The top 3 battled it out tonight in the finale of Dancing With The Stars, performing a dance selected by the judges, plus the always eagerly-anticipated freestyle dance. This year's battle for the ugly disco ball between Laila Ali, Apolo Anton Ohno and Joey Fatone is the most evenly-matched and, hence, unpredictable of the four seasons, and the judges separated the three by just 3 points (Apolo - 58, Joey - 56, Laila - 55).
After last week's 10-fest, I thought the judges would cop out and give 10s to every performance, but each star faced their share of criticism. Laila's old-school Michael Jackson freestyle was a bit uninspired (until the end), and the judges dinged her for not showing off what makes her stand out - her elegance. Her paso doble, on the other hand, was fiery and passionate, and one of the best performances of the night. Apolo's rumba was called overperformed and not that passionate (which I agreed with, even though Julianne did her best to create an aura of passion with her barely-there clothing), but his hip-hop/breakdancing freestyle was pretty awesome (although cute little Julianne ... maybe not so believable as a hip-hopper), and the crowd went absolutely nuts. Joey's cha cha cha was ripped for being more freestyle than cha cha cha (which I was screaming at the TV as they were dancing), but his disco freestyle was given a perfect 10 for the effortless lifts and tricks, which included a sky-high jump over his tall partner's head! (higher than Drew Lachey's jump over Cheryl Burke in season 2).
Heh. I kept thinking about Tony Davolani and his gawd-awful disco freestyle that sunk Stacy Keibler in season 2. Now Joey's partner Kym and Stacy Kiebler are like clones - both blondes with great figures and legs that go on for days. Both teams used some cheesy 70's disco moves, but overall, comparing the dancing and the choreography on those two freestyles, I have to say that Joey made Tony look like the amateur in comparison. Apolo's freestyle made Mario Lopez's hip-hop freestyle last year look bad as well. Laila, on the other hand, made Jerry Rice's look much better. Oof.
But I do have to say ... as exciting as Apolo's routine was, it wasn't at a Drew/Cheryl "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy" level. I know it's freestyle, but one of the things I loved about Drew and Cheryl's dance is that they still used elements of ballroom in that dance. There is no ballroom in hip-hop.
It's really hard to predict who will win. Apolo has the hearthrob vote, as well as the younger vote. Joey has the N Sync vote. Laila has her own voting bloc as well and could benefit from a split vote between Apolo and Joey. If one of the men go out in third place, expect the other man to win. I have a hunch Apolo will win.
Oh, and as if it hasn't been said enough, the song choices are utterly absurd on this show. Doing a rumba to "Midnight Train To Georgia"? A cha cha cha to "Groove Is In The Heart"? And hearing those singers perform "Bust A Move"? Ha! I've heard it done better in karaoke bars.