great after their perfectly scored Halloween jive — more tutting, always! — but this week’s theme proves a little tricky since Juan Pablo has no idea how to embody a cowboy (I mean, I’m sure he does because, hello and welcome to earth, but we’ll go along with it FOR THE STORY), so he and Cheryl hit a honky tonk for some line dancing. The cowboy swagger comes through! More than that, Cheryl gives her partner some excellent choreography that really fuses the Charleston with country. Carrie Ann is at a loss for how to even critique Juan Pablo anymore, Bruno is impressed he could stay on beat with such a tough song, and Len applauds Cheryl for putting together a routine that perfectly marries the dance style with the musical genre. Okay, who else wants to dance in the back of pick-up truck now?
Judges’ Score: 30/30
Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson
Tango, “Burning Man” by Dierks Bentley ft. brothers Osbourne
Admittedly, I did not watch Joe’s turn on The Bachelorette or Bachelor in Paradise, but if this sarcastic, self-deprecating type of humor that Joe shows in his rehearsal package was what won fans over on those shows, like, I get it. Now that Joe has an 8 under his dancing belt, he “thinks” he’s a pro. He is not. Len calls Joe and Jenna’s tango “unstable” and his footwork “poor” (you can tell the head judge is holding back). Bruno then goes into some Mad Max fan fiction during his critique, which all basically leads to him saying the same thing as Carrie Ann: It just wasn’t as good as last week. So I guess Joe will be putting his “professional dancer sunglasses” away for a little while. It was fun while it lasted!
Judges’ Score: 21/30
Milo Manheim and Witney Carson
Foxtrot, “Born to Love You” with a live performance by LANCO
Milo is not a country guy, but he knows his partner Witney is a huge country music fan, so the kid grabs his guitar and writes her a little country ditty. It’s such a 17-year-old boy thing to do and that is not a complaint. The best line is definitely the one about Witney’s short legs and his long legs and more than making me laugh, it becomes very applicable to the judges’ critique of this foxtrot (which they loved). They’re all well aware that the considerable height difference between Milo and Witney makes things — especially ballroom styles — very difficult. Even with that difference, Milo and Witney nail this routine. It’s very sweet and Carrie Ann thinks Milo is the one to beat. Maybe he’ll write a country song about that now? For the finals? We deserve it.
Judges’ Score: 29/30
DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold
Viennese Waltz, “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton
DeMarcus has been waiting for this theme — he’s a country boy at heart! He grew up in Alabama and spent several summers of his life working on a chicken farm. There’s no video footage of this and for that, the world suffers. DeMarcus’s job this week is to be a leading man for Lindsay in this Viennese waltz. He needs to take control. You guys: He does. He’s so smooth and yes, such a Southern gentleman. The judges comment on how wonderful it is to watch him dance — for such a big guy he moves so softly, which is perfect for this style. Len wants DeMarcus to focus on his footwork, but Bruno praises the partner work, which was the main goal anyway. Footwork is for the birds! (Just kidding, footwork is everything.)
Judges’ Score: 27/30
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
Samba, “Ladies in the ’90s” with a live performance by Lauren Alaina
NO. HARD PASS, DWTS. I’m not even going into this on-going showmance drama because I am, as the kids say, not here for this. The excellent samba dancing? Yes, totally here for that. It’s hard not to have fun with Lauren Alaina back there singing this song, but Alan’s choreography doesn’t hurt either. Len is a huge fan: There was enough great and classic samba in there for him to declare it his favorite of the night. Bruno commends the two for getting the dreaded samba bounce down perfectly. Which means it’s up to Carrie Ann to rain on this parade: She thinks Alexis was ahead of the beat. I mean, it’s not a huge critique so everyone can, ahem, hold their horses with the booing. Sorry not sorry, I had to.
Judges’ Score: 29/30
Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess
Viennese Waltz, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” with a live performance by Chris Janson
If this night belongs to anyone, it belongs to Bobby Bones, King of Country radio. He and Sharna were disappointed with their Halloween Night scores, but are leaving those feelings in the past. It’s time to get their country on. They’re dancing a Viennese waltz to one of the most romantic songs of all time. How swoon-y was this entire thing (I mean, if we’re talking showmances…)? The lights! The fog! The Chris Janson! All three of the judges call Bobby out for looking a little tense and raising his shoulders, but mainly they’re fans. Bobby takes a pointer from Keo and declares that he’ll be giving Len a smooch for an 8, and wouldn’t ya know? Len is getting kisses all over the place. I told you this was romantic!
Judges’ Score: 24/30
TEAM DANCE ROUND
Team HayNow: Bobby & Sharna, Evanna & Keo, John & Emma, Milo & Witney
“9 to 5” by Dolly Parton
I mean, they were milking fake cows on stage. What more is there to say about this? What a hoot! Who doesn’t want to dance to a Dolly Parton song while in plaid shirts and booty shorts? Carrie Ann calls Bobby the MVP of this team dance, but I have to give it to Evanna, who has to keep up with three pro ladies. Len loves the whole thing but is withholding with his score. Thankfully Carrie Ann and Bruno are fully on board with #TeamHayNow, loved that everyone had a chance to shine, and score it appropriately. But also, never forget the cows.
Judges’ Score: 29/30
Team JoeDown: Joe & Jenna, DeMarcus & Lindsay, Alexis & Alan, Juan Pablo & Cheryl
“Country Girl” by Luke Bryan
We kick off this team’s rehearsal by having Joe remind everyone that clearly, he’s the best dancer. At least everyone’s in on the joke, right? I guess. He’s the one who really gets called out by the judges for making mistakes in the extremely-sexy-maybe-too-sexy-what-are-those-brown-shorts routine. Although overall the judges dock some points from everyone for being too chaotic. As Carrie Ann pointed out with #TeamHayNow, sometimes simpler is better.
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Has anyone else been dreading this double elimination? You just know some undeserving people are going to be cast aside. Even though I’m mentally prepared for that turn of events, I’m not emotionally prepared for Tom and Erin to inform us that John and Emma, DeMarcus and Lindsay, and Evanna and Keo are the three couples in jeopardy. WHAT IS THIS WORLD? There’s no good outcome here, but Evanna and Keo are sent to safety and we have to say good-bye to John and Emma and…do I have to write it? DeMarcus and Lindsay. And so I begin the night as I started it — crying.
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