It was Stevie Wonder Night on “Dancing with the Stars” Monday, with the Motown legend celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first number one hit by performing several of his songs live in the ballroom.
Wonder opened the show with “All I do,” followed by "I Ain't Gonna Stand for It,” accompanied by country singer Hunter Hayes.
Perhaps Hayes’ duet with Wonder served as good luck for his fellow country star Kellie Pickler, who zoomed back to the top of the leader board this week. She performed an exuberant, confident version of the Quickstep to Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover,” which left the judges floored.
"For me, that's the best dance I've seen this season," declared notoriously tough judge Len Goodman.
Judge Bruno Tonioli agreed, raving, “Visually, it was exciting... superb.”
Pickler earned 10s from both Goodman and Tonioli, while judge Carrie Ann Inaba–hailed by a chorus of boos from the audience–awarded the country star a 9, blaming the amount of space between Pickler and partner Derek Hough during their performance.
The sixth week of “Dancing with the Stars” also brought a new challenge for the celebrities: They had to learn a synchronized team dance along with their regular routines.
Pickler and Hough, along with Sean Lowe and partner Peta Murgatroyd, Andy Dick and partner Sharna Burgess, and Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas performed a well-coordinated disco-flavored Samba to “Superstition,” complete with bad ‘70s mustaches on the guys and go-go boots on the girls.
For their efforts, “Team Samba” earned 25 points from the judges, which was added to their overall score. In Pickler’s case, it earned her the top spot of the night.
Zendaya Coleman, however, was not so lucky.
The Disney star also earned a near-perfect score of 29 points from the judges for her Cha Cha to “Do I Do” with partner Val Chmerkovskiy, but landed in third place due to the poor performance of her team’s dance.
Nevertheless, Coleman’s regular performance earned rave reviews from the judges. "I feel sorry for everyone who has to come after you," said judge Carrie Ann Inaba.
Coleman and Chmerkovskiy’s team, which included Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff, Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold, and Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson, performed a disjointed, “sloppy” Paso Doble in matching neon matador outfits to “Higher Ground,” which earned them 22 points.
Inaba called the group’s performance, which relied heavily on the men ripping off their shirts in the middle of the dance, “kind of a mess.”
There were few surprises in the remaining celebs regular dance numbers.
Boston-area native Raisman, who admitted to being emotionally affected by the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon, turned in a strong performance of the Fox Trot to “Isn’t She Lovely,” earning solid 9s from the judges.
Birthday boy Rademacher delivered a solid Tango to “Uptight (Everything’s All Right),” which earned him straight 8s for a total of 24 points. During rehearsals, the soap star and Johnson strategized on how to get out of the middle of the pack, with little success. Rademacher’s lack of confidence showed when he told host Brooke Burke-Charvet that his birthday wish was "to make it through to next week."
Jones suffers from pigeon toes, which may help him drive a pass down a football field, but it doesn’t help him on the dance floor. "Your feet are a little funky,” said Inaba of Jones’ Quickstep. “But every time you come out... you surprise me."
Despite his funky feet, Jones’ sexy moves and wild splits to “For Once in My Life” earned him 23 points from the judges.
“Bachelor” star Lowe demonstrated that if this whole reality star thing doesn’t pan out, he has a future career as a Chippendale’s dancer.
"Sean, look on the bright side,” quipped Tonioli after witnessing Lowe’s clumsy, if shirtless, Samba. “You can always get a job as a stripper."
For Lowe’s hoofing to “I Wish,” he earned three 7s from the judges.
Dick danced a sweet and endearing version of the Samba to “Signed, Sealed and Delivered,” outfitted in a mailman uniform, but it wasn’t enough to make up for his lack of technical skills.
"It was a personality-driven, splendid shamble of a samba," said Tonioli, who with the other judges, awarded the comedian 6 points for a total of 18.
Tying Dick for last place was Ortiz, who performed a lackluster Rhumba to “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”
Tonioli suggested the professional boxer’s moves were like “an airline-safety drill,” while Inaba focused on the positive, saying she liked “the spark in (his) eye” when he danced with Arnold.
Up Next: Will Ortiz join D. L. Hughley as the latest star to fall? Or has Dick done his last dance?