'Dancing with the Stars' Live-Blog: PARTY ANTHEMS

We're past the halfway point here on Dancing with the Stars, which means... well, I'm not sure. Will the judging get harsher from here on out? Will they have to dance over fire, or with the threat of one of those intense Japanese game show outcomes? Whatever happens, we'll be watching.

Tonight: party anthems, guest-judged by RedFoo (chyron: "International Party Superstar"). Let's get after it.

9:55pm: Who's going home?

I'll tell you! Drew and Cheryl. A really nice message from Drew on his way out about the sense of friendship and community he felt in the weeks he was on the show.

9:44pm: Amy and Derek jive to The Isley Brothers' "Shout"

It is, as you'd expect, great. Their moves are tight, and they get the crowd going with some call-and-response. Amy does a CARTWHEEL, which just blows my mind. She's pretty amazing.

"You are a real-life superhero" says Bruno. "I've never seen anyone doing what you've done tonight." Carrie Ann: "Of all the people I've ever seen, you had the best kicks and flips."

Score: 38/40

9:32pm: Charlie and Sharna cha-cha to "Everybody Dance Now"

The Slingbox I'm using just crapped out so the extent of what I saw of the dance is an "Initializing" message, but I'm assuming it turned out well based on a) the clapping I heard as soon as it was done and b) the smile on Charlie's face. Let's be happy for those things.

9:21pm: Drew and Cheryl and multiple ladies tango to "Superfreak"

"I feel like this is my last week," says Drew, giving in to the frustration. Cheryl's got a different idea: bring in two extra lady dancers to give him ultimate pimp status. Will it work? Drew has never been the best or most confident dancer.

And the performance isn't bad by any measure! But Drew's right — at this point in the competition he just looks different than the other duos. Compare Drew and Cheryl to James and Peta; it's just too steep a divide. "I'm like a dad at a wedding!" says Drew, not inaccurately.

Score: 32/40, which puts them at the bottom of the pack but not below it, which has to mean something.

9:07pm: Meryl and Maks tango their way back into our hearts

"Why are you so fucking timid?" Rehearsal doesn't look great for our two lovebirds this week. Although they have a beautiful moment talking about fear. Maks thinks this could be the season he goes all the way.

The dance? passionate, practiced, and sexy. I love both of these people. "You're the first celebrity that has been able to match Maks," says Len. "It was like a face-off between two killers, and you never knew who would come out on top," says Bruno. "There is something so magical to the two of you together," says Carrie Ann. Basically they're all pointing out the fact that these two are in love with each other.

"I've learned that even when he's not smiling on the outside, he might be smiling on the inside." MERYL WITH THESE QUOTES.

Score: 40/40 Excellent and deserved.

8:54pm: Danica and Val get Whitney Houston with "I Wanna Dance with Somebody"

"One of my goals here was to get more in touch with my womanliness." Will she do it?!?

I just have my eyes, but yes, I'd say Danica dances in such a way as to make us forget she was once a 12-year-old child actor. It's a quick and energetic number they put together, with lots of heel kicks and enthusiasm. Len: "That's the best dance of the night so far." Agreed! Bruno likes it. So does Carrie Ann. "Dancing with the Stars is about your own self-journey."

Score: 36 (best of the night so far)

8:42pm: It's a two hour show, guys - we all need a break

Scores for James and Peta: 35/40 Surprising! I thought based on this duo's 40/40 last week was indicative of what we could expect from now on.

INTERLUDE: Contestants talking about how challenging the show can be. Part of me wants to laugh at this but another part knows this is sort of true. Amy: "I know I'm not Amy the snowboarder anymore; I'm Amy the dancer." Meryl: "I'm growing as a person in addition to as a dancer." AND HOW!

Then Macy's Stars of Dance dance. It's very dancey.

8:32pm: James and Peta quick-step to "You're the One that I Want"

Rehearsal footage in which the two of them are struggling is very clearly a red herring. Because sure enough, they quick-step their way around the stage with almost no difficulty, like the moves were already imprinted on the floor. James does his big jump thing that he loves so much, like he's an agile pirate announcing his presence to the mutinying men on the deck below (that's how I interpret it, anyway).

Len delivers a bit more honest commentary than some of his other judges, telling James that his footwork felt a little leaden. Personally, I thought this dance was infinitely better than "Let it Go" last week. But I'm not an educated dance judge by any measure.

8:18pm: Candace and Mark tackle "I Love It"

The song is slowed down for the dance, which is honestly kind of weird to hear if your primary association is that season two episode of Girls where Hannah's on coke at that warehouse party. Anyway, Candace and Mark do a fine enough job! As always, the judges encourage Candace to try and be sexy and believe in herself. Maybe someday.

Red Foo: "I got two words for that outfit: bling bling!" (Okay!) Score: 32/40

8:00pm: We are here tonight to PARTY

This is beautiful. Gallivanting around the stage like it's a small-town USA carnival and everyone's either a greaser dude or a Sandra Dee-type.

RED FOO (who I'm learning now is the one with glasses, and not the other one) from LMFAO is in the house, too! Tonight is just going to be a good time, everyone. "The first guest judge to make Bruno look like an accountant." What's he looking for? "Something that's gonna rock his socks off."

But enough with that stuff — let's kick things off with NeNe and Tony salsa dancing to Nelly's "Hot in Here." She seems a lot more confident and... moving than last week, which is fun to see. NeNe's looked so uncomfortable and disjointed for a while; to see her really enjoying herself (and doing well with the moves) is a nice change of pace. All of the judges agree.

"Tony and I are very much in love," says NeNe, smiling. I might worry if I were her husband. These dancers' abs are just glistening. SCORE: 33/40

Image: ABC