Like glitter and spangles shot from a cannon, Season 18 of "Dancing With the Stars" started with a bang Monday night. A high-energy dance routine with all of the pro dancers and singer-songwriter-dancer Jason Derulo performing his hit featuring 2 Chainz "Talk Dirty," the first time a live musical act has opened the show.

While there were new celebrities, new bandleader, Ray Chew, with his band and singers, and new co-host Erin Andrews, some things returned to the way they were in Season 16. First of all, host Tom Bergeron pointed out, "I'm still Tom Bergeron," and then talked about how the judges were seated once more on the side of the dance floor to the left of the stage, and the skybox was reborn as the place where the dancers can watch their competition perform and wait for scores. Last season's odd placement of judges and dancers sitting next to each other on the sidelines was described by host Tom Bergeron as a little experiment.

To be honest, some of the celebrities just screamed out that they would be good from the getgo, but I was pleasantly surprised by almost all of the celebs and how they attacked their routines. Co-host Erin Andrews is a refreshing change with her spontaneous remarks and interview style. In fact, I think the Powers That Be may ask her to dial it back it bit -- but maybe she was just nervous. And she never put her hand on her hip or posed for the camera!

The couples danced contemporary or foxtrot or cha cha cha, and there was really only a couple of lulls in the level of excitement during the night. Here are the 12 couples in the order they performed.

Nene Leakes and Tony Dovolani -- cha cha cha


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Nene came out smokin' and had Tony dripping from the exertion of their hot cha cha cha. Head judge Len Goodman, with a big smile, said, "That's the way to get the party started!" Judge Bruno Tonioli agreed, adding that he loved the energy and good footwork, and judge Carrie Ann Inaba also thought she did a great job and wondered why Nene was crying. Tom commented on Nene's moves with, "I haven't seen shaking like that since this morning's quake."

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd -- foxtrot

A lot of time was spent on what kind of relationship the pair had prior to being dance partners. It turned out that James had asked Peta out to dinner early in the year, not knowing that they would be paired up, and the cameras recorded Peta's shock when James walked through the door. Their foxtrot was very romantic and they seem to have a real connection. Bruno said, "You put a lot of effort into the dance. As a first effort, it was very good." Carrie Ann, admitting that she has a bit of a crush on James, said they have a natural elegance together. Len got right to the point: "You and I know why we're her -- for a little eye candy for the ladies," and thought James did a good job. Erin pressured the pair to 'fess up to their relationship, but James didn't bite and said, "We met before and I'm just learning to dance." Uh-huh.

Danica McKeller and Val Chmerkovskiy -- foxtrot

It looks like Danica has Val right where she wants him, and he seemed like an angel with her. They were so smooth and just might go all the way to the finals if they can keep it up. Carrie Ann called Danica "so incredible" but advised her to "be careful a tad with your shoulders." Len expanded on that, saying that she had too tight a hold on Val's left shoulder and that affected her shoulders. He added that his first impression was "terrific." Bruno called her a saucy girl after she planted a kiss on the judge at the end of the dance and that she sold the routine well.

Sean Avery and Karina Smirnoff -- contemporary

I'm not sure about the addition of contemporary to ballroom dances, but I'm guessing it's a ploy to gain younger viewers. There is not a lot of dance steps and centers more on lifts and spins. There were a lot of lifts in the routine, but it was done well. Len said it was full of intensity but needs more finesse. Bruno told Sean that he needs to work more on links and transitions, and Carrie Ann said Sean was "fascinating" to watch.

Billy Dee Williams and Emma Slater -- cha cha cha

I'm afraid that this was the low point in the show. Resorting to a "Star Wars" theme with stormtroopers, Wookies and even R2D2 to sell the routine, even Emma in a Princess Leia outfit couldn't disguise that Billy Dee walked his way through it. Bruno said he needed to play it up bigger, Carrie Ann said they needed a "little more from you next week" and Len said he was on time and didn't forget the routine. I think Billy Dee is this season's senior celeb who could go out early.

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy -- cha cha cha

Meryl is as good on the dance floor as she is on the ice rink, graceful and full of charisma. In fact, the crowd was cheering so long and hard that no one could even hear what Carrie Ann said about her routine, although you could tell it was good news. Len had the winning line: "You are nice on ice and good on wood," and Bruno said Meryl had a combination of precision, sharpness and lyricism of her arms. Erin started the skybox interview with Charlie White, Meryl's Olympic partner, and asking how it was to watch her with Maks. Charlie was gracious and called her "awesome."

Candace Cameron-Burke and Mark Ballas -- contemporary

This routine had a lot of creativity and not just lifts, and Candace was a real surprise. She and Mark may be the "dark horse" that sneaks into the finals. Len commented, " You can dance! Well done!" Bruno called her dynamic and dramatic and that he was torn between ecstasy and torment, that she used the floor so well. Carrie Ann was overwhelmed: "You are such an incredible dancer! I want to work with you. Where did you come from?" In the skybox, Erin brought up that at one time years before, a guy dumped Candace to date Danica. I'll bet he is watching somewhere.

Cody Simpson and Witney Carson -- cha cha cha

The youngest dancers on the floor, this pair had a ton of energy going for them in the cha cha cha. However, Bruno warned Cody to watch his basic technique, Carrie Ann told him that his upper body was great, but his lower body and feet needed work on technique. Len agreed that work was needed on technique but that they pair were full of confidence, attack and energy. Erin called the two good-looking blondes, the "Doublemint Twins" but Cody got a bit tongue-tied when talking about his equally blonde girlfriend in the audience.

Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke -- foxtrot

The crowd loved Drew and Cheryl and he performed well in the foxtrot. Cheryl is a great teacher and this could be a couple on the rise. Carrie Ann said they "just found our crowd-pleaser" and that she loved the classic approach, Len called them "very watchable, good fun," and Bruno said there was a lot of content that could have been better a few times. Drew looked like he was having fun although his smile faded several times during the dance. Nerves.

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough -- cha cha cha

For a double amputee, having Derek as a partner is the answer to a dream. They looked awesome and the crowd went nuts! Len began, "Let's be clear on one thing to start. We can't judge you any different and that's the way you like it. You got a bronze medal at the Paralympics and a gold medal in the cha cha cha!" Bruno called her "beyond belief" as to timing, shapes, performance level. "I'm gobsmacked," he said, and Carrie Ann said, "I'm in shock. You are like a beacon of light in this room ... and that hip action was killer!"

Diana Nyad and Henry Byalikov -- foxtrot

Diana is determined with a capital "D" but she may not have the graceful moves to match. We'll see what happens next week. Bruno called her a million-dollar mermaid but she needed to smooth out her moves. Carrie Ann said Diana got more and more comfortable as the routine went on but she's not feeling her feet yet (Diane never wears heels). Len told her that if determination and the will to get through it has anything to do with it, "you're going to make it." Erin asked which was worse, sharks or Bruno? Diana said, "Maks." Tom observed that she had a dry wit but the judges were all wet.

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess -- contemporary

Charlie, for all of his grace and leadership on ice, lucked out with contemporary so he could use his strength on the lifts and didn't need to remember a lot of dance steps, but he and Sharna did an outstanding job on the routine. With a giggle, Carrie Ann called them "the perfect pair, ying and yang." Len said it was a good dance for him on Week 1, like ice dancing without the ice, but he will like to see what dance Charlie can do next week. Bruno said, "Very simply, Charlie, you're an artist," and that he hoped Charlie continues because the dance was "astonishing." When Erin asked how much advantage Charlie has due to ice dancing, he said they are very different.

After all the scores were tallied, Tom had another surprise for the group. Supposedly, the celebs had requested certain dance styles for next week, although several looked like they had never heard of it. Next week, Sean and James will do the salsa; Candace will do a rumba; Drew and Nene will each do the jive; Meryl and Amy will do swing; Danica will do a samba; Diana will dance a cha cha cha; and Cody, Billy Dee and Charlie will all do a tango with their partners. That certainly ought to shake things up a bit! The scores are below and seem high for Week 1. What do you think?

Celebrities, partners and their scores:

Charlie and Sharna -- Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 9; Bruno, 9 = 27

Candace and Mark -- 9; 8; 8 = 25

Meryl and Maks -- 8; 8; 8 = 24

Danica and Val -- 8; 8; 8 = 24

Amy and Derek -- 8; 8; 8 = 24

Cody and Witney -- 7; 7; 8 = 22

Nene and Tony -- 7; 7; 7 = 21

James and Peta -- 7; 7; 7 = 21

Drew and Cheryl -- 7; 7; 7 = 21

Sean and Karina -- 7; 6; 7 = 20

Diana and Henry -- 6; 6; 6 = 18

Billy Dee and Emma -- 5; 5; 5 = 15

See you next week -- keep dancing!!