"Dancing With the Stars" produced one of its most drama-filled episodes on Monday night, and at the end of it all Lil Kim proved she and professional partner, Derek Hough, are big contenders for the mirrorball trophy.
The pint-sized hip-hop star topped the leaderboard after a dramatic paso doble with Derek and great team work in the first group dance of the season.
On their paso, judge Len Goodman admitted he was "expecting, 'Oh, no!'" but instead found himself saying "Ole!" And their marks reflected it as the pair was awarded 28 out of 30 points for the dance, the highest individual score of the evening.
Gilles Marini also scored high marks for his jive with partner Cheryl Burke.
"I made a list of the things the French are good at: French toast, French fries, French kissing and from today, you can put Lindy hop on that [list]," Len laughed as the partners netted 27 out of 30.
Shawn Johnson too, took high marks, tying for second in the pairs round for her samba with Mark Ballas. The dance, though technically good, didn't pack the wow factor judge Bruno Tonioli was hoping for.
"You're not a wild child, you're not Lady Gaga, but you've got time to grow into it and for me you did a good samba," Bruno noted.
"I don't think the goal of this competition is necessarily to be Lady Gaga," Carrie Ann Inaba chimed in.
"It is for me!" Bruno laughed.
Shawn and Mark may have taken home 27 too, but their team dance hurt their overall standings.
"Dancing," which entered its eighth week on Monday night, split the celebrity contenders into teams – Team Mambo and Team Tango – for the group dances, during the show's second half.
Team Mambo featured Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough, Shawn and Mark, and Tony Dovolani with fill-in professional Lacey Schwimmer, who stepped up earlier in the evening after an injury took Melissa out of the competition. (CLICK HERE to read what happened to Melissa)
The sextet took the floor to Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," and while most of the number was filled with ballroom style moves, the end of the dance saw the men strip down to white tights and leotards, just like Justin Timberlake previously did during a skit with Beyonce on "Saturday Night Live." The move, unfortunately, was not well received by Carrie Ann.
"I found it a little distracting," she said as the team scored just 25 out of 30. "I thought the music overpowered you. I thought the music was more fun than you guys were in your number."
As for Team Tango – Lil Kim and Derek, Ty Murray and Chelsie Hightower, and Gilles and — they left the kitschy moves on the shelf and put in a traditional performance. And it paid off big time with a 28 out of 30 score.
"This is my humble opinion, but Team Tango takes it!" Carrie Ann screamed.
Due to Melissa's injury of bruised ribs, which kept her out of the competition, the judges were forced to score the reality star on the last taped rehearsal she did with Tony. They netted just 21 out of 30.
The leaderboard after the pairs and group dances was:
Lil Kim & Derek 56/60
Gilles & Cheryl 55/60
Shawn & Mark 52/60
Ty & Chelsea 52/60
Chuck & Julianne 51/60
Melissa & Tony 46/60
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