No one did a swing dance on Monday's Dancing with the Stars, but that didn't stop the show itself from going all swinger mode on us, with each pair switching partners for the week. But not to worry: no one's going home this week, so the new couplings won't have an immediate impact.
Filling in for Len this week is Jessie J, who opens the show with an enthusiastic performance of her hit "Bang Bang" (alas, Nicki Minaj andAriana Grande are not present). Spoiler alert: She does a fine job and is completely endearing, but is anyone else missing Len as much as I am? This is turning into Dancing with the Guest Judges. Oh well.
With this being switch-up week, we first get introduced to the new pairs — some of which look about as comfortable with each other as if Tom Bergeron and Carrie Ann Inaba were heading out together. Also, anyone who thinks these pairings were 100 percent determined by viewer votes is kidding themselves.
To the performances!
Antonio Sabato Jr. and Allison Holker (Bollywood)
The dance: Well, this is new. Antonio channels his inner Aladdin for this ... um, interesting number. I like Antonio's levitation at the end, but I just think this whole routine is a misfire — especially for the first dance of the night. Footwork aside, it's distracting and a little too cartoonish.
What the judges say: Julianne comments on the "disconnect" between Allison and Antonio. Bruno enjoyed the "campness" but says their timing wasn't synchronized enough. Carrie Ann praises Antonio for loosening up a bit, and Jessie J loves his facial expressions.
Score: 28 (out of 40)
Bethany Mota and Mark Ballas (hip-hop)
The dance: Bethany definitely seems less comfortable with Mark than she does with Derek, but individually they're both owning it. Confidence and rhythm are in no short supply here, and it's clear that modern hip-hop is where each of them feels most comfortable.
What the judges say: Bruno loved the restaurant skit and praises Bethany's confidence, comparing her to "Get Into the Groove"-era Madonna. Carrie Ann loves Bethany's "swag" but says her sneakers inhibited her. Jessie J says Bethany attacked the dance. Julianne compares Mark to her brother but says Bethany held her own.
Jonathan Bennett and Peta Murgatroyd (jitterbug)
The dance: This should be the perfect dance for Jonathan, whose facial expressions belong in a '50s comedy. Instead, he seems a little clunky out there with Peta I wish the bounce in his feet would match the buoyancy in his face. It's a really fun number, but not the best technically speaking.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann notes the "moments of brilliance," but says a lot of it was just "wrong." Jessie J said the dance made her feel nervous and uncomfortable. ("Welcome to my life," Jonathan responds. HA.) Julianne agrees and says the dance was too fearful. Bruno gets cut off. Of note: Jonathan's face during Carrie Ann's critique. See below.
Alfonso Ribeiro and Cheryl Burke (flamenco)
The dance: Coming off of The Carlton last week, this is a nice dance to show Alfonso's range — that he can be serious (and kind of hot?) in addition to being the class clown. I almost feel like he and Cheryl have better chemistry than she has with Antonio, and this is definitely the best dance we've seen thus far tonight.
What the judges say: Jessie J observes a real connection between Alfonso and Cheryl and says she wanted the dance to keep going. "The first partnership that I believed tonight," Julianne says testily. Both she and Bruno make small notes on Alfonso's posture. Carrie Ann gets cut off.
Janel Parrish and Artem Chigvintsev (burlesque)
The dance: I don't envy the judges, having to score Janel's burlesque dance (more of a gymnastics routine, really) alongside something like Alfonso's flamenco. She's certainly limber! A random thought: What would happen if Michael Waltrip was assigned burlesque? Trick question. It would never happen.
What the judges say: Julianne says it was "sexy" but too raunchy to be burlesque. Bruno says nothing is too sexy for him and says Janel was a nice Viagra stand-in for much of the country tonight. (Gross.) Carrie Ann is impressed by the trust Janel showed in Artem, but agrees with Julianne. Jessie J is uncomfortable because she wrote the song they danced to about her mom.
Michael Waltrip and Witney Carson (disco)
The dance: Michael makes a pretty convincing case for his flexibility in rehearsals, but bless his heart, when push comes to shove on the dance floor, he just can't loosen up to save his life. This "Car Wash" is definitely stuck in reverse. Michael's "Disco Dad" shtick is cute, but he's definitely the weak link in the competition at this point.
What the judges say: Bruno says the routine lacked polish and Michael's timing was off throughout — but it was "funny." Carrie Ann is a little kinder, complimenting the entertainment value, but wants to do more than giggle in Week 5. Jessie J has a future career in diplomacy as she notes the dance's consistency. Julianne says Michael is uncomfortable to watch.
Tommy Chong and Emma Slater (mambo)
The dance: The preamble about Tommy's memory was definitely on my mind during this dance, and maybe that's why it seemed to me like he was experiencing every step for the first time. Still, he somehow manages to look more relaxed and suave than (ahem) Michael — and moves pretty well for a 76-year-old, let's not forget.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann says the song choice ("Pass the Dutchie") was lackluster, but Jessie J loves Tommy's comfort and flexibility. Julianne says Tommy looked a little tired and wants to see a little more from him. Bruno gives tepid praise, saying Tommy hit a few bumps but got to the end. Rebuttals: Before the scores are read, Erin Andrews notes that the dancers don't pick the music, and Tommy says flatly: "I look tired because I'm old." Fair enough!
Sadie Robertson and Derek Hough (Charleston)
The dance: Regardless of how long she stays in the competition, I'm not sure Sadie will be able to top her duck dance with Mark last week — and I feel like Derek may have overshot a little with this choreography. It's fine, and Sadie does a fine job keeping up with those rapid-fire steps. But kind of unremarkable — and Derek, rather than Sadie, seems to be the main focal point.
What the judges say: Jessie J says it was clean and on point and she wouldn't have been able to tell which one was the pro. Julianne gushes over her brother's dance, but critiques some of Sadie's early timing. Bruno, on the other hand, says Sadie's footwork was spot on. Carrie Ann says Sadie is great with Derek but rushes a bit when she's on her own.
Lea Thompson and Val Chmerkovskiy (Broadway)
The dance: Val's whole "let's make Janel jealous" idea is mostly just puzzling to me, but overall I like this dance, even if the nursing home aesthetic seems a little out of left field. I still maintain that Lea's legs need their own Twitter account, and she's just as comfortable with Val as she is with Artem.
What the judges say: Julianne says it was a fun skit, but Lea looked a little unsure at times. Bruno calls it "a treat." Carrie Ann (like me) was confused by the concept but loved it in all its "wack-a-doodle"ness. And Jessie J says that Lea's embodiment of the character was the best of the night.
So, what did you think of the switch-up episode? How did Jessie J do as a guest judge? Who were your favorite new teams, and who are you looking forward to seeing back with their original partner? And, which pair will be given the boot next week? Sound off in the comments!