Dancing with the Stars recap: It’s week 8, y’all

Dancing with the Stars recap: Season 24, Week 8

When you hit the two-month mark on Dancing with the Stars, you start to hear a lot of chatter from Tom and the judges regarding two topics:

  1. The Dancing with the Stars summer tour is coming to a city near you!
  2. It’s week 8. You should be doing better at this point in the competition.

And if your name is Len Goodman, you say that last one in a mean, old, crotchety way on national television, embarrassing one of your contestants who knows he is not the best dancer. More on that later.

It’s ‘Pro Pick” week! Our pro dancers get to choose a song from a small list of available selections on a piece of paper secretly handed to them from the producers. Then they have to pretend that they plucked this inspiring tune out of thin air because it reminded them of their “star” partner.

Our contestants also have to perform a trio. This season, the JUDGES choose the inevitable third wheel. I like to think it’s their way of giving Maks and Peta a break (both were MIA). It also separates besties Lindsay and Witney, unless of course, there’s some sort of dispute going on behind-the-scenes that we don’t know about.

Whatever the case may be, most couples have one goal: Beat Normani. Let’s see how they did!

Rashad and Emma
“Shake Ya Tail Feather” by The Blues Brothers
Emma “picked” this song because everyone gravitates to Rashad. He’s the ultimate teammate. Emma loves their bond so much, that she starts crying. Rashad is as cool as a cucumber, but it looks like the idea of being victorious for the first time on this show has given Emma a VIP ticket on the struggle bus.

The pair look cute in sleek black sequined jackets. Emma’s hair is divine and I’m still not sure how she bounced around on those tiny stiletto heels. My roommate Lara and I watched for a handful of seconds before Lara spoke exactly what I was thinking:

“I thought this was going to be the Nelly version of “Shake Ya Tail Feather.”

Ditto. Suddenly the outfits make sense. They are the Blues Brothers. They are also boring. Although there is a ton of personality and energy, I was unmoved by any part of the performance. The judges somewhat agreed with me, but in their mind, Rashad can do no wrong. They also have to judge him high enough to matter, but low enough to give Normani some wiggle room at the top of the leaderboard.
Bruno’s Best Line: “You really are a stage animal. You drive the performance. Nothing is held back.”

Normani and Val
“Freedom” by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton
First, I still love Nomrani’s short hair. Second, her story about being cyber bullied broke my heart. Third, I think Val did a great job taking all of that helpless emotion and transitioning it into a piece that showcased both desperation and strength. The JV dancers pushing and pulling Normani in the circle was an added layer of drama that should have worked for me.

But it just didn’t. I don’t know why I wasn’t overwhelmed by this piece. I’m definitely in the minority, because the audience, including three of the judges, gave the team a standing ovation.

The only thing I can pin this on is that I am not a huge fan of flailing and kicking contemporary routines. It leaned abstract to me. I thought Normani did a great job acting out her pain, but I kept waiting for something else to happen. Something did happen in Normani’s mind. With messed up hair and a sweaty forehead, the tear-stained singer was cradled by Tom Bergeron the entire time she received critiques from the judges. THAT was my favorite part. Am I like Len? An old fuddy duddy? Probably so. But also like Len, I would have scored the dance a 10.
Bruno’s Best Line: “Tonight you are going to get the Pulitzer Prize of extraordinary storytelling.”

Bonner and Sharna
Argentine Tango
“Believer” by Imagine Dragons
Bonner is sick and tired of living his stupid bull riding accident over and over and over again. Sharna doesn’t care. She wants him to drop the robot posture and sink into the pain of that moment. Bonner isn’t having it. He’s working hard and she needs to not push so hard. He puts the cherry on top of this statement by walking out of rehearsal.

Whoopsie. Audiences and judges don’t like when the “star” is a little too big for his britches. Bonner needs to take a lesson or two from Cub Nation’s David. Fortunately, the Argentine Tango calls for a stoic demeanor and sharp, quick flicks and kicks. Bonner got one of those right. Bless it.

In a moment that made me gasp, Len tells it like it is when it’s his turn to speak. He berates Bonner, explaining that he has gone “one bridge too far.” Bonner takes the punch like a tough cowboy. Even Julianne, who tries and assuage the moment by reminding the viewers that week 8 is always the hardest, doesn’t cut through his clenched jaw.
Bruno’s Best Line: “You really make the most of what you’ve got.” (Ouch.)

Simone and Sasha
“What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction
Simone is another contestant who is having a hard time on the dance floor. Even though she perfects every move Sasha gives her, the fake smile continues to dominate her performance. So much so that the judges barely recognize her stellar dancing, because they know without a shadow of a doubt that she is going to nail the steps.

Sasha decides to go full-on teenager with his foxtrot. He tells Simone that he picked the PERFECT song that reminds him of her: One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” His declaration is met with a millennial eye roll. Sasha got it totally wrong. I wonder if TJ, the camera guy, would have guessed correctly? Or maybe Sasha should have chosen “We’re All In This Together?” #zac-attack

Simone is dressed in a lovely red gown. Sasha is dressed in a juvenile outfit with red suspenders and Converse tennis shoes. They perform a flawless foxtrot and are docked for lack of authenticity, thanks to her gymnastics smile. Carrie Ann wants more. Len likes her posture. Julianne wants Simone to be raw during her trio. I totally get what they are saying, but I feel bad for the girl!
Bruno’s Best Line: “You’re looking good my darling. Nice and easy. Fresh and refreshing. It’s a walk in the park for you.”

David and Lindsay
“Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw
This is one of the few “I picked this song” pre-show packages that I actually bought. It seemed genuine. Lindsay sees David with his kids and the other contestants and she believes with all her heart that David has instilled the character traits of “humble and kind” into his children. This moves David to tears. He valued that more than anything else Lindsay could have said in the two months he’s known her. He thanks his parents, knowing that what the taught him actually stuck.

You can imagine the tears that welled up in my eyes when Lindsay chose the opening sequence of the dance to be her standing on David’s feet as he swayed her around in a circle. Stop. I’ve said it so many times throughout the years, and I’ll say it again: Lindsay knows how to choreograph. She may not always have the best dance partner, but her material is always interesting and unique. They are a pretty, flowy, vision in pink, swirling all around the dance floor. It is slow, easy, and exactly what David needed at this point in the competition.
Bruno’s Best Line: “It was the best Father/Daughter dance. People will download it and copy it forever.”

Rashad, Emma, and Witney
Argentine Tango
“Dreams” by Bastille
After Emma explains to Witney that “Fleetwood Mac is not a rapper,” the two blonde pros treat Rashad like a human jungle gym. They jump on him and hang from his arms and coil around his muscular legs. Emma is all about making this trio super sexy. Witney, the antagonist, is in an outfit that somehow manages to be half of a costume split straight down the middle. Emma is the light side, in the same outfit, but white. Rashad is in grey. Get it? He can’t decide between the two.

Rashad begins by throwing Emma around. She’s choreographed an awesome tango. Rashad makes the switch to Witney and then before we know it, he’s flinging them both around his body at the same time. I was so mesmerized, I barely took notes. I’ll just have to show you. See below.
Bruno’s Best Line: “That was a exotic chain reaction. Can we do that on TV? Is that legal?

Normani, Val, and Alan
“Feeling Alive” by Earl St. Clair
Val and Alan are excited to do the jive. A country jive. And who might the ideal southern gentleman be? Bonner. Duh. Methinks Normani has a crush on the cowboy, which is easy to believe, yet also hard to believe when she has Val standing right there in front of her. Sweet Alan is under a lot of pressure to not suck. If he does, Val will kill him. Noted.

This particular jive is fast, fast, fast. Normani wears a typical country girl outfit, which as everyone knows, is a modern-day Ellie Mae. Her rhinestone bikini top was a bandana, her denim panties were riding up her butt, and her red boots had fringe. That’s exactly what I wore growing up in East Texas.

Val and Alan wear jeans that have enough give to allow them to do the splits. Their belt buckles appear authentic, and halfway through the dance when Normani is really shining, they both ditch their pearl snaps. That was a fun moment. Toward the end of the high-paced dance, Normani jives away from her two suitors to sidle up next to Bonner, who is waiting for her by his vintage truck parked in front of Old Glory. God bless America. Len takes off some points for Normani dancing on the judges table for about twenty seconds too long, as I knew he would.
Bruno’s Best Line: “It was a glorious, all-American jive!”

Bonner, Sharna, and Britt
“That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars
Sharna is done. I think Sharna has been done. When Britt walks into their rehearsal, announcing that she has never done a trio before, Sharna looks waaayyyyyyy done. The good news is that they are dancing a jazz, which can easily be translated into musical theater. In this scene, Bonner is a billionaire oil mogul with two slutty secretaries who wear matching navy skirts split up to their waistbands. The dance is painfully slow and full of gyrations and pelvic thrusts on Bonner’s end. At one point I said out loud, “He needs to stop humping the air.” It was bad on all levels. Even the judges thought it was raunchy.
Bruno’s Best Line: “Those girls work hard for their money. You should give them a rise.” (Or a raise.)

Sasha, Simone, and Brittany
Paso Doble
“Don’t Let Me Down” by The Chainsmokers
Brittany has been a JV player for a very long time. She is a great dancer who doesn’t stand out in any way when it comes to her emotions or facial expressions. Does that sound familiar? Something tells me this trio was just as much about seeing Brittany in action as Simone. Could she be in the running to be a pro next season?

Right away I was annoyed with the dance. I just don’t like space themes, and I mentally check out when I see shiny silver and stars. Simone’s belly ring was more interesting to me. I could see there were times when Simone wanted to smile, but she didn’t. She remained dead faced. Sadly, that’s not the opposite of plastic smiles. There was very little emotion and the judges reprimanded her for it.
Bruno’s Best Line: “Sharp, clear and precise. Ruthless efficiency. But at times, we lose artistry.”

David, Lindsay, and Hayley
Paso Doble
“Gangsta’s Paradise” by 2WEI
Hayley tells David that out of all the contestants, he’s had the most growth. I’m not sure I can trust someone who wears shortalls, but I’ll allow it. An instrumental version of “Gangsta’s Paradise” certainly intrigued me. Unfortunately, David’s dance did not. I didn’t take a single note other than the words “FIRE” and “gold everywhere” and “Roman sandals.” Bless it. It was very rough. Yes, he’s trying so hard, but man was it clunky. I’ll spare you the video.
Bruno’s Best Line: “At times you look like Godzilla chasing jet fighters.”

I assume the show was running out of time, because Tom and Erin immediately started ticking off contestants who were safe. Of course I was fast forwarding my DVR, but that’s neither here nor there. To no one’s surprise, Bonner and Sharna reached the end of their journey.

Everyone looked relieved.

What do you think? We have a pretty good group of semi-finals. Will Simone pick a new smile? Can David hang on another week? Will Rashad kick it up and beat Normai? Is it hers to lose? More importantly, who wants to borrow my Ellie Mae outfit for Halloween?

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May 9, 2017 1:50 pm

Bonner’s trio, soooo awkward, and just uncomfortable to watch! Len’s comment to Bonner, SO rude, and uncalled for. Poor Simone, she really can’t find the in between, and she looks completely lost on what the judges want from her. Too precise is not a criticism a gymnast can understand or relate too!! I hope she gets to have the one-on-one session from one of the judges and maybe they can show her video and help her understand! I love David and Lindsay, I’m guessing he never thought he would still be there! But I’m thinking it is Rashad or Normani who is taking home the mirror ball this year, and I’m really ok with either one of them winning.

May 9, 2017 3:20 pm

I did feel kind of bad for Bonner when Len was ragging on him, but as viewers–we should be pisst because he basically insulted those who voted for Bonner. I wish they would go back to using “stars” that had no dance experience. Normani is part of the group that DOES have experience and I don’t really enjoy her dancing because she can dance. I would much rather watch David or Rashad who don’t have that background. I loved David’s waltz with Lindsay–it was sweet.

I think Simone is a competitor, but I did have to raise my eyebrows when she said that you don’t win gold medals by smiling. Yes, dear, that’s true, but this isn’t the Olympics and we would like to see if you are really having fun, not just competing. Which I know is stupid to say, but as a competitive person myself, I understand the difference and that’s what I would like to see on this show.

May 9, 2017 3:41 pm

I’m sick of the way the judges criticize Simone. Poor girl – I swear, Carrie Ann’s two critiques of her dances seemed to me to contradict each other completely. No wonder Simone looked so down at the end. And I loved her dad’s expressions when the camera would go to him. Yep, Dad, I’m disgusted, too.

I absolutely love Rashad. I enjoy watching everything he does.

I love David, but the fact that he and Bonner stayed and Nancy and Heather were eliminated is nuts.

May 9, 2017 4:36 pm

This is the first episode I have so much to say.
1. I agreed with the judges 100% on everything, even Len’s comments out loud to Bonner. We were all thinking it and he is too old to not say it.
2. Alan needs to be a pro, but I don’t really like how Val and Maks were pitching it to America. We know and we don’t make the decisions.
3. I thought the end of this season was going to be really great with Heather, Nancy, and… oh wait, now the end of the season is how much will Normani crush everyone else.
4. David’s pro pick dance was amazing and I’m glad he was around for it this week so we could all see it, but then he reminded us why he should have been gone weeks ago with the trio dance.
5. Len docked Normani a point for being on the judges table, but during the dance he sure looked like he was enjoying it.

May 9, 2017 6:46 pm
Reply to  Jennifer

Yes, Jennifer! Len was smiling and clapping while Normani danced on the judges’ table! Then bam, he smacked her one, and docked her a point. That bothered me.

May 10, 2017 7:51 am
Reply to  Christine

ME TOO!!!!!!!!!! I caught that as well.

May 10, 2017 7:51 am

So many emotions last night!
I thought Bonner was SO RUDE last night. You could tell that he was pissed that he was still here. I think he wanted to go home two weeks ago, when he should have. He literally behaved like he was doing Sharna a favor in that video package. I was team Bonner for a while, but that pissed me off. He looked totally disinterested in his dances, and also during the judges comments. As they were giving him critiques, he was totally not paying attention, looking around and trying to spot people in the audience. Disrespectful. My 11-year-old pointed out that he FIST PUMPED when he name was called out as going home, and then didn’t even thank or mention Sharna at the end. RUDE.
I feel super bad for Simone. I get that she has the same face plastered on all the time, but that’s the world she comes from. Just because she is an Olympic medalist doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have feelings. Her dances are phenomenal and instead of telling her that she was great they rag on her face. I’m glad she spoke up this week. When she made the comment about living in a gym for 14 years and not getting to feel emotions, I teared up. She might be 20, but in many ways she is as young as Laurie.
I love David. He is the total opposite of Bonner. He might not be the best dancer, but he is working his butt off, trying to be great. He is thankful for his partner, humble, and doesn’t take himself seriously, which makes him a joy to watch. Lindsay is doing a great job with him.
All that being said, hoping Rashad wins.

May 10, 2017 1:16 pm

Ugh I am just not on the Normani love-fest bandwagon. I was so glad when Len docked their trio because it had so little jive in it, granted his was for the table dancing and he was right about that too. I think she is very talented but I’m not a Val fan at all either so that may be tainting it. I know it’s the producer’s choice but her bio says, “I’ve been singing and dancing since I was 4…” For the record I felt the same way about Heather. I feel like the judges are being way too picky on Simone and Rashad, who are both fantastic. I think it was a bad idea to have Simone follow up the season after Laurie. They are different but she’s being held up to the Laurie comparison. I’m going to be as disappointed when Normani wins as I was when Val won with Rumor. Len was just nasty to Bonner. That was uncalled for. I am happy that the Sharna/Bonner flirt feast from the early weeks is gone because it was uncomfortable to watch.

May 10, 2017 10:06 pm

“You dont win gold medals by smiling.”
Simone respect on dwts: gone.
1. Honey, this is a mirror ball award, not a gold medal. And you need viewer votes. That attitude aint cuttin it.
2. Excuse me but didnt LAURIE HERNANDEZ win gold in the past (not necessarily all Olympic medals) AND dwts bc she learned how to show expression on the floor?
3. Sure you spent 14 years in the gym with one expression. Laurie, once again, was able to figure it out.

Len was 110% spot on about Bonner. Let the old fart say whats on his mind. Isnt that one of the perks of being older??

I cried during David and Lindsays package and dance. I love that she can spot that quality in someone…it shows what a deep person she is (how is she bff with Witney?!)

May 12, 2017 2:54 pm

I LOVE David–his personality has me completely won over, but he shouldn’t win (even though his father/daughter dance with Lindsay was very touching and surprisingly well danced.) Normani and Simone are impressive dancers, but I just don’t enjoy watching them that much. Both have been excellent dancers from the very beginning. There’s no disputing that they are both very talented, but they don’t move me when I watch them. Simone, bless her heart, is near perfection in the moves, but it feels very “surface” to me, no depth to the moves (and I’m not referring just to her smile/no smile issue, it’s more than that.) Normani seems too polished in all aspects. I know she has also worked hard learning the routines, but I think it came a lot more easily to her than to the others remaining. I’m rooting heavily for Rashad. He has made the most progress and puts a lot of soul into his dances. I appreciate his dances with my eyes and with my HEART. I also adore Emma and would love to see her win. GO RASHAD and EMMA!!!

May 12, 2017 9:19 pm
Reply to  Michele

I agree that David isn’t quite to the level of winning it all this season. I think he should be the next to head home, although I have enjoyed watching his dances for sure. I am loving Rashad, and his progress and performances have been awesome to watch! I’m voting for either him or Normani to win it all. (But it WOULD be great to see Emma win too though, wouldn’t it? She puts her heart and soul into it with every partner, every season. And she’s had some tough ones over the years!) We shall see!

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