It’s country night on “Dancing with the Stars,” which seems like some pretty brilliant cross promotion (if you’re watching “Nashville” and the CMA Awards this week, BOTH ON ABC, you’ll love “DWTS”!), but I'm not sure if it's the best thing for the show. Yes, country music encompasses many things, but I'm not sure if it's a perfect fit for, say, the cha cha. This isn't a judgment against one or the other, mind you, but they are different animals. Still, Taylor Swift is going to be on the show this week, so let’s focus!
 
The show does not begin with Taylor Swift (she'll be on tomorrow night), but Little Big Town, Big & Rich and Cowboy Troy will all appear tonight. And there will be dancing. What’s with half of the celebs wearing country gear, others looking like they fell out of “Gone with the Wind” and others wearing formal wear and traditional evening gear? I know, country is many things, but this looks a little schizo.
 
Gilles & Peta
The Background: They’ll be dancing to Shania Twain. Gilles is not enthusiastic. “You were born in New Zealand. I was born in France,” he says to Peta. But it’s a cha cha. It’s a country cha cha.
The Dance: Don’t usually think of a guy in a black mesh top and shiny latex pants as country. Or tasteful. But at least Peta is wearing an approximation of what Shania wore in her video. It's a solid dance, but not their best.
The Judges: Len thinks he gave it 100 percent, though he was a little loose in the legs. Bruno doesn’t know what country it was, but he’d like to pay a visit. Yes, the footwork wasn’t as clean as it could have been, but the performance was magnificent. Carrie Ann thought it was creative, classy and sexy. But Gilles needs to watch his T-Rex hands.
 
Gilles tells everyone on the East Coast he’s thinking of them. Great, Gilles. Now everyone has to send out warm wishes to the East Coast or look like a jerk. I know his heart is in the right place, and it is the storm of the century and we all SHOULD be thinking about the poor people stuck up there, but you just know someone is going to end up walking backstage cursing themselves, saying, "I KNEW I forgot something!"
 
Scores: Carrie Ann - 9, Len – 9, Bruno – 9.5
 
Sabrina & Louis
The Background: It’s a rumba to a song that means a lot to her. It reminds her of a relationship she had with a drug addict. Louis wants to tell her story in the dance. It's the country way. 
The Dance: So, Louis is wearing a plaid flannel shirt and Sabrina is wearing a traditional “DWTS” get-up. I think the costume designers had a stroke this week. But it’s a very beautiful, very emotional dance. You can tell this means something to Sabrina. 
The Judges: Bruno thinks it was wonderful. Louis is almost in tears. Bruno thought her solo was magic. Carrie Ann gives Sabrina a hug. She felt Sabrina danced from her heart. Len thought there was a lovely balance to it and thought it was fantastic. 
 
Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10 WOW. First perfect score of the season.
 
Sabrina gets weepy. She’s waiting to get someone’s call from the East Coast but she hopes everyone is safe.
 
Kelly & Val
The Background: Kelly and Val have never been on the bottom of the leader board before, either together or individually. Um, that’s not true for Val, but okay. He’s just trying to be nice. Not a lot of flirting this time.
The Dance: So, they are wearing “Gone with the Wind”-style costumes. She seems incredibly stressed out, but the dance is controlled and pretty fierce. They cap it with hot kiss, just in case we weren’t thinking they were desperately in lust.
The Judges: Carrie Ann thinks it’s a good comeback. Len thought it was a little hectic and her neck was wonky, but mostly she did what she needed to do. Bruno though it was so intense, so pretty. And she’s back in the game.
 
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9, Bruno – 9
 
Wait, I missed it -- did they do a shout out to the East Coast? 
 
Melissa & Tony
The Background: She can’t move her neck again! Tony makes a phone call to her doctors, because apparently they need to tell him what they've already told her. What, he thinks she's lying? She’s scared and it hurts! Tony thinks it’s a good thing they’re waltzing, because there will be less pressure on her neck.
The Dance: Wow, that’s a lot of props. They have a little forest and a campfire! If her neck hurts, you can’t tell. This is pretty gorgeous. Great lines, great extension (as usual) and she doesn’t seem stiff at all to me. 
The Judges: Len gives them a standing ovation. “You’ve got the how and you’ve got the wow.” Bruno thought of it was like love in the great outdoors. Carrie Ann thinks she has beautiful lines, but she isn’t dancing out enough. Bruno is furious. I think Bruno is giving them a ten no matter what Carrie Ann says.
 
Next week it will be fusion-style dances. And they’ll be picking for each other.
 
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9.5, Len – 10, Bruno – 10
 
Melissa is so shocked she almost forgets to give the East Coast a shout-out, so Tony does it. Be safe, evacuate!
 
Shawn & Derek
The Background: She messed up her knee during rehearsals for the group dance, and she's freaked out. This was exactly what ruined her Olympics comeback. Derek doesn't know how to help her, except to tell her to put ice on it.
The Dance: Shawn is just so spunky. She is pretty great -- really can't believe she has an injury. Really can't believe Derek is having her do some of these moves with an injury, either. 
The Judges: Bruno thinks she’s sexy and he loved the fusion of country and cha cha. Carrie Ann thought the solo was a little safe. Len thought there were too many gimmicks.
 
Scores: 9.5 8.5 10
 
They don’t give an East Coast shout-out. Egads!
 
Kirstie & Maks
The Background: She’s so busy! She doesn’t remember anything! But she loves to dance. She just wants to dance. And stay on the show. And continue to collect a big, fat paycheck each week. Let's be honest here. 
The Dance: It's a rumba, but mostly I find this pretty slow and boring. She's flapping her arms around and giving sexy glares as if her life depends on it, but I can't get past the fact she's not moving much. 
The Judges: Carrie Ann thought she was the queen of sexy. Len thought it was clean and classy, but he wanted more hips. And demonstrates. He liked it, but not that much. Bruno thought it was the gorgeousness of a real woman. Wow. I guess everyone else saw a different dance than I did. 
 
Scores: Carrie Ann - 9.5 Len - 8.5 9.5
 
Maks does the East Coast shout out, so they're in the clear. 
 
Apolo & Karina
The Background: Karina and Apolo had a fight before they performed last week, and it had an impact on their performance. She wants him to live the emotion! She wants him to open up! She puts her head on his shoulder. It’s like being girlfriend and boyfriend, but with all of the pressure, none of the sex.
The Dance: She’s emoting her face off, but I’m not getting as much from Apolo. I find their formal wear a little jarring when they're dancing to a down-home Rascal Flatts song. Would it have been so awful for her not to dress like Ginger Rogers for this one? It's just weird. The character is supposed to have cancer, and with this outfit it looks like she's waltzing to heaven. 
The Judges: Len thought it was two people in perfect harmony. He loved it. Bruno thought he was a leading man. Carrie Ann thought it was poetry in motion.
 
Apolo says it was a dance for the loved ones they’ve known with cancer. There is no East Coast shout-out, but a shout-out to cancer patients is possibly better. 
 
Scores: Carrie Ann - 10, Len - 10, Bruno - 10
 
Emmitt & Cheryl
The Background: Emmitt is hurting. But, as they say in the NFL, if you can't play with the pain, you can't play the game. Of course, some of the pain may come from having to dance to "Islands in the Stream."
The Dance: Okay, the dance itself is shaky, but best solo of the night. He's clearly having fun, and he adds in some funk AND the "Gangnam Style" pony dance!
The Judges: Bruno thought overall it was absolutely a country fun fair. Carrie Ann thought they were out of synch. Len thought it was easy like Sunday morning, but it lacked finesse. 
 
Scores: Carrie Ann - 8.5, Len - 8.5, Bruno - 9.5
 
Also, no East Coast shout-out. They don't really get much time for it, as Brooke asks a dumb question. 
 
Time for the group dance. Emmitt is so lost. Kelly needs Val to hold her. As usual. Gilles shows up in a vest with no shirt to give everyone a laugh. He still looks good, though. Apolo feels lost. Shawn injures her knee, as we knew. And they'll be dancing while Big & Rich perform "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy." One lucky couple will get up to two points. 
 
Some of the lifts in the solos fall apart, probably because no one got much practice. The couples that stay on the ground are a little more successful. Kirstie looks so out of her element, but it's a funny moment when she slaps Maks' ass. 
 
Len thought it was fun. He liked it when Kirstie smacked Maks' bottom. Bruno thought it was fun-filled. And he thinks Kirstie rides again. He also loved Melissa's lasso move. Carrie Ann thinks Kelly & Val, Sabrina & Louis and Gilles & Peta were the best. 

Two points for... Kirstie & Maks. Really? Okay, if you're just going off the solo, fine. 

Kelly & Val are stuck at the bottom, and I'm thinking they may not make it another week. But the real question is, will they continue their torrid love affair? Actually, I don't really care. I'm more excited about dance fusion next week. "Dancing with the Stars" will try anything this season, won't they?

Do you think Kirstie & Maks had the best solo? Did you think two dances were worthy of 30 points? Are you excited to see Taylor Swift tomorrow night?