It really does seem like the Dancing with the Stars’ band is improving. This week there were some great performances and even great singing. My biggest gripe comes in the form of ABC’s credit for the songs they are using. I noticed it last week with Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence and there may have been more prior to that. If you want to credit a particular version or styling, great. But also at least credit the original artist and songwriter.
The first song of the night was Dancin’ Fool by Barry Manilow and was expertly danced by Erin and Maks performing a quickstep. The singing was fine and the music was excellent. In general, jazzy songs seem like a safe bet on DWTS. The band, I’m sure, are all jazz musicians and I suspect that the singers may have cut their teeth in the same way. On a side note, Erin was without her “sexy face” for the entire quickstep, a definite improvement.
The second couple to dance was Chad and Cheryl and they did a Viennese waltz to the Coldplay song Sparks. I will admit I’m not a big Coldplay fan. However, the difference between the original and this version was striking. Personally, I preferred this version. The arrangement for big band worked far better than the minimalist approach of guitar and piano from the original and the singing worked with this new arrangement and might have worked better with the original arrangement as well. However, I imagine there are some Coldplay fans who are stewing over their favorite band’s song being modified from the original.
I’m not sure what’s going on with ABC. This is the second week in a row (that I noticed) where a song was not attributed to the original performer or song writer. In this case, Nicole and Derek danced a waltz to You Light Up My Life but ABC attributes the song to LeAnn Rimes. Yes, LeAnn Rimes remade the song but Joe Brooks wrote it and Debby Boone recorded it in 1977 earning a Grammy and Academy Award. It was her only mainstream hit during the 70’s, well before LeAnn Rimes was even a twinkling in her parents’ eyes. The singing itself was tolerable, at least until the end where the decision to perform the song in LeAnn Rimes’ key rather than Debby Boone’s put some of the end notes a little out of the range of the singer where she cracked some of the notes.
Next up were Pamela and Damian dancing a waltz to At This Moment by Billy Vera and the Beaters. Billy Vera has a very soulful voice with some very controlled vibrato that he uses to great effect. I would almost peg him as a “crooner” had he been around in the 1930’s and 40’s and could have hung with the brat pack with his voice. However, the singer who sung the song this week on DWTS tried to imitate this vibrato croon and failed. It sounded more like a warble, on the verge of trilling between separate notes. It was, thankfully, only a minor distraction but was definitely the low point of the night so far for the DWTS music.
You’re the Top was the next song and this quickstep by Niecy and Louis’ was their best dance of the season. However, ABC really goofed on attributing this song wrong. While there is a “smooth jazz” singer out there singing You’re the Top by the name of Stacey Kent, the song was originally written by Cole Porter and is most well known as being sung by Ella Fitzgerald. I saw Stacey Kent and went “who?” as did a couple people I know who are into jazz. On top of that, the singing was much more a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald than Stacey Kent, sounding like a mature jazz singer rather than a mousey, pop singer style version. (I had to go look up the Stacey Kent version!) I’m willing to wager that the original version is public domain as well, which makes me suspect some payola-esque scheme in getting the byline to read Stacey Kent.
Evan and Anna rounded out the individual performances of the night by dancing an Argentine tango to Bust Your Windows by Jazmine Sullivan. If you go look on ABC’s site, they wrongly attribute the song to Ricky Martin. But there is a DWTS wiki that showed the correct version. The original has a Latin/hip-hop feel, however, the DWTS version opted to focus on the Latin portion, with there being no trace of the hip-hop beat. Musically, it made sense and worked far better with the Argentine tango. The singing, however, was sketchy. The singer sounded like they were really forcing the singing, rather than just letting it flow. This really affected their ability to hit the higher notes accurately, with some pretty serious pitch and tone issues.
The first team dance of the night was a cha cha performed by Pamela and Damian, Chad and Cheryl and Nicole and Derek to Telephone by Lady Gaga. The lead singer nailed Lady Gaga’s tone, for better or for worse. The harmonies however, left something to be desired. The male harmony stuck out in many places due to intonation and there are some soulful “oh’s” thrown in that sounded out of place and out of key completely.
The second group cha cha, performed by Evan and Anna, Niecy and Louis and Erin and Maks was done to Holiday by Madonna. Say what you will about Madonna but she can sing and the level of performance quality for the original in terms of harmony are really impressive, especially considering it was all done on analog equipment with no pitch correction software or boxes to plug into. The DWTS performance of the song was very bad, the worst of the night in fact. The singing started flat and the harmonies were suffering as well and it never really got better. The verses, without the harmonies, were less glaring but overall the singing was poor. The music was performed well, as is the case ninety-nine percent of the time but the singing was poor. To top it off, just as I was breathing a sigh of relief for Erin not sporting her “sexy face” there it was.
ABC.com – Dancing with the Stars – Episode Guide – Performance Show: Week Seven, ABC.com
Dancing with the Stars (U.S. season 10), Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia