It's semifinals week on "Dancing With the Stars," and on Monday night the five remaining couples traded their typical tangos for dazzling dances that have never been done before on the show. (Afro jazz, anyone?) Not only that, but the 10s were flowing -- even from Len -- with four out of the five couples nabbing perfect scores for at least one of their dances.
Here's how the semifinal round panned out (hint: athletes ruled) and the scoop on which surprising couple choked in their first dance on the highest-scoring night of the season.
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough -- Argentine tang/flamenco
What a difference a week makes! After Len Goodman's brutal bashing of their paso doble last week, Kellie Pickler and her pro partner, Derek Hough, danced a picture-perfect Argentine tango, complete with a silhouette section. Len told the duo, "What's happened in the past is of no consequence. The rest of the competition starts tonight." The "American Idol" alum received her first perfect score of the season, nabbing 10s from all of the judges. (Yes, including Len.)
Kellie and Derek's second dance, flamenco, featured clicks and claps, with Len proclaiming, "You just booked your place in the finals." But not so fast! Carrie Ann Inaba noticed that the country singer tensed up halfway through the dance. ("This dress weighs about 5,000 pounds," Kellie explained.) Meanwhile, the judges were so 10-happy that Bruno accidentally picked up his 10 paddle while he said, "Nine."
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson -- samba/Charleston
Ingo Rademacher knows he's the underdog, and Carrie Ann confirmed it. ("You have to step it up just a hair more," she said.) Still, the "General Hospital" star and his pro partner, Kym Johnson, decided to have fun with their samba this week, and it paid off. Bruno Tonioli told the soap star, "I love your determination. It's like a dog with a bone -- you don't give up."For Ingo and Kym's second dance, they broke out the three-piece suits and the flapper dresses (as well as the champagne) as they did the Charleston. Len said, "[The dance] was like that champagne. It was bubbly and full of fizz."
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas -- rumba/Afro jazz
Next up, teen gymnast Aly Raisman was all grown up for her rumba with Mark Ballas. Carrie Ann Inaba praised the 18-year-old's maturity, saying, "Every moment of that story, you drew us in." Score: a trio of perfect paddles.
For the Afro jazz, the Olympic gymnast told TV Guide that she and Ballas were excited to take on the little-known dance. "No one else wanted it, but we're not scared of it!" she said. "Mark and I love a challenge. It's never been done on the show... It's kind of like a tribal dance. It's not a smiley dance."
Well, the judges were definitely smiling after the high-energy dance. But while Len loved "the music and the enthusiasm," he dinged the duo one point for not being as connected as he would have liked.
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff -- Argentine tango/Lindy hop
Super Bowl champ Jacoby Jones and his partner, Karina Smirnoff, scored a touchdown on the dance floor after a sultry Argentine tango that had Len saying, "Ka-ching!" Bruno was more descriptive, saying the dance was "so slick and so clean … like a prowling predator." And Carrie Ann was downright giddy. For the first time this season, all three of the judges pulled out their 10 paddles for the NFL star. Ka-ching indeed.
Next, it was time to bust out the trumpets for an athletic Lindy hop that ended with a flying leap onto the judges' table. (Now that's how to get their attention!) Carrie Ann called the football pro "the No. 1 entertainer of Season 16."
Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy -- quickstep/hip-hop
Meanwhile, there was trouble in paradise for Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy. In a surprising upset, the usually flawless couple's racecar-driver-themed quickstep received harsh comments from the judges after the Disney star lost her frame and footing. "That was kind of a mess," Carrie Ann said of the sloppy dance.
Zendaya's hip-hop dance fared much better; the "Shake It Up" star was in her element, after all. (She even brought in her very first dance teacher to teach Val a few tricks -- like how to get swagger.) This time it was all 10s, with Bruno calling the funky dance "so cool it gave me the chills."
Here's the full list of scores from Week 9 of "Dancing With the Stars":
- Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: 30 out of 30 points / 29 out of 30 points (total: 59 out of 60)
- Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas: 30 out of 30 points / 29 out of 30 points (total: 59 out of 60)
- Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: 30 out of 30 points / 28 out of 30 points (total: 58 out of 60)
- Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy: 25 out of 30 points / 30 out of 30 points (total: 55 out of 60)
- Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson: 24 out of 30 points / 27 out of 30 points (total: 51 out of 60)
Watch the full episode:
The next episode of "Dancing With the Stars" airs on Tuesday, 5/14 at 9 PM on ABC.