'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: Top 7 Swing for Higher Scores
'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: Top 7 Swing for Higher Scores
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Tonight on Dancing with the Stars: Half the couples will tackle the Argentine Tango, while the others attempt the sexy Samba.

To add another twist to this batch of steamy routines, the seven stars took the reigns on costume design for themselves and their pros. (So, besides technique and performance, we're also on fashion watch tonight, with a full report on the best and worst glittery get-ups coming your way tomorrow. I know: I can barely wait, either!)

And, for the first time in Season 10, a challenge: The top seven couples will participate in a Swing Dance Marathon. (All couples begin the dance at the same time, and the judges eliminate them one by one. The final couple on the floor receives the most number of points.)

The stakes are high, and the scores have been relatively low for the majority of the remaining stars, much to Maksim Chmerkovskiy's disappointment and confusion--as well as our own. Which brings us to our pre-show discussion question of the night:

Have the judges' scores been fair and/or consistent this season?

Remember, as a couple users pointed out last week, vivacious crowd-pleasers like Niecy Nash and Chad Ochocinco have been slumming it with 6's and 7's, while dead on the dancefloor Kate Gosselin slid through a couple weeks with straight 5's. Do you smell fish, or is this just a case of subjectivity? Something to ponder in the comments below as we await tonight's performances.

The Swing Dance Marathon will close off the night. First, we've got the sambas and tangos to critique:

jake-chelsie-dwtsweek6.jpgJake & Chelsie
Dancing: samba
Song: Instrumental

Judges Say: "I think you're showing more confidence in your dancing. It was more polished. You've got to get rhythm in the samba, and that was lacking." - Len
"Samba has to bounce, and that didn't happen, except from the pelvic gyrations. You didn't wriggle correctly." - Bruno
"You always push yourself to the max, so much so that you fall. That's the best part about you. However, if you want to be at the top, you have to connect to the music. It needs to flow through you. You've got to ride it like the ocean." - Carrie Ann

I Say: Another day, another minor stumble in an otherwise high energy routine from increasingly polished Jake. His ever-opened mouth is a great symbol for what kind of dancer Jake is: the enthusiasm is there in spades, but it overflows and ultimately sabotages his precision--hence, his trip on the steps of the judges' table. Nevertheless, he's on the brink of a routine that will finally harness that energy in both his face and his stumble-less movements. I feel it coming!

Scores: 7+7+7=21

evanannadwts7.jpgEvan & Anna
Dancing: samba
Song: "Hey Mama"

Judges Say: "I'm going to be hard on you, because you have very, very good lyrical lines, but for this dance it doesn't work. Your legs were turned out, and they shouldn't be in the samba. It was pretty to look at, but it wasn't right for this dance." - Bruno
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Tonight I definitely felt you lost the battle with the samba. It never came together, it was a bit disjointed." - Carrie Ann
"I haven't got a nasty bone in my body. It was your worst dance. It's a carnival dance, and this was a ballet dance. Everybody comes up against a dance that doesn't suit them, and this was yours." - Len

I Say: For a man with a minor concussion, Evan managed to gyrate those hips admirably. But the judges were right: throughout the routine, I couldn't help but picture Evan as the male lead in Swan Lake--not exactly the visceral, hypnotic sensuality of the samba. Evan's set his bar high so far, and this dance asked just a bit too much brain reprogramming of our technical figure skater--even harder, no doubt, thanks to that brain reprogramming he got when Anna accidentally slammed his head into the floor. 

Scores: 7+7+7=21

niecylouisdwtsweek6.jpgNiecy & Louis
Dancing: Argentine tango
Song: Something in Spanish that I don't know

Judges Say: "It's nice to see you dancing. Really dancing. I have to say, your dancing has come so far. There was a new attitude in your body. You were definitely in the zone. You went for the lifts. You didn't need the comedy." - Carrie Ann
"I liked the comedy. With the Argentine tango, the story is a lady of the night trying to get money. You were trying to get food. It lacked a bit of intensity, but overall I thought it was good." - Len
"If you treat all your men like that, stay away form my lunchbox. I don't want to speak like a tenor! It did like a slight intensity, it should be carnal. But you worked on it, and it's good, and it shows." - Bruno

I Say: Cookies and crotch-shots! What's not to love? Oh yes, and the dancing too: for all her jiggly parts, Niecy managed the tight criss-cross footwork and high lifts of the Argentine tango, and did it without losing her personality. It did feel like a bit of a stretch, which explains why she was thinking too much to have much 'intensity,' but it's good that she's stretching herself--that's how you learn, and she's definitely learning and improving.

Scores: 7+7+7=21

That's three solid 7 scores from the first three couples. Can Erin and Maks break out of the pack with an elusive 8?

makserindwtsweek6.jpgErin & Maks
Dancing: samba
Song: "When I Get You Alone"

Judges Say: "From Week 1, I've given you a 7 every week, and you're going to get another 7 tonight. You need to show up and show me a proper dance. I'm fed up with shirts coming off." - Len
"This is a girl that can do it, and you did it well. Your placement in the arms was spot-on. It was exciting, it was aggressive." - Bruno
"You nailed it, you nailed it, you nailed it! I loved it!" - Carrie Ann

I Say: SHIRTLESS MAKSIM = AUTOMATIC 10 from me, because I'm a super-creepazoid, but at least I know it. Anyway, forgive the drooling, let's talk dancing: they did it! And well! The hips were there, the intensity was there, the chemistry was there. It was sexy and sharp. So far a supporting actress on the leaderboard, Erin is finally tapping into her leading lady potential.

Scores: 9+7+9=25

chadcheryldwtsweek6.jpgChad & Cheryl
Dancing: Argentine tango
Song: Instrumental

Judges Say: "I was hard on you, because I knew you had it, and tonight you proved you can actually dance." - Bruno
"Tonight, you nailed it. That was really amazing. It was dramatic, powerful, arrogant, sensual." - Carrie Ann
"On Dancing with the Stars, you either grow or you go. You grew tonight." - Len ("That's what she said!")

I Say: As she writhed and flexed as he stood tall beside her, at times it looked like Cheryl was doing most of the work in this tango with Chad. But looks can be deceiving--and while Cheryl was doing the fancy footwork, Chad was taking charge as a strong and sharp lead, and brought that certain oomph of arrogance.

Scores: 8+8+8=24
nicolederekdwtsweek6.jpgNicole & Derek
Dancing: samba
Song: "Maria"

Judges Say: "That was just ridiculous. I'm looking for something to give you constructive criticism. Your facial expression. [Makes O-Face.] That's it." - Carrie Ann
"The difficulty and the performance of that routine was great. The gyrations were surplus to requirements. ... Not a samba. A hodge-podge of gyrations and sexy moves." - Len
"You are one singular sensation, I tell you! The dance was superlative, and watching you makes me dribble with desire. You have nothing to worry about." - Bruno

I Say: Like Carrie Ann, I'm starting to run out of different ways to praise Nicole's moves and performance level without a stitch of criticism. So why bother? Another week, another grade-A dance from Nicole. Sigh. Snore. But also: Way to go!

Scores: 9+7+10=26

pamdamdwtsweek6.jpgPamela & Damian
Dancing: Argentine tango
Song: "All I Ever Wanted" (Instrumental)

Judges Say: "The tango is about seduction. You can do seduction very well. You got the flavor of the dance, but sometimes it was a bit scruffy and raggedy." - Len
"Another great character for Pamela. The blossom of the ? [what did Bruno just say?], ready to be plucked, but not without a fight. You're living the part, and I love to see that." - Bruno
"I love the commitment to the character. The legs were a little loose. Upper body convincing, lower body not quite up to par." - Carrie Ann

I Say: Last week I asked you what you had against Pam 'n' Dam that landed these two entertainers in the bottom two twice, and once again, I implore you, America: WHAT GIVES? Okay, those of you who worried Pam's overflowing sexuality was corrupting your young children: I get that. But, also: put 'em to bed and enjoy a little naughtiness now and then! And Pam certainly knows how to make you enjoy it.

Scores: 7+7+8=22

The last couple on the floor will get 10 points, the second to last 9 points, and so on.

Beyond the usual importance of footwork, technique and performance, the keys to clinching the swing dance marathon are endurance (they've got double the time that they usually get for a routine) and lifts. Here we go:

1st eliminated (4 points): Jake & Chelsie
2nd eliminated (5 points): Niecy & Louis
3rd eliminated (6 points): Evan & Anna
4th eliminated (7 points): Chad & Cheryl
5th eliminated (8 points): Pamela & Damian
6th eliminated (9 points): Erin & Maks
WINNER: Nicole & Derek

Ho hum. What a shocker. Is anyone else getting bored with Nicole and Derek winning everything? And Nicole weeping about how difficult everything is for her, only to kill it on the dance floor every single week? Or maybe I'm just looking for a new star to give all my negative energy to now that Kate is gone.

niecy-louisswingmarathon.jpgThe highlight of this topsy-turvy swing dance fustercluck? Watching Niecy smash Louis and wiggle all over him. Now THAT'S how to keep me from getting bored.

At the end of the night, Nicole and Derek keep the lead with 36 points, while Jake and Chelsie trail the pack with 25 points.

Who earned your votes with their tango or samba tonight? Who do you hope gets sent packing tomorrow night?

Stay tuned for my full Performance Rankings, don't forget to make your Fantasy TV picks, and join me back here tomorrow night when we see this motley crew get narrowed down to six stars!

(Images courtesy of ABC)