Maybe it didn’t end the way Lauren Alaina’s fans would have liked, but the country star’s reign on Dancing With the Stars, which was plagued with personal challenges, including the hospitalization of her cousin and multiple fractured ribs, was triumphant and victorious for Lauren.
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The finale of the show gave Lauren and her professional partner, Gleb Savchenko, the opportunity to dance twice. One dance was one of their choice, their favorite, and the second was a freestyle number. For their choice, the couple chose the foxtrot to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”
Dressed in a dreamy, creamy, floaty gown, it was evident, even to the untrained eye, that Lauren had grown in her dance skills and developed a great deal of confidence on the dance floor. Judge Bruno Tonioli told her, “We could all tell how much you love the song, you were literally singing along. What I like about you is you really bring the character to life, you perform it. ‘He’s my man, don’t take him away.’ I like your commitment to the storytelling and, actually, your lines have improved, your balance has improved, and you always spin a nice yarn.”
However, judge Carrie Ann Inaba wasn’t as moved by the performance as she usually is when Lauren hits the floor. “Are you OK?” she asked. “I feel that, emotionally, you weren’t as open as you were the very first time you did it. You have improved as a dancer. Your lines are much nicer and more extended even from the first time, which was one of your best dances, but you have one more dance, right? You’ve got the freestyle and I feel like you’re holding back just a tiny bit. Please. You have one more dance. Just let it all out because I love watching you.”
Agitated when a floral garland on the judge’s panel started to fall, persnickety judge Len Goodman was brief, but positive. He said, “This had a mix of flair and care. Flair in the movements. Well done, nice job.”
Her total score was 27.
For their freestyle dance, Lauren and Gleb hit the hardwood to “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” by Luke Bryan. Dressed in sparkling white fringe and shiny white cowboy boots, the dance was part ballroom and part honky-tonk and featured Lauren doing more kicks, lifts and tricks we have seen from the spunky singer all season. It paid off.
Carrie Ann Inaba saw the passion and joy that she thought was missing from Lauren’s foxtrot. “So, everybody’s freestyle is different and this is the perfect freestyle for you,” she said. “What a celebration. You brought the southern charm, you had a great time, you were loose, you were relaxed. I just want to tell you, I adore you. I have adored watching your whole journey. You have been vulnerable and honest and open with everything you have done out here. It’s been fantastic. That was a great end.”
Len Goodman was also complimentary, telling her, “What I liked was you paid homage to your roots. It was a country dance, it was full of entertainment, I didn’t know what was going to happen. One of the keys to dancing freestyle is to expect the unexpected and that’s what I got. Well done.”
And Bruno Tonioli, whom has always been Team Lauren, declared, “It felt like happy hour at Lauren’s saloon. I loved your line dancing, it was absolutely delicious. I tell you, get me some line dancing, get me some cowboy and I’m a happy man.”
The freestyle earned Lauren her first perfect score of the season – a 30.
In addition to the dancer’s competition pieces, pop icon Cher performed a tribute to her early days as a singer with her late husband and duet partner, Sonny Bono, and Ne-Yo and Pitbull also performed live for a reunion of the entire season of couples.
When it came time to learn the results of the season, Lauren and Gleb proudly took their fourth- place slot while the mirrorball trophy went to Hannah Brown and Alan Bersten.
We’re proud of you, Lauren!