And we're back! Another year, another Dancing with the Stars season full of celebs with questionable rhythm hitting the dance floor decked out in sequins, feathers and ab-revealing jackets, accompanied by pros who will do their best to make these stars look like they know what they're doing! This year's crop of candidates include a Harry Potter alum (who is actually pretty magical on the dance floor), an NFL star, a radio host, a gold medalist and more!
Oh yeah, and a pop star who might run away with this whole thing! Check out our full recap of the Season 27 premiere below!
Mary Lou Retton and Sasha Farber: Cha Cha - "Treasure" by Bruno Mars
The dance: There's this unspoken rule on Dancing with the Stars where what you would consider "older" contestants typically get slower, easier, cuter routines that aren't very challenging because, well... you don't want anyone to get hurt! Former gymnast Mary Lou Retton completely broke that trend because her Jive was fast and aerobic and she absolutely murdered it. Honestly, I shouldn't be surprised — she's a gold freaking medalist, they don't get flabby — but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. She's definitely Top 5 material!
What the judges said: Len said it best when he called her "pretty nifty for 50!" He even gave her a critique about moving too fast! Bruno and Carrie Ann pointed out a few flaws (they're professionals, they spot these things), but overall, everyone was thrilled with the first performance of the night.
Her gold medals are glaring at those 6s...
Milo Manheim and Witney Carson: Cha Cha - "Free Free Free" by Pitbull featuring Theron Theron
The dance: Those Disney channel stars... always so multi-talented! They can act, they can sing, and they can definitely Cha Cha! Like, did you guys see those hips?! I'm not saying I rewound to watch them twice because that would creepy, but if I had, I'd definitely have fixated on the grinding choreography. Milo's breakout performance kind of reminds me of Jordan Fisher's first night on the show last season. You all kind of knew it was going to be good, but then you were like, "Oh, damn. This kid just made everyone else irrelevant... didn't he?"
What the judges said: The judges thought Milo was a little bit wild (his long limbs are a bit all over the place), but they definitely recognized him as a dancer and someone to watch in this competition. They noticed the hips too, because honestly, who wouldn't?
Boo, he deserved at least one 8!
Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe: Foxtrot - "Do You Believe in Magic" by Aly & AJ
The dance: "Do You Believe in Magic" for Evanna's first dance? OK, those Dancing with the Stars producers know what they're doing. Given that Evanna has given them free rein to drop as many references in as they want this year, expect many, many more Harry Potter jokes in the weeks to come! Overall, the dance was cute and quick, and built for a beginner, which is fine since that's what Evanna is — she was even rejected from three dance school when she applied, poor thing! She's not a favorite to win (yet!), but she's got enough skill to keep herself in the race.
What the judges said: The judges were pretty unanimous that a Foxtrot was not a great choice for Evanna's first dance since it just didn't suit her. They totally took issue with her rejection from dance school though, because it's obvious she was born to dance! "Beautiful lines, great control... the trust was great," Carrie Ann said.
Accio more 10s!
Danelle Umstead and Artem Chigvintsev: Foxtrot - "Rise Up" by Andra Day
The dance: Despite the poorly scripted "I'm in the dark over here" comment from Artem when they first met, the partnership between these two is actually pretty awesome. Danelle has to rely on Artem to guide her around the dance floor, except it feels totally natural because that's how these routines are supposed to work anyway: you rely on your partner and follow their lead! Plus, Len will love that these two will be in hold for most of their routines! Danelle doesn't have the natural rhythm and grace some of the others have exhibited, but I honestly hope she sticks around long enough to prove what she can do!
What the judges said: As expected, Len liked that they were in hold so much (Len, you're so predictable!), and the judges spent a lot of their feedback time praising her bravery to get up and try something this ambitious. That didn't mean they held back on criticism though; from her shoulders to her feet, Len, Carrie Ann and Bruno had plenty to say about how she can improve.
I agree with Erin, the seeing-eye dog didn't get enough screen time.
Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess: Jive - "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" by Travis Tritt
The dance: Oh. My. God. Did someone slip uppers into Bobby Bones 18 cups of coffee before he went on stage?! There's energy and then there's Tom Cruise levels of running around stage and jumping on set pieces. Bobby Bones took the latter path. As for the dancing, Bobby's got some fast feet, some terrible form and a mouth that refuses to shut — seriously bro, you're going to catch flies unless you close that thing. For the first couple rounds, his unbridled passion and huge personality might be enough to keep him in the competition, but ultimately, Bobby isn't a serious competitor this year.
What the judges said: Len was not a fan of the way Bobby's enthusiasm got the best of him (he actually got bonked in the head because he wasn't where he was supposed to be), but Carrie Ann and Bruno obviously loved the wild energy. Gotta love a guy who's having fun with it, right?
This feels kind of like an A-for-effort thing.
Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke: Salsa - "Dinero" by Jennifer Lopez featuring DJ Khaled & Cardi B
The dance: Um, wow? I mean, it's obvious Juan Pablo is a very attractive man, but being attractive doesn't make you a dancer, and it certainly doesn't ensure chemistry with your partner. Juan Pablo had no problems with either though, because that salsa was the hottest thing to happen all night. It might end up being the hottest thing to happen all season. At least until Juan Pablo and Cheryl dance again, because if that girl has any smarts, she'll give them exclusively sexy numbers from here on out.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann Inaba did indeed speak for all female viewers when she said, "I speak on behalf of all of the ladies — that had fuego potential." Even Len couldn't deny the blatant sex appeal, calling Juan Pablo, "The hunk with the junk in the trunk."
Finally, we got an 8 up in here.
Nikki Glaser and Gleb Savchenko: Salsa - "YES" by Louisa featuring 2 Chainz
The dance: Obviously Juan Pablo is a great example of why people bust out the sexy moves. Nikki is a great example of why some people really, really shouldn't. If you can't shake your hips or execute a body roll, then for the love of God please don't try. It's not going to be comfortable for you, and it's certainly not going to be comfortable for the millions of us watching at home. Nikki confessed she's not a natural born dancer from the start, so maybe give her a cute Waltz or a slow Foxtrot before you throw her into a Salsa!
What the judges said: Just when I thought my review was mean, Len makes me feel like I went easy! Here Nikki was celebrating and being joyful, and Len totally kills it by opening with, "It was just awkward." Bruno was more constructive, telling Nikki her routine wasn't a train wreck, it was just a "slight derailment" in the hips. Honestly, watching Nikki's face fall at each new piece of feedback was so sad and totally not why I watch this show :(
Chin up, Nikki!
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten: Jive - "Good Golly Miss Molly" by Little Richard
The dance: Alexis is another candidate who has good rhythm and fast feet, even though she not blowing anyone away. The fact that she can just whip those splits out of nowhere is also pretty amazing. Here's the thing though: none of us at home got to see the last portion of the dance because we cut to a camera that was walking around aimed at the ceiling for like 10 seconds. I'm sure Alexis continued to kill it, but what is this — sabotage?! How are we supposed to vote for someone we can't even see?
What the judges said: Len loved it, which is a rarity, and probably (maybe) had nothing to do with the fact that he came off as a crotchety old meanie in Nikki's feedback section. The worst note Alexis ended up getting was to perform more to the audience than to Alan, which is a pretty easy note to take for tomorrow!
She should get an extra 3 points for whoever screwed up in the control room.
John Schneider and Emma Slater: Foxtrot - "Good Ol' Boys from Dukes of Hazzard" by Waylon Jennings
The dance: John Schneider may have made a promise not to do anything in public that he wasn't really good at, and as far as I can tell, he still hasn't broken that promise. He was much better at this Foxtrot than I ever expected him to be (helloooo high kick!), and he never lost the count. I'd be shocked if he stayed around longer than a few weeks since there are some serious competitors this year, but at least John's got nothing to be embarrassed about... so far!
What the judges said: Carrie Ann asked him to be a little sharper and watch his chin (it drifted up, up and away quite a few times), but Len thought the routine lacked any finesse. Bruno provided a happy medium between the two, saying it was rough sometimes but elegant at others. Quite a mixed bag of reviews all around.
Is anyone else sick of all these 18s?
Tinashe and Brandon Armstrong: Jive - "I'm a Lady" by Meghan Trainor
The dance: Honestly, whoever gave Tinashe a Jive instead of a Salsa or a Cha Cha for a first dance is in cahoots with the person who sabotaged Alexis' cameras this week. She's a natural dancer with hips that don't quit, so this wasn't the best style for her, since it focused so much on fast footwork, but she still managed to shine as a top contender. There's also the fact that she and Brandon have insane chemistry working in their favor, so seriously, just give these two something sexy next week and let the 10's start rolling in.
What the judges said: Bruno called this routine a "foxy Jive" and praised Brandon's ability to show off Tinashe's personality, but Carrie Ann actually thought there was too much choreography that didn't let Tinashe shine the way she should. Ultimately, I agree with Carrie Ann. The dance didn't highlight Tinashe's strengths and presented too many opportunities for errors.
Highest score of the night!
Nancy McKeon and Val Chmerkovskiy: Quickstep - "It Don't Mean a Thing" by Club Des Belugas
The dance: Look, there's obviously not much talent here, but this is one of the rare cases, when someone seems to have so much fun dancing (not too much fun like Bobby Bones) that it doesn't matter that much. The Quickstep is awkward for anyone without ballroom training, and Nancy was no different, but if you watched her face instead of her feet during the routine, you'd think she was dancing it with even more grace than Val! She'll probably be the first disqualified this year, but Nancy had a blast, and that's all that matters.
What the judges said: "I think she put a face in ever single step and accent I could hardly keep up!" Bruno said, but he did mention that she lost control of her body because of it. Carrie Ann didn't like that comment, but she did advise that she focus more on body contact to solve the control problem.
Honestly, that's the best she could have hoped for.
Joe "Grocery Store Joe" Amabile and Jenna Johnson: Quickstep - "Fish Out of Water" by Leo Soul
The dance: Oh dear, what did they do, save all the worst contestants for last? That's not how you keep viewers tuned in! Joe lost the count like twice, forgot some steps and didn't seem to have any control over what his legs were doing most of the time. Poor guy, you could tell he knew he did terribly too, so watching him take that walk over to get feedback was nearly as painful as the minute-and-a-half routine the preceded it.
What the judges said: The judges kept saying "you've got a great personality," which is just so demoralizing, and no one really had anything nice to say beyond that. Luckily, Joe's poor scores might not seal his fate since Bachelor Nation could show up to vote for him anyway. Get to it fans!
Ouch, a 4... when was the last time that happened?
DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold: Cha Cha - "Sweet Sensation" by Flo Rida
The dance: If you were expecting another bumbling NFL star, prepare to be sorely disappointed by DeMarcus Ware this season. Talk about ending the show on a high note! His body rolls were excellent, he was remarkably light on his feet, and that JUMP over Lindsay's head was something we're all going to see GIFs of tomorrow. DeMarcus isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but I'm reserving total judgment on him until I see him do something a little more challenging.
What the judges said: The personality and the presence were high points of DeMarcus feedback, but that doesn't mean the judges weren't impressed with his dancing. Bruno called him the one to watch this season, and frankly I totally agree. If you're here to root for a dark horse, you should probably pick DeMarcus.
Tied with Tinashe!
The Dancing with the Stars Season 27 premiere continues Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 8/7c on ABC.