Duets

Duets is a music competition series that debuted on ABC on May 24, 2012. Its first season concluded on July 19; no decision has yet been reached on whether the show will return. Quddus serves as the host.

In the first season, four stars from different genres of music selected two relative unknowns to act as their partner for singing duets. The Season One stars were Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, and Robin Thicke (Lionel Richie had originally been announced as one of the stars; he dropped out and was replaced by Legend). In the early episodes of the season, the stars who did not sing would critique each performance and enter a score for the amateur who had just performed. Beginning with the third episode, the two lowest-scoring singers each week met in a “showdown” at the conclusion, singing solo and a cappella, with the judges then voting on which of the two should depart.

Once the field was reduced to five, the voting was turned over to the public; the outcome from that week’s voting was revealed on the following week’s show. On the final night of the season, J. Rome, who had partnered with Nettles, was announced as the Season One winner, with John Glosson (also Nettles) finishing second, and Jason Farol (partnered with Clarkson) third.

As was forecast by the sudden departure of Richie, the first season seemed to be snakebit even before it began. One of Legend’s amateur singers left the show after the first episode, for reasons that were never explained. Clarkson broke her foot in a concert and spent the final few weeks of the season with limited mobility. The general feeling of audiences was that Duets was perhaps one music competition show too many, and there was confusion over the non-transparent scoring by the stars. Most seemed to find the professionals worth listening to, both on stage and in their critiques, with Nettles drawing particular praise for her charisma and obvious investment in her discoveries. But ratings for Duets began low and got even worse, raising doubts over whether it had a future.

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