DWTS Judge Derek Hough Names His Early Frontrunners

Derek Hough judging season 29 of 'Dancing With the Stars'

ABC Derek Hough judging season 29 of 'Dancing With the Stars'

Former “Dancing With the Stars” pro who is now a judge Derek Hough has named his early frontrunners. Read on to find out who his early picks are for possible season 30 winners and why we could see them going all the way.


Mel C.


Melanie C’s Cha Cha – Dancing with the StarsMelanie C and Gleb Savchenko dance the Cha Cha to “Wannabe” by Spice Girls on Dancing with the Stars 2021 premiere! Subscribe: goo.gl/T7bg3N Watch Dancing with the Stars Mondays at 8/7c on ABC and Stream on Hulu!2021-09-21T01:22:19Z

In an interview with “Entertainment Tonight,” Hough was asked about his early frontrunners and he named four dancers, saying, “[O]bviously Mel C. I grew up in the U.K. for 10 years, so she’s British royalty, but you got Cody Rigsby, who’s a fan favorite even though I didn’t know who he was when I first heard of him, but I think he’s going to be loved. Just so many different people, JoJo Siwa, Suni Lee. It’s going to be great,” said Hough.

He did acknowledge that, like any year, “there’s going to be some dark horses in there,” but his picks are pretty solid. Here’s why we think they could go all the way.

Like Hough said, Mel C. has a built-in fanbase and an incredible pedigree. But also, after seeing her dance in week one, the woman is in phenomenal shape and is a talented dancer. She and partner Gleb Savchenko received a 27 out of 40 on their cha cha, good for fourth place, and we expect to see those kind of scores every week from them. She’s very polished right out of the gate.


Cody Rigsby


Cody Rigsby’s Tango – Dancing with the StarsCody Rigsby and Cheryl Burke dance the Tango to “Physical” by Dua Lipa on Dancing with the Stars 2021 premiere! Subscribe: goo.gl/T7bg3N Watch Dancing with the Stars Mondays at 8/7c on ABC and Stream on Hulu!2021-09-21T02:15:47Z

This is an interesting choice by Hough because he admitted he had no idea who Rigsby is when the cast was announced. But Hough is no fool — a huge fanbase can get someone really far and Rigsby brings with him a huge social media following. Rigsby has nearly 1 million Instagram followers.

Couple that with his dancing background and Rigsby is another solid choice. In the first week, Rigsby and his partner Cheryl Burke tied for ninth place with a 24 out of 40 for their tango, but we honestly thought that was a little bit low. Rigsby is obviously very talented, so we expect he and Burke to bounce back with their week two salsa to “Don’t Go Yet” by Camila Cabello.


JoJo Siwa


JoJo Siwa’s Quickstep – Dancing with the StarsJoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson dance the Quickstep to “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet on Dancing with the Stars 2021 premiere! Subscribe: goo.gl/T7bg3N Watch Dancing with the Stars Mondays at 8/7c on ABC and Stream on Hulu!2021-09-21T02:53:06Z

This is another obvious choice for a couple of reasons. First off, Siwa became a star on “Dance Moms.” She has extensive dance training, even if ballroom dancing is new to her.

Secondly, the show is going to want to support its first same-sex couple, so even if Siwa and her partner Jenna Johnson have some off weeks in the first four to six weeks, we expect high scores from the judges. Whether or not you find that fair is a whole other issue. But they did receive a 29 out of 40 for their quickstep in week one despite Johnson almost wiping out, so that tells you a lot about how the show is supporting them.

Finally, Siwa has a huge online (11 million followers on Instagram alone) following that is probably mobilizing to vote for her and Johnson, so we would actually be quite shocked to see Siwa go home before the top four.


Suni Lee


Suni Lee’s Jive – Dancing with the StarsSuni Lee and Sasha Farber dance the Jive to “STAY” by The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber on Dancing with the Stars 2021 premiere! Subscribe: goo.gl/T7bg3N Watch Dancing with the Stars Mondays at 8/7c on ABC and Stream on Hulu!2021-09-21T02:03:06Z

Lee was a little bit of a wildcard coming into the show because we don’t really know anything about her dance background — they do a little bit of dancing in gymnastics on the floor exercise but not a ton. If she turned out to not be a very good dancer, then she would probably go home in the middle of the season.

However, Lee is kind of America’s sweetheart right now after her phenomenal performance during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Historically, women’s gymnastics stars do very well on this show — Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, and Laurie Hernandez all won their seasons, and Aly Raisman and Simone Biles both came in fourth place on their respective seasons — and it turns out Lee is not a bad dancer at all. In fact, she and partner Sasha Farber earned a 28 out of 40 on their jive to tie for second place. So we would be pretty surprised to see her go home before the finals.

What do you think, fans? Did Hough just predict the top four of season 30? He did tell “Entertainment Tonight” that season 30 feels very competitive.

“There’s some really good dancers in the mix so that makes for a really competitive and exciting season, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Hough.

“Dancing With the Stars” season 30 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on ABC.

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