Olympic softball player Jennie Finch refused to dance to a new Janelle Monae song on "Dancing With the Stars" this week in what some reviewers say was a first for the dancing competition.
The Christian athlete, who said she wants to "glorify God" on the dance floor, thought Monae's "Make Me Feel" wasn't a good choice for that, calling it a "little too risque."
The sexy song, with a strong Prince vibe, is from Monae's new album, "Dirty Computer." Music critics have called it a "bisexual anthem."
The "DWTS" broadcast Monday showed what happened behind the scenes as Finch struggled with the song in rehearsals and finally made a phone call to producers saying she couldn't do it. Finch, who helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics, speaks often in public about her faith.
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“It’s not what I’m about. I need to follow who I am and stand up for what I believe in," she said on the show.
She later told reporters, according to Us Weekly, that "just as a mom, it’s not something we listen to in our house. And my fans, my audience, is young girls.
"I don’t know of anything more empowering than a man sticking by a woman, and following her gut and her heart, not feeling comfortable, and I wouldn’t be able to stand on that stage — I have a 5-year-old daughter — and be proud of what we’re doing in the song choice that we had.
“And there’s so many songs out there. Why even go that route even close?”
She added: “I want to glorify God out there, and that just wasn’t a great choice for me to do that.”
She said the plan had been to change the words to the song as she and pro dance partner Keo Motsepe danced. "And I was like, I just don't feel good about it," she told reporters.
She said Motsepe “had the whole choreography done” before they switched songs.
His reaction when she told him she wasn't going to dance to it: "Holy crap."
The professional partners, with input from the show's producers, choose the songs for the competitors. Reviewers suggested that this was the first time a competitor refused to perform to a chosen song.
“We had it done on Wednesday pretty much. Completely, the whole thing,” Finch told reporters. “So really, it fell on Keo’s shoulders, and that’s why I am so thankful for him stepping up to the challenge, because it wasn’t easy. We changed it all.”
So on Monday she and Motsepe performed a cha-cha to the Daphne Willis song "Do It Like This."
Finch paid for the late change with a mediocre performance.
“I applaud you for choosing what felt right to you, and I think that’s setting a great example,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba told her. “However, I do think that is also what maybe held you back a little back.”
Judge Len Goodman called it a “competent performance."
“I had fun, and that’s all that matters,” Finch told the judges. “It was a fun, upbeat song.”
She admitted to reporters after the show that she was "a little off. I knew I rehearsed better than I performed. I try to power through things and muscle through them. I’m a pitcher. I explode and so now I have to figure out how to turn that power into grace and elegance."
Her decision to dump the Monae song received mixed reaction on social media.
Monae hasn't said anything publicly about the incident. She's been in the news lately with her new album and her revelation last month to Rolling Stone that, after much public/obsessive speculation, she identifies as pansexual.
"Being a queer black woman in America," Monae said, "someone who has been in relationships with both men and women — I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf***er."
She had worried how her family in Kansas would receive the news. She told Rolling Stone that "Dirty Computer" is partly in response to things she's heard from members of her "massive, devoutly Baptist family."
"A lot of this album is a reaction to the sting of what it means to hear people in my family say, 'All gay people are going to hell,'" she said.