It’s week eight of Dancing with the Stars, and (some of) our favourite celebs from past seasons return! Sam Brooks power-ranks the contestants.
Credit where credit is due: This is a much better gambit than pairing people up with each other for devastatingly unbalanced triple dances. Who doesn’t want to see human lightbulb Barbara Kendall back onscreen? Who doesn’t want to see Randell shimmy around with Shane Cameron, a thought that had literally never occurred to me before tonight? Who can say!
Enough said, we’re on the road to the finale right now and I can’t wait, let’s get into the rankings:
ELIMINATED: Glen Osborne and Vanessa Cole (with Chris Harris) – Salsa
How exciting for former Black Hat Chris Harris to be back in the dancing saddle during the Cricket World Cup! Although, honestly, Harris was one of my favourite dancers of last season, and my personal favourite in the latter stages of the competition to win, so I was quite delighted to see him come back.
Unfortunately, ALT’s ‘Tequila’ is potentially the worst piece of nineties rap excluding one Vanilla Ice, and no amount of Black Hattery or Vanessa being amazing can fix that. This looks like two uncles dancing at the wedding with their ex, and like they’re competing over her? The vibe is weird, and I don’t like it! I don’t like being reminded of weddings!
Even more unfortunately, the winner was not rugby (union) on the day. Goodbye, Glen.
Judge’s score: 24.
5. Nadia Lim and Aaron Gilmore (with Barbara Kendall) – Paso doble
Right from the get-go, there was a pairing where the current celebrity contestant was shown up by a returning celebrity contestant! The paso requires both Barbara Kendall and Nadia Lim to bring a ferocity to the floor, and Kendall seemed better matched to the dance than Lim. Kendall brought a strength and stateliness to the ferocity that Lim can’t quite match – she’s still quite stiff and awkward.
We’re at the stage of the competition where she needs to grow exponentially to get up with the best contenders, and there’s not enough time left to do that, honestly.
As Aretha Franklin would say, “Great gowns. Beautiful gowns.”
Judge’s score: 23.
4. Manu Vatuvei and Loryn Reynolds (with Miriama Smith) – Jive
Real talk: Whoever is doing the covers on this show is acing it, this cover of ‘Dear Future Husband’, which is truly one of the more vile songs of Meghan Trainor’s (the personification of white mediocrity, lest we forget) oeuvre.
This was fun! Miriama was a bit stiff for most of it, but once they got to the stunty part – Loryn on Manu’s shoulders, Miriama upside down hanging from him – everything was pretty much forgotten. If there’s one thing that can be said for this season of DWTS, for better or worse, is that the choreography this year is a lot more stunty and has been consistently throughout the season. It hasn’t helped much with the judges, but if you’re someone who votes for this show, I can imagine that seeing a dancer hold one partner upside down and one on their shoulders, would overwhelm even a middling dance.
Which is to say, despite his bottom two placing, Manu is probably staying around until the final.
Judge’s score: 26.
3. Clinton Randell and Brittany Coleman (with Shane Cameron) – Argentine Tango
I say this with full ignorance and no irony: I have never heard of Shane Cameron. I understand he puts things on his hands and hits other men, then people spend a tremendous amounts of money betting on how good he hits somebody else or how good he gets hit. None of this helps me here.
This, however, is the flipside of Barbara Kendall issue. Shane Cameron just shows up all of what Randell can do – he’s flexible, he’s fun, he’s fun to watch. Shane Cameron looks like he hasn’t danced, maybe ever!
Also, at one moment, Cameron has to throw Brittany over his shoulders and throws her so high that it looks like Randell has to reach to catch her. Well done for catching her, Randell. This is a lady-sweeping show, not a lady-throwing show.
Judge’s score: 27
2. William Wairua and Amelia McGregor (with David Seymour) – Quickstep
I have given more oxygen to David Seymour than I ever intended to, and I will not give him any more here.
I like William Wairua and Amelia McGregor a lot, and send them my sincere congratulations on two tens.
Judge’s score: 29.
1. Laura Daniel and Shae Mountain (with Ben Barrington) – Quickstep
‘Valerie’ is the ‘Alone’ of dancing competitions – it’s a ticket to an easy win. Just like the sheer act of singing ‘Alone’ makes audiences go wild and send many text messages from their phones, the effervescence of ‘Valerie’ does the same. This is Mark Ronson at the height of his abilities, and there’s something about the DNA of it that makes me bubble up and want to dance, despite writing this from underneath a million blankets.
I have no comment on Ben Barrington! He’s been shot a lot on Shortland Street and both actor and character have survived! Well done.
There’s so little to say about Laura, you guys. She’s getting the best scores, two tens in just as many weeks. Her song choices are great. She’s got the range. She’s got everything you need to be a winner, and I hope that she makes it to the final. Laura is one of the best dancers the show has ever seen, and there would be a genuinely satisfying narrative arc (as though the voters care about such a thing) to see a huge fan of the show also actually win the show.
Judge’s score: 28.