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DWTS Finale: Recap of Kellie Pickler's big night

Even the morning after, our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G is still pretty psyched about North Carolina native Kellie Pickler winning last night's trophy. Lenni came down off of Cloud Nine this morning just long enough to send us a recap of the show. Thanks for all the great recaps all season, Lenni!

Lenni G: After nearly two hours of entertainment from the top ten stars, the pros, Pitbull, Wynonna, Psy, and a cast of thousands, we were more than ready for the announcement of the winner of Season 16 of "Dancing with the Stars."

Have to say I was feeling a little more confident about our home girl, Kellie Pickler, when she and her partner, Derek Hough, were chosen by the viewers for the encore dance. And it wasn't just any encore dance. It was, in my opinion, the best dance of any season of the show. Of course, I'm talking about the phenomenal, brilliant, utterly perfect contemporary routine from Monday night's supersized freestyle round.

Moving on to the eliminations... In what I would consider a mild upset, Aly and Mark were the first to go. I loved watching this girl "blossom" during the season and totally agree with Mark that she was "the best student" he has ever had.

With Aly's departure, the last three couples -- Jacoby and Karina, Kellie and Derek, and Zendaya and Val -- each did an "Instant Dance."

So, just what is an "Instant Dance?" Well, the couples know what the style will be ahead of time but get the music only about 30 minutes before they must perform. As is generally the case on finale night, the judges scores for the salsa from Jacoby and Karina, the jive from Kellie and Derek, and the jive from Zendaya and Val, were all perfect 30's.

First to go of the three couples remaining were Jacoby and Karina. Totally agree with the judges that Jacoby was "a breath of fresh air" in the competition and that he definitely deserved to be in the finals. Also have to give huge props to Karina for always getting the best out of him, no matter the style.

Host Tom Bergeron then announced the winning couple: KELLIE AND DEREK!!!! Yes, North Carolina, our girl took home the vaunted Mirror Ball Trophy! Actually, Derek had to tell her they won when she seemed not to hear Bergeron make the announcement. Yep, that's our girl. Derek's comment that her dancing reminded him of his dancing sister, the fabulous Julianne Hough, said it all. She really is that good and has been all season.

Second place finishers, Zendaya and Val, were also tremendous contenders all season. As Bruno said, Zendaya is a "pitch perfect" performer and will go very, very far in her career. Keep up the good work, little girl. We need lots more 16-year-old role models like you!

Well, time to "call it a season." I am so over the moon about Kellie and Derek's win. Many, many thanks to both of you for the great ride.

-Lenni G

(Also, be sure to check out our awesome photo gallery of some of Kellie Pickler's best moments on "Dancing with the Stars.")

North Carolina native earns 'Dancing with the Stars' trophy

Albemarle, N.C., native Kellie Pickler (right) has been named the winner of this season's "Dancing with the Stars" competition.

Pickler and her partner Derek Hough (right) performed three dances in last night's final night of judged performances, earning a perfect 10 out of 10 points for two of the dances. Still, Pickler and Hough were one point out of first place at the end of the show, relying on fan votes to boost them over the higher scoring couple, Disney star Zendaya Coleman and her professional partner Val Chermkovskiy.

Pickler, a country music star who got her big start as a contestant on "American Idol," performed a quick-step and a freestyle in Monday's show, in addition to a cha-cha relay with the other three couples. NFL star Jacoby Jones and former Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman where the other two celebrities in tonight's finale.

Pickler competed in the fifth season of "American Idol" in 2006, making it to the Top 6 before being eliminated. Since then, she has released three albums. Her most recent album is "100 Proof," released in January 2012.

If you haven't had enough dancing from Pickler and Hough, rest assured that they'll both be making the rounds on all the talk shows for the next week or so.

Here's a photo gallery of Kellie Pickler's best moments on "Dancing with the Stars."

And check back here tomorrow for a full recap of tonight's show from our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G!

DWTS: Kellie Pickler one point from the lead going into tonight's finale

As we get down to the wire, Our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G offers her recap of last night's final night of judged performances for the four final couples. Check out tonight's two-hour finale at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Lenni G: Monday night's challenge for the four finalists included three dances: a judges' pick, a cha cha relay (each couple dances a cha cha for 40 seconds and then passes it off to the next couple) and a "supersized" freestyle.

I know you're wondering how our girl, Kellie Pickler, did. Can you say, "PHENOMENAL, BRILLIANT, UTTER PERFECTION."

Judges' Pick: Kellie and Derek, with an assist from Len, did a quick step, a style they had received a 29 for earlier in the season when Carrie Ann felt they lacked "connection" and gave them a 9. Not this time, Carrie Ann. As Len said, they were as connected as a "stamp on an envelope." Bruno called it a technical tour de force with tons of content. And yes, Carrie Ann said she got her "connection" this time. I was completely blown away by all the changes in rhythm in this routine and how effortless they made it look. Can you say, "WOW." Judges scores - 10's from all three for a perfect score of 30.

DWTS combo: Monday's recap, Tuesday's elimination and who's in the finals

Some technical glitches kept us from being able to post the recap of Monday night's show yesterday, so today we're posting the recap followed by the latest on last night's elimination -- which means we now know the dancers moving into the finals. Here's everything from our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G.

On Monday night's performance show:

Lenni G: It's a two dance night again and our homie, Kellie Pickler, and her partner, Derek Hough, started it all off with a magnificent Argentine tango that had the couple dancing in silhouette at the beginning. Oh my, it was totally gorgeous!

Len called it a mix of, "Pride (in the technique), joy (in the performance)," and just FANTASTIC! Bruno welcomed her to "the world of sublime," calling her performance "pure perfection." Carrie Ann said her level of perfection was absolutely "absurd," considering she's only been dancing for 8 or 9 weeks. Judges scores - 10's from all three for a total of 30. That's right, people, Kellie's first perfect score for another (and y'all know what I mean by "another) perfect dance. Thanks Len for finally finding the "10" paddle for a Kellie/Derek dance.

DWTS Results: No roses for the dancing bachelor

Our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G has thoughts on the latest dancer sent home from the show.

Lenni G: It was a very nervous results night for those of us in North Carolina. Our girl, Kellie Pickler, and partner, Derek, were the first couple in jeopardy at the very beginning of the show. Time for adult beverages, people, since we now had to watch all the usual results night stuff before the final decision was announced.

Actually, the usual stuff was pretty good. We had Jason Derulo and Emeli Sande singing. We had Trio Team, Zendaya, Val and Gleb, doing an encore of their perfect score salsa.

AND, we had some excellent stuff: Derek Hough and Jaimie Goodwin doing an absolutely brilliant routine that had them dancing LIVE on ceilings, walls, furniture, etc. We even got to see the technology behind the whole thing. Combined with Derek's imaginative choreography, it was totally genius! If you didn't see it, find a way to see it. It was that good. More results ...

Couples declared safe to dance next week were Ingo and Kym, Zendaya and Val, and Aly and Val. That meant the "not necessarily bottom three" were Kellie and Derek, Jacoby and Karina, and Sean and Peta.

First "jeopardized couple" on to next week were - wait for it - KELLIE AND DEREK! That sound you heard in the background was North Carolina breathing a huge sigh of relief. That meant the "not necessarily bottom two" were Jacoby and Karina, and Sean and Peta, and, if you were now guessing that Sean and Peta would be packing for the Bye Bye Train, you would have been correctomundo. Sean was gracious in thanking everyone for "the best journey of his life."

The themes for one of next week's two dances, as voted on by the viewers, were also announced - Kellie and Derek will do the flamenco, Ingo and Kym will do a charleston, Zendaya and Val will do hip hop, Aly and Val asked for and got Afro jazz, and Jacoby and Karina will Lindy hop. Sean and Peta would have done disco had they made it through.

One last comment. Huge props to both Kellie and Derek for their reactions to Len's boorish critique of their paso. As Kellie said, "Everybody likes their coffee different." Well, yes, but that paso was dern good coffee no matter how you like it.

-Lenni G

DWTS: A grumpy judge turns on Kellie Pickler

Our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G has a recap of last night's show -- and she's not happy with judge Len Goodman!

Lenni G:The six remaining couples did two dances last night - a traditional format for round one and a trio routine for round two, which featured the star and two pros dancing together. As usual, I'll start with our home girl, Kellie Pickler.

Round One - Kellie and Derek's Viennese waltz was just way beyond gorgeous. Bruno called it a "thing of beauty." Len said it was sophisticated, lovely and lyrical. Carrie Ann said Kellie finally went beyond just doing the steps and brought pure emotion to the dance. Yes she did, CA, yes she did. Judges scores - 9's from Carrie Ann and Len, 10 from Bruno for a total of 28.

Trio Round - Kellie, Derek and guest pro, Tristan, did an incredible paso doble. I really mean it - it was in-freaking-credible. Bruno called it, "Masterpiece Theater," pointing out the high art and high drama. Carrie Ann gave our girl a huge hug, telling her she was totally into the dance, and just "FANTASTIC."

And then, this happened: Len said he "expected more," which I thought would be followed by, "and I got it." But no, Super Grump Len continued his negative rant saying, "It was a hodgepodge of moves, flashing lights and crashing music." Carrie Ann and Bruno went off on Len just like I would have, had I been there. I so wish I had been there. And, Len wasn't done yet - after Bruno and Carrie Ann gave the routine 10's, Len pulled out the 7 paddle. I was just incredulous as was everyone else. What were you watching, Grump? You know that was a 10 and should have been a perfect 30. So, taking the two rounds together, Kellie scored a total of 55 for the night. Shame on you, Len. Moving on ...

Zendaya and Val started the night with a really good fox trot. Len said it was an amazing performance. Bruno called it, "pure, graceful, light and breezy." Carrie Ann felt it started slowly but then just "took her breath away." Judges scores - 9's from Bruno and Carrie Ann, 10 from Len for a total of 28.

Trio Round - Zendaya, Val and guest pro, Gleb, danced the salsa to die for. Len said Zendaya was the real star of the three dancers. Bruno found it, "amazing, sizzling and dazzling. (Note the clever use of words with "z's".) Carrie Ann called her the queen of salsa. Yep, she is. Judges scores - 10's from all three for a perfect 30 (the first perfect score of the season) and a grand total of 58 for the night.

Sean and Peta's tango didn't get it for me or the judges. Bruno though it started well and and then went downhill from there. Carrie Ann pointed out Sean's inconsistency and the fact that, once again, he lost rhythm and musicality. Len's final word was that it was, "Ugly." Now that's harsh. Judges scores - 7's from all three for a total of 21.

Trio Round - Sean, Peta and guest pro, Sharna, did a jazz number that, as Bruno said, mixed the "magic of the girls with the tragic of Sean. Carrie Ann said it was, "out of sync." Totally. Len said Sean's attack was in, but his style was out. Way out. Judges scores - 7's from all three for a total of 21 and a grand total of 42.

Jacoby surprised again in his Viennese waltz with Karina. Carrie Ann called it stunning and smooth. Len said, "I was looking and you were cooking." Bruno said he was just as happy as Jacoby's Mom. And yes, Mom was in the audience again showing off some really good moves of her own. Judges scores - 9's from all three for a total of 27.

Trio Round - Jacoby, Karina and guest pro, Cheryl, did a hugely dynamic paso doble. Carrie Ann told Jacoby he really took care of his women. Len commented on his fantastic presence and the fact that he has gone from "pretender to contender" in the competition. Bruno thought it was, "Raw, powerful and untamed." Judges scores - 8's from Carrie Ann and Bruno, 9 from Len for a total of 25 and a grand total of 52.

Ingo and Kym's fox trot ending up being really good despite a really shaky rehearsal week for Ingo. Len loved his ease of movement. Bruno said he went "flat out on the fox trot. Carrie Ann compared his casual dancing quality to that of Gene Kelly. Oh my. Judges scores - 9's from Carrie Ann and Len, 10 from Bruno for a total of 28.

Trio Round - Ingo, Kym and guest pro, Lindsay, did a really nice jive. Len called it, "Full on fun." Bruno loved the great energy, but felt it need to be sharper and tighter. Carrie Ann said it brought back "Andy Fun," as in entertaining star dancer, Andy Dick. Judges scores - 8's from all three for a total of 24 and a grand total of 48.

Aly showed just how far she has come this season in her Argentine tango with Mark. As Carrie Ann said, she has become a "focused, fiery and passionate dancer." Len loved the mood and the seductive atmosphere of the dance. And I'm with Bruno here who said, "I had no idea you (Aly) could be so good at being bad." Yes! From Olympic gymnast to harlot - Wow! Judges scores - 9 from Carrie Ann, 10's from Len and Bruno for a total of 29.

Trio Round - Aly, Mark and guest pro, Henry, did the jive and did it well! Carrie Ann once again pointed out how consistent and truly competent Aly has become as a dancer. Bruno thought it was a terrific number. It was. Len also commented on how much she has grown. Judges scores - 9's from all three for a total of 27 and a grand total of 56.

My biggest wish for tonight's results show - Kellie, Derek and Tristan doing an encore of their paso doble. Wouldn't that just frost Super Grump's cake!

Lenni G

DWTS results: Some inspiration before the elimination

Our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G has thoughts on the latest dancer sent home from the show.

Lenni G:In what had to be one of the most inspirational results shows ever, DWTS featured an interview with Adrianne Haslet, the young dancer who lost her foot and part of her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing. After hearing her speak and seeing the progress she has made already, I'm just as convinced as she is that she will dance again. Heartfelt thanks to all at DWTS and ABC for their involvement in Adrianne's journey back to the ballroom.

On to the results -

Couples declared safe were Kellie and Derek, Zendaya and Val, Aly and Mark, Sean and Peta, and Jacoby and Karina, leaving Ingo and Kym, and Andy and Sharna in the bottom two. After 6 weeks of really surprising saves, Andy and Sharna were finally eliminated. Have to give huge props to Andy for making us all believe that he has turned his life around thanks to this competition. Also have to give just as huge props to his partner, Sharna, who was always there for him.

Tune in next Monday for performances by the Top 6 couples.

"Dancing With The Stars" Recap: Kellie shakes her booty to a Latin beat

Our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G has a recap of last night's show.

Lenni G: It was Latin night and our homey, Kellie Pickler, was one red hot dancer. Her samba with Derek was, as Len said, a mix of "booty, bounce and bongos." Bruno called it the perfect balance of technique and performance. Not sure what Carrie Ann was talking about when she said, "You are perfection in everything you do, BUT I didn't feel you had any emotional connection to the music." WHAT? I disagree and so did Len and Bruno. Judges scores - 9 from Carrie Ann (BOO!), 10's from Len and Bruno (YES!) for a total of 29.

Jacoby and Karina went first with a high energy salsa. Len said it looked great and really "shook the place up." Bruno announced that, "The fiesta has begun." Carrie Ann told him that this dance style is so natural for him that he could "fart the salsa." Oh my! Dios mio!! Now there's a comment I never would have expected - still trying to get that visual out of my head. Judges scores - 9's from all three for a total of 27.

Ingo and Kym's rumba was, as Bruno put it, "neither fluid nor smooth" as a rumba should be. Carrie Ann said she liked his form but he was lacking in fluidity and sensuality. Have to agree with Len that he gave it his best shot, but just didn't deliver. NOTE: Please see my review of the "Dance Off" portion of the show which became Ingo's "rumba redemption moment." Judges scores - 7's from Carrie Ann and Bruno, 8 from Len for a total of 22.

The rumba from Andy and Sharna was, as usual for this couple, fun and entertaining. However, as Len pointed out, it was more "erratic than erotic." Bruno said he tried hard but he was just "doing the steps and not flowing through the dance." I agree with Carrie Ann that, unfortunately, technique is totally missing in Andy's dancing. Judges scores - 5 from Carrie Ann, 6's from Len and Bruno for a total of 17. Ouch!

Aly and Mark's salsa got us back on track with a terrific routine under less than ideal circumstances. Mark hurt his neck and back in rehearsal and there was some fear that he would not be able to perform. That meant that Aly had to practice with both Mark and possible sub, Henry. As it turned out, Mark was able to dance, though he was clearly in pain. Not to worry, Mark - Aly had your back (pun intended) and put on her best performance of the season. Bruno called it, "Tutti Fruitti Delicious," Carrie Ann told her she nailed it, and Len loved her exuberance. Judges scores - 10's from Carrie Ann and Bruno, 9 from Len for a total of 29.

Next up, Sean and Peta with another dreaded rumba. As Peta pointed out, the rumba requires a feeling of sensuality and passion and it is clear that Sean feels none of that about Peta. So, Peta brings in Sean's fiancee, Catherine, to the rehearsal and has Catherine do the routine with Sean. Yep, Sean was one romantic guy with his girl. Good move, Peta. Carrie Ann said she was very impressed and liked the chemistry between Sean and Peta. Len, not as impressed, said, "Peta was hot, Sean was wooden." Bruno thought Sean was "much better." Judges scores - 8's from all three for a total of 24.

Final dance of the first round was a paso doble from Zendaya and Val. Len said he felt he was at the bullfight. Bruno told Zendaya that she, "looked like an angel and danced like a fury." Carrie Ann thought her lines were gorgeous BUT she needed more "depth," whatever that means. I thought the dancing was great but Zendaya's white dress was just wrong for a paso. Why not red or black? Judges scores - 9's from all three for a total of 27. On to the Dance Off round -

Based on the scores from the first round, the couple with the highest number of points was given "immunity" and declared safe for next week. So, since Kellie and Derek, and Aly and Mark were tied at 29, cumulative points for the season were used to break the tie. That meant Kellie and Derek were immune and safe.

OK, now for the Dance Off. Since Aly and Mark had the most points of the remaining dancers, they got to choose who they would dance off against. Aly and Mark chose Andy and Sharna who in turn got to choose the dance style of either cha cha, jive or rumba. Andy chose cha cha. So, Aly and Mark danced for 40 seconds, then Andy and Sharna danced for 40 seconds, and the judges picked the winner. Not surprisingly, Aly and Mark were chosen unanimously and got an additional 3 points for the night. ARE YOU STILL WITH ME PEOPLE? Going next, Zendaya and Val chose Jacoby and Karina as their opponents. Jacoby and Karina chose the jive as the dance. Once again, the judges were unanimous in choosing Zendaya and Val who also won 3 more points for the night. Last couples remaining, Ingo and Kym, and Sean and Peta, danced a rumba. Remember the "rumba redemption moment" I mentioned earlier? Well here it is, by a judges' vote of 2 to 1, Ingo and Kym were picked and won another three points.

Wow, that Dance Off Round was exhausting and I was just writing about it! Results tonight.

DWTS: Another contestant exits the ring

Our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G has thoughts on the latest dancer sent home from the show.

Lenni G: Before I get to the results, I want to comment on two family members of the stars. First, Jacoby's Mom, who shouted out to Len, "Don't be a hater," as Len prepared to critique her son's performance. You tell him, Mama! Next, to Ingo's very young son, "Peanut," who has become a huge cast favorite. Loved it when he told the dancers, "I'll see you at the after party." Nice, Peanut, very nice.

Also have to say that the entertainment segments were quite entertaining, beginning with Olly Murs (which is srum yllo spelled backwards) singing his current hit. We also had will.i.am performing what I know will be his next big hit, and the Macy's Stars of Dance with a coordinated dance routine that was incredibly inventive and a real visual treat.

Oh, one last thing - Was anyone as shocked as I was when it was announced that Team Paso (aka Team Testosterone) had won the vote for encore team dance! As Karl Rove would say, "I demand a recount." OK, now that I've vented, I'm ready to go on to the results.

Couples declared safe were Kellie and Derek, Aly and Mark, Zendaya and Val, Ingo and Kym, and Jacoby and Karina.

That left Sean and Peta, Victor and Lindsay, and Andy and Sharna in jeopardy. Surprise, people! Andy and Sharna were declared safe, leaving Sean and Peta, and Victor and Lindsay in the bottom two. No surprise, people!

Champion boxer Victor Ortiz was "knocked out" of the competition. I wish nothing but the best for this charismatic young man who has overcome so many obstacles in his life. Hope he knows what a big winner he is in and out of the ring.

It's Latin Night next Monday and you know what that means - sultry dance moves and passionate facial expressions. Oh my!

Lenni G

DWTS: Kellie Pickler's quick step is close to perfect

Our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G has a recap of last night's show.

Lenni G: It's a night of Wonder, Stevie Wonder, with all the couples dancing to Stevie Wonder hits, and I know y'all wondering how our home girl, Kellie Pickler, did.

Well, to borrow words Kellie uses when she gets excited, her performance of the quick step with Derek Hough to "Part Time Lover" was - YES! WOOOO!! YEAH!!! and BAM!!!! Carrie Ann said it was perfect in so many ways, including posture, nuance, interpretation, etc., etc.. Len called it, "The best dance of the season." Bruno found it sumptuous and superb. Judges scores - 9 from Carrie Ann, 10's (YES) from Len and Bruno for a total of 29. I know, Carrie Ann said it was perfect so why the 9 from her? Something about "too much space in the holds" which caused Len and Bruno to call CA "too finicky." Yep, way too finicky. On to the rest -

Zendaya and Val started the evening with a cha cha to "Do I Do." Len asked Zendaya to ask him, "What is one word to define great dancing?" She asked and he answered, "Zendaya." Bruno said it was, "gob smacking gorgeous" and that she could cha cha him anytime. Carrie Ann was "blown away," calling it, "perfection in motion." This girl is sooo gooood! Judges scores - 10's from Carrie Ann and Bruno, 9 from Len for a total of 29.

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