Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough Divide the Panel on 'Dancing with the Stars' Week 8

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Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough Divide the Panel on 'Dancing with the Stars' Week 8
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(Kellie Pickler)

Last night on "Dancing With the Stars," contestants competed in trio dances. The most notable performance came from Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough, who divided the panel with a polarizing paso doble.

Kellie Finds Herself in the Mirror

This week, Kellie was able to tap into an emotional core. Before their individual dance, Kellie spoke about missing her deceased grandmother, and Derek encouraged her to incorporate those feelings into her dance.

In a mirror-themed Viennese Waltz, Kellie found herself as a performer and connected with the audience like never before. Their Viennese Waltz earned a score of 28, with the 10 coming from Bruno Tonioli.

Their trio dance was a bit more controversial. Kellie, Derek, and Tristan MacManus performed a Hades-themed paso doble, complete with apocalyptic music and broken mirrors. It was exciting to see this sweet country singer show a dark side. (It was also a treat to see Tristan looking hot in guy-liner!)

However, the judges were divided on this one. Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno praised the emotional and theatrical content of the performance, but Len Goodman criticized the performance as nothing more than "flashing lights and crashing music." This performance earned 10s from Carrie Ann and Bruno, but a 7 from Len.

Didn't the same thing happen last season with Shawn Johnson's "Titanic"-themed rumba?

Kellie and Derek finished the night with a score of 55/60.

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" For Zendaya

There's been some controversy about Zendaya's age and whether or not she has an unfair advantage in the competition. But if anything, I think her age seems to be a liability in that she's not able to bring out the sexy sultry elements of the performances, especially in the Latin dances.

Still, Val Chmerkovskiy is doing such a great job with her. He's finding ways to keep the performances fresh and exciting, while still age-appropriate.

I like Kellie and Zendaya equally, but I'm leaning more towards the Disney Channel star, just because I would love to see Val succeed on this show.

Zendaya and Val earned a 28 for their foxtrot, set to "Don't Worry, Be Happy." (The 10 came from Len.) They later earned a perfect score for their tro salsa with Gleb Savchenko, bringing their total for the evening to 58/60.

Middle Of the Pack

Aly Raisman and Jacoby Jones are supposed to be contenders in this competition, but I'm not really feeling either of them.

Aly and Mark Ballas performed an Argentine Tango, with Aly getting into character as a "harlot." Although the judges praised her growth in the competition and her ability to get into character, I wasn't buying it. Harlot Aly was about as convincing as dominatrix Melissa Rycroft.

I also lost a bit of respect for Aly and Mark last week after they decided to challenge Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess instead of going for stronger competitors like Zendaya and Val, or Jacoby and Karina.

In any case, Aly and Mark earned a 29 for their Argentine Tango, and a 27 for their trio jive with Henry Byalikov.

Meanwhile, Jacoby and Karina Smirnoff earned a 27 for their Viennese Waltz and a 25 for their trio paso doble with Cheryl Burke. Jacoby is a solid contender who is giving his all, but somehow I don't connect with him. Maybe it's because he mumbles all the time.

In Danger

At the bottom of the leader board are the two hunks, Ingo Rademacher and Sean Lowe.

I actually think Ingo is a bit underrated in this competition. I see him as being on par with Jacoby, but for some reason, the judges seem to award higher scores to the football player.

In any case, Ingo overcame aching bones and "tough love" from Kym Johnson to earn a 24 in his foxtrot and a 24 in his trio jive with Lindsay Arnold, bringing his evening total to 48/60.

Meanwhile, the judges were a lot nicer to Sean than they were to the beleaguered Andy Dick last week. giving him 7s across the board, both for his tango with Peta Murgatroyd, and his trio jazz routine with Sharna Burgess. Sean finished the night with a score of 42/60.

"Bachelor" cynics will certainly have a field day with his wedding-themed tango, appropriately set to Katy Perry's "Hot-N-Cold." Of course, Sean had to be the runaway groom, so he could remind everyone yet again that he is already engaged.

I think it's time for Sean to go home, so he can be with his fiancee.

More From This Contributor:

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Maksim Chmerkovskiy Not Returning To 'Dancing With the Stars' - Who Else Needs To Go?

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