Is Kelly Clarkson Reality TV’s New Secret Weapon?

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks (New)

The rivalry between "American Idol" and "The Voice" has been heating up ever since Randy Jackson dissed the show as a gimmicky "Star Trek" ripoff and "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe claimed that "The Voice" didn't have great talent. But that rivalry reached a whole new level this week when Kelly Clarkson, arguably one of THE greatest talents ever found by "American Idol," made her debut as a mentor on "The Voice" this week--a major coup and torch-passing moment for "The Voice," a show that is steadily overtaking "Idol" in the ratings. And now there's a another show entering the reality TV fray, as it's just been announced that Kelly, in addition to her current "Voice" stint on NBC,  has just signed on for ABC's "Duets," yet another talent-search program (which will also star Season 2 "Voice" mentors Lionel Richie and Robin Thicke). Yes, "The Voice's" Battle Rounds may have started this week, but it seems like the real battle is between all these singing shows, with Kelly serving as this reality war's own Helen of Troy.

Of course, this is hardly the first example of cross-reality-show-pollination in recent TV memory. Season 2 "Voice" mentor Jewel recently starred on Bravo's "Platinum Hit" alongside ex-"Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi, and yet another new "Voice" mentor, Alanis Morissette, dueted with runner-up Josh Krajcik on last year's "X Factor" finale. (Kelly performed on "The X Factor" last year as well.) Additionally, three different "Idol" breakout stars--Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, and Adam Lambert--were all guest mentors on The Hub's underage singing competition "Majors & Minors" last year. But the original Idol's ship-jumping from "Idol"--the show that kickstarted her career, and frankly, kickstarted this whole singing competition craze--to two of Fox's  new major-network rival series is certainly interesting. I imagine Nigel Lythgoe must not be thrilled.

But in a way, "The Voice" and "Duets" recruiting Kelly is the ultimate flattery to "Idol." Ironically, it's sort of an acknowledgment that "Idol" paved the way for these other shows,  thanks to established pop stars like Kelly, who is still churning out hits nearly 10 years after becoming the first "Idol" champion. Nigel has frequently, gloatingly pointed out that "Idol" is the only reality singing competition with a consistent track record of producing platinum-selling superstars, and the fact that "The Voice" and "Duets" wanted Kelly is certainly proof of that. Conversely, it's difficult to imagine that "Idol" or, say, "The X Factor" would ever consider having Season 1 "Voice" winner Javier Colon, whose album sadly stalled at number 134 on the Billboard charts, ever appear in any way on those shows. "The X Factor's" Melanie Amaro probably wouldn't ever get an opportunity to be on "The Voice," either. Just sayin'.

Of course, maybe the fact that other shows' contestants have, so far, not broken out the way "Idol's" have is THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY DANG SINGING SHOWS NOW. The marketplace is obviously diluted. But that's clearly not bothering Kelly, who seems happy to sign up for shows that are, honestly, looking for The Next Kelly. So, will we ever see a "Duets" winner appear on "Idol," or "The Voice," or any other similar singing show? My guess is no. After all, there can only be ONE Kelly--and "The Voice" and "Duets" are certainly lucky to have her now.

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