DWTS Season 18: Why Cut the Orchestra??? (Guest Blog)

Hi everyone!!  One of our long time regulars here at PureDWTS, Nathan, asked me last night if he could write a guest blog about the Orchestra. We said “Heck Yeah!!”  So, Nathan sent me this lovely piece dedicated to the Orchestra and why he thinks it’s a mistake to cut it.  I agree with him and will add….Derek and Maria’s Rumba to Madonna: it’s like will never happen again. 🙁  Here’s Nathan:

Dancing with the Stars, as we all know is going onto its 18th season and 9th year on our television screens. That is a very big accomplishment for a series and I’m sure many of you who visit this site adore the daylights out of it. I, personally, remember when I first tuned in for the 3rd Season Premiere and how delighted I was. One of the aspects that impressed me the most was the live music that accompanied the dances. I recognized some of the songs and thought it was neat how they turned a ‘cheesy ‘80s song’ or my favorite pop song and tailored it to become a mambo or Paso Doble piece. To be quite honest, while I wasn’t impressed with the performances all the time, I have to give a special nod to Beverley Staughnton, who always made me happy with her vocals. The first time I was impressed by her was in week 4 during Willa Ford and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s waltz to “You Light Up My Life”. I had heard that song plenty and even laughed a bit when it would come on the radio. But, Beverley’s performance of it had me seeing it in a new light and in my opinion, brought a new oomph to the song. That particular song has been performed plenty of times on the show, but seriously, listen to Beverley’s vulnerability in her (to my knowledge) first performance ever of that one. It really is a pleasure to the ears.  And as the weeks went on, several songs were performed really great.  In fact, I can honestly say that while I of course was eager to see how my Monique Coleman did every week, I was also looking forward to finding out what the music department would do next. It was part of what made the show for me. They were performed LIVE. That aspect is one of the reasons that I became such a passionate fan of the show. I couldn’t wait to hear what “Top 40 Hit” or song from the ‘70s or ‘80s they were going to dance a Foxtrot or Cha Cha to. To this day, I still say “Ooh, that’s a foxtrot!” or “That song is totally Samba!” when I hear a song on the radio. DWTS got my imagination rolling so to speak.


As the seasons went on, there were several times where I had never heard a certain song before and was introduced to them thanks to DWTS. In fact, there were times where I had to google lyrics, found the song and guess what? I preferred the Live DWTS version better! I still remember the feeling I got when the music would come on and be the genuine excitement I would get hearing whatever music live when the pros or students were about to do. It enhanced the moment. Seriously look up the 100th Episode and I dare you not to get excited when you see those ladies turn around all looking good, and walking to the beat of “Hard to Handle”. Just imagine an 18 year old watching that and getting excited for the celebration. 🙂 The point is that this was a big factor of why I loved this show. Listening to radio music be tailored for a Latin or Ballroom dance.

Recently, I noticed how unhappy I am with the show and was trying to point out why. Well, one of the reasons was because of the lack of live music. To me, there is this thing that live music brings to a show like this and it sometimes can enhance a dance even more. We are starting to get less and less “moments” from the show and on a side note, can we please tone down the props and sets, please? Thank you. But back to the original point, it was recently revealed that the orchestra could possibly be cut altogether and we will just have tracks that the dancers will dance to. This was allegedly done to cater to the younger demographic. I think this is a huge mistake. Sure, you can go back to other posts or blogs or commentators talking about how awful the band was or how they butchered a song, yadda yadda yadda. And it was true to a degree, certain modern day pop hits just weren’t the band’s strong suits, although that might possibly be due to the disgusting amount of auto tune nowadays, but I digress. Again, I really feel like the live music adds an element that lets us enjoy a dance even more. I wanted to point out five songs that I think shows how good the orchestra and band really were. These performances are by no means perfect, but that is kind of the beauty of live television.

#5) Melissa Rycroft’s Foxtrot (All Stars: Week 1)

Song: Hey Big Spender

Summary: Carmen Carter is in her element when she sings Sassy, Brassy Broadway and this really highlights that. I remember being genuinely excited for All-Stars and I felt the band was spot on during this night. This song was the highlight for me. Close your eyes and envision that song. Just envision it. Carmen does a great job at letting you see a character and telling a story while the band backs her up perfectly. And I LOVE those drums!

#4) Kristi Yamaguchi’s Foxtrot (Season 6: Week 1)

Song: The More I See You

Summary: This is a perfect example of how a song (especially when sung live) can make an already fantastic dance better. Let’s face it, we all knew Kristi was going to be stellar, but boy did she impress us or what? When a dance is being executed to darn near perfection like this AND then the music accompanies it the way it does here? It is enhancing that dance even more! Plus that male vocalist is totally smooth, and what? In. His. Element. A really great job by the band here.


#3) Joey Lawrence’s Rumba (Season 3: Week 9)

Song: Eternal Flame

Summary: This is possibly my favorite vocal performance from Beverley. I can remember this one so vividly. To sum this one up: honest and vulnerable. It was perfectly tailored for a rumba and while I never did care for Joey’s dancing, let’s bring it home, the music enhanced the dance, especially when Beverley holds that note towards the end. When executed well, you are wrapped up in the dance. Which I definitely was, it’s Edyta dancing too after all 😉


#2) Kelly Osbourne’s Charleston (Season 9: Week 4)

Song: Cabaret

Summary: This is one of those ‘moments’ I’m talking about. This was the first time I had ever heard this song and ended up preferring Carmen’s version. Carmen Carter EMBODIED the character and while I wasn’t impressed with Kelly’s dancing, the music soared with Carmen at the forefront. When she hits those final notes, and the band perfectly backing her up? Add a camera swirl around the dances plus audience excitement? The performance was sealed.


#1) Donny Osmond’s Freestyle (Season 9: Week 10)

Song: Back in Business

Summary: This is the best job, in my opinion, that the band has ever done. It truly was an ensemble. Everyone from the musicians to the singers were featured and allowed to shine. Plus, this is the boldest I have ever heard Beverley sang, and add Donny’s showmanship? You’ve got an A + performance. It is perfection to me.


So, what’s up DWTS? Why would you get rid of this? All for the younger demographic? Guess what? I was 17/18 once and I was a fan of this show. I never would have thought you could dance a Paso to “The Reflex” or a jive to “SOS”. It opened my eyes to a whole new world. It was exciting. Are the kids these days that narrow minded that you want to just please them with a track? Slowly but surely you are turning off YOUR demographic who watches the show. This is only the beginning if you continue making moves like this.


What’s your opinion? Is this a bad idea? And what have been your favorite performances? Sound off in the comments! And thank you very much to the crew at Pure DWTS for this opportunity!