It was Movies Night on "Duets" this Wednesday, but there was no happy fairytale ending for Team Kelly Clarkson, when both of Kelly's contestants ended up in the bottom two and had to emotionally battle each other for a spot in next week's first live show of the season. That spot ended up going to Jason Farol, leaving Kelly's other contestant, Jordan Meredith, as the odd (and very, very sad) woman out.
While I personally wasn't that sad--I never thought Jordan quite rebounded after her shaky opening night, when she was in the bottom two with Jason for the first time--I still didn't think she was the worst contestant of the remaining six. That non-honor has always gone to Robin Thicke's contestant, the weak and whispery Olivia Chisholm. I can only speculate that the reason Olivia has survived each week, outlasting some undeniably stronger singers, is because the scoring system on this show--which so far has been entirely controlled by the judges, who obviously have their own agendas--is totally wack. It'll sure be interesting to see how the leaderboard order changes next week, when the public finally gets a chance to vote.
Here's how everyone, including Jordan and Jason, performed when it was time for their closeups on Movies Night...
Jennifer Nettles & John Glosson, "My Heart Will Go On" - With John and her other contestant, consistent leaderboard-topper J Rome, Jennifer certainly seems like the judge to beat. (She's the only judge, going into next week's live rounds, who still has two contestants left.) John and J are two of the show's standouts, but while J has a more traditional superstar "total package" look, John is arguably the better, bigger vocalist. Was this Titanic weeper hip? Cool? Current? No, no, and hell no. But as a vocal display, it was admittedly impressive. Celine Dion ain't easy to sing, you know.
Kelly Clarkson & Jordan Meredith, "Take My Breath Away" - Jordan sometimes seemed like her breath had literally been taken away during this performance, as she struggled to keep up with her arguably superior mentor, who once again sang concentric circles around her. But this wasn't bad at all, and at least Jordan finally seemed to have her nerves in check. Confidence (or, more specifically, a lack thereof) had always been Jordan's biggest issue, but she was finally starting to seem comfortable onstage. This should not have been the night that Jordan got sent packing.
Robin Thicke & Olivia Chisholm, "Staying Alive" - Why is Olivia still alive in this competition? She may be the contestant who looks the most like a pop star, but only some Auto-Tune would make her truly sound like one. The girl is simply Not. A. Great. Singer. Amusingly, this was my favorite performance of the season from ROBIN--he was soooo in his cheesy element, from the Gibb-like falsetto to that white Tony Manero disco suit he was rocking. But I found Olivia's performance much less enjoyable than Robin's. Whether you're a mother or whether you're a father, you should be voting her off next week, people.
John Legend & Bridget Carrington, "What's Love Got To Do With It" - Okay, now HERE'S a woman who can really sing. Bridget may in fact be the biggest threat to Team Jennifer. And after watching John Legend deal with so many setbacks on this show--signing up as a last-minute replacement for original judge Lionel Richie; losing one of his contestants, Johnny Gray, under mysterious circumstances in episode two and scrambling for an alternate; and then having that alternate, Meleana Brown, go home way too early--there's a part of me that wants Bridget to win simply because I think John deserves some good luck for a change. But, Bridget may deserve to win too, on her own merits. This performance--while maybe not the most dynamic due to the chilled-out, even-keel nature of the ballad--was definitely the showcase of a pro, not an "amateur."
Jennifer Nettles & J Rome, "I Will Always Love You" - I'm getting a little tired of J and don't quite understand why he is ALWAYS in first place on the leaderboard, but I have to admit he did a fine job with this. (Whitney Houston also isn't easy to sing. And neither is Dolly Parton, this song's originator. But J was pretty much up to the task either way.) J may stay atop the leaderboard indefinitely, if he can keep delivering performances like this one. The man can sang, I will give him that.
Kelly Clarkson & Jason Farol, "Come What May" - Jason has more star quality than most people on this show; he's just so adorable and huggable and lovable that I want to squeeze his little head and hang it from my rearview mirror, as Paula Abdul once told David Archuleta. But he's NO match for Kelly Clarkson. (Then again, who is?) Jason really does seem like an "amateur" around his idol, and I've seen little growth from him this season; at least Kelly's other contestant, total fangirl Jordan, managed to eventually conquer her stagefright and evolve. Jason got totally lost in this Moulin Rouge song, and in fact I could hardly even hear him above Kelly's belting. Color me a very unimpressed shade of Rouge.
In the end, Jordan and Jason were forced to engage in an a cappella singoff--by default, my favorite part of any otherwise snoozy "Duets" episode. Neither singer wowed me too much--Jason's "Mama Know Best" was totally mushmouthed, and Jordan totally set herself up to fail by choosing to sing "And I Am Telling You, I'm Not Going," a way-too-big-for-her powerhouse classic so memorably covered by so many superior reality singers (including this year's "Idol" darling, Jessica Sanchez). So Jordan, despite telling everyone otherwise in her song, ended up going after all.
At the end of the evening, the leaderboard ranking was J Rome in first place (of course), followed by John Glosson, Bridget Carrington, Olivia Chisholm, and finally Jason Farol. But remember, that order was determined by the judges' secret scores. Will America vote the same way next week? Assuming you're actually still watching this show (and granted, that's a mighty big assumption), you shall soon find out.