Dancing With The Stars: Week 7
Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Quickstep) - Laila showed off her impressive abs during her light, graceful Quickstep performance. I'm not sure if it was the song choice or the style of dance, but this wasn't my favorite of Laila's performances. She did a great job, but I think her personality comes out more in other types of dance. Luckily, the judges disagreed with me, and showered praise on the couple's Quickstep. Score: 29 (10, 9, 10).
John Ratzenberger and Edyta Sliwinksa (Foxtrot) - After another week of being in the bottom two, John and Edyta should be a little concerned about their future. Edyta was worried that age would be a negative factor in their Foxtrot, but I think that stopped being a big deal a while ago. I'm far more creeped out by the coupling of Billy Ray and Karina than John and Edyta. John brought his usual charm and positive energy to the performance. There wasn't a lot of technical difficulty (at least, not on John's side), but he keeps improving steadily each week. Bruno thought John had been to "dance rehab," and the other judges thought he brought out the character of the dance. Score: 23 (8, 7, 8). Not bad--John may last another week!
Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough (Foxtrot) - Apolo was determined not to share first place with anyone this week. He dodged that bullet with performances that placed him in the middle of the pack. I guess that's one approach! The couple's Foxtrot was elegant and romantic. No matter what style of dance they perform, Apolo and Julianne's energy and sweetness always comes through. They have gotten off easy with the judges so far, but they received some serious criticism this week. Len said that the dance was good, but not great, and that Apolo did not perform as well as expected. Carrie Ann and Bruno disagreed, but their scores were a little lower than previous weeks. Score: 26 (9, 8, 9).
Ian Ziering and Cheryl Burke (Tango) - At last, Ian actually brought some attitude to the dance floor! The judges had been waiting for Ian to open up all season, and it finally happened this week. I groaned when Billy Ray was brought in to "help" Ian and Cheryl practice. From what I can tell, his only contribution was the pelvic thrust that Ian did during his second dance. Both Ian and Cheryl looked incredible, and their performance was far more loose and hot than their earlier dances. Perhaps having the 90210 "alumni" in the crowd helped Ian to have more fun. Maybe he'll get a 10 if Brian Austin Green shows up. Score: 27 (9, 9, 9).
Billy Ray Cyrus and Karina Smirnoff (Waltz) - Billy Ray often relies on Karina to do the challenging moves, but he really phoned it in this week. He barely moved during the opening moments of the dance. I thought his Waltz was unremarkable and dull, and his appeal is completely beyond me. The only saving grace of the performance was that the style prevented him from throwing in any of his signature vulgarity. Len thought that Billy Ray's Waltz was low on content, and Bruno compared Karina to Vanna White. Quite frankly, I'd rather see Pat Sajak in this competition than Billy Ray. Score: 17 (5, 6, 6).
Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson (Foxtrot) - Joey played it cool about not being one of the front runners last week. This might be the right approach, in light of Apolo and Julianne's lower scores. Best line of the night: "If you get too serious, you become Ian Ziering." Joey and Kym's matching tuxes were cute, and it took me a while to figure out that they were dancing to a Michael Jackson song. Strange choice. I thought that Joey looked very dapper out there; his take on the Foxtrot was my favorite. The couple's crowd-pleasing performance failed to charm Len, who said it had too much "razzle-dazzle." Carrie Ann and Bruno loved both the razzle and the dazzle. Score: 29 (10, 9, 10).
Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Samba) - I think that the Latin dances are much better suited to Laila's personality and sexiness. Laila and Maksim's Samba was a whole lot of chest-pumping fun, and I loved it. She definitely carried herself better than she did with her first dance. Is it just me, or is Laila's makeup always fantastic? Carrie Ann called the dance sophisticated and elegant, and Len hoped that Laila's father was watching at home with pride. Score: 30 (10, 10, 10). Sweet.
John Ratzenberger and Edyta Sliwinksa (Rumba) - I actually preferred John and Edyta's Foxtrot to their Rumba performance. John was pretty light on his feet, and clearly had fun, but there was something missing for me. Edyta showed some major flexibility during several difficult moves. John pulled off the gentlemanly tone of the Foxtrot better than the character of the Rumba. Cheech Marin seemed to approve of the performance, though. Carrie Ann thought that the dance wasn't passionate enough, but complimented John's ability to move well. Len and Bruno both noticed an improvement in John's footwork. Score: 22 (7, 8, 7).
Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough (Mambo) - Apolo started off his Mambo with a fun slide towards Julianne, and set the tone for a fun, technically difficult performance. The couple seemed to be playing more to the crowd by adding some exciting, tough moves. Were Shandi and Brian in the audience? Carrie Ann referred to a wardrobe malfunction during her remarks, but I'm not sure I saw it. Either way, it must not have been too distracting. Len was back with his "good, but not great" criticism, which I don't entirely agree with. I think it was just Apolo's turn to take some hits from the judges. Score: 28 (9, 9, 10).
Ian Ziering and Cheryl Burke (Mambo) - Ian gave the audience two tickets to the gun show this week, wearing a sleeveless red muscle shirt. It's great that Ian is taking himself less seriously and focusing more on performance than competition. Ian and Cheryl's Mambo was energetic without being aggressive, and they looked like they were having more fun together. They have always been technically good, but Ian's new personality could put them back in contention. Len thought the pair had more chemistry this time around, and Carrie Ann saw a definite attitude shift in Ian. Score: 27 (9, 9, 9).
Billy Ray Cyrus and Karina Smirnoff (Samba) - I wasn't crazy about the dance's boxing theme. Billy Ray does enough strutting around without impersonating Apollo Creed. The crowd always enjoys his antics (even the pelvic thrusts), which I will never understand. He even won the approval of Mario Lopez! If he makes it to the top three, my head might explode. Karina performed most of the difficult moves alone, and Billy Ray's footwork was a bit clunky. The judges could not get enough of his personality, however. Score: 21 (7, 7, 7). Later, Billy Ray referred to his own "mediocracy," which was fitting in many ways. Perhaps "mediocracy" best describes Billy Ray's personal brand of mediocrity. That's what I'm calling it from now on.
Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson (Jive) - How adorable was Joey's little vest ensemble? Joey and Kym's Jive (the only Jive of the night) was peppy and technically impressive. I know that Joey has a background in dancing from his boy band days, but I am always surprised that a man with his body type can move like that. His handstand at the end of the dance was a showstopper. The couple's ability to grasp the character of a wide range of dances gives them a serious advantage going into the final weeks. These two can do it all. Bruno called Joey and Kym's dance a "smashing showcase," and Carrie Ann admired Joey's flexibility. Score: 30 (10, 10, 10).
There were a few off performances, but I think two 30-point scores make this episode worthy of a 7 out of 7. Country music fans and sympathy votes could keep Billy Ray in the competition for another week, but he has to be in the bottom two tomorrow. I would be sad to see John leave, but there's no shame in going out on a high note. No one else appears to be in danger of elimination. Best of the night: Joey and Kym.
Don't forget to vote in AOL's Dancing With The Stars poll!