Even after a night of glamorous costumes and exciting performances, the big story was Billy Ray’s feud with the judges.
Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Fox Trot
Song: Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews, "Baby It’s Cold Outside"
Ian looked suave, while still looking like he was having a good time. His charm distracted me from any technical missteps he may have made. But I wasn’t so distracted that I missed Marilu Henner — of Taxi and now America’s Ballroom Challenge fame — seated in the front row.
Len wasn’t impressed, "Smooth is what we want. For me, it was a bit skippy and a bit hoppy." Bruno agreed with Len and said Ian looked "like a jumping goat…jumping around from rock to rock." Carrie Ann focused more on Ian’s top half: "You brought so much exuberance and so much charm to this dance."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 22/30
Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Waltz
Song: Frank Sinatra, "Always"
Kym’s poofy, pink Disney Princess dress distracted from an otherwise conservative routine. The toned-down Waltz was unexpected from Joey, but it was very pretty.
Bruno didn’t like the new, less flashy Joey: "It looked like a rehearsal. You could be in the final, and this, for me, is not good enough." Carrie Ann agreed: "It was missing the Joey Special." Len — who, last week, asked Joey for less razzle dazzle — was impressed: "You showed us a different side to your character — not just the ‘wham, bam, thank you, ma’am’ type of dancing. Don’t listen to them."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…8 = 26/30
Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff — Fox Trot
Song: Tammy Wynette, "Stand By Your Man"
By insisting on making Billy Ray dance to country songs, the producers aren’t allowing him to expand beyond his good-ole-boy boundaries. The performance was okay, but there was nothing special about it.
Carrie Ann, in the night’s most backhanded compliment, said, "I just marvel at the fact that you’re still in the competition." Len said, "You did all the right steps, but unfortunately they were all at the wrong time." Bruno called the performance "deliciously awful," before elaborating: "It was terrible. It was crap!"
Waiting for his scores backstage, Billy Ray said, "I’ve held my tongue the whole time, but I’m gonna go ahead and say it. Bruno callin’ me ‘crap’ is the pot calling the kettle black." And he didn’t look like he was joking.
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…6, Bruno…5 = 18/30
Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Waltz
Song: Andy Williams, "May Each Day"
Laila looked absolutely stunning in her red dress — and Maks didn’t look so bad either. She performed a lovely spin, and as her dad Muhammad sat in the audience for the first time, she blew a kiss to him. But extended story parts at the beginning and end didn’t leave much time for dancing.
Before the judges offered their comments, Tom Bergeron said, "Every season seems to have a moment, and I think we just saw Season 4’s."
Len said the performance was "poignant," but warned Laila to watch her posture. Bruno told Laila, "You sold it; you did it well." Carrie Ann said, "Tonight, what you brought to the dance floor was emotion. It was true, and it was very profound."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 27/30
Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Tango
Song: Rick Springfield, "Jessie’s Girl"
Just based on the insane song selection, this performance was going to be my favorite. But Apolo & Julianne did the song justice with a slightly faster-than-normal Tango. Julianne’s biggest accomplishment is that she’s managed to make Apolo look like he’s danced before. They always make their dances look effortless.
Bruno enthused, "That is electric. Dynamic. Contemporary. Finally, I am excited!" Carrie Ann told Apolo that he’d overcome the troubles he’s had with his upper body: "Tonight, you were fantastic." Len was not on board with the other judges: "It lacked any passion. It lacked drama." After Bruno and Carrie Ann objected, and Tom hit him with his note card, Len said, "Julianne, trust me, it was far too hectic. It was a cacophony of noise and movement."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…8, Bruno…10 = 28/30
After the judges held up their paddles, Samantha Harris announced that Carrie Ann had actually entered her score as a nine, and had held up the wrong paddle. When Carrie Ann said she’d meant to give them a 10, Tom said, "I love live television."
After a commercial, Tom clarified that the computer had simply recorded the wrong score, and a 10 was awarded to Apolo. Somebody in the IT department is going to be in big trouble tomorrow.
Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Rumba
Song: John Lennon, "Imagine"
"Imagine" isn’t exactly a sexy song, and the routine reflected it. Ian was back to his old self, executing the movements but not feeling the dance like he did in their Fox Trot.
Carrie Ann told Ian, "I felt that you were trying to do the passion, but I didn’t feel like it was generated from any sort of place of authenticity." Len complimented Ian’s lines and poses, but said, "It lacks a sort of naturalness." Bruno was more impressed, and called the performance "a great improvement after the knock you’ve taken."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…9 = 25/30
Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Mambo
Song: Black Eyed Peas, "Pump It"
Kym’s big hair and glitzy get-up was a little too drag queen for me, but the performance was still very cool with a lot of great underarm turns. Joey is a great partner for Kym, and the two seem to be on the most equal footing of all of the couples.
Len felt the routine was "clever," but said, "You just seem to spend a lot of time between each other’s legs." Bruno shouted, "You pimped the Mambo! And I liked it!" Carrie Ann said, "What I appreciate now is that you have stepped it up."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 29/30
Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff — Mambo
Song: Los Lonely Boys, "My Way"
Billy Ray danced like he’d had a few too many drinks at a wedding reception. There wasn’t enough Mambo to criticize. Bridesmaids, look out.
Bruno told Billy Ray, "You’re like a wild beast that cannot be tamed," and predicted that, if the couple lasts another week, Karina will wind up in the Betty Ford Clinic. Carrie Ann, in the second most backhanded compliment of the evening, said, "You make people think that they can do this, too." Len said, "This is not a competition that you do one, and you get one free. There have to be two dances of equal merit."
As they waited for their second round of scores, Billy Ray had more words for the judges. He said he was upset by their rudeness, and then wrested the mic away from Samantha and said, "Bruno called me a Southern gentleman? He needs to take a lesson on Southern gentlemen." (I’ll make the obvious joke and say that I’m sure Bruno would welcome a lesson on Southern gentlemen.)
Billy Ray does have a point that the judges have stopped offering him constructive criticism — although he has acted on very little of the advice they have given. But, at the very least, their scores should reflect their comments to avoid sending a mixed message.
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…6, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 20/30
Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Jive
Song: Jim Croce, "Bad Bad Leroy Brown"
Laila is just plain cool. For a woman who’s nearly six-feet-tall, she executed the Jive’s fast footwork with surprising speed. But, again, the first 10 or so seconds of a short routine were wasted on a cutesy acting bit.
Carrie Ann called it "clever" and "spunky." Len directed his comments at Maks: "You can’t do 12-bar introductions, floatin’ about with a handkerchief and messin’ about. Dance! It’s a dancing competition!" Bruno agreed with Len: "You, Maks, have got Laila. She is everything you could possibly wish for. Why give me an appetizer when you can deliver a great dish?"
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…8, Bruno…9 = 26/30
Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Paso Doble
Song: Dario G, "Carnaval De Paris"
The routine started with Apolo ripping off Julianne’s skirt…and then reattaching it. The performance was exciting, and Julianne looked fierce!
Len cheered, "That is a proper dance!" Bruno said Apolo & Julianne were "going for the kill." Carrie Ann enthused, "I had chills the whole time. That was fabulous!"
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Len…10 = 30/30
58 — Apolo & Julianne
55 — Joey & Kym
53 — Laila & Maks
47 — Ian & Cheryl
38 — Billy Ray & Karina
Apolo & Julianne and Joey & Kym gave my favorite performances, but I’ll have to throw at least one vote Laila’s way, because she looked so fantastic. It would appear that Billy Ray & Karina will be joined by Ian & Cheryl in the Bottom Two. Let’s hope that Ian has enough fan support to hold off anyone casting votes against the judges’ rudeness on Billy Ray’s behalf