It’s time once again for me to dust off my crystal ball and attempt (often in vain) to predict who the winners & losers of the season will be :-) Most of you are probably familiar with the power rankings, but if you aren’t, here’s a quick run-down: I do a power ranking after each performance show that ranks the couples from most likely to stay to most likely to go home – it’s essentially a prediction of who’s going home and who’s got staying power. And kids, please – keep in mind that it’s not based solely on scores, or popularity, or running order, etc. It’s a complex formula of many factors – fanbase, dance ability, entertainment value, choreography, scores, yadda yadda yadda. And before the season starts, I like to do a “preliminary” ranking – a prediction that just takes into account what we know about the couples right now, without ever having seen them dance live (rehearsal videos don’t count – those can differ drastically from the final product!). Make sense? Keep in mind that this is just my opinion – differing ones are welcome and great to discuss, and there are no right or wrong answers ;-) So let’s start with places 12 through 7 – the couples that I don’t see lasting past the midpoint of the season.
12.) Ron Artest & Peta Murgatroyd - I really want Peta to stick around for at least a few weeks this season to show us what she can do, but unfortunately, I’ve got a lot of reservations about Ron…and it kinda stinks that Peta’s so new that her fanbase is likely not going to be able to compensate for a lack of support on Ron’s behalf. First of all, the physical problem: Ron’s 6’7″ and Peta’s 5’7″, so even with heels on, Peta’s gonna have quite a bit of height to make up for. It’s not impossible (ask Cheryl, who at 5’4″ partnered 6’7″ Rick Fox somewhat effectively in season 11), but it’s not necessarily easy or visually-pleasing, either. Ron’s an athlete, so that might help a bit – but not all of the athletes that have done the show have been natural movers (Clyde Drexler comes to mind). Now the greyer area: Ron’s never been one to hold his tongue, and he’s infamous for rather erratic behavior. He’s come a long way since the infamous Pacers/Pistons brawl, but he’s still kinda wacky…and I’m honestly not sure whether that’s a boon or a burden when it comes to fanbase. He’s well-known, but I’m interested to see how many people he’s turned off with his antics. Another potential problem: from the few videos I’ve seen of he & Peta so far, I’m not picking up a lot of chemistry. I get this feeling this could be a rather awkward pair to watch interact. On top of that, I’ve been hearing murmurings that Ron has been showing up considerably late for practice, and has only wanted to practice for an hour or so at a time. A lack of commitment this early in the season? Sounds like a harbinger of doom to me. I really want Peta to stick around, and I’m hoping Ron proves me wrong…but I’m just not optimistic.
11.) Chynna Phillips & Tony Dovolani – My biggest concern about these two is not dance skill or chemistry – I’m just afraid they’re going to fade into the woodwork. As I mentioned in another post, Chynna & Tony are the couple I always find myself forgetting when thinking of all the couples this season – and we all know that being unmemorable on this show is the kiss of death. I think they’re physically a very well-matched couple – both very attractive, and they look good together – but even their promo photos for this season looked rather bland to me. I even think Chynna could be a halfway-decent dancer – and yet I’m still afraid people are going to forget about them. Chynna’s been out of the spotlight for awhile now, and unfortunately it seems like Tony has shown a pattern of having celebs that are good dancers but don’t make much of an impact. Audrina was actually pretty damn good, and more current than Chynna – but she still couldn’t last past the midpoint of the competition. If Chynna really is a good dancer (and I do think she has the potential to be good), I think she & Tony are really going to have to focus on making themselves stand out in a sea of big personalities this season – and they need to start with getting more press for themselves. There seem to be fewer interviews and media spots about these two, compared to other couples – and getting their names on viewers lips before the show starts is crucial. If they can manage to separate themselves from the pack, I think she could last awhile like Jane Seymour – but if they don’t, I could see them being an early exit, a la Kathy Ireland. Time will tell.
10.) Rob Kardashian & Cheryl Burke - I know Rob says he’s gonna stay in the competition longer than his sister did, but judging from his behavior so far, I’m not sure I think he’s got the juice to last past week 3. The big red flag for me: the fact that he keeps reminding us that his mom made him do the show this season. That, to me, says “I’m only here because my mom kept hounding me – I don’t really WANT to be here.” And I really think that the stars have to be self-motivated in order to do well on this show – the pros can only do so much to light a fire under an unmotivated partner…look at poor Tony with Kate. Or Jonathan with Macy Gray. And sorry kids, but I just don’t see Cheryl as the nurturing, “Oh Rob, you’re doing so great, just give it one more try…pleeeeeease!” type – she seems more like the type to kick Rob’s ass and tell him to suck it up :-) As for potential dance ability, athleticism, & fanbase – meh, I’ve never really seen Rob do much more than bob his head to the beat in VIP at a club or swim in sister Khloe’s pool on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and while the Kardashians may have “a ton of twitter followers” and “lots of fans of their show” – that fanbase didn’t seem to translate to votes for Kim on DWTS, and I daresay she’s more popular than her brother. So in other words – Cheryl may have her work cut out for her. And it’s only because of Cheryl that I have Rob lasting until week 3 – she’s arguably the most popular female pro on the show this season, and does have a good track record of taking her partners farther than anyone expected. If there’s anyone that can shape Rob into a dancer – it’s Cheryl.
9.) Chaz Bono & Lacey Schwimmer – Quite possibly the most “buzzed about” contestant this season, I think Chaz actually has an advantage in having a bit of controversy surrounding his participation in the show – controversy can keep a contestant memorable and can keep people voting in order to see what they do next. I can’t think of a season where they most controversial contestant went home first – Kate Gosselin, Tom DeLay, Lance Bass, Bristol Palin, & Steve-O all managed to last at least a few weeks into the competition – and none of the above were fantastic dancers, either. That said, I think Chaz has 2 rather large hurdles to overcome this season: his weight & public opinion. Chaz is admittedly overweight, and likely still getting used to the changes in muscle & fat distribution in his body – learning to dance will probably help him, but moving gracefully might be a work-in-progress. And obviously, there seems to be a very vocal part of the viewing audience that objects to Chaz’s participation in the show – or society as a whole. That could be the biggest obstacle Chaz has to contend with – somehow endearing himself to a portion of the viewing audience that might not be ready to accept someone who has made life choices that aren’t necessarily “the norm”. How much of the viewing audience feels that way? I’m not sure – but I do feel as though viewers have gotten increasingly open-minded about contestants, and may grow to like Chaz. Luckily, I think he has an advantage in having Lacey – if there’s anyone that can prove that “bending the rules” can work in your favor sometimes, it’s her. And likewise, if there’s anyone that can help Chaz to feel more comfortable and open up to America…it’s her :-)
8.) Carson Kressley & Anna Trebunskaya – Not gonna lie – I’m so excited to see what these two have in store for us this season :-D If their animated interaction on GMA was any indicator of what’s to come, these two are going to be a HOOT to watch this season! That said, I think Carson may be all personality and not so much dance skill – he seems like he’s the eternal jokester & the life of the party, so I wonder how much he’s going to be able to buckle-down and really try and focus on learning the dances. Luckily, Anna seems like the pro who knows best how to balance dancing with having fun, so hopefully she can keep him on-point. My other big concern is Carson’s lack of experience with the ladies, as he admitted himself…it could put him at odds with more romantic dances like the rumba & Argentine tango. He’ll also likely have to contend with the same portion of the viewing audience that objects to Chaz’ participation, due to his sexuality. His advantages? He seems wildly popular with the middle-aged female demographic, who have likely caught him on Queer Eye & True Beauty. And he does have a bit of an athletic background – he’s allegedly a seasoned equestrian. And perhaps best of all – who can better design a costume than Carson? Calling it right now – he & Anna will be the best-dressed couple of the season. ;-)
7.) Nancy Grace & Tristan Macmanus – Some of may you may be muttering “She’s nuts if she thinks this is gonna happen!” right now, but hear me out – I really think Nancy is going to pleasantly surprise a lot of people this season. She stood out to me at the cast announcement as one of the celebs that was really & truly excited to be on the show this season…and I think that alone could be a huge advantage in this competition, just like I think not wanting to be there is a huge disadvantage. All the interviews I’ve seen of Nancy have been quite endearing – she’s excited, she seems to get along really well with Tristan, and she’s got the right attitude about the competition: she’s not afraid to laugh at herself if she falls on her ass :-) She almost reminds me of Kirstie last season, the way she’s been able to joke around & have fun. I think she’ll also have the advantage of support from the mommy population – she gushes about her twins, and is definitely the “fierce mother” type, the way she has taken a victims’ rights stance in many child kidnapping cases. And as much as some may hate her, I think an equal number love her – she may have the same polarizing appeal that Kate Gosselin & Bristol both had…except Nancy may actually be a bit more palatable, personality-wise. Disadvantages? She’s a 51-year-old mom without any athletic background, and she’s got a new pro without much of an established fanbase to help with votes. But really & truly – I think she’s got more staying power than people think. Probably not enough to outlast better dancers, but at least enough to make it to the midpoint of the season, methinks.
So there’s the bottom half of my pack. What do you guys think? Who do you think will be the first to go, and who do you think could surprise us and last longer in the competition? Tune in later this week when I reveal my predictions for the top half of the pack, the finalists, and the winner!