duets recapping: superstars’ greatest hits

The Premise:

In the newest reality singing show, Duets has four “superstars”–not judges or mentors–searching the country for talented individuals. As a fan of John Legend and Jennifer Nettles, I’m excited to see where this show will go. The two other talented superstars are Robin Thicke and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. The show is hosted by Quddus, known for his other hosting gigs.

The premise of Duets isn’t quite clear. Right now each superstar has found two singers to, well duet with. When the superstar sings with their partner, the three other judges listen and anonymously rate them on talent and personality. There’s a studio audience, but I don’t think any voting by “America” is done. However, singers are voted off–but it’s a little unclear how.

Unfortunately, Duets is lacking their Simon–an honest, if at times brutally so, judge. After voting, all the judges–I mean, superstars–are all given a chance to speak to the duo. The camera pans on the superstars during the song, so their reactions to the song are seen, even if they’re not verbalized. None of the judges had anything really mean to say–or anything helpful, either. When looking for their two singers, there were certain aspects that the superstars were looking for: Robin was looking for someone with soul, Kelly a singer whose voice matched hers, and so on.

Because this week was “Superstars’ Greatest Hits,” the superstars sang their hits with their partners, and we were shown a little bit of the choosing-partners scenario, as well as some background information on the singers.

Onto the singers!

John Legend’s were:

  • Johnny Gray, who sang “Ordinary People.” He came in second place, and for good reason! Legend was originally hesitant to choose him because Gray sang with too many riffs and chord changes, while Legend wanted the simply melody. Gray kept them both to a minimum, which allowed the riffs he did do to be more pronounced. Their voices harmonized nicely–and sounded amazing together.
  • Bridgette Carrington sang “Tonight (Best You Ever Had),” and came in sixth place. Legend spoke of the difficulties seamlessly blending male and female voices together, trying to find a key that would show off both voices. Legend solved this problem by having Carrington’s alto sang the lower chorus and harmony.

Kelly Clarkson:

  • Jason Farol singing “Break Your Own Heart.” He came in last place. Clarkson was hesitant to choose him because he had no experience and broke down on stage when she was trying him out. Unfortunately, his nerves shone through and his voice was average at best. Their harmonies seemed a bit off, and the camera caught Legend making a few grimaces during the performance–although he didn’t suggest anything to Farol.
  • Jordan Meredith sang “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” which earned her seventh place. Clarkson somewhat snidely suggested that everyone was against her, as both her singers were at the bottom. However, I think it may be that Clarkson’s songs are meant to be sung by one person with a strong voice–not two strong voices trying to harmonize. Meredith’s voice was occasionally off-pitch during the stanzas, which I’m sure added to her low score.

Robin Thicke:

  • Olivia Chilsolm sang “Lost Without U” and came in fifth. Thicke sang falsetto for most of the song, which meant that Chilsolm’s voice overpowered his–surprising, because Chilsolm doesn’t seem to have much strength behind her voice. Despite this, their voices sounded great together.
  • Alexis Foster came in third with “Magic.” Thicke let Foster be the main singer and sang backup. I think this was smart because Thicke’s voice doesn’t seem to be very strong. This also allowed Foster to shine during the song.

Jennifer Nettles:

  • J Rome came in first place and sang “Tonight.” Unlike the problem Thicke had, Nettles’ voice was too strong for Rome–she overpowered him. They sang with vibrato at different times–even when they sang at the same time.
  • John Glosson sang “Stay,” and came in fourth place. This was my favorite performance of the night. Their voices blended together nicely, and Glosson’s voice was like baby bear’s bed–just right. Not too strong or too soft. They also had vibrato problems, but it was less noticeable than with Rome.

My thoughts:

  • I don’t really understand the grading rubric for the show… or the premise. I’m hoping it will get more clear as time passes.
  • As amazing as these singers are, there’s not really anything about them that differentiates them–or this show–from others.
  • I really didn’t like how no one gave constructive criticism. If you’re frowning during the performance, say something. (That was for you, John Legend. I don’t understand how you can give such great advice to your partners, but then hold out on the others… Ooh, actually, I might have figured out why no one’s giving helpful hints.)

Emily thinks that music is amazing. Her favorite musical artists include The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Mumford and Sons, Coldplay, and Kanye. If writing doesn’t pan out, she plans on becoming a rapper… once she learns how to do so without laughing. (Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano! )

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One thought on “duets recapping: superstars’ greatest hits

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