The medley of songs J.Lo sang and danced to Sunday night ranged from "Please Mr. Postman" to "Dancing in the Street," which were made famous by black artists in the 1960s -- and the outrage came almost immediately after the Latin-infused pop star took the stage.
Motown legends Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy publicly backed both J.Lo and the Recording Academy's decision to have her pay homage to the genre, and Derek says that's all the validation he needs.
"When you have Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy -- who is the man who founded Motown -- when they go on record and say, 'Motown was and is for everybody. We set out to create new music for everyone, and the fact that it inspired a young Latina girl from the Bronx just means that our mission was accomplished,'" Hough told TooFab. "So for me, I look to them, to the actual living legends of Motown, who not only okayed it and confirmed it, but actually celebrated it. In my opinion, I think that says enough."
Hough got to know Lopez when they were cast to sit alongside each other on "World of Dance" back in 2017. He told TooFab he remembers her turning to him one day while sitting at the judges panel and saying, "Yeah, so, I met this dude." That dude turned out to be Alex Rodriguez.
"I said to her, 'Oh, that's cool,'" Hough recalled. "And then two years later, here we are. I'm beyond happy for them. They're an awesome team."
The professional dancer also had quite the first encounter with the retired Yankee. He prefaced his story with, "I wasn't really a big sports guy growing up, as you can imagine!" We were all ears.
"So the first time I met Alex, he was like, 'Hey, man, my daughters are big fans of yours,'" Hough explained. "So I was like, 'Oh, thank you! What's your name?' And he goes, 'My name's Alex.' I'm like, 'Oh, cool, Alex. Nice to meet you, brother!' And then later on, I realized that was Alex as in A-Rod, the freaking legend!"
"I'm actually kind of glad that I met him in that way because I actually saw him for him and who he was," Hough said. "I think he's a really great guy with a really great heart, and he's a great dad. I met his daughters, and they're beyond sweet and adorable and amazing."
Hough praised J.Lo's parenting, too, telling us that no matter how busy she gets, everything stops whenever she gets a FaceTime call from her 10-year-old twins, Max and Emme.
"Something I learned from Jennifer -- which I saw firsthand and loved and really warmed my heart -- was seeing what a great mom she is," he said. "I know people know that already, but for me to see firsthand when her kids FaceTime her, it doesn't matter what she's doing or where she is, that takes precedence. That takes priority. Everything shuts down, and she goes, 'I gotta talk to my kids.' I think that's beautiful. For how busy she is and what she does and how she's nonstop, she always takes time and is there for her kids. "
"World of Dance" returns to NBC on Feb. 26, and Derek kicks off his first solo tour -- a live dance show -- on April 5. You can buy tickets for that here.