"Duets" - "The Superstars Greatest Hits" - May 24, 2012
We open on a stage full of dancers, which is trange for a singing show. Then stars/judges/coaches Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, Jennifer Nettles, and John Legend come out and sing "Let Me Entertain You" by Robbie Williams. They sing as the dancers flip around them. And then a drum corps comes out. Because, why not?
Quddus our host says that's just a taste of what's to come over the next 9 weeks.
They each take seat in their own little pod in a white chair with a little desk.
Quddus tells us the contestants will be competing for a record deal with Hollywood Records and throws to a video package of the auditions and how the show came together.
The four singers fanned out across America to find two duet partners. There were no cattle calls or judging panels. They talk about how difficult it was to find just the right people.
First up is Jennifer's search. She starts in Las Vegas where she's rehearsing for the tour. She has pared down audition tapes and has invited them to sing for her. The montage of people they're showing are varying quality. She listens to them and then invites some for trial duets. First up is Brandon a dad who wants to use "Duets" as his last shot at music. He sings "If You Don't Know Me By Now" with JNet and it sounds good. She has other auditions so she's putting a pin in him until those are done. She heads to New York and meets a bunch more. She's impressed by a guy named J Rome.
Performance: Jennifer and J Rome sing the Sugarland song "Tonight" onstage in our first performance. He sounds good and more importantly they sound good together until the end when it sounds like someone goes off and it's hard to tell which one of them it is.
Quddus explains the ranking: the three stars who didn't perform give a ranking between 1 and 50 in two categories, performance and presentation, for a total score that can go up to 100. After each "amateur" performs they're standing will be revealed.
Judging: Kelly says they sounded great together. Robin says he's very handsome and has an amazing voice. John says he looks and sounds like a star. At the moment he's number one on the leaderboard because he was the first to perform.
Next up is John's search. He had people audition in the "Duets" studio. His montage of people is pretty good. He liked a guy named Johnny Gray but was worried he riffed too much. John calls him back and has him sing his song "Ordinary People" straightforwardly and he does it well.
Performance: John and Johnny sing "Ordinary People." Johnny sounds a bit like John himself, but he's acquitting himself nicely. They don't sing together until the very end. It's fine, but not mind-blowing harmony-wise.
Judging: Robin thinks Johnny is amazing and impressive. Kelly loves that he's so happy. Jennifer loves his beautiful low end and it was warm like honey. Johnny is now in second place.
Next up is Robin's search. He did his auditions in a famous studio in L.A. He calls back Dante, a Marine. He has some timing issues. He also calls back Olivia Chisholm. He clearly likes her. He has them both step out so he can decide. He picks Olivia.
Performance: Robin and Olivia sing his song "Lost Without You." They both have a chalkiness to their voices that work well together both timing and harmony-wise. The song, however, is a huge yawn. It's supposed to be sexy but it's just wispy.
Judging: John thought she sounded very sexy and a bit like Aaliyah but he says she could get into it even more. Jennifer loves how authentic her voice is in this genre. Kelly agrees she sounds sexy and looks beautiful. She's in third place on the leaderboard.
Up next is Kelly's search. She conducted hers during her recent concert tour. She calls back Juliana and Jason Farol from the first group of auditions. She throws them a curve and invites them to sing onstage with her in front of 6,000 fans at her show. She and Juliana sing "Georgia on My Mind." She holds her own pretty well under the circumstances but Kelly thinks it didn't quite blend as well as she'd hoped because Juliana sings more through her nose and Kelly sings more from her gut. Jason sing a song called "I Always Will" (?). He got a little overwhelmed at then end but it was very sweet. She picks Jason.
Performance: Kelly and Jason sing her song "Breaking Your Own Heart." He's got a lovely voice and they blend nicely together. She's doing the heavy lifting harmony-wise but he's holding his own.
Judging: Jennifer says when his voice opens up it lights up the room. Robin says he's adorable, his voice, his face, and his energy. John loves how much Jason loves being here. Jason is now in fourth place.
Next up John's second duet partner. He calls back several people including a quirky girl named Elizabeth, a student at Harvard. A bigger girl named Britney. A more polished singer named Bridget Carrington. He picks her, she's the clear choice.
Performance: John and Bridget sing "Tonight (Best You Ever Had)." It's a rhythmic ballad, sexy but with forward momentum. She may be the most assured contestant thus far and they sound lovely together, as if she's been his back-up singer for years.
Judging: Robin says when they're singing together they have great chemistry. Jennifer says it was classy and she owned it. Kelly thought it was hot and sexy and she wants to do a duet with him now. She's number four on the leaderboard.
Next up is Jennifer's second choice. She finds him at the annual National 4-H Gala. She invites a Georgia group called Clovers and Company to sing with her and in it is John Glossen who is from her hometown. He sings "How Great Thou Art" and he brings her to tears.
Performance: Jennifer and John sing "Stay." He's got a good, strong, powerful high tenor that meshes very well with her. It is very impressive: focused, emotional, controlled.
Judging: Kelly is crying and says he's like an angel. John thinks he sounds crystal clear and blended great. Robin is impressed that he held his own with Jennifer. He's in third place on the leader board.
Next up is Robin's second choice. He wants a gospel singer and tries out two people and picks Alexis Foster.
Performance: Robin and Alexis sing "Magic," which is an uptempo dance track and doesn't have a lot of melody to hold on to. She's a little awkward physically but she's a natural singer and sounds good with Robin.
Judging: Kelly loved that she seemed so happy and thinks her voice is beautiful. John likes her nice, clear as a bell tone. Jennifer loved it. Alexis is number three on the leaderboard.
Next up is Kelly's second choice. She auditions a few more people and has a few sing with her a the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. A couple of them-- Jordan and Ashley-- sound great. She picks Jordan Meredith.
Performance: Kelly and Jordan sing "Stronger" and they sound terrific together. Kelly clearly made the right choice because when they sing together it isn't always clear who is singing lead. She sounds better with Kelly than without but she still sounds good.
Judging: John says Kelly did a great job and says sometimes he couldn't tell them apart. Jennifer agrees there were times she couldn't tell them apart and that is a testament to her voice. Robin thinks she makes the whole stage bubble with good times. Jordan is number 7 on the leaderboard.
The bottom two are Kelly's singers. She thinks that's suspect.