America's Hero Alek shines during Hometown Week
Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC
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It’s only the second week of Dancing with the Stars, but we’re already in for a double night of eliminations as the cast celebrates Hometown Week.

The episode kicks off with a lovely new opening montage set to One Republic’s “I Lived,” featuring solo shots of the contestants and the town they’re from. Two words come to mind: baby pictures! I’m positive we’ll be getting some more of those tonight. The live show soon begins as our fearless hosts, Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, kick off the two hours.

Nick and Sharna

Jive | “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by Bette Midler

An early favorite, this Backstreet Boy certainly lived up to his dancing roots and proved the now man-bander is one to watch. Nick tells us he’s from Tampa, and it wasn’t the safest place to grow up. He immediately gives credit to his teacher Sandy who helped him see a path on stage. I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you, Sandy! Nick and Sharna begin their dance under the sheets before revealing their adorable white and gold outfits and hopping on stage. I’m not thoroughly impressed as Nick seems a step behind the entire time. Apparently, as Julianne points out, he slipped, which must’ve messed him up. Bruno, who may have spent a lot of time in the sun this weekend, thought Nick was confident — I didn’t see that — and Carrie Ann agrees he was too much in his head. Overall, Nick seems a bit off his game, but it is only the second week, so I’m not too worried.

Judges’ Score: 21

Paula and Louis

Rumba | “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Night and the Pips

Footage from last week shows that Paula was surprised by how hard the judges were on her — um, this is a competition — so she’s ready to let her beautiful hometown of Savannah, Ga. inspire her. She admits she wants to redeem herself (for the dance or for that scandal?). It’s a sultry number and while her footwork is a little slow at first, she massively improves by the end of the performance. I mean, that twist? Not bad! As Carrie Ann says, it’s a whole new lady out there!

Judges’ Score: 19

Hayes and Emma

Foxtrot | “This Is How We Roll” by Florida Georgia Line ft. Luke Bryan

Hayes talks about growing up in Mooresville, N.C. and how it’s shaped all 15 years of his life. His mom actually gets emotional talking about giving up her baby boy to the world. Entering the ballroom in “Team Slayes” jackets, the duo mixes a motocross theme with a good old country tune and it… kind of works? For a teen, Hayes is really confident in his slower dancing and has some fantastic arm extension. And can we talk about how cute it was when he embraced his mama after? And him crying to Erin after? I wanted to eat him up in the least creepy way possible.

Judges’ Score: 22

Chaka and Keo

Foxtrot | “Chicago” by Frank Sinatra

Chaka isn’t going to let one night get her down, she says. The singer is dedicating tonight’s dance to both her dad, who she compares to Sinatra, and the city of Chicago. Dressed in a burgundy, velvety number, Chaka is a massive improvement from the premiere. She’s keeping up with Keo, she’s smiling and, as Carrie Ann says, she exudes a warmth about her. If Chaka can just remember the choreography a bit better, she’ll hopefully make it through tomorrow (if she makes it beyond tonight).

Judges’ Score: 15

NEXT: Only the Good Dance on

Andy and Allison

Jive | “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel

Andy grew up outside of New York and talks about his early days of doing gigs on the subway platform to no one. Hey, you gotta start somewhere! He and Alison play up the old timey-looking subway station theme; and not only did he pick a phenomenal song to dance to, but it’s fun! His ending is totally off… I think they finished a beat after the music, but based on the crowd’s applause it was still a hit.

Judges’ Score: 21

Kim and Tony

Quickstep | “Queen Bee” by Rochelle Diamante

It’s no secret Kim had a rough time during her first outing and was disappointed in herself. During her pre-dance package, Kim says Atlanta is where all her dreams came true — but does not mention the Real Housewives, hmm. Moving along, I have to say this is a completely different woman out there. First, she doesn’t look miserable! Second, her foot work is pretty good, and the Quickstep ain’t easy!

Judges’ Score: 19

Alek and Lindsay

Jazz | “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

Alek says this week’s performance song — a personal favorite of mine and every other karaoke-loving human — reminds him of his childhood in Sacramento, Calif. where he grew up with fellow train heroes Spencer (who has an uncanny resemblance to a former Home Improvement star) and Anthony. So let’s talk about Alek and Lindsay’s lift. That was some major Dirty Dancing-level moves, right? And not once was I nervous he’d drop her. Carrie Ann calls him magical, and I have to add, it is pretty great to watch this fish out of water everyman shine in the spotlight in the most endearing way possible.

Judges’ Score: 23

Alexa and Mark

Salsa | “Robi Rob’s Boriqua Anthem” by C + C Music Factory

Alexa wants Mark to know she’s in it 100 percent after falling below her husband the first week. Salsa, she says, is in her blood and Mark’s got a wacky idea (you don’t say, Mark!) to bring the number to life. Alexa is definitely going for it with this and giving a ton of face. We already knew she was ahead of the game with her skill, and it was hard to find any mistakes in this.

Judges’ Score: 24

Victor and Karina

Jive | “La Bamba” by Los Lobos

I love Victor. He knows he’s not a dancer and yet the way he gives it his all on stage is just the best. I mean, he opened the number with major pelvic gyrations! His ode to Hidalgo, Mexico, also includes him being tossed in the air, some not quite there Jive footwork and an enthusiastic butt shake behind Karina.

Judges’ Score: 17

NEXT: Season 21’s first exit

Tamar and Val

Cha Cha | “We Are Family” Sister Sledge

Tamar is from Maryland, and since she’s dedicating the performance to her family she doesn’t want to thrust and/or booty pop, which Val seems to have included in the number. She must’ve gotten her way because the dance is pretty tame and yet there’s just a touch of sexiness to the moves. I have to add that Tamar looks gorgeous! I didn’t find her that memorable last week, but this time around she shines and is right on the beat with her backup dancers.

Judges’ Score: 24

Gary and Anna

Foxtrot | “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys

Gary grew up in Tulsa, Okla. where he fell in love with football. We also get to meet his football coach and his adorable nieces too who are all cheering him on for this week’s high school-themed performance. Gary is a bit odd, and he’s certainly slow on his feet, but you have to appreciate his endless smile.

Judges’ Score: 18

Carlos and Witney

Foxtrot | “Home” by Blake Shelton

Carlos grew up in Columbia, Missouri and says his dad would play country songs with a Spanish accent. Now, he’s looking to do something similar by mixing up the genres. His Country-inspired Foxtrot, complete with nice arm extensions, is on point, and while it’s not my favorite of the night, it’s definitely enough to survive the week.

Judges’ Score: 24

Bindi and Derek

Tango | “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC

Bindi wakes up to tigers growling and birds singing all day, making me question why I, instead, wake up to taxi horns and people yelling in Manhattan. But although I’m jealous, I still love this girl, especially when she reveals her love for heavy metal. Makes sense why Derek previewed in his exclusive video diary for us that he was wearing guyliner! What a way to end the night. Bindi’s arms were tight during the more Tango-like portions, but then she loosened up to have fun with the music. She might’ve messed up a bit at the end, but I couldn’t care less.

Judges’ Score: 25

And now, for the sad part of the evening: The first couple of the season must exit. It comes down to Chaka and Keo and Gary and Anna. So who’s eliminated? Chaka and Keo. While it’s not shocking, I’m mad for Keo, who’s never made it far, and bummed for Chaka, who was a ray of sunshine.

Who had your favorite dance of the night? And who do you think will get the boot tomorrow? Be sure to watch our exclusive video of Derek before you go.

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Dancing With the Stars
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