But the star who struggled managed to redeem herself by the evening's end

By Dahvi Shira
May 13, 2013 10:15 PM
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Monday night’s Dancing with the Stars semi-finals got off to a lively start.

Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough’s Argentine tango was a routine that judge Carrie Ann Inaba called “perfection.”

The other two judges echoed similar sentiments and gave the pair 30 points out of 30.

Ingo Rademacher, who Inaba called “the underdog,” had judges only semi-impressed with the 24-point samba he completed with partner, Kym Johnson.

“I love your determination,” judge Bruno Tonioli told the actor. “[But] you’ve got to soften your legs don’t lose timing.”

Next, Alexandra Raisman and partner Mark Ballas received their first perfect 30 of the season for a rumba that Tonioli said was done “perfectly, darling.”

Keeping the momentum going, Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff (who suffered an injury in rehearsals Sunday) also landed 30 points for their Argentine tango that left Inaba speechless and Tonioli gushing that it was “so slick and so clean best performance ever from you.”

Closing out the first of two dance rounds was one of the season’s frontrunners, Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy, who uncharacteristically left judges unimpressed with their routine.

“That was kind of a mess,” Inaba said of their 25-point quickstep. “It kind of felt like you were dragging each other through the dance.”

Kicking off the second round of dances were Pickler and Hough, who danced a 28-point flamenco that didn’t match up to their flawless first rountine. Tonioli and Inaba critiqued the country starlet for tensing up.

Rademacher and Johnson, on the other hand, improved since their rocky first number.

“Fun, fun, fun,” Tonioli said of their 27-point Charleston, while Inaba added, “You hit a grand slam with that one.”

Completing their nights just one point shy of a perfect 60 were Raisman and Ballas for their tribal-themed Afro jazz dance, and Jones and Smirnoff for their Lindy Hop routine.

“I don t think people know how hard of a dance that was,” Inaba said of Raisman’s number. “It was just fantastic!”

Of Jones, Inaba raved that he is the “number one entertainer of season 16.”

Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy redeemed themselves with an evening-ending hip-hop number that the Disney starlet had been anticipating all night.

Scoring a 30 for the high-energy routine, Tonioli said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Get out of here you were just, ugh, incredible Zendaya forever!”