ByMichael Patterson, writer at
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Michael Patterson

The bright lights and dancing shoes are back as BBC's Strictly Come Dancing has returned to our TV screens for its 15th series. Ten weeks in, the competition continues to heat up every time the contestants take to the dancefloor, as the numbers witter down until one act is left standing. While this series undeniably has plenty of frontrunners, some of them are more likely to win than others. And although some of them have shined early, there is one couple that has been quietly impressing us each week — Mollie and AJ.

A member of the incredibly popular girlband The Saturdays, Mollie King was paired with professional dance partner AJ Pritchard in the opening episode. And the couple have grown a lot since then, gelling as a unit and delivering a show-stopping routine each week. With that in mind, let's take a look at why Mollie and AJ should dance their way to the Final of the series — and ultimately claim that coveted glitter-ball trophy.

Mollie Has Become This Year's Journey Contestant

It's become such a cliché to associate the word "journey" with talent shows that we seem to shy away from using it altogether. But the reason it's become so overused is because it sums up the experience perfectly. Just like any character in a scripted narrative, certain talent show contestants learn and develop throughout the course of the competition, growing each week. And that's exactly what has happened to Mollie.

At the beginning of the competition, Mollie insisted that she wasn't a natural dancer. But despite that, many fans still believed that her experience in the music industry suggested otherwise. Thus, while she delivered a solid performance with her Jive in Week 1, it wasn't up to the standard that some were hoping for.

However, Mollie listened to the judges' advice and it wasn't long before we all saw a drastic improvement. The change was evident in Week 2 when she and AJ delivered a fiery hot Tango that really impressed new Head Judge Shirley Ballas. But it was the following week that they truly shined, when they dazzled us all with their beautiful Sound Of Music-themed American Smooth.

It is clear that Mollie is much more comfortable in Ballroom routines, but her Salsa was also a significant improvement from her Jive — proving that she's getting better in the Latin dances as well. Undoubtedly, a large part of this is down to AJ's choreography, which always seems to play to Mollie's strengths. Nobody in the competition can execute lifts as elegantly as these two, and AJ has no problem highlighting that in his choreography.

While other contestants were already strong performers, Mollie has naturally grown into a great dancer — taking advice on board and progressing in her technique each and every week. And, after all, isn't that the whole point of the show?

AJ Was Robbed Of A Place In The Final Last Year

Last year, AJ was partnered with Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane, and it didn't take long for the young, energetic pair to become fan favorites. Despite consistent undermarking from the judges, the "pocket rockets" made it all the way to the semi-final, dazzling audiences with their innovative performances. However, after finding themselves in the dance-off in the penultimate week, they were eliminated.

Their elimination felt unjust, not only because their dance-off performance was flawless, but because any other year being part of the Top 4 would have automatically guaranteed them a spot in the final. Traditionally, the final of Strictly Come Dancing sees the final four contestants battle it out for the glitter-ball trophy, but due to Will Young's departure, last year's final only consisted of the Top 3. Thus, Claudia and AJ just missed out.

Claudia and AJ were the People's Champions during last year's series. [Credit: BBC]
Claudia and AJ were the People's Champions during last year's series. [Credit: BBC]

AJ was one of six new professional dancers recruited for the series and the 22-year-old was the last one standing — taking his celebrity partner all the way to fourth place. Renowned for his energetic and lift-tastic choreography, it was a travesty that we were robbed of seeing his and Claudia's Showdance in the Final — as it would have surely been a treat. Thus, it's only fair that the talented young dancer is given that chance in this year's final by choreographing an epic Showdance for Mollie.

AJ proved his worth during his debut series, and now, he deserves a chance to shine in that Strictly Final.

Their Routines Always Tell A Story

Mollie and AJ always make us feel their chemistry in their routines. [Credit: BBC]
Mollie and AJ always make us feel their chemistry in their routines. [Credit: BBC]

While acing all the steps and remembering the choreography are integral keys to the success of a dance, one aspect that is equally as important is storytelling. As an audience, we need to understand and appreciate the story that is unfolding before us on the dancefloor. And in order for that to happen, the performers must play their roles to perfection.

Mollie and AJ's ability to tell a story on the dancefloor is second to none. From their passionate Tango to their sizzling Salsa, their chemistry has always been undeniable. As judge Bruno Tonioli pointed out, their rapport has grown with each routine, and it has made for some incredibly convincing performances. Whether they are portraying fiery lovers or an adoring couple, Mollie and AJ never fail to tell a story — and their chemistry is always off the charts.

[Credit: BBC]
[Credit: BBC]

This season of the series, Strictly Come Dancing, is undoubtedly star-studded. But more than that, it's packed full of talented celebrities who are impressing us each and every week. And while some of them are already there, it's great to see the effect that the show is having on other contestants, specifically Mollie King.

Since being partnered with AJ Pritchard, Mollie has progressed a great deal, and the couple always deliver on Saturday nights. Moreover, with AJ's impressive choreography and the duo's consistent knack for telling a great story on the dancefloor, it's clear that Mollie is destined for great things. But as she's learnt so much from the experience already, and transformed into a great dancer, it's only fair that she and AJ pick up that glitter-ball trophy in the final.

Do you think Mollie and AJ should win Strictly Come Dancing 2017? Let us know in the comments below!


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