Alright kids – so on Tuesday, I counted down my picks for the bottom half of this season, and heard some great feedback from you guys. Now onto the top half…and my prediction for the winner! :-)
6.) Sherri & Val – Let me remind you guys that these rankings are certainly NOT a ranking of who is and isn’t my favorite, and really just who I think has staying power and who doesn’t. That said, Sherri gets on my last nerve – and I know I’m not alone. That right there could be her biggest obstacle this season: just completely turning people off with her loud, in-you-face personality. I noticed many of you commented that you either put Sherri’s media clips on mute or didn’t watch them at all because Sherri was so annoying – can you imagine if that’s what she’s going to be like every week on DWTS? 8O If she manages to not turn off the viewing audience, she has a big advantage in that she gets more media exposure on a daily basis than any of the other cast members this season – she’s on a popular morning show on a major network. And what demographic do you think that morning show really caters to? The same middle-aged female demographic that does the bulk of the viewing of DWTS. Even if she can’t blatantly promote herself on The View for votes on DWTS, just the fact that she’s got daily exposure will keep her fresh in people’s minds. She also seems to have had some…ahem…”preparation” prior to the start of this season. She’s definitely moving better than the average celeb with 3 weeks of training already. Will it really give her an edge in the long run? Probably not a huge one, as I’ve always been of the opinion that a naturally-talented dancer (like Jaleel or Roshon) will always have an easier time picking up dance moves & choreography than a better-prepared celeb that’s not so much of a natural mover. As for her pro – I think the jury’s still out on Val. I don’t think we really got a good idea of what he’s capable of last season, so I think this time around will be the real test. There’s also the potential vote splitting in play – that’s another factor that I’m not sure we got to see play out last season. If both Val & Maks’ partners stick around for awhile, will vote splitting come into play? Could be an interesting variable in the competition.
5.) Donald & Peta – Seeing what I have of Donald in interviews & rehearsals so far, I daresay he might be the most determined celeb this season – he’s talking about reviewing rehearsal tapes, special diets, marathon practice sessions, the works! But the very thing that gives him an edge could also be his downfall: being overly determined. As paradoxical as it sounds, being too determined can almost be as detrimental as not caring at all – I’ve found that couples who are desperate to win often reach a point where they put too much pressure on themselves and flame out…a good example is Aaron Carter. Remember the post-rumba meltdown in the confessional? Too much pressure on yourself, dude. I think they can also turn viewers off, too – the stench of desperation is not a pleasant one, and viewers can totally tell when a celeb has stopped having fun and just entered the “wayyyyy too competitive” territory. However, if he can strike a nice balance between being determined and also just enjoying himself, I think he could be a big force to be reckoned with – of the 3 other NFL players who did the show while they were currently playing for a team, the lowest any of them have placed is 4th. Perhaps because they’re still in peak physical form? Athleticism has obviously proven to be a huge asset. Then there’s the famous NFL fanbase – and in this case, he’s got a very unique one backing him: the “cheeseheads”, or Green Bay Packers fans. A lot of people don’t know this, but the Packers are the only team in the NFL that is non-profit and publicly-owned – meaning that there isn’t some wealthy individual or corporate entity that claims ownership of the team. As a result, the Packers have remained a very “small town”-type team, with a surprisingly large legion of fiercly loyal fans. I’ve witnessed it firsthand, as many of the people in my office are originally from Wisconsin and the big talk of Donald waltzing away with the trophy began mere hours after the cast announcement (I actually have an official wager going with our GM…maybe I’ll go into further detail in another post ;-)). In short – these are some WICKEDLY DEVOTED fans. I would even say they could give the Steeler Nation a run for their money. I’m definitely fascinated to see how it plays out :-) As for Peta…she, like Val, isn’t truly battle-tested, so we may finally get to see what she’s made of this season. If Donald could strike the right balance of competitiveness & fun, if the cheeseheads can put together an efficient voting effort, and if Peta can create some great routines…these two could be a bit of a dark horse to win.
4.) Maria & Derek – While I certainly don’t think Maria is going to truly suck this season, I’m also not sold that she’s finale material, either – I guess I’m leaning towards her being more of a Joanna or Jennie than a Ricki or Jennifer. Yes, Derek is a huge asset and I think Maria does have some potential…but I think she’s going to pose more of a challenge than the last 3 partners that he’s had. She’s not really an entertainer so much as she is a reporter, so I think really playing to the crowd may not come as easily to her as we might assume. Then’s there’s what I like to call the “goober factor” – that’s how silly the celeb feels when trying to dance :-) I get the feeling Maria is probably still dealing with the whole “I feel like such a goofball” feeling when she’s dancing – the key is to not show on your face that you feel totally silly while dancing ;-) The good news is that it does seem to go away with time (just watch Romeo’s face change from dance-to-dance in season 12), so if she get over feeling silly & embarassed while dancing, she ought to be ok. Assets? She’s got a rockin’ bod, and isn’t exactly painful to look at – and she looks good with Derek. Never hurts to be visually compatible! She’s probably also pretty fit & healthy (see aforementioned rockin’ bod), and does seem pretty energetic. Not sure how things are going to play out in the media, though, as all of the rival gossip rags have decided not to acknowledge that she’s even on DWTS since she’s on Extra. I think they ought to be ok, as long as they’re making a splash in other media – and tweeting A LOT. In the end, though, I think she will probably fall to the sentimental favorites with big fanbases, even if she’s the better dancer…but I think she’s at least make the semifinals.
3.) Roshon & Chelsie – I know this probably seems a little high, but for some reason, I can’t shake the feeling that Roshon will somehow end up being the “judges’ pet” this season, similar to Chelsea in season 12: a great dancer that maybe wasn’t quite as popular with the viewers, so the judges threw a little extra “help” her way. Based on what I’ve seen thus far, I’m fully expecting Roshon to be the biggest skill ringer this season – I think he’s got the dance experience and the athleticism to possibly be the best technical dancer this season. But there are a few pretty major problems here, and chief among them seems to be Roshon’s ego. I know I’m not the only one who has watched videos of him and thought “Man, that kid sure seems full of himself!” Whether that’s the real Roshon or just an act, I’m not sure – but he needs to pull a Romeo and show a kinder, calmer, more vulnerable side if he wants to connect with viewers. All the 10’s in the world from the judges are not gonna keep you from being sent home if the viewers think you’re a cocky little jerk. The second problem is fanbase – he’s a Disney kid, and DWTS has always done pretty poorly with the younger demographic. He’s gonna have to win over some of the middle-aged voters pretty quickly if he wants to stick around. Then there’s Chelsie – another pro that I don’t think has quite mastered the art of success on DWTS. She still seems to be in her formative phase, where she’s figuring out her identity as a choreographer and still tinkering with what choreography works and what doesn’t. She, like Cheryl, also seems a bit guilty of dancing around her partner when the going really gets tough. However, I do think her choreography improves each season, and I think her season off may have given her some good perspective – it’s easier to see the writing on the wall when you’re on the outside looking in. I think these two could stick around for quite awhile should Roshon really be a good dancer, but then I also have this gut feeling he could be a shock elimination in the 3rd or 4th week. Bah…who knows :-)
2.) Melissa & Maks – I’m thinking Melissa’s journey on the show will be kinda similar to Kirstie’s – maybe not the best or most consistent dancer, but a big fan favorite. She, like Kirstie, seems to be a popular star from the days of many of the viewers’ younger days, and she’s also a very well-respected actress. I also think she’s got a strong constitution and isn’t going to burst into tears the moment Maks raises his voice :-) As for dance skills – from what I’ve seen of her so far, she’s neither terrible nor stellar; I’ve heard she also has an existing back injury that could pose some problems. I do think Maks will have to work around that, and shouldn’t expect her to be throwing herself headlong into any crazy lifts or tricks. And as for Maks – I really have no clue where he stands this season. Maybe “Mad Maks” alternates seasons, so we’re due for a calm one this time around. I don’t doubt he’s still quite popular, and has a fanbase that rivals only Derek’s. However, I’m not sure how many people he may have turned off after his antics last season – or how much forgiveness voters have left in them this season. Maks could be skating on thin ice with some viewers – will he be able to resist the urge to lock horns with the judges or say careless things in the media? Who knows. There’s also the possible vote splitting that could occur should both he & Val stick around for awhile this season. We never really got to see it play out last season, since Elisabetta was eliminated so early. Overall, though, I just have a hunch that Melissa & Maks’ combined fanbases will carry them through to the finale – as will their hard work.
1.) Jaleel & Kym – I said it on the day of the cast announcement, and I still stand by it: it’s Jaleel’s to lose this season. He, to me, is the “full package” – he has some natural dance skill, he’s charismatic, he’s savvy in the media, he’s got the right demographic behind him, and he’s got amazing chemistry with his partner. The kid has some moves, and he seems to be picking up choreography quite quickly – hell, he was already giving us a preview of his jive at the cast announcement! And speaking of the cast announcement – wow, did he have a presence or what?! He’s just so smooth, articulate, and personable in what he says – and funny, too :-) I also think he’s got the right attitude going into the competition: he wants to do well, but overall he’s there to have fun and please his mother. Demographically-speaking, he is similar to Melissa in that he is likely quite well-remembered (and liked) by the middle-aged female population, and he could also pick up some votes from the smaller cross-section of younger viewers watching the show. I don’t think they could have picked a better partner for him than Kym – she’s got a similar laid-back attitude, and knows the right things to say in the media. They seem to get alone quite well – I’m not sure I would be so sold on Jaleel as the winner had he been paired with someone else. Potential problems? Nothing huge, but he might be battling Melissa, Martina, & Sherri for votes from the middle-aged demographic, and while many fans are clamoring for him to do the Urkel bit, I’m not so sure he will…I honestly hope he doesn’t cave into the pressure and do Urkel just because he can. But in all honesty, barring any catastrophic injury, I don’t see any big obstacles in Jaleel’s path to the MBT ;-)
So who do you guys think will make the finale? Who do you think will fall short? And who do you think will win? ;-) The premiere is only 3 days away!!! Who’s pumped? :-D