Tonight on Dancing with the Stars, each dance pair was assigned to dance under the theme of Hometown Glory – where they talked a little about their hometown and what it means to them. There are 2 nights of dance this week, with an elimination each night which means all the celebrities had to learn 2 full numbers their second week in, which is unprecedented and a little cruel.

Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys was the first dancer, and unfortunately, he just looked terrified the entire time. He went from a strong final dance last week to a much tenser dance this time around, further complicated by slippery shoes and an unfortunate fall. Still, he powered through the dance and ended on his feet, even if his score drops.

Paula Deen was next and even though her dance improved, she is definitely still on my awkard to watch list. (Shorty Hulk says she looks like an aged and wasted Britney Spears) I’m not sure what they were thinking with her hair, and she still looks like she is gripping on to her dance pro Luis in an inappropriate manner. She did however seem to impress the judges and her scores went up from last week.

Vine sensation Hayes Grier had a touching week, with lots of tears and touching moments with his mom. He’s also from Mooresville, NC so hometown boy. I don’t see the connection with dance pro Emma that the judges rave about – but I’m glad he improved from last week. I’m sure his fan base will keep him in action.

Chaka Khan was next with dance pro Keo. She told a good story in her video package about wanting to improve every week. However, good intentions not withstanding, Chaka again lost her place and even though she did better, it was still a struggle.

Andy Grammer is a little cutie that reminds me a little of Chris Isaak. He had the best comeback of the night when the judges got on him for losing the beat when he’s a musician: “Dancing is hard.” Based on his effort and charm, I think he will be okay.

Side bar: What was up with judge Bruno’s mouth? I truly think he was having problem with his flipper or denture or something. Every time he talked, he had a hand in front of his mouth. I think that is why he swore and why the camera stopped focusing on him.

What did deserve our focus was Housewife Kim Zolciak (evidently she’s dropped the Zocliak-Bierrman from last week.) Unlike last week where she literally walked through her routine, this week she actually danced! She danced, she smiled, and she got great reviews. I was ready for her to get kicked off last week, but knew she wouldn’t because of her fan base. But after tonight, I might actually root for her.

Alek Skarlatos was great again this week. He is such the everyman hero that middle America (and I) want to root for. And it doesn’t hurt that he has a little hair on his chest! I think co-host Erin Andrews stated it well last week when she pointed out that he is our surrogate celebrity – that we can pretend we are on the show through him. My favorite part? At the end of the judging conversation, Alek turned to host Tom Bergeron and put out his hand to shake it. Total class.

Married couple Alexa and Carlos PenaVega tied for scores and judges responses. I realize they are supposed to add an extra element to the show, but I’m over it. I don’t connect with either star at this point. They said Alexa was great, I found some of her moves jarring and off beat. Same with Carlos.

Triple Crown jockey Victor Espinoza makes me want to do the southern “bless your heart” response. This week he was subject to short jokes, sombrero stereotypes and penis jokes, obscene gestures, and he just smiles and does whatever dance pro Karina tells him to do. I realize he has short term memory issues and that Karina is just fighting for votes, but this is just not giving this man any dignity. The sooner he is voted off, the kinder it will be.

Tamar Braxton and Val turned in a nice performance. Tamar tends to be a little reserved and doesn’t have the emotional connection she needs, even though she has great musicality. It was nice to see big sister Toni in the audience to support her – but I think Tamar still needs to find her way to stand out.

Gary Busey looked so strange with his crazy hair tamed. Is it just me, or does he look like he’s just trying to figure out how to touch, hug, and kiss his dance pro every chance he can get? Not that I blame him – Anna is lovely. But as Shorty Hulk mused, we wonder how many tasers they have on standby at any given time.

Last dance went to bubbly Bindi Irwin, who surprised the crowd by admitting that she loves listening to heavy metal. So she and dance pro Derek danced to “Shook Me All Night Long” and tore up the dance floor. Well, as much as we saw as there were at least 2 camera transition miscues. She did an amazing job – which makes me hope that both she and Alek end up in the semi-finals as I would already be happy seeing either one of them win the famed mirror ball trophy.

SPOILER ALERT: ELIMINATION REVEALED – PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Unfortunately, the unfun part had to happen quickly due to running over (does DWTS ever NOT run over?)

We quickly found out that the bottom 2 were Chaka Khan and Gary Busey. Although I would have much rather seen Chaka Khan continue her “gradient upward” – I knew her fan base would not compare to the mesmerizing train wreck that is Gary Busey. And America loves a train wreck so much more.

So first person out? Chaka Khan. This does not bode well for dance pro Keo – who never seems to make it past the first few weeks. It will be interesting to see if they utilize him again next season as a dance pro, or if he will be just a background dancer.

Tomorrow night is the second night of dance this week, and will include another elimination round. Will Gary still be in the bottom? Will Victor Espinoza win out as the comic fodder? As long as Bindi and Alek survive – I’ll be okay.

Until then – keep dancing!