Duets Review: “Classical Duets” (Season 1, Episode 2)

Duets is quickly growing on me as a reality talent show. Quddus is quickly becoming a host that I would want as a best friend, Robin Thicke is continually making me laugh, Kelly Clarkson is improving on her judging skills and I am even beginning to like the big white Sci-Fi judging chairs. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that John Legend is as smooth as ever and Jennifer Nettles is now giving dancing advice.

This week’s episode was a vast improvement and truly an entertaining piece of television. Kelly Clarkson and Robin Thicke began the show with a performance of State of Shock  by The Jackson 5. The song was a far better start then the previous episode and was the perfect way to kick off the show.

First to perform was Bridget Carrington and her mentor John Legend, who chose George Michael‘s and Aretha Franklin‘s I Knew You Were Waiting. While I felt like Carrington was trying too hard to reach the level of soul that Aretha delivers, the performance was still a hit and moved her from sixth place to third. As for John Legend, he was absolutely amazing and showed off why he’s a nine time Grammy winner.

Next to perform was Kelly Clarkson with Jordan Meridith. Last week Meridith had failed to impress despite singing Clarkson’s famous anthem Stronger, which had placed in in seventh position. However, she managed to show definite improvement as she sung Pink‘s Misery with Clarkson, which pushed her up to fifth position.

While I enjoyed the performance, I was not surprised when the judges pointed out the pitch problems. The real problem, though, was that Clarkson truly outshone Meridith. Throughout the performance I really only wanted to listen to Clarkson, who showed off the power and passion of her pipes.

John Glosse followed Meredith’s with a strong performance of Marvin Gaye‘s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough alongside Jennifer Nettles. Despite receiving some harsh criticism for the “broadway-ish” campy feel, Glosse managed to snag fourth place (down from third). While I understand the judges comments, I would like to remind them that the hit show Glee is founded on campy hit tunes. Just something to think about.

I am not afraid to say that the next performance simply missed the mark in nearly every way and deserved the eight place rating that it received. Following Glosse was Olivia Chisholm with her mentor Robin Thicke singing Where is the Love, made famous by Donny Hathaway and Robert Flack.

All I can say is that the performance was bland and uninspiring. Chisholm’s vocals were pitchy and she showed almost no performance skills. I wasn’t the only one noticing the way the performance was going either. Quick shots to the judges showed Nettles with a face that clearly said that the performance was not going well.

It should have been Johnny Gray to perform next, but due to unforeseen problems, John Legend was forced to sing with Meleana Brown. Honestly, I was completely surprised by this performance.

Brown and Legend took on one of the most famous duets of all time, Endless Love, a duet made famous by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, and then later by Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey. If that isn’t a hard act to follow than I don’t know what is, Surprisingly, Brown managed to pull off a performance put together in 48 hours that was both classy and beautifully delivered. She definitely deserved the tie for first place that she received and I cannot wait to see how she improves throughout the competition.

Brown was followed by Jason Farol who sang Mariah Carey‘s Whenever You Call with his mentor Kelly Clarkson. Last week, Farol missed the mark with his shy performance which had left him at the bottom of the chart. Of course, a shy contestant always gains my attention and I was glad to see him break out with this performance. While the song began slow, it exploded halfway into the middle and we got to see why Clarkson chose Farol. I’m truly rooting for him and I’m so glad that he was able to move into seventh position.

What happened next made me very happy. Jennifer Nettles along with J. Rome, who topped the charts last week, managed to put on another dazzling performance of Olivia Newton John’s and John Travolta‘s hit single You Are The Only One I Want from the musical Grease. It was fun, cool and very entertaining. J. Rome managed to stay at the top of the charts and now he’s tied with Meleana Brown.

The show finished with a mediocre performance of All I Need to Get By, first popularized by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrelle and sung now by Robin Thicke and Alexis Foster. While I enjoyed the performance, there was something lacking and I understand why the Foster moved from third to sixth. According to Clarkson, there was a disconnect between Thicke and Foster. While this may be true, I don’t know if that was the problem. For me, I felt like the song just never got past a certain point. I kept expecting some big moment to come, but it never did.

While the second episode of Duets may have ended on a low note, throughout the night it proved strongly why viewers should keep watching. I certainly can say that I’ll be watching next week and I’m definitely looking forward to the performances.