‘Dancing With the Stars’: Janet Jackson Night Ends in Double Elimination Ahead of Semifinals (RECAP)

'Dancing With the Stars,' Season 30 Episode 9, Janet Jackson Night, Melora Hardin & Artem Chigvintsev
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ABC/Eric McCandless

Season 30 of Dancing With the Stars continued to honor legendary music artists with another special themed night, this time celebrating one of the queens of pop music, Janet Jackson!

With the finale creeping close, the remaining eight couples danced their hearts out to the pop legend’s iconic discography in an attempt to avoid being sent home in the second double elimination. After last week’s relay dances, the pairs were split to battle head-to-head in the first dance-off rounds of the season, each focusing on a specific dance genre and judged by one of the four judges.

Scroll down to see which two couples were sent packing, and check out the night’s energetic performances to hits like “Black Cat,” “Escapade,” and “Rhythm Nation.”

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Jimmie Allen’s dance to “Escapade” (Cha Cha)

Starting off the night was musician Jimmie Allen, taking on the cha cha to the hit song “Escapade” with his partner Emma Slater. During rehearsals, the two bonded over the strong relationship they have built over the past nine weeks, as he called Emma a “friend for life.” Going from country music to pop, he was thrilled to be performing to the trailblazer’s music this week, though his performance came in a bit lackluster. Despite the love for their glittery outfits, Derek pointed out his stiffness while both Len and Bruno critiqued how he led with his heels. Going into a double elimination, the dance was not his best of the season, earning a score of 32 points out of 40.

Suni Lee’s dance to “All For You” (Samba)

Suni Lee has proved she is a fighter both in gymnastics and on the dance floor. After falling ill during last week’s show, she managed to pull through and turn in two great performances, but not everyone praised her perseverance. She opened up about receiving hate online from those claiming she doesn’t deserve to be on the show, which she proved wrong with her samba to “All Of You” with her partner Sasha Farber. Her confidence was on full display, along with her new hair color. The judges fell in love, with Carrie Ann stating that tonight was the Suni they have been waiting for all season long. Finally breaking out of her shy shell, Derek stated she danced “so beautifully, so gracefully,” ultimately earning the pair their first perfect score of the season.

Melora Hardin’s dance to “If” (Paso Doble)

Ahead of their Janet Jackson Night performance, tensions rose between Melora Hardin and her partner Artem Chivintsev during rehearsals, arguing over his level of criticism. Bringing the aggressive heat to the dance floor, the pair delivered an amazing paso doble to Jackson’s “If.” Their tension certainly paid off, as the judges were amazed by the routine’s “artistry” and “beauty,” with Bruno calling her a “ferocious queen of mean.” Carrie Ann praised her impressive skill level as a woman in her 50s who continues to prove that you can become a dancer at any age. Following in suit with Suni and Sasha, Melora and Artem brought home the second perfect score of the night with 40 points.

Olivia Jade’s dance to “Any Time, Any Place” (Argentine Tango)

Olivia Jade and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy celebrated their successful streak of avoiding elimination after landing at the top of the leaderboard last week. Going into this week’s themed night, Olivia was excited to celebrate the pop icon, especially given her family’s connection to the singer. Her father, Mossimo Giannulli, appeared in one of Jackson’s music videos in the early ’90s before Olivia was born, making her even more excited for their Argentine tango to “Any Time, Any Place.” While the judges thought they danced the routine beautifully, most wanted more passion out of the otherwise great performance. With nines across the board, they earned a total score of 36 points.

Cody Rigsby’s dance to “Black Cat” (Paso Doble)

Super-fan Cody Rigsby was thrilled going into tonight’s episode, as the theme reminds him of his mother, who took him to his first Janet Jackson concert. He brought that excitement to his paso doble to “Black Cat” with partner Cheryl Burke, which certainly worked in his favor. Bruno exclaimed that he “unleashed the beast within,” with Len stating he danced so well that he didn’t even pay attention to Cheryl. Carrie Ann added that he’s been “bringing it all together” week after week, earning them one of their highest scores and first tens of the season with 38 points out of 40.

Amanda Kloots’ dance to “Miss You Much” (Jazz)

Another couple butting heads this week were Amanda Kloots and partner Alan Bersten, who struggled during rehearsals with their jazz routine to “Miss You Much.” With the competition heating up more and more each week, it’s no surprise several couples were feeling the pressure to do better than before. Luckily, jazz was right up the former Broadway dancer’s alley, as Derek stated she was a “leading lady from start to finish.” Along with praise from Len and Bruno, Amanda’s former The Talk co-host Carrie Ann stepped from behind the judges’ desk to hug her, stating how proud she is of her. After nine weeks of competition, the duo finally earned their first perfect score, marking the third one of the night.

Iman Shumpert’s dance to “Rhythm Nation” (Cha Cha)

Dancing to one of Jackson’s best-known hits, Iman Shumpert and his partner Daniella Karagach were ready to take on the cha cha to the iconic hit “Rhythm Nation,” complete with the music video’s memorable outfits. His wife, singer Teyana Taylor, happens to be friends with the music star, making his performance all the more special. The cha cha proved a challenging dance for the pair to overcome, given their large height difference. While the routine was a crowd-pleaser, the lack of cha cha elements didn’t please the judges. Luckily, his charm and effort continued to make a memorable impact. One of the lowest of the night, they earned a total score of 35 points.

JoJo Siwa’s dance to “Feedback” (Salsa)

Last week was shocking for JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson, finding themselves in the bottom two after having one of the night’s best scores. This week, the teen pop sensation looked to her fans to help the pair avoid elimination. She opened up about receiving so much love and support from her fans after coming out earlier this year, and certainly felt their love going into her salsa to the song “Feedback.” The pair amazed the judges once again, with JoJo showing off her amazing leading skills with another impressive lift. To no surprise, the judges loved it, with Bruno calling the performance “drop dead sexy.” However, Len was not a fan of the non-salsa elements of the routine, despite enjoying watching the two as a dancing pair. With a nine from Len, they almost became the fourth perfect score of the night, trailing behind with 39 points out of 40.

Jimmie & Emma vs Suni & Sasha, “Made For Now (Latin Version)” (Salsa)

After a fun sneak peek performance from the DWTS live tour (featuring last season’s winner Kaitlyn Bristowe), Jimmie and Emma went up against Suni and Sasha for the first dance-off round, each performing a salsa to “Made For Now (Latin Version),” with Bruno picking the round’s winner. Getting a head start on their friendly competition, the two stars faced off in a staring contest during rehearsals, which the Olympic champ won. She continued her winning streak on the dance floor, earning Bruno’s pick and two bonus points on top of the pair’s already perfect score.

JoJo & Jenna vs Olivia & Val, “That’s The Way Love Goes” (Rumba)

Round 2 saw JoJo and Jenna face off against Olivia and Val for a rumba to “That’s The Way Love Goes.” Olivia felt intimidated going up against JoJo, who was not worried about the challengers coming close to their near-perfect score. The matchup was also family affair, as Val had to go up against his wife, Jenna. With a close call from Carrie Ann, the wife beat the husband, as JoJo and Jenna took home two extra points, bumping their total up to 41.

Iman & Daniella vs Melora & Artem, “Again” (Foxtrot)

Dancing the foxtrot to the song “Again” was Melora and Artem and Iman and Daniella. The odd matchup made for an interesting watch, as Melora’s strong technical ability faced off against Iman’s infectious showmanship. Though both turned in solid performances, Derek awarded his points to Melora and Artem, who continue to hold their spot at the top of the leaderboard with Suni and Sasha.

Amanda & Alan vs Cody & Cheryl, “Together Again” (Cha Cha)

Last up were Amanda and Alan against Cody and Cheryl for a cha cha to “Together Again.” Another unique pairing, each couple gave it their all, as the extra points could have shaken up the whole leaderboard. Without much difficulty, Len chose Amanda and Alan as the winners of the final dance-off, once again joining their fellow perfect score couples at the top.

Results

With 42 points each, perfect score couples Amanda and Alan, and Suni and Sasha escaped this week’s elimination, though Melora and Artem found themselves in the bottom three pairs with Jimmie and Emma and, surprisingly, Olivia and Val. Given their rank at the very bottom of the leaderboard, Olivia and Val were automatically eliminated, leaving the judges to save one of the remaining two couples. Melora and Artem earned the judges’ votes, but not without some tears shed over the eliminated couples’ fates. This late in the season, it’s hard to see such hardworking and passionate contestants go, but the competition is only going to get more intense!

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