'Dancing with the Stars' Live Recap: The Final Four Take the Floor
'Dancing with the Stars' Live Recap: The Final Four Take the Floor
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
It's dance-or-die time for the Dancing with the Stars Season 10 final four. And given that each couple will perform two brand new dances in two all-new styles after just one week to prepare, the pressure couldn't be higher for Chad Ochocinco, Erin Andrews, Evan Lysacek and Nicole Scherzinger. Well, maybe not for Nicole--or do I mean especially for Nicole? It's lonely at the top, with all us underlings standing there just waiting for her to trip up.

By all accounts, most viewers are predicting that Chad's waltz and samba tonight will turn him from Ochocinco to Ocho-stink-o. Will he get out there and prove us wrong? Will he be partying in the U.S.A. with Miley tomorrow night, or weeping along to Sarah McLachlan's tragic melodies? It all depends on tonight's performances, and who wins your votes.

Tonight: I'm here to give you the play by play and my unique perspective on all eight performances. Follow along with me as we watch these semi-finalists fight their way into the finals, and tell me in those comments: who's winning your votes, and who should be packing his/her bags?

Tom starts with an announcement: for the past several weeks, each couple has led in the viewer votes. So it's a clean slate for everyone.

The Ballroom Round:

Erin & Maksim
Dancing: Viennese waltz
Song: "February Song," Josh Groban

Judges Say: "For me, you just made a giant step through the door." - Len
"You have improved so much since the beginning. The fluidity, continuity ... Wonderful." - Bruno
"I just adore watching you. Such a grace. I do see you grow. You are doing wonderfully." - Carrie Ann

I Say: Very sweet, fluid and clean. There's a real connection between these two, emotionally and physically, that just makes it work. The song is a little emotionally cheesy for my tastes, but it's a waltz, so what are you going to do, you know?

Scores: 9+9+9=27
Haha, Bruno accidentally held up his 10 when he meant 9! "He had a premature paddle," says Tom.

nicole-derek-week9perf.jpgNicole & Derek
Dancing: Argentine tango
Song: Instrumental

Judges Say: "You were like a divine enchantress, using each move to draw us deeper and deeper and deeper. Enslaved by you, enchanted by the dance!" - Bruno
"You took Bruno somewhere else, but you brought me to tears. Just so profound. You are so amazing. You're dynamic when you need to be dynamic, explosive when you need to be explosive. What you're doing is incredible." - Carrie Ann

I Say: Close-knit, tight and fierce ... that explains both the dance and their partnership. A truly beautiful tango in its truest sense: passionate and sexy all the way through. Did Derek have a neck injury, or is he trying to wrack up the performance vote AND the pity vote? Just kidding. He doesn't need the pity vote.

Scores: 10+10+10=30

Chad & Cheryl
Dancing: Waltz
: "If You Don't Know Me By Now"

Judges Say: "Where did you come from? New posture, new elegance, neverending movement. Fluidity. Refinement. Woohoo!" - Carrie Ann
"You're the only one with absolutely no dance experience in this semi-finals. Fantastic." - Len
"Respect. You are one of the guys who had the toughest criticism from day one. We knew there was something there for us to see. Tonight you showed it to us. You're a star." - Bruno

I Say: That is certainly the best slow ballroom dance that Chad has EVER done. I say that with absolute certainty. But it still feels like he still lacks a little bit of certainty in himself--or at least he did, before that dance and the judges' comments. Chad just blossomed--can he keep up the bloom in his latin routine? I hope so. This showdown just got interesting!

Scores: 9+9+9=27

evan-ana-dwtsweek9.jpgEvan & Anna
Dancing: Foxtrot
Song: "I've Got the World on a String"

Judges Say: "We saw a completely different side. The happy-go-lucky, fun side. Absolutely wonderful." - Len
"You were as high as a kite out there! That vivacity, that vitality. I haven't seen something like that since Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney." - Bruno
"Sometimes when the movement is so pristine, we lose the connection to the dancers. I felt the connection tonight." - Carrie Ann

I Say: The judges wanted Evan to let go and embrace the moment, and he did just that--and more. What a sweet, classy, energetic, lovely routine. Evan's got the world on a string, he's got those leaps down pat--and, if I have anything to say about it, he's got a finalist spot in the bag.

Scores: 10+9+10=29

The Latin Round:

Erin & Maksim
Dancing: Paso doble
Song: "You Got The Look"

Judges Say: "You are a hot chick with an attitude. Tonight has turned into a feast. Another breakthrough. Your performance was stunning." - Bruno
"That's what it feels like to be in your power. Maks, really beautiful choreography." - Carrie Ann
"I don't know what to make of it. I'm a traditionalist, this is a funky monkey type of paso doble. I'm confused, really. You're a talented dancer ... " - Len

I Say: This felt very much like a last, balls-to-the-wall effort to show America why these two deserve a final shot at the mirror ball trophy. And it definitely convinced me.

Scores: 10+9+10=29

nicole-derek-dwts-week9-2.jpgNicole & Derek
Dancing: Cha-cha
Song: "Kiss," Prince

Judges Say: "It all comes so naturally from you ... but I know it doesn't. Congratulations." - Carrie Ann
"We're looking for who deserves to be in the final next week, and you need to be there." - Len
"You are the sexylicious purple queen of the cha-cha-cha." - Bruno

I Say: I have this huge, soft, purple, glittery spot in my heart that is reserved specifically for Prince. And now, I think, I have to concede a little bit of that space for Nicole and Derek for such a Prince-tastic performance. Fun, retro but totally fresh. Loved it!

Scores: 10+9+10=29

chad-dwtsweek9-2.jpgChad & Cheryl
Dancing: Samba
Song: "Alejandro"

Judges Say: "As soon as we get a samba, all the men have to take their shirts off. You got a rough deal tonight, because you had the toughest of the Latin dances. For a tough dance, you did a great job." - Len
"I'm torn between admiration and bitter envy. You got it right. I had fun with it." - Bruno
"Your technique hasn't quite matured like everyone else, but that's because you started at a different location. You light up the room. Everyone was smiling." - Carrie Ann

I Say: Sexaaaaaay! Check out this steamy, sexy blossom of a dancer we have here now. Chad has personality in spades, and his dancing has finally caught up to his energy. It's downright infectious. I think the judges are right to applaud his growth and ability to work the room. Technique is always the ultimate goal, but it's nothing without fun and charisma.

Scores: 8+8+9=25

Evan & Anna
Dancing: Paso doble
Song: "Bring Me to Life," Evanescence

Judges Say: "Strong yet artistic. The best elevation we've seen in a paso doble this season." - Bruno
"Normally your movements are so beautiful, tonight they were gutteral, like pa! Pa! Pa! I loved it." - Carrie Ann
"The paso doble is the man's dance. The man should dominate. It is so difficult for a celebrity guy to dominate the professionals you did it." - Len

I Say: All the stars are going balls to the wall tonight, and, like Bruno said, Evan just proved he had BALLS! He channeled all that energy and emotion he's been holding back all season long and just shot it like a lightning bolt into an urgent, visceral, passionate paso doble.

Scores: 10+10+10=30

Final Thoughts and Leaderboard

The Leaderboard:
Nicole & Derek: 29+30=59
Evan & Anna: 29+30=59
Erin & Maksim: 27+29=56
Chad & Cheryl: 27+25=52

Wow--for the first time this season, I can honestly say there wasn't one performance I could call a weak link. Chad is at the bottom of the leaderboard, but only a pair of 8s sunk him down to a very respectable, very well-deserved 25 on his difficult samba.

Who earned your votes? For his ability to let go and embrace the emotion of his routines, I will be bestowing some of my votes on Evan--and because I want to see what she and Maks have in store for the finale, and she's shown such exciting growth even in just the last couple of weeks, I've got a vote for Erin, too. Nicole and Derek were sheer perfection, per usual, and if they're not in the finale we're all taking crazy pills and need to be committed to Dancing psych ward. Then again ... Chad Ochocinco probably represents the MOST growth from the beginning to the end of the season, and tonight he really blossomed and held his own. I don't want to see him go, either!

I may just have to disperse my precious votes evenly. I'm so confused! What do you guys think? Who should go home tomorrow night? Who DESERVES to go home? Let's talk it out.

(Images courtesy of ABC)