September 22, 2009 12:00 AM

Let’s hear it for the boys! Dancing with the Stars‘ eight male contestants took to the freshly buffed parquet floor Monday night to kick off the new season.

First up, were pop star Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff, who appeared to be wearing the same fringe pants that she performed in at the Emmy Awards on Sunday night. Cheered on by Aaron’s brother, Nick Carter and his fellow Backstreet Boys, the duo delivered a solid cha cha. Len Goodman said it was full of potential. Bruno Tonioli called it sharp and edgy. And they were awarded 22 points.

It was a tough act to follow for ultimate fighter Chuck Liddell and Anna Trebunskaya, who performed a clunky and funky fox trot. Carrie Ann Inaba thought Chuck was smooth and Len suggested Chuck get in touch with his feminine side. Their debut earned 16 points.

Iron Chef America host Mark Dacascos and Lacey Schwimmer‘s Kung Fu-style cha cha was a crowd pleaser, but Len didn’t buy it. Fewer gimmicks, more substance, he suggested. Still, the duo scored a solid 21.

With mom Alana Stewart and dad George Hamilton, who competed in season 2, looking on from the front row, Ashley Hamilton did his best fox trot with Edyta Sliwinska, but came up short. Len praised his footwork, but Bruno and Carrie Ann felt he lacked showmanship. The so-so routine got them just 15 points.

Not one to shy away from an enthusiastic audience, Donny Osmond and partner Kym Johnson turned up the electricity with their fox trot — and earned the first standing ovation of the season. Bruno praised Donny’s “full-frontal” theatrics (seriously, that’s what he said), while Len was felt there was too much razzmatazz. A score of 20 left Donny unable to wipe the smile off his face.

Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower did a respectable fox trot as well. The diminutive Olympic snowboarder, whom Bruno called “a dancing hobbit,” landed a 19 for his first dance of the season. But despite the solid score, Len scolded him for his shaggy hair, saying it was not ballroom appropriate. Dude, that was harsh.

Right out of the gate, Michael Irvin swore he’d do better than NFL great and DWTS finalist Jerry Rice did on his cha cha years ago. Paired with new pro Anna Demidova, Irvin’s routine, full of repetitive and unimaginative moves, seemed to stall. His score of 13 was the lowest of the night.

Last up was former congressman Tom DeLay and his partner Cheryl Burke. The controversial Texas politician had the crowd and the judges in hysterics as he performed a cha cha to “Wild Thing.” Bruno declared DeLay was “crazier than Sarah Palin,” but nobody denied it was entertaining. He earned a 16 for his hip-shaking effort.

The final 15 minutes of the show were the most exciting as Dancing instituted its first relay and a new scoring system. Four of the couples danced the salsa and the four other couples danced the Viennese waltz. They were ranked first, second, third and fourth (and given points accordingly: 10 for first, 8 for second, 6 for third and 4 for fourth). Best in show for salsa was Donny, followed by Louie, Chuck and Ashley. And in the waltz relay, Aaron came out on top, followed by Mark, Michael and Tom.

Here’s the final tally for boys’ night at the ballroom:

Aaron: 32 Donny: 30 Mark: 29 Louie: 27 Chuck: 22 Tom: 20 Ashley: 19 Michael: 19

Tuesday night the boys will kick back while the ladies take to the ballroom floor. –Monica Rizzo

Tell us: Who got your vote? Who did the best and which of the men might go home?Craig Sjodin/ABC

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