Kellie Pickler Bares Her Soul While Zendaya Inspires Kids on 'Dancing with the Stars' Finale

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Kellie Pickler Bares Her Soul While Zendaya Inspires Kids on 'Dancing with the Stars' Finale

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(Kellie Pickler)

Last night, the "Dancing With the Stars" finalists competed for the Mirrorball Trophy.

At the beginning of the season, I would have thought that Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy were shoo-ins to win, but after last night's show, I'm thinking that Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough have the edge.

Judges' Choices

The evening began with the pros and troupe members performing a number choreographed by Sasha and Emma, and set to "Ready to Go."

Now that the contestants were "ready to go," it was time for the judges' choices.

The judges chose the jive for Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff. Len Goodman wanted to see more "ping" in Jacoby's footwork, and for him to point his toes more. Jacoby did show improvements in his footwork, and earned a 27 for his jive.

The judges chose the samba for Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas. Carrie Ann Inaba saw Aly as having a perfect blend of the other finalists' strengths: the swagger like Jacoby, the lines like Kellie, and the musicality and sensuality like Zendaya. Aly earned a 28 for the samba, the 10 coming from Bruno Tonioli.

Meanwhile, the judges chose the quickstep for Kellie and Derek. When Len walked into rehearsal, Kellie thought of him as "the principal" and wondered if she was in trouble. However, she and Derek performed that quickstep to perfection and were awarded a perfect score.

Val had injured himself during rehearsal when Zendaya accidentally elbowed him in the eye. It was bloody! But they were able to perform their samba to perfection, earning a perfect score of 30.

During the Instant Cha Cha, the judges praised all four couples, saying that the right four made it into the finale, and that they were all winners. Zendaya and Val won that round and were awarded 5 points. Kellie and Derek took second with 4 points, followed by Aly and Mark with 3 points, and Jacoby and Karina with 2 points.

Supersize Freestyles

For their supersize freestyle, Jacoby and Karina stayed true to his New Orleans roots, with a touch of Baltimore flare. The performance also included two lines of marching tap dancers, and a line of tap-dancing kids. During rehearsal, I could have sworn I saw Darryl's girlfriend,Val, from "The Office."

The judges loved the Mardi Gras feel of the performance, but criticized him for losing a bit of timing in the steps. Jacoby and Karina earned a 27 for their supersize freestyle.

Aly and Mark took a risk with a futuristic performance that involved glittery, pastel costumes, green lights, and vertical bars (which ended up looking a bit like stripper poles). Aly and Mark were able to remain in sync during some very difficult technical moves on the bars. The judges awarded them with a perfect score for their supersize freestyle.

Derek 'Has a Feeling' About This Season

For the supersize freestyle, Derek decided to strip down the production element and to increase the technical difficulty. Kellie was also able to tap into an emotional core and bare her soul in that performance. Kellie was rewarded with a hug from Carrie Ann, and a standing ovation from Principal Len. She and Derek earned a perfect score for that supersize freestyle.

After the performance, Derek broke down in tears, commenting that he hadn't planned on doing this season, but at the last minute, he "had a feeling."

Derek absolutely made the right decision to compete this season. Last season, he had gotten such a big head. He and Shawn Johnson really turned me off with their attitude of entitlement. But this season, he became likable again. Kellie brought out the best in him. He was able to showcase her strengths while creating great art on the dance floor.

I still think it's time for Derek to move on from the show, but it's good to see that he'll be able to leave on a high note.

Zendaya Appeals to Her Demographic

Zendaya and Val sought to inspire young people, so they decided to include kids in their performance and to dub it the "minisize freestyle," because good things come in small packages.

Set to "Beauty and a Beat" by Justin Bieber, the routine began with cha cha elements, transitioned into contemporary, and finally hip hop. Given the recent booing incident at the Billboard Music Awards, I'm not sure this was the best song choice. However, Zendaya delivered the goods, both technically and artistically, and did what she needed to do to appeal to her demographic.

Zendaya is such an enjoyable performer and inspiring dancer. I also love her maturity and work ethic. She seems to be more grounded and level-headed than many young stars.

But for this competition, Kellie and Derek will probably win. Kellie seems to have a more widespread fan base (compared to Zendaya's niche fan base), and she seems to be connecting more emotionally with the viewers.

The Standings

Zendaya and Val earned a 30 for their samba, 5 points for the instant cha cha, and 30 for their supersize freestyle, bringing their evening total to 65.

Kellie and Derek earned a 30 for their quickstep, 4 points for the instant cha cha, and 30 for their supersize freestyle, bringing their evening total to 64.

Aly and Mark earned a 28 for their samba, 3 points for the instant cha cha, and 30 for their supersize freestyle, bringing their evening total to 61.

Jacoby and Karina earned a 27 for their jive, 2 points for the instant cha cha, and 27 for their supersize freestyle, bringing their evening total to 56.

Tonight, the contestants will performance Instant Dances, which will be added to the judges' scores. These scores, combined with the viewer's votes, will determine the winner of "Dancing With the Stars" season 16.

More From This Contributor:

The Wanted Can't Change Outcome of Predictable 'Dancing With the Stars' Results Show

Notable Moments of 'Dancing With the Stars' Semi-Final

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