‘Duets’ Premiere Recap: Did Kelly Curse Her Contestants?
I actually think the BIGGER challenge will be faced by Kelly's two amateur duet partners. I had previously assumed that being affiliated with Kelly, arguably the biggest pop star on the show, would be a huge advantage on "Duets"--but oddly, the opposite seems to be true, at least based on how this week's premiere turned out. But more on that in a bit.
First, a little about the overall concept of the show. Interestingly, the four celebrity judges aren't just judging, they're also competing with each other, hitting the stage with their two handpicked duet partners every week. So, that's cool. Again, you'd think this would give Kelly a major upper hand, since she's obviously the only judge with experience competing (and winning!) on a TV talent show. But by the end of this week's first episode, both of her singers were in the bottom two.
I think there were two reasons for this surprising development. First, the contestants on "Duets" really are supposed to be amateurs--with no long résumés of multiple major-label record deals or appearances on other reality programs--so all eight contestants were understandably intimidated to team up with their respective superstar partners. But Kelly's two partners admitted that they were SUPERFANS. Of course, you can't blame them--really, isn't everyone a Kelly Clarkson superfan?--but seriously, her two protégés practically burst into overjoyed tears when Kelly even glanced at them, or even got within 15 feet of them. So it was no wonder that they nearly experienced nervous breakdowns onstage when they had to trade vocal lines with her.
And then, really, I just have to say it: Very, very few singers--even professional ones, even famous ones--are as utterly awesome as Kelly friggin' Clarkson. So even though her two partners seemed to be perfectly capable vocalists, they just couldn't compare when they tried to keep up with Kelly this week. I suppose it was inevitable that they would be upstaged. Maybe they would have been better off singing with Robin Thicke?
Anyway, here are my other impressions about the judges' judging skills, before getting into the actual duet performances: Kelly is a natural on TV, and would have been a better cast addition to "The X Factor" than Demi or Britney. Jennifer Nettles is a little too bubbly, but she's very likable. Robin is a complete cheesebag and he's trying way too hard, which unfortunately considerably lessens his sex appeal. (Robin should never speak, only sing.) John Legend, who was thrown into the "Duets" mix at the last minute, is a little too chilled-out and quiet, and I kind of wish original judge Lionel Richie, whom John mysteriously replaced, hadn't quit the show. (And if Lionel had stayed, just think of all the fabulously corny Richie duets we would have heard this season! "Hello"! Such a missed opportunity!)