‘Duets’ Top 4 Recap: Lowering The Standards?

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks (New)

I've complained repeatedly about "Duets" this season, and with good reason--a lot has gone wrong with this show--but based on this week's episode, there's now one thing I officially like about "Duets": It doesn't prolong the agony of elimination announcements. In a refreshingly un-Seacrest-like manner, "Duets" host Quddus revealed this week's voting results within literally the first five minutes of this Thursday's show, which I wholly appreciated. I also appreciated the result itself: In the first public vote of the season, America got it right and finally sent home marginally talented "amateur" Olivia Chisholm.

Let's face it, Olivia probably wouldn't have even made it past the initial audition screening process to sing for J.Lo, Steven, and Randy on "American Idol," and she certainly wouldn't have inspired a single red chair to spin around on "The Voice." She'd truly only lasted this long because of this show's bizarrely skewed voting system, which up until last week had been entirely controlled by the biased judges (who obviously had their own reasons to keep the least threatening, weakest-link contestant in the running). But as soon as viewers had a chance, they booted Olivia's headlit-deer-eyes and two-octave voice right off the air. Once again, things on "Duets" were looking up, up, up. Maybe this show isn't so bad after all.

So that left four contestants: Two mentored by Jennifer Nettles, one by Kelly Clarkson, one by John Legend, and, um, none by poor Robin Thicke, whose only dim remaining hope had been Olivia. Some might argue that Robin's relative obscurity (yes, he's charted a few hits, but he's not quite as marquee-worthy a name as the other three judges) thwarted his contestant's chances. But I really don't think even Kelly Clarkson could have saved Olivia. It was simply Olivia's time to go. In fact, it was her time to go long before Alexis Foster, Meleana Brown, or Jordan Meredith went home.

Anyhoo, after that, the four surviving contestants crooned standards. And it was pretty standard stuff, for the most part. Here's how everyone did...

John Legend & Bridget Carrington - "Unforgettable"

Bridget looked gorgeous and regal, like she was ready to walk the red carpet on Grammy night (most women do not look that good in yellow)...but her voice wasn't quite Grammy-worthy. She actually sounded fine until her duet partner John took his turn--that's when it became glaringly obvious who was the "amateur" and who was the "pro" here. Audience applause wildly erupted when John started to practically channel Nat "King" Cole, and that applause noticeably died right back down when Bridget sang again. Bridget didn't do badly, of course, but John's smooth, creamy vocals simply drew direct attention to her vocal shortcomings. Bridget was in the bottom two with Olivia this week, and while I've always thought she was a real talent with a real chance of winning this show, I fear this underwhelming performance may be her undoing. This was actually rather forgettable.

Jennifer Nettles & J Rome - "God Bless The Child"

J Rome has been a frontrunner all season, and while I've never quite understood his appeal--he's always seemed a little too slick, a little too pimped, a little too overpraised, for my tastes--I couldn't deny that this was a lovely performance. The man is definitely versatile, having spent the season tackling everything from Michael Jackson to Dolly Parton to, er, Grease's Danny Zuko, and he handled this song with his usual ease. I probably wouldn't buy this guy's album if he won "Duets'" Hollywood Records contract, but I bet a lot of other people out there would.

Jennifer Nettles & John Glosson - "Georgia On My Mind"

Jennifer joined her hometown hero John (who, like Jennifer, hails from Douglas, Georgia) on Ray Charles's classic ode to their home state--and this was another solid performance from possibly THE most consistent contestant on the show, the one singer who's never suffered a misstep or a missed note. Will slow 'n' steady win the race? John seems to be Jennifer's tortoise and J Rome seems to be her hare--but either way, it looks like Team Nettles is, to quote another certain singing show, in it to win it.

Kelly Clarkson & Jason Farol - "Feeling Good"

Oh no! Not "Feeling Good"! Doesn't Kelly know that this song is CURSED? Doesn't she know it almost even once sent Adam Lambert home on "Idol"? How could she assign this jinxed song to her underdog contestant, who's already been in the bottom two four times? I guess she must have confidence in adorable, lovable Jason, now that the voting is in America's hands. I thought this was just...okay. Jason seemed to be shouting his way through much of the song, and I agreed with Robin Thicke's comment that some of the original version's soul was sadly lost. So we'll see if Jason is feeling good or bad when Quddus reads the results during the first five minutes of next week's episode.

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