Derek and Julianne Hough are known for their work on Dancing With the Stars (you’re forgiven for not knowing that), and what they lack in fame, they make up for in performance ability. Spike TV decided to take it easy on the budget this episode: It’s mercifully free of pyrotechnics, but the performers don’t (really) even get costume changes after the first song. Well, the Houghs come from the land of reality television, so they should feel right at home here.
Battle 1: Derek Hough’s “Can’t Hold Us Down” vs. Julianne Hough’s “All About That Bass”
There isn’t a lot that you can do with a song like “All About That Bass,” although it does speak to Julianne’s onstage charisma when Meghan Trainor comes out midway and seems a step behind. That said, it’s a bad sign when the celebrity guest star just makes you shrug. Derek Hough’s performance of Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us Down” has a high difficulty level, and he’s relaxed and having fun with it. Plus, it made Chrissy Teigen make a noise.
Winner: By the pelvic bone, Derek Hough.
Battle 2: Derek Hough’s “Chandelier” vs. Julianne Hough’s “I Just Had Sex”
I’ve been waiting for someone to do justice to Sia’s “Chandelier,” and this wasn’t it. In theory, Derek arguably has the dance ability to pull it off, but what he lacked was more critical: a sense of camp. (I get it, he grew up Mormon.) The original version already teeters on the edge of sanity, so it’s not really funny — or creative — to simply do “wacky” things. I would have liked to have seen the song treated with the seriousness of what happens when you’re sad and lonely at 4 a.m. Julianne Hough’s performance of the Lonely Island’s “I Just Had Sex” is pretty delightful just for how many times she talks about sticking her penis in places. Her gender adds another layer of absurdity to an already absurd song.
Winner: By the tip, Julianne Hough.
Overall, it’s a tough call: Does the disappointment around “Chandelier” outweigh the precision of “Can’t Hold Us Down”? I’ll give this to Derek Hough, because “Chandelier” wasn’t bad — it just wasn’t what I wanted.