It’s that time of year again when we push celebrities onstage and make them dance for charity and also our amusement. Armed only with a limited knowledge of sportspeople and breakfast radio, Sam Brooks power-ranks the celebs lining up to compete in Dancing with the Stars.
It is with the heaviest, arterially-clogged heart that I announce that I am back on the Dancing with the Stars beat this year, and I cannot wait to join the New Zealand public in judging how these celebrities and their incredibly qualified partners move their bodies around an overlit floor for what feels like 19 years.
But before any moving, the power-ranking! Who do we (I) think is going to come out on top? Who’s going to be gone in the first week? Who’s going to cling on for dear life, like David Seymour clinging onto both this competition and a media call on the black-and-white ties? Who is going to make us outraged at them being gone too early?
Wonder no longer: here’s the definitive (subjective) power-ranking of this year’s slate of Dancing with the Stars contestants.
12. Glen Osborne (and Vanessa Cole)
Who dat? Osborne played for the All Blacks in 1995, the year where Mira Sorvino won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Mighty Aphrodite. He’s since made appearances on Māori Television, and is also a cop! Well done, Glen.
Why is he here? Athletes either sink immediately or float to the top in this, and I have a hunch that Osborne might sink. Based on nothing but this promo.
11. Nadia Lim (and Aaron Gilmore)
Who dat? Nadia Lim is a celebrity chef, winner of Masterchef and co-founder of My Food Bag, which helps lots of New Zealanders eat a nice, nutritious dinner and keeps people who are not me away from UberEats, where you can pay $18 for the biggest Caesar salad you’ll ever eat.
Why is she here?
10. Clinton Randell (and Brittany Coleman)
Who dat? Clinton Randell is probably more commonly known as ‘Randell’, one third of The Edge breakfast radio show. He is less commonly known as an eighth place finisher on New Zealand Idol (remember that?!). He is potentially least commonly known as Clinton, for very understandable reasons.
Why is he here? I feel like you have to get up very early to do a breakfast radio show, and this show is on late at night, so that means not enough time for rest, maybe. Look after yourself, Clinton/Randell! Dancing’s hard!
9. Walter Neilands (and Melissa McCallum)
Who dat? Walter Neiland hosted Sticky TV for eight years, and worked on Cadbury Dream Factory, which I can only hope had a lower death toll than Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Why is he here? Someone has to be ninth, and why shouldn’t it be Walter?
8. Anna Wilcox (and Brad Coleman)
Who dat? Anna Wilcox competed for New Zealand in the Winter Olympics in skiing, and she has also been a reporter for The Crowd Goes Wild, a weekly documentary about the perils of audience interaction.
Why is she here? See above, someone has to place eighth, and I don’t write these things in order, so if you rank around the middle, sorry but I have a lot less to say about you! I don’t make the power-ranking rules, I just follow them.
7. William Wairua (and Amelia McGregor)
Who dat? William Wairua is a youth worker with over 95K followers on Instagram! That’s pretty cool. According to news purveyor Newshub: “He’s starred in a police recruitment video, a viral rendition of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and his own music video, ‘Wowee’, featuring Kiwi artist Vince Harder.” Great!
Why is he here?
A picture speaks a thousand words, and about nine hundred and ninety eight of the words this picture says are ‘sequins, sequins, sequins’.
6. Manu Vatuvei (and Loryn Reynolds)
Who dat? According to the ‘lads’ in The Spinoff office, Vatuvei played for a team called ‘The Warriors’, which I understand is a rugby team used to sell overpriced Vodafone data plans.
Why is he here? Chris Harris did pretty well! I don’t know! It’s the middle reaches. There’s precedent for him to do well or do badly! Maybe people love their Vodafone plans a lot and have brand loyalty! Maybe the ‘lads’ who watch ‘The Warriors’ really want to watch Manu Vatuvei dance for a few months. We are all blind men wandering through the dark forest of life.
5. Carolyn Taylor (and Jonny Williams)
Who dat? Carolyn Taylor used to be a host on What Now! and, as Shavaughn Ruakere has taught us, being a former What Now! host serves you very well on this show. Since then, she’s been a fashion and/or lifestyle influencer, which, as Jess Quinn will tell you, also serves you very well.
Why is she here? She exists at the intersection between Suzy Cato and Shavaughn Ruakere – she gets the votes of the 90s kids, and also the kids who watched her growing up. The question is whether she can dance. And who knows? Why do these rankings at all without seeing them dance? Because even halfway through the piece, your click still matters.
4. Laura Daniel (and Shae Mountain)
Who dat? Laura Daniel is one of the titular girls in Funny Girls, and one of the non-titular faces of Jono and Ben. She’s also an actress, comedian, and general personality.
Why is she here? Full disclosure: Laura’s a friend! So there’s a bit of goodwill there. But also full disclosure, I know she can dance, and I know she’ll do amazingly well at the interview and social media bits of the show. You can mess up an entire dance and laugh it off, and that’s enough to get you through. If you can ace a dance, laugh it off, and be a person who people want to see next week on the show, that’s enough to win.
More importantly: She can move, she looks good while moving, and unsurprisingly, those things help you a lot in a competition in which looking good while moving is a key part.
3. K’Lee (and Scott Cole)
Who dat? K’Lee is one of our finest popstars. Really. Go and check her album out on Spotify now, and realise that it’s wall-to-wall, ahead-of-their-time, pop songs, and we didn’t give her her due. ‘Broken Wings’ is one of our finest ballads. ‘1+1+1 (It Ain’t Two)’ is basically a Charli XCX song for the late 90s. ‘Can You Feel Me’ is chintzy feel-good pop. If you don’t know her, educate thyself.
Why is she here? Because one plus one plus one, it ain’t two. It’s three!
K’Lee has a tremendous amount of goodwill amongst our millennial population, mostly because she had the good grace/misfortune (choose applicable) of having three solid hits and then quietly disappearing, and her name comes up in conversations in the context of, “Shit, how good was K’Lee?”
Also, I imagine that she’ll be dancing to one of her own songs, and if that doesn’t get people voting, then New Zealand deserves whatever it gets.
2. Jude Dobson (and Matt Tatton Brown)
Who dat? Jude Dobson is a beloved television personality, who was telling us all how to live our lives better in a time before we had apps on our phone doing that very same thing. She’s got one of the most memorable faces in New Zealand screen history. According to NZ on Screen, she hosted 989 episodes of 5’O Clock with Jude Dobson, which I’m sure means her image and voice is deep enough in our heads that we’re all Jude Dobson sleeper agents.
Why is she here? Last year, I predicted Suzy Cato would win the competition. I was wrong, as I am about many things. I think Jude Dobson’s ubiquitous fame, and the genial familiarity of her face, will serve her well in this competition.
Also, there must be some portrait of her in an well-kept attic getting older, because she has not aged one bit, you guys!
1. Mike McRoberts (and Kirstie McWilliams)
Who dat? He’s on the television at 6PM most nights.
Why the ranking? Being in front of people’s eyes at 6PM most nights is the biggest asset that Mike McRoberts has. If you’re in people’s minds, even subliminally, then you’re going to have a leg up on the competition. Also, right now he’s the most famous person in this competition.
As Dizzy S taught us last year, dancing ability has little impact on whether you make it to the finals, but McRoberts looks like he has enough tenacity to make a good stab at it, and if that fails, enough audience goodwill to make it that far.
Mark my words: He’ll be here until the final, unless war breaks out, the world ends, and he has to go and cover that instead.
But the actual winner of the season is…
Medulla Oblongata giving the side-eye
Let’s get her on the show, please! She’s reality TV gold, and deserves to be here.
Dancing with the Stars will be back on TV3 on Sunday and Monday nights from April 14th. Sam Brooks will be power-ranking this weekly, or until he learns who the Warriors are.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.