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The height of white mediocrity.
The height of white mediocrity.

Pop CultureJune 25, 2018

Dancing with the Stars, week one million: Ding dong, David’s gone

The height of white mediocrity.
The height of white mediocrity.

It’s ’90s week on Dancing with the Stars – approximately the decade when this series started. We’re doing the power rankings again. And they have to dance not once, but twice!

There is neither rhyme nor reason to these power rankings, so I will rank by dance, not by contestant. There’s just one more week to go – this hell marathon is nearly over.

ELIMINATED: David Seymour (and Amelia) – Paso doble

White mediocrity at its finest.

He’s gone. Seeing his non-triumphant penultimate dance was like gold to me. Seeing David Seymour get told off by the judges for delivering a clearly under-rehearsed, effort-free and beyond mediocre performance restored a little bit of the life this show had drained.

Julz said he just didn’t know. Let’s swap roles for a bit Julz, because I’ve written literally a thesis worth of words on this show over the past few weeks!

Rachel directly called him out for spending time on getting votes rather than putting the work in. Which holds up.

Camilla said he deserves to be here (a big call), but that he’s under-rehearsed and for him to be here, compared to everybody else who has ‘rehearsed to the max’, is unfair.

Look at his face here. Look at it. It’s the face of someone who has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, though he’s been putting his hand in the cookie jar for the past few months and nobody’s called him out on it. But now there’s not enough cookies left for the rest of us – and Mum(s) and Dad are pissed.

Also, he seems to think Noel Gallagher is in Blur, for some reason.

(None of this is directed at Amelia, who was compelling as hell to watch during this entire competition and has genuinely been an unflappable highlight of my past few months. I have only compassion and empathy for her.)

SCORE: 13.

Dai Henwood banter: “I don’t know what matrix I’m in but I think I’m loving it.”

STILL ELIMINATED: David Seymour (and Amelia) – Quickstep

David Seymour did this quick step to Meghan Trainor’s ‘Title’.

I feel David Seymour and Meghan Trainor inhabit a similar place in society and culture, so to pair them up is pretty well. Like Seymour, Trainor had a precipitous and seemingly inexplicable rise to fame, and a very rapid and almost parodic descent.

David Seymour was a joke on this show from the very first week – clearly the least talented dancer with enough charisma and self-awareness to play into his own joke, but not enough to stop when the main audience for that joke are people who aren’t even old enough to vote for him in the place that you would hope actually matters to him.

If the intention of coming on this show was to make Seymour palatable, he succeeded. He’s never seemed more human, more relatable and more in on his own joke. But as the weeks wore on, as the social media intensified, as the teenagers used up all their credit voting for him, the joke backfired.

Thanks to his stint on Dancing with the Stars, David Seymour will not be remembered as politician when his eventual fifteen minutes of fame are over. He won’t be remembered for his admirable euthanasia bill, for his bizarre comments about the mental health of people moving into NZ flats, for wearing a weird cow t-shirt, he won’t even be remembered as the youngest ever leader of a political party.

He will be remembered as the guy who undeservedly hung around on Dancing with the Stars long enough for that to be in the first sentence of his obituary.

SCORE: 18.

Dai Henwood banter:  No banter! Where you at, gay ghost.

8. Sam Hayes (and Aaron) – Cha cha

It’s just (just!) a little crush (crush!).

I have two points: Firstly, ‘Crush’ is one of the best pop songs of the ’90s, and one of the best one hit wonders ever. I will not enter into debate on this.

Secondly, this is Sam’s weakest performance in the competition so far. It’s disjointed and once more relies on an awkwardly placed bit of set, though it does have beautiful moments. She’ll still be in the final, I think, so I’m not particularly worried for her.

SCORE: 23.

Dai Henwood banter: “And so people on the internet aren’t speculating, what was said behind the hat?” Less banter, more… just… a question. I’m very tired, you guys.

7. Chris Harris (and Vanessa) – Quickstep

Okay, so based on these screenshots and these costumes, what do you think this pair are dancing to?

‘Kryptonite’ by Three Doors Down. Those… are not the clothes for that song. The clothes for that song are boot-cut jeans, fringed gumboots and as much denim as you can. Poor marks, costumier.

(This was a very good dance. Turns out some people deserve to be here!)

SCORE: 28.

Dai Henwood banter: “Did it feel as good as it looked?”

6. Jess Quinn (and Johnny) – Tango

Look at that upside-down smile! Doesn’t it fill your deadened heart with joy?

I am fully a Jess Quinn stan. She’s overcome whatever stigma I had due to not knowing her (be honest, we all hate things we are unfamiliar with). She’s a skilled, hard-working dancer, she’s charismatic, she’s connected to the emotions in her song and she has a lot of chemistry with her dance partner. When she finishes a dance with the mixture of genuine joy and adrenaline-fuelled pride for actually getting through it, it’s infectious. I want her to do well, I want her to win.

SCORE: 25.

Dai Henwood banter: I’m sorry, Dai. I do my best. So do you. We all have only so many words at this stage in the competition. What are we to do? This show has exceeded the reaches of the English language, or at the very least my command of it.

5. Shavaughn (Shav) Ruakere and Enrique – Viennese Waltz

Bringing that Prciness Diary realness.

Very pretty dance! I have no sass or shade. Did you know ‘Breakaway’ was co-written by one-time Nickelback wife Avril Lavigne? Share that around the watercooler tomorrow!

SCORE: 29.

Dai Henwood banter: By this point on Sunday night, Henwood was quite rightly worn out of banter.

4. Jess Quinn (and Johnny) – Jive

Beautiful. Fun. Still love Jess Quinn. Look at these pretty pictures of her dancing!

SCORE: 29.

Dai Henwood banter: Missed it.

3. Chris Harris (and Vanessa) – Rumba

When you break into mum’s makeup box.

Real talk: Shakespeare’s Sister’s ‘Stay’ is one of the best songs of the ’90s, and its continual revival on reality shows that use popular songs for easy nostalgia value is one of my favourite things about this regurgitating trend. See: Cher Lloyd singing it on X-Factor, one of the most bizarrely moving things a 17 year old girl has ever done on TV.

Why is it one of the best songs, I hear nobody ask? Because it’s a from a lady-duo (featuring one of the women from Bananarama, and the angelically voiced Marcella Detroit), it has an absolutely bonkers middle-eight which turns the song from mopey ballad into grunge rock anthem, and it is maudlin as all hell. It is pop at its most populist, and I am here for it; this is why it’s successful as a song on these kinds of shows. You pull it out when you need to tug at someone’s heartstrings no matter what. What ‘Feeling Good’ is to plain ol’ horniness, ‘Stay’ is to maudlin emotion.

And former Black Hat Chris Harris absolutely slays this song. I’m not willing to call him the best dancer in the competition, because he sent Marama Fox home and I’m still not willing to call a Black Hat the best dancer in the competition. But…

Hell, he even dons the Siobhan Fahey clown mascara for it. Harris is here to win, you guys. I’m not sure if I want him to win just yet, but I wouldn’t hate it, you guys.

This makes my dead soul a little bit more alive.

SCORE: 29.

Dai Henwood banter: “I did six revolutions in a kids playground yesterday and threw up into a pram!”

2. Sam Hayes (and Aaron) – Tango

This is maybe the one good screenshot I have ever taken.

This is very beautiful, heartfelt and touching. I have no shade. Sam should be in the final.

(Also her dress is absolutely beautiful, and there’s a lot of fun foot action! Which is the first and last time I will type the phrase fun foot action.)

SCORE: 27.

Dai Henwood banter: “I wanna address the knees down.” Look, me too. I’d like to address most things lying down (that’s not what he means, I’m very tired).

1. Shavaughn (Shav) Ruakere (and Enrique) – Samba

This might surprise you, but this absolutely is not a photo from the mid-to-late 90s.

Shav is the best dancer in the competition right now. She is delightful to watch, she looks like she’s having fun dancing, and she lifts her game a little bit every week. If the unspoken rules of this competition are any guideline to go by, this means that she’s going home this week. I’m not sure how suited samba is to House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’, a better song than any thing that’s been released this year so far, but she’s an absolute joy to watch.

Throughout the competition, Shav has shown us that thing that makes her an ideal competitor for this show at this stage in her career. She’s been a kid’s show host, a VJ, an actress, and throughout she’s balanced an affable, goofy charm and a clear professionalism and high standard for all of these jobs. I was skeptical at first in this competition, but now that my favourites have gone home, Shav’s quiet professionalism and less quiet charisma have given her a place in my cold, deadened heart.

SCORE: 26.

Dai Henwood banter: “I’ll be popping that in the tape deck in my Demio.” This is in reference to Shav pulling a cassette from her bum-bag, which is a phrase I am sorry to have typed in the year of our lord 2018.

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