People of the world unite, one time, because it’s Janet Jackson night! Accompanied by a major side-part, Tyra entered with a particular hop in her strut and even joined in on the last two beats of the opening number. Talk about history-making! Janet Jackson joined live from London (woah, time difference!) looking better than ever to chat with her BFF and boo, Miss Banks, and even made time to make a tentative plan to get their boys back together. Gimme a beat and go grab your seat, because it’s time to dance into night nine!

Round 1 Dances:

Jimmie Allen & Emma – Cha-Cha – This couple has such a special friendship and despite their scores being on the lower side, their chemistry translated straight to the stage this week. Jimmie started off with a smooth solo in the spotlight and from there on out, these escapades were magic! This dance was a fun, contemporary take on the cha-cha. However, Len and Derek delivered some tough critiques about it not meeting the standards of the competition. This panel was very upset about the heels in this number, but I had fun! Judges Scores: 8 – 8 – 8 – 8

Suni Lee & Sasha – Samba- Bouncing back after her ailment, I’m so relieved that Suni is making her revival performance. I’m ready to fight anyone who is bad mouthing this OLYMPIAN ANGEL, so don’t you dare! First off, the new hairdo is the definition of glam. Secondly and more importantly, this was my favorite dance from the pair so far. The samba definitely suited Suni as it looked like she was simply gliding across the floor. “Rebooted and recharged,” Bruno declared. I’d add, “reborn!” Judges Scores: 10 – 10 – 10 – 10

Melora Hardin & Artem – Paso Doble – Artem and Melora are having some tense rehearsals this season and I’m feeling second hand anxiety. Luckily, their package ended in a hug and segued into a killer pasa doble! I know it’s Janet Jackson week, but did this opening with Melora serve Evanescence?! (Or is it just me?) Anyways, these two have been avoiding musical comedy to step outside of their comfort zone and it's working out in their favor. I thought the dance battle moment was good, but that was before Melora nailed the floor spinning (that’s the technical term). PS I loved that Melora gave the confetti sweepers some overdue credit. It’s about time! Judges Scores: 10 – 10 – 10 – 10

Olivia Jade & Val – Argentine Tango – I wouldn’t want to follow back to back perfect dances, but if there was a pair to do it, it would be this one. Olivia and Val received all four bonus points last week in the second round and should be feeling pretty secure in their rankings. This number was dedicated to Janet-Jackson-Music-Video-Alum, Olivia’s dad and I’m sure he’s thrilled. There were a few huge moments in this number that I forgot I wasn’t watching a professional pair. She can really be that good. Still, it wasn’t the peak performance. Len said, “He never loved a table,” and the rest of the conversation made me blush! Judges Scores: 9 – 9 – 9 – 9

Cody Rigsby & Cheryl – Paso Doble – Can I just say Cheryl slayed this number? Yes, I know it’s supposed to be about Cody, but sorry she tore it up. This statement is hilarious because Len said the exact opposite soon after I typed it. I still give Cody kudos too because he definitely brought a level of power and prestige to the stage. Despite some really great feedback, I remain nervous for this pair. As much as I enjoy getting to know these two, they haven’t had that standout moment and this still wasn’t it for me. Judges Scores: 10 – 10 – 9 – 9

Amanda Kloots & Alan – Jazz – Another rehearsal montage that gave me absolute anxiety, but that’s okay because it’s “Miss You Much,” the best Janet song! Alan’s choreography paid a beautiful tribute to 90s music videos with the group formation, but it was even better with Amanda leading the pack just like Janet! The opening series of lifts were so impressive of Amanda and the judges took note. Carrie Ann gave her a dang hug and this pair got their first perfect score! Judges Scores: 10 -10 -10 – 10

Iman Shumpert & Daniella – Cha-cha –  These two, for sure, got nasty! Iman knows Janet, so I knew this would be good, but it turned out great! Len commended Iman’s precision in the group dance, but it seemed like the full panel didn’t really appreciate the lack of cha-cha. I’m getting the sense the judges are getting nitpicky because this competition is just so tight. Ugh, this is tough. Judges Scores: 9 – 8 – 9 – 9

JoJo Siwa & Jenna – Salsa – In reality, these two have nothing to prove, but in the world of reality TV – apparently they do! Last week, this perfect-score-pair ended up in the bottom two randomly because the Siwanators didn’t show up to vote. So now they’re being challenged with the objective of doing better than perfect. And guess what? They did. JoJo is throwing Jenna just about everywhere and rising to the occasion once more. To quote the wise words of Janet Jackson: “Strength in numbers we can get it right… vote for JoJo and Jenna every night!” Huh, weirdly ahead of its time. Judges Scores: 10 – 9 – 10 – 10

Round 2 Dance-off:

For round 2, two couples were randomly chosen to compete in a one-on-one dance-off. The couples performed simultaneously for the duration of one song. Each judge was assigned to a battle and could grant two additional points to their favorites. These bonus points were then added to the couples total score for the night.

The first battle consisted of Jimmie & Emma and Suni & Sasha. Judged by Bruno, these two faced off with a side-by-side salsa. From the first moments of the song, this format gave me a headache. (How am I supposed to follow both!?) While trying my best, I felt like Suni & Sasha pulled more of my attention throughout this particular Janet number. However, Suni flips so I feel like it is a bit of an unfair advantage. Still, Bruno agreed with me and gave his extra points to Suni & Sasha.

The next couples to battle were JoJo & Jenna and Olivia & Val. I’m a bit late to the game, but Jenna and Val are married and now I know the most beautiful couple in the history of the show! This is a tough round and overall, it was an intensely sensual ballroom. With this round, both stars made their DWTS rumba debut and we also got a convo about Val’s booty! A huge moment for us all. Carrie Ann judged this rumba round and granted her two bonus points to JoJo and Jenna.

Melora & Artem and Iman & Daniella were the third group to compete in this chaotic competition. Dancing the foxtrot, these couples were judged by Derek who was looking specifically for clean lines and fluidity in movement. Hearing that, I thought Melora may have an easier time in this battle. With slower dances, Iman tends to tense up and unfortunately, I feel this dance followed the same fate. Still, it was tighter than both Derek and I expected! Derek gave his two bonus points to Melora & Artem.

The last couples to go against each other were Amanda & Alan and Cody & Cheryl. (Wait… do they partner up the couples by means of alliteration?) Len was given this Cha-cha to judge and the couples were, rightfully so, intimidated. Cody & Cheryl needed these extra two points, but I fear they were no match for Amanda & Alan. Len was looking for crisp and clean movement in “Together Again” and by that account, Amanda & Alan understood the assignment. Len awarded his two bonus points to Amanda and Alan.  

Did I mention it’s a double elimination? No? Well, maybe because I just found out! Gosh, these episodes fly by so quickly. The bottom three are revealed as Jimmie & Emma, Melora & Artem, and Olivia & Val. Olivia & Val received the lowest score and were asked to leave the stage. The judges decided between the remaining bottom two: Jimmie & Emma and Melora & Artem. The majority goes to Melora & Artem and while I agree with it, I’m not happy about it. As Carrie Ann emotionally noted, Jimmie is exactly what this show is about. It was so fun to watch both he and Olivia’s growth throughout the season as people and dancers. Sigh. Well, who do you think is making it to the end? Tune in next week because we’re heading into the semi-finals! Until then, I’ll “Miss You Much.”