It's been happening every season on Dancing With the Stars for a while now—the celebs have to do a dance inspired by the "most memorable year of their lives."
That can range from the heartrending (the loss of a parent, the birth of a premature child) to the, um, less poignant (being inspired by a young Michael Jackson, the first time playing Stefan Urquell), but at least the performances make for an interesting mix.
And tonight, in only the third week of competition and with only one contestants having been sent home, two 10s were handed out (not by Len Goodman, of course).
Remembering her late father, Katherine Jenkins had tears streaming down her face upon the end of her waltz, which made Carrie Ann Inaba cry and, even more unfathomably, rendered Bruno Tonioli speechless!
Almost. All he could say was, "Sensational!" For her emotional, graceful efforts, the Welsh singer was rewarded with two 10s and a 9 from Len, only the second one he's given all season. Either way, it was the highest score ever at this early point in the competition.
Len relinquished his first 9 of the season earlier in the night, to Maria Menounos! Her broken rib was a distant memory as Derek Hough rumba'd her around the floor. Len apparently liked the "mix of the ballroom with a little touch of the bedroom."
Gladys Knight staged a comeback with a fox-trot dance to her late friend Sam Cooke's "Cupid"—a perfect fit as she paid homage to 1957, the year of her first national tour with the Pips. "You dance like you sing, sensuous and soulful," Carrie Ann complimented her.
We thought Roshon Fegan was underscored by everyone but the 9-wielding Bruno, who loved the Disney star's samba tribute to Michael Jackson. "I saw [Jackson] rehearsing in the '70s in London, and I thought I was watching him!" Bruno said, paying Roshon the ultimate compliment.
There was the potential for awkwardness when Jaleel White and Kym Johnson took the floor, with Us Weekly having reported that they had a loud fight during rehearsal. But his rep told E! News that the Family Matters star's relationship with his partner was great—and there was no sign of any tiff between them during the rumba.
And Jaleel was one of the bunch who broke down backstage under the weight of all the emotion that this week stirred up.
The same happened to Jack Wagner, who dedicated his celebratory samba to his long-lost daughter, Kerry. She tracked him down just last year and was in the audience tonight—and therefore got to witness his best score yet, a 24, and some happy tears.
Even "hunky-dunky" (as Len called him) Donald Driver choked up, thoughts of his late best friend, who passed in 2010, obviously fresh in his mind.
"The passion that you just expressed was mesmerizing," a touched Carrie Ann said of his rumba.
Bruno was also thrilled to see Gavin DeGraw get his "premature stiffness under control." Translation: the singer's hip action pleased all three judges, who like that they're seeing Gavin get better every week.
And all signs of stiffness were gone when Gavin teared up backstage at the thought of the support he's received from his family ever since 1998—when his parents took him to a Billy Joel concert and he realized he wanted to be a singer.
We literally feared for Bruno's blood pressure, however, when William Levy showed up to salsa with his shirt unbuttoned.
"I hate you!" the 10-hoisting judge yelled. "That was amazing!"
Carrie Ann acknowledged that he almost took Cheryl Burke's head off during one of their intricate between-the-legs dip-and-turns, but she obviously didn't mind too much.
And, in the end, Len deemed tonight's show "awesome." Belive it or not.
Here's how the leaderboard stacked up tonight:
Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas: 29
William Levy & Cheryl Burke: 28
Maria Menounos & Derek Hough: 27
Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd: 26
Jaleel White & Kym Johnson: 25
Roshon Fegan & Chelsie Hightower
Gavin DeGraw & Karina Smirnoff: 24
Gladys Knight & Tristan MacManus: 24
Jack Wagner & Anna Trebunskaya: 24
Melissa Gilbert & Maks Chmerkovskiy: 24
Sherri Shepherd & Val Chmerkovskiy: 24
No one actually deserves to go home, right? Sound off on your favorites—and otherwise—in the comments!
(Originally published on April 2, 2012, at 8 p.m. PT)