Just my picks for the top 20 and bottom 10 routines of the series this year, again, blame the INTERNET.
Monkseal’s 10 Least Favourite Routines Of The Series
10. Judge Rinder’s samba : No Melvin on the list, just because he failed in the least interesting way possible, so we kick off with the Rinder pips having been squeezed as dry as they could go, as his patented “leap off things with your mouth flapping open” schtick slammed hard into a Jersey Boys themed dead end.
9. Claudia’s jive : GREG WUZZ ROBBED!
8. Lesley’s tango : Anton had a more than decent series choreographically but this one misstep – having Lesley try to recreate Katie Derham’s tango with a septugenarian. The bit where she climbed awkwardly onto the table only to promptly fall off it will live with me for far longer than it should.
7. Ed’s American Smooth : No he CAN do the lift. HE CAN. Watch him demonstrate that he can 50 bloody times.
6. Greg’s Cha Cha : Natalie playing it straigt at absolutely the worst time to do so.
5. Ore’s Tango : No really, can anyone tell me what that storyline was supposed to be. Anyone? Joanne?
4. Anastacia’s salsa : Not entirely her fault, and it feels churlish to have it on here given the reasons, but this was a sloppy improv mess that opened up a Pandora’s Box of bad feeling that lasted for about a month.
3. Naga’s tango : That torch handling… (Please note that I could have added about three more tangos on this list what a series)
2. Ore’s Charleston : Not his fault. Not Joanne’s fault. Still probably the worst routine ever done by a winner.
1. Ed’s Paso Doble : An apocalyptic mix of trying too hard in the theming, not trying hard enough with the technique and not even bothering with remembering the actual choreography. It takes a lot to give camp a bad name, but this managed it.
Monkseal’s 20 Favourite Routines Of The Series
20. Ore’s American Smooth : Not short of small irritations (his dancing it on tiptoe, the umbrella shagging, the feeling throughout that he might me mugging to camera just a little too much, Gene Kelly’s Widow lurking in the shadows from the second it finished) but I don’t know what a Movie Week American Smooth is for if not for people to live out their Old Hollywood fantasies, and this was that done to perfection, mostly due to the dead-on choreography from Joanne.
19. Ore’s Rumba : An under-rated routine, but one I will chiefly remember for being the one where Joanne cast off three series worth of “ooh I’m just a prim squeaky Northern lass who loves fish’n’chips and mushy peas I don’t know about sex not like all these Eastern European vixens” schtick and basically had Ore rawdog her in the middle of the dancefloor. By the final he was saying he was in love with her every 5 seconds, what power.
18. Rinder’s Foxtrot : As time has passed this routine has grown on me more and more, to the point where it feels like the best touching point of what Rinder was trying to present (good old fashioned conservative moral values taking us back to when BRITAIN WAS GREAT) and what Oksana was trying to present (her in with an Anna Nicole wig producing the gayest routines possible with her bubbies hanging out). That it was all being watched over by the actual Rinder grandparents was just the cherry on the cream.
17. Ed’s Cha Cha : OOOH! AHHH! I’ve not seen many people pick this as their favourite Ed routine, but it’s the one that did it for me the most and which in my opinion best encapulsates the silliness and frivolity of Ed Balls on Strictly, bringing him back from the brink after two tough weeks, but before people actually started arguing that in all seriousness he was actually good and what Strictly is all about. Also props to him for taking out the Elvis inspired choreography Katya put together and replacing it with Beyonce inspired choreography of his own. True taste.
16. Danny’s Quickstep : The first version obviously, not the one he vibrated through in a mental flat spin that cost him the entire series.
15. Claudia’s Charleston : Where Claudia first really let rip with the cartwheels, tricks and most importantly lifts that formed the basis of her charge for the title. Would be between 6 to 7 places higher if it handed with the truly epic pie fight that it was clearly supposed to.
14. Anastacia’s Quickstep : A very nice quickstep elevated both by the fact that it allowed Anastacia to tap into the raw brute force of her American side and also the fact that Brenda was glowering from his hospital bed the whole time, almost certainly fully aware that everyone would be talking about how much better Anastacia was doing without him there. Also bonus points for propelling Gorka to prominence and hopefully a renewed contract in a more edifying manner than…whatever we know think happened to him in Blackpool.
13. Louise’s Waltz : Another underrated routine from a finalist, and really the only time that Kevin indulged in Classic Kevin Choreography rather than trying to reach into a bag of lyrical contemporary tricks that it never really felt like Louise had. A chintzy masterpiece of repressed subrban emotion all topped out with spin after spin after spin after spin after spin.
12. Lesley’s Charleston : I almost went for her cha cha just because it was PEAK DORIAN but the highlight of the Lesley Joseph Strictly Experience in the end for me was her putting out a step-perfect old school Charleston, the dance genre that has most consistantly tripped up the older contestants before, even the ones with a theatrical background. She was gone a week later, but at this point it really seemed like Lesley might just make it to Blackpool.
11. Danny’s Charleston : Chutzpah is putting in a one-handed cartwheel in direct competition with an Olympic gymnast and pulling it off better than her. At this point in the series Danny had his hand on the tiller and even if he didn’t know it then Oti and his other choreographers did.
10. Louise’s Argentine Tango : One week later than planned out on Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig’s Series 14 Mood Board, Louise’s Argentine Tango (and its attendant lamppost) gave her the performance breakthrough she sorely needed via the medium of a moody sultry performance with lifts and hair-tosses a-plenty. But it wasn’t just Louise on a journey. Think back on Kevin’s…effort with Susanna, and marvel at how far he too has come.
9. Greg’s Rumba : A masterclass in theming as Ghost Natalie returned from beyond the grave to claim Greg’s soul as he wandered around his spooky Scooby Doo mansion late at night, although no performance was as compelling as the one Natalie gave when Craig pointed out that it wasn’t really a rumba darling. You’d better watch she doesn’t back and haunt your ass next Revel-Horwood.
8. Claudia’s Quickstep In a “stronger than has been the case recently” semi-final, Claudia’s quickstep stood out as a full realisation of her potential to overcome the obvious physical incompatability between her and AJ and produce beautiful basic ballroom. And without any lifts! Given that her whole exit storyline was how she learnt via Strictly that she was a strong and individual woman outside of the restricted life she’d allowed herself so far as a dedicated gymnast, it felt like a better end to her storyline than a showdance full of…gymnastics, that’s for sure.
7. Laura’s Tango : Laura’s one good routine of the series, the one good tango of the series, and the one good Hallowe’en routine that was good only because it was GOOD rather than because of the insane delirium of Hallowe’en theming.
6. Danny’s Samba If you listened to Danny himself, as much as Strictly was the greatest experience of his life, it also wasn’t exactly an easy ride free of neuroses and strife. Every week he turned up on It Takes Two to proclaim that he was FULL OF NERVES and CONSTANTLY ON THE EDGE OF MESSING UP and OH GOD ZOE I CAN’T GO THROUGH ANOTHER EXPERIENCE LIKE MY FOXTROT AGAIN I JUST CAN’T. So it was great to see him cut loose, not worry, and just have a good time. Just once. And in his samba, he certainly did that.
5. Louise’s Paso Doble : Louise Redknapp In Game Of Thrones. Enough said really.
4. Ore’s Jive : He looked hot in it. I think I’ve said that enough times now right?
3. Daisy’s Waltz : Nothing like having to constantly defend a routine to make it one of your favourites, but Daisy’s waltz came with two major demerits in the eyes of the public – firstly that it was dedicated to her recently deceased grandfather, which some people found tacky, and secondly that it got a 9, which set off all the people already eager to tear down anybody who got over an 8 and wasn’t called Danny Mac to shreds. The tabloids screamed that the entire show was RIGGED FOR DAISY, Len got raked over the coals for calling it the best Week 1 routine ever (it was, get over it) and unfortunately she never quite hit this peak again, but as far as I was concerned, it was just lovely
2. Rinder’s Paso Doble : Judge Rinder flinging himself off the balcony dressed as Buffalo Bill whilst Oksana tried to headbutt her way out of a giant condom, at Hallowe’en, as Born This Way blaring away constantly in the background. And as well as all that, an actually good paso doble. I’m not sure we’ll ever see the likes again.
1. Danny’s American Smooth : I still don’t understand how this was bottom 2 to be honest. After a whole series of dashing about manically, doing every routine at 100mph, in the semi finals Danny Mac finally slowed down, channelled his inner Gene Kelly and showed some grace. And what grace it was.