Meet the cast of the 18th season of "Dancing with the Stars" which was announced Tuesday.
CLEVELAND - The winner of season 16 of "Dancing with the Stars" is indeed one of the girls. All season, I've predicted it would be Disney star Zendaya… but did country singer Kellie Pickler upset the expectations?
The show kicks off with all the pros dancing an opening number… to a recording of a Pitbull song. That's odd. Because he's actually there. And will sing live later. We also spot this season's former contestants who got eliminated.
Time for the encore, which was selected from fans vote on Twitter. Fans chose Kellie and Derek's breathtaking freestyle, which is just as impressive the second time around. Because fans picked Kellie for the encore, the final two will probably come down to her and Zendaya. Had Zendaya won the encore thanks to her vast amount of Twitter followers, she would have been a shoe-in to win, but Kellie may have upset the game with her astounding freestyle.
But the hosts remind us that ABC's website was down Monday night, and fans had to vote by calling, texting or on Facebook. Since 16-year-old Disney star Zendaya corners the market on plugged-in tweens, it is possible that this put a dent in her voting fan base. Let's see who waltzes off with that Mirrorball Trophy.
Time for the first elimination, and Olympian Aly Raisman is the first of the final tour to go. Devastating. She's easily better than NFL star Jacoby Jones, and was several points ahead of him after Monday. But I wrote in my Monday night recap that Jacoby's sudden underdog status might bump Aly out first. Frankly, for how hard Aly's danced these past couple weeks, I'd rather see her instant dance over Jacoby's. Hopefully Mama Jones isn't out for me now.
Aly tweeted, "Thank you guys so much for voting for @MarkBallas & I! This has been the best experience! I have had the time of my life :) love you all xox."
Time for some girl power with the female pros doing a group dance, also joined by the final three female contestants, including Aly. It's kind of odd for her to be forced to do a number just moments after she got eliminated. She does look a little distracted. Poor girl - she should've been in the final three.
Former contestant Wynonna Judd returns to sing "I Want To Know What Love Is." She sounds great.
Former contestant Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb return for a foxtrot. First, we are shown old footage of her joking that she would sleep with judge Len Goodman to win. In her foxtrot, she looks very graceful – then she points at Len, who steps down from the judges' table to step in and take over for Gleb. How cheeky.
It's time for former contestant Dorothy Hamill's return, but her partner Tristan is too injured to join her, so Henry fills in. Video reminds us that Dorothy overcame breast cancer and decided to do DWTS because pro skater and previous DWTS champ Kristi Yamaguchi inspired her to do the show.
Dorothy does the Viennese waltz with Henry and she doesn't miss a step. Her lines and shapes are great. A spotlight clicks on – and I was stunned to see Kristi standing next to her. Grab your tissues, people! The two figure skaters finish the dance together with their partners beautifully. Dorothy has goosebumps. Kristi says it's an honor to join her role model.
Now for the return of former contestant Andy Dick. His partner Sharna tells him they get to return for the finale. Andy wails, "Carrie Ann gave us a 5 – that bitch!" Ha! Andy and Sharna revamp their jazz dance from week two. Andy is the Mad Hatter; Sharna is Alice. These two are so fun, I would watch "The Andy & Sharna Show" every week. Maybe he can fill in as co-host if Tom Bergeron or Brooke Burke are out.
Performance time with Psy. Nuff said. At least it's not "Gangnam Style." After checking in on our three finalists working on their instant dances, it's time for another performance, with Pitbull live this time.
Time for the instant dances. Jacoby and Karina are up first. They've been working on a salsa routine and, about an hour ago, learned they would dance it to "Aguanile." It's crisp and active with good content, but they rehash some of their old moves, which I find tiring. I miss Aly. Len calls Jacoby a breath of fresh air. Bruno says he could watch him anytime. Carrie Ann says he proved why he's still there. Score: perfect 30, 86 two-night total.
Kellie and Derek are next. They've been working on a jive and just learned they will dance it to the Little Richard classic "Keep A-Knockin'." It's fun and fast and they just keep spinning around each other with lots of quick kicks. Bruno says Kellie reminds him of former pro Julianne Hough (and Derek's sister). Carrie Ann calls it a perfect ending to a wonderful journey. Len says Kellie is awesome. Score: perfect 30, 94 two-night total.
Zendaya and Val are last. They've also been rehearsing a jive, which they just learned they will perform to "Rockin' Robin." By the way, due to Zendaya's wayward elbow Monday, Val had to get 14 stitches to his right eyebrow. At first, their jive seems more frenetic than Kellie
and Derek's. They have lots of spins and move around the floor a lot, but Kellie and Derek had more kicks. Carrie Ann is sad she won't get to watch Zendaya dance anymore. Len says Zendaya has a lot of maturity for a young lady. Bruno calls her a pitch perfect performer who will go far. Score: perfect 30, 95 two-night total.
Three perfect scores for the three finalists' instant dances? That pretty much makes the instant dances moot and meaningless after Monday night's competition. Whoever the viewers voted for on Monday will win, regardless of the instant dance scores.
Jessica Sanchez sings "Feel This Moment" as the finalists watch a montage of their most memorable moments of the season.
Results time and Jacoby finally joins Aly in the eliminated column. Apparently, Jacoby doesn't mind being there. He tweeted, "I'm really gonna miss my girl @Aly_Raisman ..... My lil sis forever." Aww.
After a commercial break, it's down to Zendaya and Val or Kellie and Derek... and the Mirrorball Trophy-winning champions of season 16 are… Kellie and Derek!
Zendaya says she's happy and proud of her time. Jacoby picks Kellie up and sets her on his shoulders while everyone congratulates the winning team.
From week one, I predicted Zendaya would win, but yesterday, after watching the freestyles, I did write that we would have to see whose dance fans picked for the encore. Kellie's freestyle was simply a game-changing display of soul-baring dancing ability that changed the game and overcame Zendaya's massive amount of Twitter followers. Also, bear in mind, ABC's website was down Monday night, possibly impacting voting.
Zendaya has been great all season, but a miscalculated dance did cause her scores to slip last week, and simply enough, Kellie improved by miles with every dance the past two weeks.
But the Disney star has nothing to worry about. Like Bruno said, "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, you will go very far."
For you DWTS fans, the show returns in September. Otherwise, you can find more information at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index .
More DWTS News
We know Cleveland rocks but we're about to find out whether Cleveland dances too.
The stage is set for the finale of "Dancing with the Stars" after the latest elimination gives us the final four.
The bad boy is back on "Dancing with the Stars."
Another shocker on "Dancing with the Stars" – and it has nothing to do with Cher's face. (I kid! I love!)
With all the fast footwork on "Dancing with the Stars," the only thing that won't be moving tonight will be Cher's Botoxed face.
"Dancing with the Stars" alum Julianne Hough is apologizing after showing up to a Halloween party in blackface.