Nicole Scherzinger Stuns The Judges, Takes Commanding Lead On 'Dancing'

The season long battle for the top spot on “Dancing with the Stars” seemingly turned into a battle for second place, after Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough ran away with the competition on Monday night.

Over the course of Season 10, the Pussycat Doll and men’s gold medal figure skating champ Evan Lysacek had been regularly battling it out for the top spot, but Nicole’s stunning performance with her professional partner, Derek, on Monday night, put no doubt in the judges’ minds — this season a woman is very much on top.

Nicole and Derek conquered two full dances during the program’s two-hour show, landing just one point shy of a perfect score.

Judge Bruno Tonioli called their first dance, the 29-point-scoring fox trot – “pure dancing joy,” while Carrie Ann Inaba praised Nicole for “challenging” herself yet again.

It was their second dance – a ‘50s style paso doble – a random dance they selected out of a hat, which really impressed the judges. Derek’s bright idea for the Latin number was to take inspiration from “Grease” and it translated and was executed so perfectly that even judge Len Goodman had to pull out his 10 point paddle.

“There was nothing I could see to criticize,” he said as the twosome took home the second perfect score of the season for the individual dance (Evan and his partner, Anna Trebunskaya, had the honor of the first perfect score last week).

Nicole and Derek earned a total of 59 out of a possible 60 points for the night, putting them lengths ahead of pairs Evan and Anna, and Erin and Maks, who actually tied for second place.

Evan and Anna lost points during the evening, mostly for confusing Len, who couldn’t tell if he liked either their first number – a waltz, which started out with the pair lying on the ballroom floor — or their second – a futuristic jive, which was full of robotic-like moves.

“Again, you’ve confused me,” Len said following the second number, which received 25 points (the waltz scored 27).

While Evan confused the judges, Erin left no doubt that she isn’t just a ballroom babe — she’s a hearty competitor. Bounding back from a spot in last week’s bottom 2, the ESPN correspondent showed off her athleticism and lanky pins, jumping via one leg from the stage steps onto Maks’ shoulder during their first dance – an Argentine tango.

“That was so hot!” Carrie Ann raved, while Len said he “absolutely loved it.”

The pair took home 28 points during Round 1 and added another 25 for their ‘80s influenced rumba in Round 2. After the latter, Carrie Ann suggested Erin could perhaps even end up battling it out with Nicole in the competition.

“The reason why you’re not is because you doubt yourself,” Carrie Ann said.

As for the other stars in the competition, they were further down the leaderboard.

Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke landed in fourth, scoring just 45 points for the night overall, while Niecy Nash and her partner, Louis van Amstel, fell to the bottom with just 43 points out of a possible 60.

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