There’s probably not a song on earth that clashes more with a ballroom dance than Little Big Town’s swampy single “Pontoon,” but ABC is airing the Country Music Association Awards on Thursday, so that means it’s Country Night! LBT appears at the beginning of “Dancing With the Stars” to perform their tune, and then it’s time to get to the dancers.
Actor Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd
Dance: Cha Cha
It’s time to choreograph a country dance, but Peta was born in New Zealand, and Gilles was born in France. They both stare at each other blankly upon sharing this information, so we’re guessing that means they didn’t grow up on a farm in their respective countries.
Regardless, Gilles decides to pretend to be a cowboy, though this week comes with an extra challenge — as we keep hearing about through Kelly Monaco’s complaints, having a day job makes “DWTS” rehearsals extra difficult. So Peta visits Gilles on the set of his show, ABC Family’s drama “Switched at Birth,” and forces to put down his peanut butter and jelly sandwich during break and practice moves.
Gilles wears a sheer long sleeve shirt and tight leather pants to dance along to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.” The performance is...okay, it’s actually kind of hard to concentrate on anything except Gilles’s super-shiny pants.
Time for the judges: Len says Gilles gave 100 perfect effort and attacked the dance, so basically doesn’t give much of an opinion. “Gilles, I don’t know what country that was, but I would like to pay a visit,” purrs Bruno. Carrie Ann straps herself into her chair (we don’t want a repeat of last week) before telling Gilles that the dance was super-classy, but he needs to watch weird arm movements.
Up in the Celebriquarium, Gilles gives a shout out to people on the East Coast affected by the hurricane, and tells everyone to stay safe, and that he hoped he provided entertainment for everyone who still has power.
Scores: 9, 9, 9.5 for a total of 27.5 points.
Actress Sabrina Bryan and Louis van Amstel
Sabrina gets emotional talking about the song choice, and shares that her ex-boyfriend was addicted to drugs, talking about how there was nothing she could do to help him. Louis gives her a big hug, and they plan to make the dance reflect the sadness in her story.
Sabrina floats through the dance pretty flawlessly, to Hunter Hayes love song “Wanted,” and has tears in her eyes at the end. Bruno raves about how the dance was intricate and emotional. Carrie Ann wraps Sabrina in a huge hug, and says she wanted Sabrina to show more vulnerability this whole season, and it finally happened. Len is also a huge fan, and compliments the choreography. Keeping her composure in the Celebriquarium, Sabrina also tells her friends on the East Coast to keep safe.
Scores: 10, 10, 10 for a total of 30 points.
Actress Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy
Kelly isn’t pleased with her scores from last week, and marvels over what it feels like to not be at the top of the leaderboard. She is determined to do better this week, and tells Val they’ll be putting in extra hours of rehearsal this week — unfortunately, Kelly still has trouble grasping the steps of the tango.
Dressed in a slinky red dress, the duo tangos to Carrie Underwood’s song “Good Girl,” though it seems a bit awkward at certain points. The dance ends with Kelly slapping Val in the face — choreographed or no? “Nice comeback,” Carrie Ann says carefully, as Kelly glares at her. Len concedes the dance was hectic, but thought that they kept it overall under control; Bruno also liked the performance.
Scores: 9, 9, 9 for a total of 27 points
Reality star Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani
Dance: Viennese Waltz
Melissa was taken away in an ambulance last week when she got bad whiplash, and even though she’s been cleared to dance, her doctor says she will still have “soreness and limited mobility.” “Do you want to drop out?” Tony asks. “No!” Melissa replies indignantly, and when Tony’s out of the room to consult with the doctor, she confides with the camera that she doesn’t want to let him down. Why isn’t that something she could tell him in person? Wouldn’t he like to hear that?
Anyway, Melissa carefully moves through Jana Kramer’s slowed-down “Why Ya Wanna,” and appears quite graceful, even though she can’t move her neck. Len gives the couple a standing ovation, while Carrie Ann compliments Melissa’s lines, and then slightly criticizes her movement — which means the judges immediately start bickering with each other, and the rest of the critique is a wash. In the Celebriquarium, Tony says: “Don’t be brave — evacuate,” giving a shout out to his family on the East Coast.
Scores: 9.5, 10, 10 for a total of 29.5 points.
Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough
Dance: Cha Cha
Shawn’s old knee injury from her gymastics days is acting up, though she keeps it quiet. She hurt it during the group dance while goofing off with Sabrina, but she refuses to admit it, until Derek forces her to take a break and ice her knee. Derek is frustrated, but tries not to show it as Shawn breaks down crying.
Starting the cha cha on a motorized tractor, the couple dances to Kenny Chesney song “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” with Derek dancing in Chesney-esque tight jeans and sleeveless shirt. Shawn may be able to do less because of her knee, but she holds it together well during the dance, even when Derek’s cowboy hat flies off at the end.
“Forget about the tractor — you were the sexy one!” Bruno roars, raving about the fusion of country steps and cha cha. Carrie Ann loves the way Shawn articulates every move, though she thinks the solo was a little bit stiff. Len is always tougher on Derek than everyone, but he says he thinks the choreography was fantastic — still, of course, he nicks Derek for working in too many tricks and gimmicks (like the aforementioned tractor).
Scores: 9.5, 8.5, 10 for a total of 28 points
Actress Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Kirstie had a brief meltdown last week, and she seems on the verge this week as well, tellling Maks she’s about to pass out during rehearsal. He doesn’t take it too well, reminding her that they did this exact dance two years ago. “I’m 60 years old!” she snaps, and reminds us that she’s exhausted by her two kids, running her company, and...sitting down with Barbara Walters for an interview to promote her new book.
Dancing to presumably the Blake Shelton version of “Home,” Kirstie and Maks perform the slow dance. “You are the queen of sexy,” gushes Carrie Ann when the performance is over. “I’m floored.” Len compliments Kirstie’s expressive arms, though he wished Kirstie could have had more hip action. Bruno calls the dance “the expression of a real reason,” and says her solo was spot-on.
Scores: 9.5, 8.5, 9.5 for a total of 27.5 points
Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff
Dance: Viennese Waltz
Apolo and Karina decide the answer to their “lack of chemistry” problem is to dance to what might be one of the saddest country songs of all time, “Skin (Sarabeth)” by Rascal Flatts. It’s about a teenage girl diagnosed with cancer, and doesn’t want to go to prom when she loses her hair during chemotherapy — but when her date shows up, he arrives with his head shaved to support her. (Take it from a certain recapper who is tearing up just thinking about the song: Don’t listen to it if you don’t want to cry.)
Their move works, and they perform an extremely emotional dance. “Apolo, son of Zeus, Roman God of life and music, and that’s what it was,” Len exclaims. “Two people in perfect harmony.” Carrie Ann calls it “poetry,” and says it was nice to see them connecting. “This was your breakthrough number,” she proclaims.
Scores: 10, 10, 10 for a total of 30 points.
Former NFL player Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke
Dance: Fox trot
Emmitt is thrown off by the idea of a solo, especially to a country song — specifically, “Islands in the Stream” by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. “If you can’t play with pain, you can’t play the game,” Emmitt says, reminiscing about an inspiring slogan from his football days, as he struggles learning this week’s dance.
Indeed, Emmitt seems kind of awkward during the dance, though he gets the hang of the two step during his solo. Bruno says it was great, even though Emmitt lost his steps a few times. Carrie Ann points out that they seemed out of sync, because Emmitt lost his timing at the beginning, though he did nail the solo.
As they head up to the Celebriquiarum, Tom Bergeron tells everyone that their prayers are with everyone on the East Coast. (No word if anything will be done about the results and the mass power outages, even though earlier, Bergeron had tweeted that the show may take that into consideration for tomorrow’s results show.)
Scores: 8.5, 8.5, 9.5 for a total of 26.5
The group dance goes Super Country, accompanied with a live performance from Big & Rich with their famous “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.” Cowboy Troy joins later to sing “I Play Chicken With the Train,” the song that accompanied Donald Driver’s season-winning performance last year.
After some drama in rehearsal (Emmitt still not liking country dancing, Gilles arriving late and not knowing the steps), the group seems to have fun during the hectic performances, with lots of complicated moves.
And the couple that gets a bonus two points for outstanding performance during the group dance? That would be Kirstie and Maks, bringing their total for the night to 29.5 points.