I dare you to watch this episode of "Dancing With The Stars" and not start singing! The whole show is a tribute to the late great Michael Jackson and the 25th anniversary of his epic album, "Bad." And even if you don't think you can remember which songs are off that album, once the music starts you'll find yourself going, "Oh yeah! That one!"
But it's not all MJ tonight. The couples also have some bizarre fusion-ish dances (Caveman Hustle? Surfer Flamenco?) that have nothing to do with Michael Jackson. They'll be scored on both dances, and then two, count 'em, two couples will be sent home on Tuesday night.
Here's a recap, from highest score to lowest score:
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough - 59 out of 60 (30 + 29)
We can all now say we know what Bhangra is. Sort of. The Indian dance style was assigned to Shawn and Derek (naturally, attached to the theme from "Knight Rider." Talk about mixing things up!) Derek brought in an outside choreographer because this style was foreign even to him. The main thing: it's athletic. Even for elite athlete Shawn, it was killer cardio. But the duo nailed it, and earned a perfect score for this new style. Their second dance was the much more familiar Argentine tango. Shawn says her competitive fire has been rekindled and she finally admits that she really, really does want to win again. Their song was Michael Jackson's "Bad," but this dance was definitely "good." Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli awarded perfect 10's; it was Carrie Ann Inaba thought the dance lacked passion and dropped her score down to a 9.
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani - 57.5 out of 60 (27.5 + 30)
These two got a dance we have at least heard of: the Hustle. But then the style that goes along with it was "caveman." WHAT? That seems to be what Tony thought, too, while trying to come up with a routine to this bizarre word pairing. As with every week, this pair dives into their rehearsal week and experiments... a lot. Tony apparently pushed himself so much that he strained his back. There were some tense moments but he was cleared to dance. Len gave them a 9.5 and praised their muscle, and hustle. Carrie Ann and Bruno each offered up a 9. When the two came back for the Michael Jackson "Dirty Diana" Argentine Tango, the emotions were running high. Melissa realizes this could be the last time she takes the dance floor. Ever. She held back the tears until AFTER the dance was over but the waterworks flowed as soon as the song ended. Both Len and Bruno said they would be disappointed if Melissa wasn't in next week's final.
Apolo Ohno and Karina Smirnoff - 57 out of 60 (27 + 30)
Apolo is focused, determined, and I would venture to say, he does not like to lose. The Olympian put in more rehearsal hours this week than he ever has before. Their funky dance was "Big Top Jazz," which isn't as outrageous as some of the other couples assignments. Bruno really liked the concept, calling it "Cirque du Soleil inspired." Carrie Ann thought the dance was disjointed, and Len was somewhere in between! Michael Jackson's emotional song "Man in the Mirror" is the inspiration for their romantic Rumba. Apolo feels the pressure, because this dance isn't so much about the steps and technique but also the emotion. No need to worry on that front. Carrie Ann applauded them for not over-dancing, and told Apolo he reached into her heart, and melted it! Len said it was like the sea, with wave after wave of effortlessness.
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke - 54 out of 60 (27 + 27)
I hear "Espionage Lindy Hop" and think, what? Cheryl hears it and thinks, sure, a cartoon inspired, fast moving dance. And that's why she has two mirror ball trophies. I like the positive way Cheryl pushes Emmitt. He thinks he can't do things, like act; and then he does. This dance shows Emmitt in a fun light, and when he's outside that comfort zone, maybe even being silly, it works. Bruno called him a "Looney Tune James Bond." And that was a good thing! Emmitt gets another ballroom dance for his second routine: the Tango. His song: "Leave Me Alone." His sportsman's dedication is pushing him along even though he's struggling a bit during rehearsals. The judges all praised the fact that he brings his "A" game every time; however, the technique was not quite perfect this time around.
Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy - 54 out of 60 (25.5 + 28.5)
Surfer Flamenco: two words that have probably never been said together before this competition. I don't think Kelly and Val care so much about their songs or dances anymore; they are proving to be fierce competitors no matter the assignment. So, "Surfer Flamenco?" Bring it! Apparently the dance had more Paso Doble than Flamenco (so says the judges) but it was outrageously entertaining. And pay attention to how loud the crowd gets when Val takes off his shirt! Len told the couple that if this competition was a poker game, he'd give them credit for being "all in!" Their second dance is the Rumba, and come on, be honest, haven't we all wanted to see these two do the romantic Rumba? And on top of it all, they get MJ's song "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." Kelly admits she has had trouble showing intimacy and vulnerability but Val's been able to break through those fears. Bruno called the dance smoldering; Carrie Ann said it was the perfect interpretation of Michael's song; and Len's critique praised their control, emotion, and balance.
So dance fans, which two couples go home? It's going to be a tough call. And I'll bet an emotional Tuesday evening!