'Dancing with the Stars': Amber Riley and the rest of the Season 17 front runners

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Has "Dancing with the Stars" ever had such a high-scoring first episode? The Season 17 premiere saw 10 out of 12 dancers earn scores in the 20s, while Amber Riley and Derek Hough received a nearly unprecedented 27 points for their jive.

What's going on? Where did all of these great dancers come from? How tough will the competition be?

It's impossible to answer those questions so early in the season, but we can at least make note of which dancers are the most likely to succeed.

1. Amber Riley
To say the "Glee" star started off with a bang is an understatement. From the first steps of her lightning-speed cha-cha, the audience and the judges went wild. If Amber can keep up momentum like that, she will truly be the one to beat.

2. Corbin Bleu
Sitting in the press viewing area during the premiere, I overheard a telling comment at the end of Corbin's performance: "So that's it for Season 17 ..." The contemporary dance from the former "High School Musical" star was just that good. Granted, this was before Amber performed.

3. Elizabeth Berkley
Remember "Showgirls"? Actually, it's probably best to forget about that movie and concentrate on the fact that the one-time "Saved by the Bell" star is kind of amazing on the dance floor. She even looks like a dancer!

4. Jack Osbourne
It's entirely possible that no celebrity had more fun on the dance floor than Jack Osbourne. He had the foxtrot, which means a lot of non-manly skipping and spinning. And Jack did look a little silly at times. That was okay -- someone like Jack Osbourne knows exactly how to make silly look good.

5. Snooki Pollizzi
Snooki is a good dancer? All those years out clubbing were not entirely wasted, because the pint-sized former party girl was an adorable ball of energy in her first performance. It wasn't polished and it wasn't sophisticated -- but Snooki was good.

These are just the top four dancers in the first week. Considering that most of the competitors were separated by only a few points, others could easily sneak into front-runner status. Each has some advantage, as seen below:

  • Bill Nye (score = 14) -- Who cares if he can't dance? Not the millions of fans who love Bill Nye the Science Guy!
  • Keyshawn Johnson (score = 17) -- He's the token athlete for Season 17. Keyshawn is certain to get some votes because of that.
  • Bill Engvall (score = 18) -- Don't count out the comedian -- this guy has a great attitude and a whole lot of devoted fans. Plus, there's no one else on this season appealing to the same country-style demographic.
  • Leah Remini (score = 21) -- She's been in the news, and people recognize her face. A slight improvement in dance skills could shove Leah to the front of the pack.
  • Christina Milian (score = 22) -- Lots of people watched "The Voice" when Christina was part of it. Also, she's cute and rather good on the floor.
  • Brant Daugherty (score = 22) -- He's awfully cute, and "Pretty Little Liars" has an amazing number of devoted fans.
  • Valerie Harper (score = 21) -- "Dancing with the Stars" has never had a more inspirational story. When you add in the fact that she is dancing just fine, the only thing that could send Valerie home early is her own health.

"Dancing with the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Photo/Video credit: ABC