‘Duets’ Episode 2: It Takes Two To Make A Thing Go Wrong
I suspect that Lionel Richie--who was supposed to be a judge on "Duets," but was replaced at the last minute by John Legend after bowing out due to "personal scheduling conflicts"--is pretty happy with his decision right about now. And now yet another cast member has left "Duets": Contestant Johnny Gray is already gone after just one episode, "due to unforeseen circumstances." (A contact for ABC told Yahoo! Music "he had to leave for personal reasons," although, if you read Johnny's Twitter, it sure doesn't seem like he went away voluntarily.) Whatever the reason for Johnny's sudden departure, this switch-up forced Johnny's coach, John Legend, to do yet another lightning-round casting this week. Sheesh. What is going on with this damn show?
There are a few reasons for the show's semi-failure to launch, I think. So before I get into this week's specific performances, I'll recap what's wrong with the series in general, and what I think producers can tweak next season--if there is a next season, which, let's face it, there probably won't be--to help get the show on track. Come on, ABC! Kelly deserves better than this!
The Audition Process (Or Lack Thereof) - On shows like "Idol," "The Voice," and "The X Factor," we start with dozens or even hundreds of aspiring singers, and over the course of a few weeks, they're whittled down to the creme de la creme, the best of the best. So by the time we get down to only eight contestants, we've got a strong bunch, and we're deeply invested. But "Duets" only started with eight singers (or nine, if you count Johnny Gray's replacement)--and that's all we're gonna get, all season long. Moreover, it was never made too clear exactly how Kelly and her fellow judges recruited these random eight hopefuls. Kelly yanked a couple onstage at a concert, a la Bruce Springsteen asking Courteney Cox to dance in that old '80s video. Robin Thicke picked someone he met in church. Jennifer Nettles got a referral through her nanny. John Legend plucked a couple people offline. So these contestants sort of feel foisted upon us, and frankly, I have my doubts as to how extensive the judges' talent searches actually were. Seriously, THIS was the best they could find in all of America? A country in which thousands of people queue up for hours in parking lots to audition for Simon Cowell? Which brings me to my next complaint...
The "Amateurs" - While none of the contestants on "Duets" are lousy singers, and some of them (like Jennifer's mighty-voiced partner, John Glosson) are actually truly skilled, none of them seem like stars to me. In fact, before this week's episode aired, I'd already forgotten all their names and what any of them sounded or looked like. In a market already overcrowded with singing shows featuring some really stellar talent, none of the "Duets" singers can begin to compare to the "Voice" and "Idol" contestants of this year. Or last year. And that's a major problem. But there's a bigger problem...