“Dancing With the Stars” returned to television on Monday night with a big two-hour season premiere, and at the end of the night, a pop star made a big leap into the lead.
The male celebrities competing this season were the only ones taking to the dance floor with their professional partners on Monday and it was Aaron Carter, younger brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, who topped the leaderboard with his partner Karina Smirnoff.
Aaron, one of the younger competitors this season, made quick fans of the judges with his cha cha.
“Wow! Little Aaron Carter’s all grown up,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba raved as Aaron and Karina took home 22 out of 30 points, the highest individual score of the night. “I definitely see a lot of fire in you… I thought it was great.”
But Aaron wasn’t the only stand out of the evening. “Iron Chef America” host Mark Dacascos used his martial arts stamina to take his cha cha — with partner Lacey Schwimmer — to a hefty 21 out of 30 points.
Donny Osmond, who this year is dancing with Aussie fave Kym Johnson, also pulled out an impressive performance, netting 20 out of 30 points.
And Louie Vito, a professional snowboarder who revealed he has never seen “DWTS,” managed to net 19 out of 30 for his fox trot with partner Chelsie Hightower.
But competition didn’t end there. “Dancing” threw in a twist on opening night – the relay round.
Splitting the male dancers and their partners into two groups, four pairs danced a sort of tag team style number. Four couples danced the salsa, and four couples danced the Viennese waltz.
For the salsa relay group, which included Ashley Hamilton, Chuck Liddell, Donny Osmond and Louie Vito, it was Donny who “smoked ‘em” as Carrie Ann put it, taking home the maximum relay score of 10 points. Louie placed second (8 points), Chuck took third (6 points) and Ashley was last (4 points).
Over in the Viennese waltz relay it was Aaron Carter again who triumphed (10 points). Mark took second (8 points), Michael Irvin took third place (6 points) and Tom DeLay took fourth (4 points).
The women will dance on Tuesday.