Bruno thought it was a Viennese Waltz that had “lost its way into funky town in 1974 – and hasn’t quite found the way to Vienna”. He did say he liked the concept and that he liked “different things”, but he thought that the dance lost its style. “It’s not that you’re not a good dancer but in this case it didn’t gel”.
Craig reckoned it had too much attack, a lack of grace and any form of elegance, while he also thought Aston’s posture, feet and bottom were points to pull him up on – as well as the amount of rise and fall that was in the routine.
“Some things don’t always work out, darling”,” Craig surmised.
Dance: Paso Doble to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
The judges’ verdict: Craig thought it was unconventional but “amazing”. Darcey said the pair absolutely “owned” this dance. Shirley enjoyed the modern twist and liked that it was “full of passion” but she did say it wasn’t conventional enough for her. Bruno praised the fact that they “married tradition with innovation” and said they had the best Halloween costumes and make-up of the whole lot.
Dance: Waltz to Can’t Help Falling In Love by Elvis Presley (MREE cover)
The judges’ verdict: This performance wasn’t to be one of Aston’s best. Shirley liked the “gentlemanly, beautiful positions” but Craig thought it “lacked flow”a bit and he needs to work on his hands. Darcey found the opening “too fussy and overly detailed”, but thankfully enjoyed the rest. So it wasn’t all bad, then…
The judges’ verdict: The judges are coming down heavily on Aston because he has so much potential. “Crazily fast, cheeky and light but a little disappointment with your footwork,” said Darcey, calling it “pigeon-toed” and pointing out his sickled foot. Shirley agreed: “Flat feet, bit plonky”. Craig wanted more elegance, but still loved the routine, calling his energy and agility “outstanding”.
The judges’ verdict: “When you dance, the whole place comes alive,” said Darcey of Aston’s Cha Cha. “There are some dances you don’t want to stop, and I didn’t want that to stop,” said Aston. Shirley, who had criticised Aston’s feet two weeks running, said that he had really made an effort with his footwork. Bruno said that every single move “seemed to pop” and that it was like watching HD 3D – “everything was pin sharp clear, on the money,” he said. “Another big hit!”
The judges’ verdict: Tess Daly said her heart was in her mouth and that their performance looked more like a showdance than a week two performance. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” said Bruno, who added his eyes were on stalks. He also said Aston was a “snake-hipped wonder” and that he’d never seen such a difficult sequence of lifts in a Salsa. “It was almost perfection,” he added. Craig said it had rhythm, timing and was an “amazing” performance. Darcey praised the way Aston handled Janette and that he didn’t tire. “The amount of details that you put in that dance..that’s amazing for week two.” Shirley, meanwhile, “loved it, loved it and loved it so more”.
Dance: Foxtrot to It Had To Be You by Harry Connick Jr
The judges’ verdict: The former JLS star closed the show – and came top of the leaderboard for the first week of Strictly. Craig said that all those “flashy, show-off moments” were “completely self-indulgent and very little to do with the Foxtrot at all” – to which Darcey retorted that he was only jealous of Aston’s moves! Darcey added that he was “cool, controlled, confident and stylish” and that she loved the modern twist the pair gave on the dance and that they were ones to watch.
Radio Times spoke exclusively to Aston Merrygold:
Did you say yes to Strictly straightaway?
“I did consider it for about a week. When I got the call, the rest of my year was planned out with the release of singles and promo, so it was a risk putting that back.”
Are you competitive?
“Janette likes confidence, so we’re going to drive to get all the way to the final. Although, my missus [girlfriend Sarah Lou Richards] is pregnant and will be ready to pop by then — come December, wouldn’t it be amazing if she had a healthy baby and I had a glitterball trophy!”
Hear more from Aston and Janette in our exclusive interview below:
What is Aston Merrygold famous for?
Aston made his first TV appearance on Stars in Their Eyes in 2002 where he performed as Michael Jackson singing Rockin’ Robin.
But it wasn’t until 2008 when he rose to fame as part of boy band JLS who took part in the fifth series of The X Factor. They made it to the final of the competition, finishing as runners up behind winner Alexandra Burke (who has also been rumoured for this year’s Strictly line-up).
Following the talent contest, JLS went on to sign with record label Epic Records and released four studio albums, achieving five number ones including Beat Again, Everybody in Love and One Shot.
The band – made up of Merrygold, Marvin Humes, JB Gill and Ortisé Williams – are the third most successful group ever to come out of the competition, behind One Direction and Little Mix. They eventually split in 2013 after five years together and a farewell arena tour.
Merrygold went on to release solo album Showstopper, with single Get Stupid reaching number 28 in the charts, and a six-track EP called Precious. His latest musical release came in May with single Trudy.
He says: “I’m so happy to be joining Strictly 2017, it is such a brilliant show and I’ve followed it for years. I’m both nervous and excited to learn from the professionals about a whole new way of dancing!”