After five weeks, we have a pretty clear idea of where the remaining five singers on Duets stand in the eyes of the “superstar” mentor/partners. The big questions now, as it heads into the weeks where the viewers begin voting, are first: whether the public agrees with what they’ve been told about this competition the last month; and second: whether the show somehow contrives a way to make one of Jennifer Nettles’ singers go home in fifth place, even though it’s apparent that J. Rome and John Glosson deserve to finish first and second or vice versa.
Strategy might have played a part in Jordan Meredith and Jason Farol, the two Kelly Clarkson singers, both winding up on the bottom on this week’s outing, which saluted songs from movies. With Kelly being the biggest star on the panel, and a certain number of people likely tuning in mostly to watch her, the temptation to dump one of her people had to be strong. Of course, since nothing about the scoring system on Duets is obvious, we’ll never know – though I’m going to call shenanigans on Olivia Chisholm not being in danger.
Olivia and Robin Thicke tempted fate this week by selecting “Stayin’ Alive,” a choice which highlighted a major problem with this pairing – Robin cares too much about promoting his own awesomeness. The falsetto here worked very well for him, but Olivia’s one brief stab at taking the lead vocal had her out of breath almost immediately. Surprisingly, no one really called her out for hiding behind her mentor, and she wound up safe in fourth place. Bridget Carrington and John Legend tackled “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” and while the pair was once again pleasant – they actually are developing a little chemistry – she doesn’t seem to have a showstopper effort within her.
John Glosson seized on “My Heart Will Go On,” the perfect showcase for his brew of quasi-gospel dramatics – he’s basically a chicken-fried Susan Boyle. He and Jennifer make the most natural partnership, and he’d be an odds-on favorite to win … except that J. Rome is someone you can imagine making successful records in 2012 (I’m not predicting he will – it’s not like Duets is going to launch any stars). His “I Will Always Love You” was good mimicry of a classic arrangement, highlighted by an excellent run at the end, and his standing ovation was well deserved. I do wonder if the constant kudos will create a backlash, though.
Both Jordan and Jason continued to suffer from the same overriding issue: lack of confidence and projection. Jordan was so nervous on the first verse of “Take My Breath Away” that she was almost inaudible, and as has been typical, she really only came alive when joined by her heroine. Jason’s tune was “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge, which everyone seemed to agree did not do enough to show off his tenor. Kelly wasn’t trying to overshadow him, but that always seems to happen with her singers due to their lack of experience.
The solo showdown ended with Jason outlasting Jordan, a development that left the magenta-haired Kelly worshipper in tears. This outcome surprised me a bit, since as a male Jason would seem to be the bigger threat to land votes on a show like Duets. But could he actually win? I really doubt Kelly has that many fans.