It’s that time of the year again! Time for me to do my preliminary power ranking of this season’s couples as a sort of prediction of how things will play out between now & November. For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about (or just need a refresher from last season ;-) ), I do a weekly ranking of the couples after each performance show that is basically a measure of how likely they are to stick around that week. Now this is NOT a ranking of who danced the best; we all know that just because a couple is at the top of the leaderboard, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe. This is a far more comprehensive ranking – it takes into account not only a couple’s performance, but also how well-liked they are, how well-known they are, how strong their voting demographic is, how memorable they are, etc.
I correctly predicted last season’s top 5 before the season even began – I’m hoping to best that this season by correctly predicting the top 6 ;-) But anywho, here’s my bottom half – the 6 couples I don’t think we should get too attached to, because I don’t foresee them sticking around for long…but there are always surprises!
12.) Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino & Karina Smirnoff – I really did have high hopes for these two, but unfortunately I just think they have too many odds stacked against them to last past the first week – that is, unless The Sitch turns out to be a natural, because they haven’t even started practicing yet. And they likely won’t until the week prior to the show, if what Karina’s tweeting is correct, since he’s wrapping up taping of the current season of Jersey Shore. Speaking of that show – I’m on the fence as to whether it’s going to be a boon or a burden for him. I said that I didn’t think Wildboyz & Jackass fans would tune in & vote for Steve-O, but he lasted until week 5…but I think Steve-O was also getting a bit of a sympathy vote from his recent stint in rehab. I’m not sure there’s anything for voters to feel sympathetic about as far as Mike’s concerned. And Jersey Shore is a really polarizing show – people either love it or hate it, so I hope to god that Mike is charming as can be if he wants to stick around. Karina is a pro that seems equally as polarizing – people seem to either adore her or loathe her (I’m in the former camp), and I’m afraid that her voting fanbase is just not going to be able to compensate for any lack of votes on the part of his fans. I hope to god that I’m wrong, because I really would like to see how these two do…but I’m preparing myself to see Mike join the infamous “first eliminees” club.
11.) Kyle Massey & Lacey Schwimmer – The only reason I see these two lasting longer than Mike & Karina is Lacey’s fanbase: she seems to have a decent-sized one, and they seem to be the type that are very motivated to vote. Echoing Heidi’s sentiments, Kyle is definitely the celebrity that has people going “Who?” this season – even co-workers of mine that have kids who watch Disney religiously were drawing a blank when I mentioned his name (and yes, for those of you who are new, I do use the ladies in my office as a sort of sample demographic – most are in their 30s & 40s with school-aged kids, which seems to be the biggest viewing demographic of the show). As for his dance prowess, if Lacey’s tweets and the rehearsal pictures that have been released are any indicator, then Kyle seems to be a bit of an awkward mover – and a jokester, so Lacey may have a hard time getting him to focus. Kyle may benefit slightly from the “mom” vote, but unless he’s really pretty good…I don’t think these two will last past the first few weeks.
10.) Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas – If Kate Gosselin’s longer-than-anyone-could-have-expected tenure on the show last season was any indicator, it’s that America loves controversial celebs – and I daresay Bristol has that position covered this season. Just like Heidi, I don’t see her getting sent home any sooner than week 3 – heck, I could even see her lasting until week 4 or 5, at the expense of a better dancer. I actually see her lasting longer if she’s exceptionally bad – just like viewers latch onto the best dancers, they also seem to enjoy keeping the bad ones around…everyone loves watching a train wreck. Mark’s also got one of the bigger fanbases on the show, so even if people don’t particularly care for Bristol, they’ll vote to keep Mark in the game, especially since he was eliminated so early last season. Judging from the rehearsal photos, it looks like Mark’s got his work cut out for him – Bristol definitely looks awkward. She’s also been pretty quiet and mundane in the media, so I don’t think she’s gonna make a huge impression in anyone’s minds – unless she’s just a really bad dancer. In which case, George Lopez may dub her this season’s Kate, and take it upon himself to campaign to keep her in…that fool.
9.) Audrina Patridge & Tony Dovolani – There’s been a good amount of debate so far about whether Audrina’s gonna sink or swim…I’m leaning towards the former. Audrina’s done a little bit of modeling, and I don’t know of any dancing she’s done (besides what you do in a smoke-filled club), so I’m inclined to think that she’s gonna go more the route of Holly Madison and Kathy Ireland than Melissa Rycroft or Stacy Keibler. Don’t get me wrong, she seems like a very sweet, pretty girl – a very sweet, pretty girl that’s not gonna make a whole lot of waves, good or bad. And unless she’s got some hidden skills we don’t know about (superhuman flexibility, gymnastics, etc.), I doubt Tony’s choreography is going to really showcase her well. As for voting power…I know The Hills had a cult-like following, but at the same time, just because someone likes that show doesn’t mean they necessarily like Audrina (I’ve known plenty who watched the show who absolutely despised her, for whatever reason). And Tony’s gotten sent home fairly early before – I don’t think he has the voting fanbase to carry them both. Oh well…at least she’ll look pretty in the costumes!
8.) Margaret Cho & Louis Van Amstel – No doubt, these two will be the comic relief this season. I didn’t think anyone could top the hilarity of Niecy & Louis, but this very well may do it! Do I think that Margaret is going to be a stellar dancer? Hell no, but neither was Niecy – I’m pretty sure she & Louis realized that pretty quickly, which is why they went to town working the comedy angle, and it worked for them. Margaret is a well-known comedian, so I could see die hard fans of hers coming out to vote; Louis is a bit more of a wild card, as I don’t really know if he has the broad-spectrum appeal of Derek or Mark – he does, however, seem to have the support of the LGBT community (as does Margaret), which quite a powerful demographic. I don’t think that alone (and their schtick) is going to carry them through to the midpoint of the competition, though, and I’m not sure there’s a whole lot for Louis to pull out of her in terms of real skill. Margaret is also known to get a bit bawdy in her comedy – something I think she may have to reign in if she doesn’t want to risk offending a good part of the voting audience. Overall, I think they’ll be fun to watch – but the humor will eventually wear thin and pale in comparison to better dancers and bigger fanbases.
7.) Michael Bolton & Chelsie Hightower – I know some people don’t really have high hopes for these two, but I think some people are really underestimating Michael’s appeal – I remember grown women & teenagers alike going CRAZY for this guy in the early 90s. As in screaming, crying, and bra-throwing crazy. And to be honest, the guy has aged pretty well – he’s definitely not terrible to look at (thank god he got rid of that ratty-ass hair!), and he’s still making music. I would bet those same women from 20 years ago still carry a bit of a torch for him, and they will step up to the plate & vote. As will the growing population of Chelsie fans – I think she’s all but filled in the role of the blonde, Mormon girl-next-door left vacant by Julianne. Will Michael be one of the breakout dancers of this season? Meh – probably not. But I do think he’ll make an honest effort, and I daresay he won’t be nearly as bad as some other guys. And honestly, I’m actually starting to warm to the idea of he & Chelsie together…it doesn’t seem like quite the odd couple that it first appeared, especially when you compare them to Ashly & Buzz (which, oddly enough, seemed to work as well). I honestly vacillated between putting them at 6th or 7th – and I still think they could potentially make it to the top half of the pack. But I think it’ll hinge upon how the couple I placed at #6 does…
…and with that, I give you the first half of my pre-season power rankings ;-) Curious about who I have making it to the finale, and who I have taking home the mirrorball trophy? Then stay tuned for part II…and I’ll give you a hint: my winner is different from the one Heidi predicted ;-)