‘Dancing With the Stars’ Episode 9: A Perfect Score in the Bottom 2 (RECAP)

Spoiler Alert

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 29, Episode 9 of Dancing With the Stars.]

The celebrity-pro pairs once again hit the dance floor twice in Dancing With the Stars Season 29, this time for another theme night: Icons Night.

The remaining seven couples honored their favorite musical icons, with a competitive dance in a style they hadn’t performed yet and in a Dance-Off Challenge (with the bonus points added to the first’s score). And one pair was granted immunity from the latter due to Episode 8’s leaderboard and their cumulative score over the season.

Below, we’re breaking down both rounds and the scores. Read on to find out who impressed and who was eliminated.

Justina Machado’s dance to “Crazy for You” by Madonna (Rumba)

Paying tribute to Madonna with pro Sasha Farber, the One Day at a Time star wasn’t as dynamic as other dancers, but the overall performance was very smooth. For Derek Hough, it was a “beautiful rumba” with “beautiful turns,” and Bruno Tonioli said “everything [was] as it should be” — but both noted she could have pushed it further.

Score: With eights from all three judges, they scored 24 out of 30.

Nelly’s dance to “California Love” by 2Pac, featuring Roger Troutman and Dr. Dre (Jazz)

The rapper and his partner, Daniella Karagach, paid tribute to 2Pac with a dance that was a Nelly spin on jazz — and it worked. You could see he was enjoying himself and was more relaxed from the start (with a backflip!). “You were cool, confident, in your element,” Bruno said. “You have to maintain that in other dances.” And while he had a few missteps, Carrie Ann Inaba found it to be “really good fun.”

Score: They also received three eights, for 24 out of 30.

AJ McLean’s dance to “Somebody To Love” by Queen (Viennese Waltz)

Paying tribute to Freddie Mercury with pro Cheryl Burke, the Backstreet Boy didn’t have his strongest outing, but there was something fittingly majestic about his dance. “You started out strong,” Carrie Ann noted, adding he seemed to forget the choreography. Even with his missteps, both Derek and Bruno think he’ll be back.

Score: With a seven from Carrie Ann and eights from Derek and Bruno, they scored 23 out of 30.

Kaitlyn Bristowe’s dance to “Toxic” by Britney Spears (Argentine Tango)

The Bachelorette and pro Artem Chigvintsev paid tribute to Britney Spears with easily their best dance yet. She was extremely focused, and there was an intensity to it that we hadn’t seen before — and the judges noticed. Derek thought she “lacked a little bit of the impact” until this performance, and Bruno likened “some of the images” to “precious paintings you could only see in the museum.”

Score: They received a perfect score.

Johnny Weir’s dance to “Valerie” by Mark Ronson, featuring Amy Winehouse (Quickstep)

Paying tribute to Amy Winehouse with pro Britt Stewart, the Olympic figure skater was entertaining from the start of the performance and light on his feet. “The actual quickstep was excellent. You didn’t skimp on anything,” Bruno praised. “We’ve never seen a quickstep like that,” Carrie Ann added. “You pulled it off beautifully.”

Score: They received a perfect score.

Skai Jackson’s dance to “If” by Janet Jackson (Paso Doble)

Paying tribute to Janet Jackson with pro Alan Bersten, the Disney Channel star was the definition of fierce, focused, and intense. “You channeled a new fierceness,” Carrie Ann said. “This one of the most grownup dances we have. You lived up to it,” Bruno added.

Score: With three nines, they scored 27 out of 30.

Nev Schulman’s dance to “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” by Elton John (Jive)

Paying tribute to Elton John with pro Jenna Johnson, the Catfish host was entertaining as always, but it wasn’t his splashiest performance. “That had so much content in it, so much charisma,” Derek said, and Bruno loved “the structure, the theatrically of it.”

Score: They received three nines for a score of 27 out of 30.

Dance-Off Challenge

Nev and Jenna had dance-off immunity, based on Episode 8’s leaderboard and having the highest cumulative score over the season (tied with Johnny and Britt), and received two bonus points.

For the others, they faced off two at a time, going head-to-head in the same style at the same time. The judges determined the dance-offs’ winners, and they received two bonus points.

Justina & Sasha vs. Kaitlyn & Artem’s dances to “Telephone” by Lady Gaga featuring Beyoncé (Cha Cha)

Justina was more energetic, while Kaitlyn had smoother lines and grace. Bruno “felt plenty of Latin fire and passion, cheekiness fun,” with one, and “precision, elegance, placement” with the other. For Carrie Ann, it was “like sugar and spice,” and, while Justina grabbed her attention from the start, Kaitlyn pulled her in.

Winner: Justina, with Derek and Bruno’s votes

Nelly & Daniella vs. Skai & Alan’s dances to “Cup of Life” by Ricky Martin (Salsa)

Both were having fun and getting into it, again with different styles. It was “new school versus old school,” Carrie Ann said, and Derek said both were “on fire.”

Winner: Skai, with Carrie Ann and Bruno’s votes

AJ & Cheryl vs. Johnny & Britt’s dances to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham (Jive)

They finished off the night with a fun, energetic dance-off, which the judges again said was hard to call. Carrie Ann pointed to Johnny’s technique and AJ’s stamina, while Derek thought the first half went to the Olympic figure skater and the second half to the Backstreet Boy.

Winner: AJ, with Derek and Bruno’s votes


After combining the scores and fans’ votes, the celebrities in the bottom two were AJ McLean and Johnny Weir. Bruno chose to save Johnny, while Derek picked AJ. Carrie Ann then decided to save Johnny. AJ McLean was eliminated.

What did you think of the latest elimination? What do you think of the couples heading into the semifinals?

Dancing With the Stars, Mondays, 8/7c, ABC