Duets Recap: New Kid on the Block
Duets Recap: New Kid on the Block
ABC clearly invested good money in developing Duets‘ unimonikered emcee Quddus. Unlike the hostbots of many competing reality-competition series, Quddus convincingly exhibits lifelike qualities such as humor, empathy, and even sarcasm. He’s also programmed for basic math skills and an uncanny ability to process and respond to stimuli taking place in front of him. Yes, reality TV fans, the future is here, and DWTS‘ Robo Brooke Burke might be scheduled for a summer “vacation” at the Pentium plant.
Quddus kicked off Week 2 by trying to explain how the hell this show actually works, something nobody bothered to do at any point during last week’s two-hour premiere. We’ve got eight amateurs, performing duets with their superstar mentors for three straight weeks and getting “secret scores” from their competing mentors; in Episode 3, the Bottom 2 contestants will perform an a capella singoff, and one of ‘em will get the boot. And then in Week 6, viewers get to vote, though it’s unclear if judges’ scores will continue to be a factor, or how many people will go home per week. Is it possible ABC is just making up the rules as they go? Quddus isn’t going to that question no matter how many times you ask: His name is not Siri.
Also unclear: What happened to John Legend’s Week 1 contestant Johnny Gray. He had to leave the competition but we didn’t get any details on the hows and whys. Did he break some kind of rule in his ABC contract? Was he overheard backstage calling “Ordinary People” a dreary slice of neo-soul treacle? Is his head on a spike at the Mud Gate? We may never know.
Whatever the case, let’s do a quick assessment of how the eight contestants fared in Week 2, during which they had to cover classic duets. And, lest you start thinking I’m the crankiest recapper alive, let me note that the second half of the telecast was considerably stronger than the first:
Bridget Carrington (with John Legend): “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me” | The judges seemed to think this week’s Aretha Franklin-George Michael ditty was a better fit for Bridget’s voice than her Week 1 number, but I still felt like there was too much quaver and not enough oomph to leave me with any other feeling than “the Queen of Soul would not approve.” I mean, if this was a VH1 Divas Live show, Miss Aretha’s death glare would’ve been the chancla sending hellion child Bridget (and her hideous blue mylar dress) to the naughty corner somewhere backstage. Bonus points to Quddus, though, for joking that the revelation of Bridget’s spot atop the leaderboard was “anticlimactic” — since, as the night’s opening act, she didn’t yet have any competition.
Jordan Meredith (with Kelly Clarkson): “Misery” | Kelly seems like a sweet and very invested mentor. Offering a pep talk to Jordan and teammate Jason Farol, Kelly noted they were probably the least experienced vocalists in the competition, but since they had no control over such matters, they needed to focus on the variables within their grasp. “What we have control over is sounding awesome!” Kelly said, with none of the jadedness you’d expect from a seasoned vet of the music industry and the reality TV business. Unfortunately, though, while having Kelly as a mentor might be a plus, having Kelly as a duet partner is a trickier proposition. Jordan’s got solid chops, but when Kelly came in on the second verse, I was all “OOOH GIRL, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” The Lady Clarkson has such soul and power and grit that Jordan’s big notes seemed strained and a little hollow by comparison. If ole’ Pink Hair can’t find a way to either boost her confidence or differentiate herself/her vocals from Kelly, she isn’t likely to last in the competition till July.