'Dancing With the Stars' Kicks Off Season 21: See Which Couples Have an Early Lead!

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Dancing With the Stars
kicked off its 21st season in style on Monday night and as always, there were standouts, slip-ups and hilarious commentary from the dancers and judges alike (despite the absence of Len Goodman, who had a commitment to a UK show this season). 

Here’s a look at the DWTS couples, ranked by their week 1 score:

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Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough

The 17-year-old brought her "contagious" energy to the dance floor, wowing the judges with her jive and walking away with the night's highest score from a performance that judge Julianne Hough dubbed the best of the night.

"The flicks, the kicks, the face, the fun," she gushed, "that’s what this competition is about."

Irwin will likely keep riding that charm week-in and week-out as a favorite of the judges. She explained that her time on the show, however long it may last, is dedicated to her late dad, Crocodile Hunter star Steve Irwin.

"My mom always said that anytime dad would watch me dance around the zoo that he would cry," Irwin revealed. "I think the real reason i’m doing this is to make him proud."

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WEEK 1 SCORE: 24 of 30

Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess

He’s a boy band icon, but Backstreet Boy Carter admitted that he’s never felt totally comfortable dancing onstage.

"I’ve never consider myself the greatest dancer, but I’ve been able to hide behind the guys in the Backstreet Boys," Carter admitted. "That’s the reason I chose to do the show, to help me overcome the insecurity."

Carter had little to be insecure about, as his cha cha with Burgess also left the judges flustered, and not just because the Backstreet Boy accidentally popped the top button of his pants mid-groove!

"Once a fan, always a fan," Hough gushed, admitting she was blushing. "You have your own flavor, you have your own style...It was really creative and you were on it."

WEEK 1 SCORE: 24 of 30

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Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy

The Braxton Family Values star was supported by her co-hosts from new talk show The Real as she conquered her week one quick step with "bulldog" partner Val Chmerkovskiy.

The pair seem to have a contentious, brother/sister relationship so far, but they wowed the judges with their first dance.

"You blew me away," Carrie Ann Inaba told Braxton and Chmerkovskiy of ther complicated dance. "It is week one, that is flat-out one of the hardest dances to do."

WEEK 1 SCORE: 23 of 30

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Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson

Big Time Rush
star Carlos PenaVega and wife Alexa are the first married couple to compete against each other on the DWTS stage and the pair is already preparing to dominate.

"If we make it to the final two and we’re competing against each other," Carlos explained before being interrupted by Alexa (who proclaimed that she would win), "whoever wins, the other person will never live it down."

It’s a very real possibility, as Carlos and his partner Witney Carson -- who took hold the Season 19 mirrorball trophy with Alfonso Ribeiro -- were very impressive in their debut dance, capped off by Carlos leapfrogging over Witney’s shoulders.

WEEK 1 SCORE: 23 of 30

WATCH: Married Couple Alexa and Carlos PenaVega to Compete on 'DWTS' Season 21

Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas

The other half of the PenaVega pair also wowed the judges with her week 1 jive dance with two-time DWTS champ Mark Ballas (and his #ManBun).

"You are so beautiful out there," Inaba gushed. "There’s a sensuality and a strength to you that i think is going to take you very far."

While they waited for their scores, Carlos took a timeout from the competition to tell his wife how beautiful she looked.

"We need to ask costumes if she can borrow that," he joked, as Alexa blushed furiously.

WEEK 1 SCORE: 22 of 30

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Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold

Skarlatos, who just recently became a "star" when he and two friends thwarted a terrorist attack while on vacation, taking down an armed gunman on a French train, admitted that he was nervous about taking on a new challenge.

"I’ve never danced like ever, ever" the 22-year-old Legion of Honour recipient admitted. "Since the train, just about everything in my life has changed. But at the same time, I’m just a guy. I never realized this would happen to me and now that it actually is, I’m just trying to soak it all in."

Skarlatos impressed not just partner Lindsay Arnold, who marveled at the National Guardsman’s work ethic and ability to take notes, but also the judges, who were left almost speechless by the pair’s foxtrot. Hough called it the "surprise of the night."

WEEK 1 SCORE: 22 of 30

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Andy Grammer and Allison Holker

"I’ve done so much performing with a guitar, but I have very very limited dance experience," singer Andy Grammer explained to pro partner Allison Holker as the two prepared for their week 1 foxtrot. It’s a meaningful competition for the "Honey I’m Good" singer, who said that dancing on the show makes him feel connected to his late mother.

"I did Dancing With the Stars last season, just as a musician, and when I was in there, I really felt the presence of my mother," he explained. "She loved dance and she would have loved to be a part of this show, so the fact that I’m doing it this year, I’m kind of doing it in her honor."

Grammer and Holker had a few missteps, but an overall successful debut, according to the judges.

WEEK 1 SCORE: 21 of 30

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Hayes Grier and Emma Slater

"I hope Dancing With the Stars can help me get a few dance moves I can take to prom with me," 15-year-old Vine star Hayes Grier joked in his intro, "hopefully impress a few ladies."

Grier's pro partner Emma Slater teased the social media star that he might need the help.

"He dances like T-Rex," she said with a laugh. "Is this how the kids are dancing nowadays?"

The pair pulled off the opening cha cha dance in impressive fashion however, wowing the judges with a high-school themed dance set to OMI’s "Cheerleader."

"You’re definitely worth more than six seconds," Tonioli said. "I could watch you for an hour!"

WEEK 1 SCORE: 21 out of 30

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Paula Deen and Louis van Amstel

Paula Deen’s quick step dance with Louis van Amstel took place on a kitchen set, but that was the extent of the former Food Network star’s comfort with her DWTS debut.

"I was scared," Deen told host Tom Bergeron after their performance. "I had white underwear on, but it probably ain't white no more. That’s all I got to say."

The judges agreed that that was a bit TMI (seriously Paula?!), but told Deen to relax and get back in her comfort zone. Tonoli assured, "My darling the worst is over, relax."

"I actually see a lot of potential with you," Inaba told the pair as they waited for their scores. "I can tell the way you move your body it comes naturally to you. You just didn’t quite get your feet under you, so it felt like you were being dragged around a little."

"Can I do it one more time, now that y’all have told me how?" Deen joked.

WEEK 1 SCORE: 15 of 30

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Victor Espinoza and Karina Smirnoff

The judges told Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinosa that while his week 1 salsa lacked some spice, they were impressed by his overall abilities.

"You know what they say," Hough laughed. "Big things come in small packages."

"Your energy is so focused and so bright," Inaba gushed as she praised Espinosa and Smirnoff for working some horse-themed moves into the dance. "There was like, no salsa, but I give you credit for the galloping."

WEEK 1 SCORE: 15 of 30

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Chaka Khan and Keo Motsepe

"I have 10 GRAMMYs and now I’m aiming for the mirror ball trophy," Chaka Khan announced in her intro. "You can call us the royal couple of season 21."

The 62-year-old stumbled just a bit in her opening dance-- a cha cha set to her own song "I Feel For You." She wasn’t perfect, but her enthusiasm -- and some impressive hair work -- made up for it.

WEEK 1 SCORE: 13 out of 30

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Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya

Eccentric actor Gary Busey and partner Anna Trebunskaya struggled initially during rehearsals, but the pro dancer wasn’t deterred.

"Teaching Gary is a little bit tricky, but it doesn’t matter to me," Trebunskaya said. "I know Gary can do this. It’s going to be a trip, but it’s going to be a fun ride."

The two performed a cha cha to "Dancing in the Street" for their DWTS debut, and afterwards, Busey could hardly find the words to describe his elation.

"That was more than than I knew it would be, and what I didn’t know came true because I danced in a cosmos of riddles," he told Bergeron.

"It was like watching a summer blockbuster," Tonioli said of the performance. "Chaos, mayhem, destruction and yet, I kept on watching. Bring on the sequel!"

WEEK 1 SCORE: 15 of 30

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Kim Zolciak-Biermann and Tony Dovolani

Real Housewives of Atlanta
star, NFL wife and mother of six Kim Zolciak-Biermann has no trouble juggling her busy life. But she struggled with getting comfortable on the dance floor and in front of the cameras.

The reality star was overcome with emotion after her performance, an Egyptian-themed salsa dance, though the judges could still feel her discomfort.

"There’s no reason to hold back," Inaba told the reality star, who agreed that she felt her nerves hindering her performance. "With all that, you better come back and go 'pow!' next week."

WEEK 1 SCORE: 12 of 30

The show's first eliminations will be held next week. Dancing With the Stars airs Monday and Tuesday nights at 8/7c on ABC.

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Who are you rooting for this season?

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