Duets went live this week, with the theme of “Songs from This Millennium.” If this millennium’s reality competition shows have taught us anything, it’s that it’s always awkward to have public voting one week, and then have the elimination at the start of the following week’s show. Ratings suffer when there’s no climax at the night’s end. But with the voting lines not open till after the show, there was no good alternative way to handle it. Someone is going to be rehearsing this entire coming week, only to learn next Thursday night that it was all in vain.
And if there’s any justice in this cruel world, that person is going to be Olivia Chisholm, who just keeps getting worse and worse. After getting some criticism a week ago for hogging the spotlight, Robin Thicke allowed Olivia to go first on “Need You Now,” which would be a weird fit for her sensibility even if she had more talent. Her pitch was all wrong, and the harmonies with Robin were almost painful. It’s hard to imagine that her looks are going to be enough to save her one more time.
Kelly Clarkson’s last singer, Jason Farol, was in constant trouble when the superstars were the voters, in large part because he’s been so stiff on stage. But he seems to have improved just in time, looking grown-up and sounding confident on “Mercy.” He’s still not a very assured mover, but he held his own with his partner for the first time, proving at last that Kelly really did see something when she chose him. His performance, and Kelly’s popularity, ought to keep him safe for a change.
Bridget Carrington illustrated how precarious things are for the contenders on this show by admitting that she had to return to her day job recently. I’m not convinced she won’t be staying there permanently, because she and John Legend were so-so on “Halo,” which didn’t really get going until she raised the volume some. Bridget’s big problems are that she hasn’t had the one killer performance that would make her memorable, and doesn’t have the intangibles that usually lead to singing show success.
The last star with double duty, Jennifer Nettles, got to both open and close the show. Giant ball of cheese John Glosson (who we learned this week is married, and you could have fooled me there) wanted to take a shot at Josh Groban’s “When You Say You Love Me,” because becoming the next Groban is pretty much his goal in life. His fanbase probably enjoyed his latest big ballad, but he sounded a little shaky to me for the first time. His chemistry with Jennifer is still a big plus.
J. Rome and Jennifer closed the show, and the man who led the voting every week that the stars made the picks went with the Usher/David Guetta hit “Without You.” Not a lot of excitement here, as J. Rome seemed to have a little trouble connecting for a change. In his critique, John Legend noted some issues in the lower register. I doubt he could be in trouble, but the first night of public voting isn’t the ideal time to be off by even a little bit.
Can you make a case for anyone other than Olivia leaving?