Bolton came into Tuesday's episode in last place, earning just 12 points out of 30 for his "Hound Dog"-themed jive with professional partner Chelsie Hightower.
Judge Bruno Tonioli said he hated the dance and thought it was "probably the worst" in the show's 11 seasons.
Judges' scores are combined with viewer votes to determine which couple is ousted each week.
Before learning his fate, Bolton said he thought Tonioli's remarks were "inappropriate and disrespectful."
"Other than that, it was a phenomenal experience up 'til now," the 57-year-old singer said.
Tuesday's episode also aimed to prove that it was the judges, not audience member Sarah Palin, targeted with boos during Monday's show.
Palin had a front-row seat in the ballroom to watch her daughter Bristol perform, and just before host Tom Bergeron sat down to do a brief on-air interview with the former vice-presidential candidate, emphatic boos were heard off camera. Several media outlets and numerous "Dancing" fans online reported that the disapproval was directed at Palin.
Chatting with Grey and Hough on Tuesday, co-host Brooke Burke introduced a clip from Monday's episode that showed the judges bantering with the audience and defending their scores as the crowd booed. Then Bergeron introduced Palin.
"It seems to me, based on that footage, that the audience was booing because they thought you deserved higher scores," Burke said.
"Palin told me before the show that she was surprised by all the controversy because she was booing you guys, too," Bergeron quipped.
Hough and Grey said they were pleased with their scores. Palin was also in the audience Tuesday.
The action-packed episode also included performances by singers Seal and Janelle Monae and a dance performance that featured contortionists, aerialists and a ballerina.
Returning to dance Monday will be actors Grey, Kyle Massey and Florence Henderson; singer-actress Brandy; athletes Kurt Warner and Rick Fox; comedian Margaret Cho; reality stars Audrina Patridge and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino; and Bristol Palin.
IN PICTURES: Sarah Palin's fashion