Dancing with the Stars Week 9: AJ McLean & Cheryl Burke Eliminated on Icons Night


For icons night on Dancing with the Stars,  the final seven will honor their favorite musical icons by performing dances to the icons’ hits. The cold open was a perfume commercial parody that talked about icons as people who “have a Grammy you’re too famous to care about” and “others want to bring back as a hologram.” LOL.

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Justina Machado and Sasha Farber
Dance/Song: Rumba / “Crazy For You” by Madonna
How They Did:
 The song choice is incredible for a rumba, but Justina is not quite sure how to dance something so slow that feels like it should be faster. She rushes a bit at the beginning, but eventually, she settles in really well and even lets some sexiness ooze out. At the end of the dance, she pulls off an impressive floor sequence. But the semi-finals are next week and the judges are getting more critical — they thought Justina could have been sharper.
Score: 24/30 

Nelly and Daniella Karagach
Dance/Song: Jazz / “California Love” by Tupac
How They Did:
Well, who knew that jazz was what we needed for Nelly to really show off some slick moves — he even does a backflip! This is a ton of fun, though it’s way more hip hop-y than jazz. But the judges don’t ding him for that. They do ding him for missing a few steps here and there, which is fair, but overall, they are very pleased with Nelly’s performance.
Score: 24/30 

AJ McLean and Cheryl Burke
Dance/Song: Viennese Waltz / “Somebody to Love” by Freddie Mercury

How They Did: This song is surprisingly good for the Viennese waltz, and AJ and Cheryl are adorable together, but there are a few problems here. AJ loses the steps a few times and he also isn’t quite as graceful as, say, Johnny Weir. But he does his best and is obviously trying very hard.
Score: 23/30  

Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev
Dance/Song: Argentine Tango / “Toxic” by Britney Spears

How They Did: This is another great dance/song combo. Also, this easily Kaitlyn’s best performance on the show so far. She absolutely nails this — her legs are sharp, her facials are fierce and there is some heat between her and Artem. Beautiful, especially the lifts they pull off. The lifts make the degree of difficulty really high (or at least look really high). Thankfully, the judges are in complete agreement.
Score: 30/30  

Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart 
Dance/Song: Quickstep / “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse
How They Did:
 The quickstep is triiiiicky dance, but if anybody can nail it, it’s Johnny. And then he does! It was so delightful that I just sat there and didn’t type a thing. I was captivated by the spirit and fun. Outstanding — really, really good technical quickstep. This was easily on par with Kaitlyn’s tango and thankfully the judges recognize that.
Score: 30/30  

Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten 
Dance/Song: Paso Doble / “If” by Janet Jackson
How They Did:
 SKai definitely deserves to be in the semi-finals, but part of her problem honestly is that she’s not as known to the voters of this show because she’s so young and on the Disney Channel — and this routine isn’t going to help her connect with the voting demographic. It’s great, she does a wonderful job on the actual steps and that spin on the floor was fierce. But it feels angry rather than fun and the red light is so jarring, plus the music is too harsh. Skai may not be around when the elimination rolls around.
Score:  27/30

Nev Schulman and Jenna Johnson
Dance/Song: Jive / “Saturday Night” by Elton John

How They Did: Nev is already a frontrunner, but he cements his status with this high-stepping, lightning-quick jive. He and Jenna look absolutely spectacular in their outfits and the amount of jive content crammed into this couple of minutes is impressive. Super sharp.
Score: 27/30

The Dance-Off

Nev and Jenna have immunity from the dance-off because they’ve done so well this season, but they are not immune from the bottom two. The pairings for the dance-off are as follows: Justina versus Kaitlyn on the cha cha, Nelly versus Skai on the salsa, and AJ versus Johnny on the jive.

The Justina/Kaitlyn cha cha, “Telephone” by Lady Gaga and Beyonce
This is hardly fair. They act like it’s going to be a real dogfight, but it’s not. Kaitlyn mops the floor with Justina. Justina has a lot of fun and is really high energy, but Kaitlyn is technically so much stronger. She wins the two bonus points.

The Nelly/Skai salsa, “The Cup of Life” by Ricky Martin
This isn’t really fair to use with a male and female amateur because the salsa is a dance where the man can be very mediocre and you don’t notice if the woman is flashy enough. So Nelly’s dance looks deceptively good even though he’s not doing that much while Skai is dancing her butt off. Luckily, the judges recognize how incredible Skai was and award her the bonus points.

The AJ/Johnny jive, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by WHAM
OK, confession time — I love this song so much and the jive is PERFECT for it. And then both men are SO GOOD. Johnny is the superior dancer just by virtue of his background, but AJ does a really good job too! They should get to split the points, but whoa! AJ gets the bonus points. Wow. That is really great, good for him. 

Elimination: The bottom two end up being Johnny and AJ. Wow. That’s a real shame coming on the heels of their jive dance-off. The judges are very torn, but Bruno Tonioli saves Johnny, Derek Hough saves AJ, and Carrie Ann Inaba saves Johnny, so AJ McLean is going home.

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 Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.  



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