Dancing With the Stars came up with an evil little game for tonight.
The five remaining contestants each danced twice, and it was only after the first routine that they found out which song they'd be dancing to next.
Purpose? To terrify and throw the stars off their game, crush their confidence and make them bow to the mighty whims of reality TV.
So, how'd that work out for everybody?
As usual, much ado was made about very little. It seemed like a tricky gambit, but would you believe, almost every star did better on his or her so-called "instant dance." Go figure!
And original front-runner Jennifer Grey ended up busting through through the glass ceiling, scoring the season's first 30 on her rumba—which, incidentally, was her insta-dance to Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You."
Jennifer is also battling tendonitis in her left knee, but obviously held it together, also winning raves for her previous dance, the quickstep.
Brandy, meanwhile, inched closer to perfect, getting 10's on her waltz from both Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, but still couldn't crack Carrie Ann Inaba.
Some blah-blah about the singer's neck was Carrie Ann's explanation for giving her a 9.
Brandy and Maks Chmerkovskiy then drew Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" for their cha-cha—a selection that had the "Boy Is Mine" singer drawing a blank at first.
"Oh yeah, I forgot about that," she said, relieved, after realizing she was dealing with an ubiquitous hit.
Final verdict: Their cha-cha was mostly good. The house band's version of Perry's tune was unbearable. And Carrie Ann criticized the choreography, prompting such a long reply backstage from Maks that he cut into Brooke Burke's "please vote" spiel.
And maybe its the allowance of lifts, but the Argentine tango tends to bring out the best in people. Bristol Palin danced better than ever, but the steamy nature of the dance requires one to smolder through it—and, in case you hadn't noticed, Bristol doesn't really smolder.
So, though she executed tougher steps and, as Carrie Ann pointed out, glared fiercely throughout the whole thing, she didn't improve on last week's 24.
Mark Ballas played along, but we didn't believe Bristol for one second when she mumbled that getting another three 8's felt "good." The expected heat didn't let up on dance No. 2, the samba—but her hips did, making the whole supposedly sexy number a bit of a chore to get through.
Not entirely heartless, Carrie Ann called Kyle Massey's first waltz "a fairy tale come to life" and welcomed the return of her crush on the 19-year-old Disney Channel star.
And Kyle didn't seem a bit fazed with "Good Golly Miss Molly" as his designated "surprise!" song. His intensity and commitment were palpable, and it translated. (He wasn't even distracted by a naked Steve-O, who, uh, popped by rehearsal when former partner Lacey Schwimmer was teaching her new charge the jive—the dance the bouncy chap was made for!)
Carrie "Cougar" Ann said that watching him was the "most fun [she's had] as a judge this season," and both she and Bruno offered up 10's, Kyle's first.
Then there was Kurt Warner, who's being judged on the likable-yet-lesser scale.
"Obviously, there are people that are better than you, but you've come a long way!" exclaimed Bruno. That's sort of been the theme for poor Kurt—he's improved, but only up to the level of Jennifer's chin, apparently.
And for having never heard of his second song ("What does 'Hella Good' mean?"), the former Super Bowl MVP did hella good.
And, like Bristol, he's tired of getting 8's.
Here's the leaderboard, combining both rounds:
Brandy & Maks Chmerkovskiy: 57 (29, 28)
Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough 57 (27, 30)
Kyle Massey & Lacey Schwimmer: 56 (27, 29)
Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas 47 (24, 23)
Kurt Warner & Anna Trebunskaya 48 (24, 24)
Another star goes home tomorrow! Who should it be?
(Originally published Nov. 8, 2010, at 7:10 p.m. PT)