‘Dancing with the Stars’ finals preview: Will Normani Kordei, Rashad Jennings or David Ross have the best freestyle?

Ladies and gentlemen, after a season full of shocking eliminations, emotional routines and a series of theme nights, we’re now entering the finale week of “Dancing With the Stars” season 24. Our three finalists are pop star Normani Kordei, NFL pro Rashad Jennings and MLB player David Ross.

Normani hands-down owned season 24 as the overall top scorer, landing at the top of the leaderboard for five non-consecutive weeks. Jennings started out with a bang and continued to delight audiences with his vulnerability and natural dance ability. Ross showed once again that it is not always about the best dancers making it to the finals: his charm, charisma and down-for-anything attitude helped him become an audience-favorite.

Each of the finalists will perform two routines tonight: a redemption dance and the always-popular freestyle where anything goes. Fortunately, there will not be an elimination, which should put the contestants at ease, but these scores will help determine the winner tomorrow night. Here are my scoring predictions and thoughts on each finalist:

Rashad Jennings & Emma Slater

Fun Facts:

  • Only male star to top the leaderboard this season.
  • If Jennings wins he will join Emmitt Smith (season three), Hines Ward (season 12) and Donald Driver (season 14) as the fourth football player to win “Dancing With the Stars.”
  • This is Emma Slater’s second time in the finals. She previously placed fourth with comedian Bill Engvall in season 17.

Redemption Dance
Viennese Waltz — “Dark Times” by The Weekend feat. Ed Sheeran

For their redemption dance, Jennings and Slater will be dancing the Viennese waltz, which they received a 32 out of 40 for when they previously performed it back in week three. While their first attempt contained a lot of sweeping arm movements, Jennings’s frame wasn’t great and at times the routine felt more like a rumba than a Viennese waltz. Since week three Jennings has grown in terms of his posture in his ballroom dances. As long as he and Slater are able to stay in hold for the majority of the dance, they should receive high scores from the judges.

Score Prediction: 10 (Carrie Ann Inaba) + 9 (Len Goodman) + 10 (Julianne Hough) + 9 (Bruno Tonioli) = 38

Freestyle
Song: “Let’s Go”/”Uptown Funk” (Medley) from Drumline/Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

This is a great song selection for their freestyle. Coincidentally enough, it was Jennings’s week one cha cha to Bruno Mars’s “24K Magic” that made him an instant audience favorite. I think it was smart on Slater’s part to choreograph a more entertaining and fun freestyle as those often tend to go over well with the audiences. So this could be the routine that gets them the Mirror Ball Trophy over Kordei and Chmerkovskiy.

Score Prediction: 10 (Inaba) + 10 (Goodman) + 10 (Hough) + 10 (Tonioli) = 40

Total Score Prediction: 78 out of 80

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Normani Kordei & Val Chmerkovskiy

Fun Facts:

  • Topped the leaderboard  for five non-consecutive weeks.
  • If Kordei wins, she will become the sixth pop-star/entertainer to win following in the footsteps of Drew Lachey (season two), Donny Osmond (season nine), Nicole Scherzinger (season 10), Kellie Pickler (season 16) and Amber Riley (season 17).
  • This is the eighth appearance in the finals for Chmerkovskiy. He took home the trophy in season 20 with Rumer Willis as well as winning for a second time last season with Laurie Hernandez.

Redemption Dance
Quickstep — “Check It Out” by Oh the Larceny

Kordei and Chmerkovskiy are looking to redeem themselves by redoing their quickstep. The quickstep was the couple’s very first dance and also their lowest-scoring. I remember watching their first quickstep and being impressed with Kordei’s stamina for such an intense and quick dance — especially on week one. Also, I remember feeling that they were a bit underscored considering they opened the season as the very first couple to take the dance floor. Since then Kordei has grown b leaps and bounds as a dancer and performer on the show. As long as there aren’t any minor hiccups this should be another amazing routine.

Score Predictions: 10 (Inaba) + 10 (Goodman) + 10 (Hough) + 10 (Tonioli) = 40

Freestyle
Song: “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Andra Day

As I mentioned earlier this will be the eighth appearance in the finals for Chmerkovskiy. I think he knows how important the freestyle can be as some of his more talented partners like Zendaya, Janel Parrish and Kelly Monaco have missed out on the Mirror Ball Trophy to more entertaining or emotional freestyles. With that said, I think it was great for Chmerkovskiy to give Kordei a more emotional freestyle — as it appears it will be from the song selection. We all know that she can entertain the crowd like no other, but it’s when she bares her soul, like her contemporary routine in week eight, that the magic comes out. If she’s able to create another indelible moment, then she could be the next “Dancing with the Stars” champ.

Score Prediction: 10 (Inaba) + 10 (Goodman) + 10 (Hough) + 10 (Tonioli) = 40

Total Score Prediction: 80 out of 80

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David Ross & Lindsay Arnold

Fun Facts:

  • If Ross wins, he’ll become the first MLB player to win the Mirror Ball Trophy — he’s already the first MLB player to even participate on the show.
  • At age 40 he could potentially become the third oldest “DWTS” champ behind Donny Osmond (52 when he won season nine) and Jennifer Grey (50 when she won season 11).
  • This is Arnold’s third appearance in the finals. She has yet to place higher than 3rd.

Redemption Dance
Viennese Waltz — “Let’s Hurt Tonight” by One Republic

Ross and Arnold will dance the Viennese waltz again as their redemption dance. I’m sorry, but this redemption is a bit of a head-scratcher — there were several other routines of theirs that were a lot worse than this that they could have redeemed. Also, he just performed a waltz two weeks ago. I feel like the producers wanted to throw them a bone with this dance. I’m not expecting anything groundbreaking. His frame and posture will be great, and it will be a solid routine.

Score Predictions: 9 (Inaba) + 8 (Goodman) + 9 (Hough) + 8 (Tonioli) = 34

Freestyle
Song: “It Takes Two”/”Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (Medley) by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock/Ronnie Neuman

One thing that made Ross an audience favorite is his ability to not take himself too seriously. Regardless of whether he deserves to be in the finals or not, I’m glad that it was someone who embraced their journey on the show while making the most of it. This will be a fun routine and a great way to close the book on his “Dancing with the Stars” experience.

Score Prediction: 9 (Inaba) + 9 (Goodman) + 10 (Hough) + 9 (Tonioli) = 37

Total Score Prediction: 71 out of 80

So here’s how I think the overall judges’ leaderboard will break down. Do you agree with me that Kordei will take the top spot?

1. Normani Kordei – 80
2. Rashad Jennings – 78
3. David Ross – 71

If my scoring predictions hold up, then Ross and Arnold are definitely looking to place third for the season. However, it’s going to come down to fan votes in deciding if Kordei or Jennings will win season 24.

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