Dancing with the Stars, Season 27, Week 7: Country Night
Evanna & Keo get their first 30 as Juan Pablo & Cheryl get their third; the season’s first two male celebrity eliminees include another shock.
The Country Music Awards are next Wednesday, and ABC is doing its level best to get us to care. Not only is it country night on Dancing with the Stars, they’ve even brought multiple singers in for live performances. They’ll cut away from the dancers to them for seconds during it, which is kind of annoying. Introducing everyone and the two teams that’ll end the night means there isn’t time for the opening number to be that long, though. And though it was announced beforehand, they actually don’t even mention the double elimination until the dancing’s already underway!
Oh course, we’ve got two members of the cast also tied to country music, so we start with the guy who’s sung it:
John Schneider & Emma Slater: Jazz; “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” John Denver
The fluff presents his musical resume, of course, but it’s mostly about his divorce. It’s very obviously done to make our sympathy entirely with him, and he thanks the show for making him happy. And it’s that joy that drives this routine, allowing him to stand out even with extra dancers on the floor. His technique still may not be perfect, but for the most part his hits the steps well in this one, and he has the right flair for them. Bruno states the obvious: this music brought out the best in him. Len just declares, “That’s how you start the show,” and breaks out a Nine. Eights from the other two mean 25.
Evanna Lynch & Keo Motsepe: Rumba; “Every Little Thing” Carly Pierce performing live
Both Evanna & Keo come from countries that don’t have country music. But Evanna connects hard with this song, saying the story about remembering a former love reminds her of a painful breakup she suffered. The routine seems through its choreography to even cast Keo as the memory of her former lover, and their interaction is perfect. So is her own performance, which she nails both technically and emotionally. When it’s over, Bruno is among those standing. Carrie Ann describes her as becoming a true dancer, and it looks like there’s going to be some Tens. And there’s more than that: there’s a perfect 30!
Juan Pablo di Pace & Cheryl Burke: Charleston; “One Shot” Hunter Hayes
Juan Pablo, being Latin America, also took a while to get exposed to country music. In fact, Cheryl gets worried enough about his “country swagger” she takes him line-dancing. This is a group dance as well, with everyone gathered around a pick up truck. Juan Pablo’s his usual attention-grabbing self from the moment he starts dancing in the truck bed, and from there it’s more of his usual great technique and chemistry with Cheryl, but there’s his own bland of swagger as well. “Is there anything you can’t do?” Carrie Ann asks, Bruno calls them “better than FedEx: they always deliver,” and it’s another perfect score.
Joe Amabile & Jenna Johnson: Tango; “Burning Man” Dierks Bentley feat. Brothers Osborne
The fluff is all about Joe being more confident, and possibly overconfident, though some of that may be tongue in cheek. At least one hopes so, because he isn’t as good this week as he was the last one. He has trouble with the footwork, his technique is still a major problem, and when Jenna puts them in a dramatic setup with strobe lights, the general scene and mood of the dance completely overshadows him. The judges praise him for going for it, and Bruno does a weird ramble involving Mad Max, but they admit it wasn’t that well done, and the scores are only straight Sevens for a total of 21.
Milo Manheim & Witney Carson: Foxtrot; “Born to Love You” LANCO performing live
Witney is a huge fan of country music. Milo, who’s a songwriter, has less history with the genre, but he takes to it during the week, even composing a country song for her in the fluff: nothing spectacular, but very sweet of him. The routine itself is pure dancing, since Milo’s good enough for that. But LANCO’s exuberant live performance adds a layer of excitement and emotional buildup, and with strong connection between song and dancing. Carrie Ann and Bruno only rave, and break out the Tens. Len sympathetically tells Milo he has to refine his leg action, so only gives a Nine, leaving them with 29.
DeMarcus Ware & Lindsay Arnold: Viennese Waltz; “Tennessee Waltz” Chris Stapleton
There’s a bit of farm fluff, with DeMarcus revealing he worked on one during summers as a college student, and Lindsay also calls him the “ultimate southern gentleman.” That means, she insists to him, he should be able to lead her on the floor this week. And he absolutely does so, waltzing her about the ballroom floor with a very serious feeling of romance in the air. This is another content heavy routine, which we already knew he was good at doing. Carrie Ann calls it “so dynamic and so poetic,” Bruno tells him he dances like a true gentlemen, and they give him straight Nines for 27.
Alexis Ren & Alan Bersten: Samba; “Ladies in the 90s” Lauren Alaina
The fans weren’t impressed with the showmance last week, but they still go with it. The fluff puts them on horseback, has Alan confess to his feelings, and shows their first kiss. It would be ridiculous-except for the full-face smiles on both of them. Which carry over into the dance, which is mostly pure dancing and a lot of connection and happiness between the two of them. Bruno calls them “a match made in samba heaven” and he and Len rave-then Carrie Ann accuses her of being ahead of the beat, even as the men indignantly yell that she wasn’t. So that’s another Nine and two Tens, and another 29.
Bobby Bones & Sharna Burgess: Viennese Waltz; “Can’t Help Falling in Love” Chris Janson performing live
From the singer to the “superfan” tonight, and Bobby also talks in the fluff about how he first gave Janson his big break by playing a song he’d sent him on his radio show. This week is important to him. Maybe a little too much so: trying to do a hard routine, he’s definitely tense at first, and makes a couple of footwork errors. But there are moments of emotion in the dance that are truly beautiful. The judges praise his ambition, and when Len calls it his best, Bobby offers to kiss him if gets an Eight. And while he initially raises his Seven paddle, it’s straight Eights for 24, and he kisses him and Bruno both.
Since they’re the most popular celebrities this year, the show reverses its usual practice of the team dances, and makes the team captain the lowest surviving celebrities. So Bobby Bones leads Team Hay Now, and was the one who also has to deal with John & Emma, and with Milo & Witney and Evanna & Keo as the stronger dances. Team Joe Down, meanwhile, includes both Juan Pablo & Cheryl and DeMarcus & Lindsay, as well as Alexis & Alan.
Team Hay Now: Freestyle “9 to 5” Dolly Parton
Bobby admits freely during the fluff he’s the worse dancer present. One suspects he may have been response for the setting too, putting a song about a working girl randomly on a farm, and including way too much corny things, including a pair of plastic cows. But the actual choreography is a bit better than that, not having been solos but showcasing everyone. And everyone dances extremely well, get the sync with each other down and shining when it’s their turn to. “A country triumph,” Bruno declares, and all three judges rave so much you think this’ll be straight Tens. Except it isn’t; Len only gives a Nine. So 29 points will ultimately leave Evana & Keo the winners with 59, Milo & Witney with 58, John & Emma with 54, and Bobby & Sharna with 53.
Team Joe Down: Freestyle “Country Girl (Shake it for Me)” Luke Bryan
Joe’s continuing on from the previous fluff, calling himself the best dancer present, and this is his favorite song. They set it in a Western Salon where men can get barechested, and things can get kind of sexy in general, unlike in the previous wholesome routine. At least it’s less corny. But while more difficult than the other routine, it’s also less well done, with a few sync issues, and when Joe was showcased in front of the judges, his mistakes were glaring. And maybe the choreography was less smart as well, with Carrie Ann saying it was hard to keep track of what they were doing. She and Bruno only give Nines, and Len an Eight for 26. Juan Pablo & Cheryl finished with 56, Alexis & Alan with 55, DeMarcus & Lindsay with 53, and Joe & Jenna with 47.
“This doesn’t feel right,” Erin says about the double elimination. But the semi-finals are next week and eight couples are lined up; they pretty much have to do it. As John & Emma are called in jeopardy, we think at least one male should go, and we shouldn’t lose both the remaining female ones. But the second couples that guarantees it are DeMarcus & Lindsay! Then again, after the negative reaction to Alexis & Alan last week, we figured we would lose them anyway-but the last couple in jeopardy is the other lady left and her partner, Evanna & Keo! At this point, you figure John & Emma are probably gone, but which team goes with them? With their strong history, you’d expect DeMarcus & Lindsay to be the ones Tom calls safe…
But instead, it’s Evanna & Keo. We’ve lost two male celebrities, which was a bit overdue, but one of them we really did not want to lose. “At least you went out on a high,” Tom says, as DeMarcus and John both reiterate how good an experience this has been for them. And then Tom tells everyone to vote tomorrow, which is good of him.
Voting here just might be important too. Especially since with six couples in the semi-finals, they’re going to have at least a double elimination, and possibly even another triple one.