Season 21 of the ABC hit “Dancing With the Stars” is upon us, and like every season part of the fun is learning who will be competing. Who can dance? Who will choke under the pressure? Who will become an emotional wreck? Who will emerge a star? I am breaking down the contestants with my first Power Ranking of the season. Keep in mind I have no idea who can dance at this point. What I do know is it takes a lot more than good dancing to win “Dancing With the Stars.”
Let’s break down the six women competing, based on their dance potential as well as their social media fan bases, which could play a big role when it comes to getting viewer votes. (Click here to see how I rank the men.)
‘Dancing with the Stars’: Paula Deen, Gary Busey among season 21 contestants
6. Kim Zolciak Biermannn
Facebook Ranking: 3rd out of 6 – 1.7M Fans
Twitter Ranking: 3rd out of 6 – 955K Followers
Perhaps it’s only a hope, but I expect and want this Atlanta “Housewife” to go first. It is no surprise she has a decent following on social media, which could hinge more on the drama of the “Real Housewives” franchise than actual fandom that will translate to votes. I envision her to be stiff as a board with a low likability factor that partner Tony Dovolani will have to help with. Their first dance to “Hey Mama” by David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj, Afrojack and Bebe Rexha should show her lack of musicality and send her packing early.
5. Chaka Khan
Facebook Ranking: 4th out of 6 – 1.7M Fans
Twitter Ranking: 5th out of 6 – 244K Followers
Chaka Khan is my personal favorite among the female celebrities in season 21, but I’m not convinced she has what it takes to go very far. Her social media ranking is in the middle of the pack, and although she is a living legend in the world of music, I don’t know if she is as beloved by the general public as previous “Dancing” divas Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight.
This will be an uphill battle for Ms. Khan, who is partnered with Keo Motsepe, who has yet to have a successful run as a pro (he was eliminated first in season 19, second in season 20). One thing working in her favor, though, is that she will definitely be familiar with the music in their opening number. She is kicking off the season with a dance to her very own hit song, “I Feel For You.”
4. Paula Deen
Facebook Ranking: 1st out of 6 – 4.5M Fans
Twitter Ranking: 1st out of 6 – 1.4M Followers
Paula Deen has been under public scrutiny as of late with remarks and actions that have been viewed by many as racist, but that does not mean the bubbly 68-year old is lacking in fan support. The former Food Network mogul – and the oldest woman this season – is also the most popular on social media. Take that, youngsters! “Dancing With the Stars” may be Paula’s way back into America’s hearts, and she has a huge pack of followers to help her along. Her partner is “Dancing” veteran Louis van Amstel, and they will kick things off by dancing to the catchy Carol Welsman hit, “Hey Good Lookin’.”
3. Tamar Braxton
Facebook Ranking: 2nd out of 6 – 2.9M Fans
Twitter Ranking: 2nd out of 6 – 1.3M Followers
Tamar Braxton is known as an outspoken diva and sister to “Dancing With the Stars” alum Toni Braxton. The multi-talented entertainer is also a Grammy-nominated singer in her own right as well as a co-host of the syndicated daytime talk show “The Real.” Dipping her feet into all facets of entertainment has gained her quite a following, which places her second among the women on social media. That, combined with the fact that she hit the jackpot being partnered with reigning champion Val Chmerkovskiy, brings her to a solid third-place in my rankings. Quite honestly, I find Tamar to be a bit over-the-top and her personality could rub others the wrong way as well. Tamar will start things off with an uptempo dance to “Do Your Thing” by Basement Jaxx.
Emmy for Choreography: Derek Hough (‘DWTS’) & Travis Wall (‘SYTYCD’) both win
2. Bindi Irwin
Facebook Ranking: 6th out of 6 – 72K Fans
Twitter Ranking: 6th out of 6 – 116K Followers
You may be surprised to see me rank someone with barely any social following so highly on my list. The reason is that a built-in fan base does not always mean success on this show. Bindi, the daughter of late conservationist and “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, will likely pull America’s heartstrings. People will want to root for her, and if she can dance, she could likely go all the way to the final. Her biggest weapon is that she is partnered with the most successful pro dancer in “Dancing With the Stars” history: Derek Hough, who has won the mirror ball trophy five times. Hough knows how to get the best out of his partners. They will kick off the season with an ode to her late father by dancing to the Elton John classic, “Crocodile Rock.”
1. Alexa PenaVega
Facebook Ranking: 5th out of 6 – 389K Fans
Twitter Ranking: 4th out of 6 – 420K Followers
Alexa PenaVega isn’t exactly the social media darling her husband Carlos PenaVega is, but I suspect their husband-and-wife will help propel her to the end of the season. Let’s not give all the credit to her husband though; Alexa has been in the entertainment business since she was four-years-old. Besides being featured in many films and television shows throughout her career, she has also appeared in several productions on Broadway including “Hairspray” and most recently “Repo! The Genetic Opera.”
Judging by her résumé, we can only assume she will come out scorching hot with a leg up on the competition when it comes to dance and choreography. It doesn’t hurt that PenaVega is paired with one of the show’s most beloved professionals, Mark Ballas. They will kick off the season with a routine to Katy Tiz‘s “Whistle (While You Work It).”
Who do you think will take home the mirror ball trophy?
‘DWTS’ early predictions: Alexa PenaVega will win, Gary Busey out first
In our “Dancing with the Stars” predictions center, you get to answer the following questions each week:
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Who will win “Dancing with the Stars”?
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Who are you rooting for this season? Sound off in the comments section below, and join the discussion in Gold Derby’s reality TV forum.
Photo: Alexa PenaVega. Credit: ABC/Greg Zabilski
Photo: Bindi Irwin. Credit: ABC/Ida Mae Astute