DWTS Season 14 Preliminary Power Rankings, Part I

It’s that time again, kids – time for my seasonal preliminary power rankings! For those of you unfamiliar, I do these after each performance show, and it’s basically a measure of how likely a couple is to stay vs. how likely they are to get sent home a particular week – the #1 spot is saved for the couple I think is the safest, and the bottom spot is who I’m predicting to get sent home.  Keep in mind that it is NOT simply a ranking based on scores – how boring would that be? For my rankings, I tend to take into account fanbase, scores, memorability, running order, demographics, the whole shebang.  And for this edition, I’m simply relying on what I know and have seen of the couples thus far – so here’s who I think will be the first to go, all the way up to who I think will make it to the middle of the season.  Enjoy!

12.) Katherine & Mark – I went back and forth over who I thought would be the first to go, but I think that ultimately, these two probably have the greatest hurdles to overcome in order to stick around and I’m not sure they’ve got the juice to do it.  There’s been painfully little media on these two – only the occasional candid tourist shot in London, and no official promo interviews.  The little rehearsal footage we’ve seen hasn’t really told us much, other than the fact that Katherine is probably decent but not fantastic.  And worst of all – Katherine is coming into this competition as a relative unknown, surrounded by quite a few sentimental favorites & big personalities who may be fanbase ringers. If there’s anyone that really & truly needs to be making a big splash right now, it’s Katherine – and we’ve seen next to nothing from her.  As for dance skills, she has the potential to be quite good, given what little concert & rehearsal footage I’ve seen of her.  She does have a natural rhythm, and she’s not terrible to look at – but keep in mind that dance skills really don’t mean sh*t if people aren’t motivated to vote for her.  She has Mark, which I would say is more of an advantage than a disadvantage, given his skill & popularity; however, even Mark is not immune to the dreaded early elimination, as we’ve seen with Kim, Shannen, & Kristin.  Could she blow us all away & have some staying power? Possibly, but she’s got a LOT of catching up to do in order to have a shot at keeping up with juggernauts like Jaleel, Melissa, Sherri, Maria, and Gladys.  And at this point – I’m afraid any exposure she’s gonna get is gonna be too little, too late :-(

11.) Gavin & Karina – I may be seeing things, but I had a bad feeling about this couple from the first time I saw them interact during the cast announcement – it seemed like a very strained, awkward encounter, and it made me seriously question if they were truly a well-matched couple.  Then I heard that Gavin was still going to be touring while doing the show, and I became even more skeptical. Then finally, I saw a video of them rehearsing – and now I’m pretty convinced that they aren’t going to last long.  The biggest issue I see here is commitment – I get the feeling Gavin is really only doing the show to promote his new album, and his true commitment lies not with the show itself, but his tour.  It’s very much like Michael Bolton all over again, for me – a currently touring musician who does a short stint on the show as a bit of self-promotion.  Don’t get me wrong, Gavin seems like a nice guy & all – I just don’t think his heart or his head are 100% in the game.  And with all the “squeezing in” they’ve had to do with their practice time, I’m not sure he’s going to have the skills to improve upon what I consider to be a pretty weak dance background.  Then, of course, you’ve got all the celebs this season who are likely quite a bit more popular than he is – a singer who was arguably more successful & well-known 5 years ago than he is now, vs. a soul legend, an iconic tv character, a well-established actress, and a talk show host with a big mouth? He’s either going to have to be a fabulous dancer from the get-go, or ridiculously charming, or both – because he’s up against some stiff competition for votes.

10.) Martina & Tony – Ok, I know a lot of you have been saying “Oooh, Martina’s gonna be so fierce this season! She was fierce on the tennis court!”, but I’m not quite sold on the idea that her talent on the court is going to translate seamlessly into success on DWTS.  A great work ethic is always an asset, but I think Martina is going to struggle quite a bit with the performance aspect of the show – in the few videos I’ve seen of her, she has an almost “zen” quality to her: very calm, collected, resolute, and confident.  But calm, collected, resolute, and confident are not exactly what you need when you’re doing the jive and should generally be acting like a cartoon character :-) And while I do praise her focus and “zen-ness”, the fact that Tony has a track record of having partners that tend to blend into the woodwork is a bit worrisome – if Martina doesn’t come out with both great & memorable dancing, I think she could be gone quicker than we expect.  I also wonder if she might be splitting votes with someone like Jaleel or Melissa, who were at the height of their fame at roughly the same time Martina was.  It seems like it could be a battle of the pop culture icons.  I think she has the potential to be a pretty good dancer, but a lot of it will hinge upon the choreography she’s given…and the impact she makes..

9.) Jack & Anna – To be honest, Jack is a bit of a question mark for me this season – he seems highly motivated to do well, and he’s got a great personality; but I’m not sure where he stands in terms of fanbase, and I wonder how much his age is going to affect his dancing.  I was honestly a bit taken aback when I saw him on the cast announcement – I had been used to seeing the young, hot, studly Frisco Jones on General Hospital as a kid, and the man I saw before me hadn’t exactly aged well.  His dancing during the title shoot with Anna,while cute & entertaining, did kind of show his limitations, I’m afraid – seems like he’s going to be a bit stiff.  However, he does seem to have a cult following from both his GH and The Bold & the Beautiful days – he could go more the Cameron Mathison route while on DWTS, or he could go more of the Aiden Turner route…time will tell.  I’m also curious as to how his relationship with Heather Locklear will factor into things, if they do at all – I know Wendy Williams expressed some disgust that he had chosen to do the show while Heather was going through such a tough time, but to my knowledge, he had ended their engagement late last year, and really – who gives a horse’s patootie what Wendy Williams thinks? :-) But if she pointed it out, it makes me wonder if others will, too.  As for Anna – as much as I love her, I don’t think she’s really perfected the formula for success on DWTS.  She does some great choreography, and then she does some not-so-great choreography.  I think they’re probably one of the most well-matched couples on the show, though – they appear to get along very well.  If they do manage to last through the first few weeks while the weak dancers are weeded out, I think they’re really going to have to work hard to keep up with some of the more naturally-talented couples this season.

8.) William & Cheryl - William is another big wild card for me this season – he’s another relative unknown here in the states, but unlike Katherine, he’s a dude, and he’s got a pro who has an uncanny knack for taking her partners pretty far in the competition.  First off, I don’t believe for one second that he’ll be the 2nd coming of Gilles, like so many people seem to believe – Gilles was really and truly a fluke.  A fantastic, naturally-gifted dancer that was both charming & humble, and had a great chemistry with Cheryl.  I’m reluctant to believe that lightening will strike twice with William – he seems nice enough, and I’m sure he is at least slightly athletic, based on his physique; but with a season chock full o’ sentimental favorites and some pretty naturally-talented dancers, can voters be bothered to toss a few votes his way, at the risk of losing one of those sentimental favorites? I’m not so sure.  Like Katherine, I think he’s going to have to be STELLAR right out of the gate in order to get the voters’ attention – and he’s going to have to be Mr. Congeniality, too.  But I think the fact that he’s a dude (and a good-looking one, to boot) may give him a slight edge over Katherine – there always seems to be at least a small cross-section of the voting population that will vote throw a couple of votes to a male contestant just because he’s eye candy :-) And Cheryl’s fanbase could help out too, initially. However, when it comes down to the nitty gritty of who is the “full package” of dance skills, personality, fan base, & chemistry – I think William may fall short, since he’s surrounded by so many favorites this season.

7.) Gladys & Tristan – Not gonna lie: I’m totally excited to see what Tristan can come up with for the Empress of Soul this season! I think she has the potential to go farther than one would expect for her age this season – but therein lies the problem: age.  Gladys is 67, and the oldest competitor this season.  You can point out how Gladys “is in great shape for her age!” all you want, but at the end of the day, she is still not going to be physically capable of doing all the same moves with all the same zeal as, say, 20-year-old Roshon or 25-year-old Katherine.  Age does catch up with us, so Gladys & Tristan are going to have to find a way to bridge the gap between some of the younger couples – and I think their best bet is probably going to be showmanship.  Simple, clean choreography, but executed to be as entertaining & fun to watch as possible.  Another potential obstacle: Gladys’ touring schedule.  I haven’t heard exactly how many shows she’s planning on doing this season, but anytime a celeb has had to travel during the duration of the show in the past – their dancing has usually suffered as a result. So whatever practice time these two have, they’re really going to have to make the most of it.  So what advantages do they have? Odds are, a pretty sizeable fanbase that is motivated to vote.  Of all the contestants this season, I’d say Gladys is the only one with “legend” status – and to me, that means you’re a household name that’s been around quite awhile.  I could see many women who grew up listening to Gladys’ music picking up a phone to vote for her – that’s the power of the sentimental vote :-) I think she & Tristan’s great chemistry could also be a big asset – they’re just so darn CUTE together! Could Gladys make it further in the competition than just the midpoint? It’s possible.  But historically, older contestants seem to get eliminated by the middle of the season.  Gladys, please feel free to prove me wrong :-)

So what couples make up the bottom half of your list? Who do you think will be the first couple sent packing? :-) Keep an eye out for the top half of my rankings (including my prediction for the winner) coming up later this week!