Some folks might gripe that Duets is yet another reality singing competition that’s guaranteed to produce a male winner — yeah, there’s not a lady to be found in the Final 3 — but I’ve got a bigger gripe with ABC’s low-wattage summer series: Of the six songs covered during the show’s Season 1 (Season Only?) performance finale, there’s not one that hadn’t been previously covered on American Idol or The Voice.
I know, I know…this kind of “crime” probably only matters to a handful of reality-competition junkies like myself, but given that Duets hasn’t delivered a genuinely buzz-worthy moment over the last eight weeks, you’d think the show’s mentors/producers might’ve dug a little deeper — tried to get a little more creative — entering the final voting round of the competition. And no, I don’t think a tagline like “Duets: We believe in recycling!” qualifies.
But anyhow, I digress. And actually, I’m pretty sure I can forgive and forget as long as the impeccably consistent and clearly superior J Rome triumphs over Jason Farrol and John Glosson in next week’s season finale. Let’s recap how the action went down after Bridget Carrington got her walking papers and John Glosson was spared to sing for another episode. (J Rome and Jason escaped the Bottom 2 altogether, obviously.)
J Rome (with Jennifer Nettles): “Break Even” | Watching J Rome color outside his genre, I came to a realization: Dude is actually good-good, not just good in terms of the show. John Legend was right, too, that the guy has great chemistry with J.Net — there’s almost like a telepathic connection in the way they hit their notes together to conjure up particular emotions. Bonue points for J Rome’s black vest with beige lapels and his baggy beige pants — hands-down the outfit of the night. Grade: A-
Jason Farol (with Kelly Clarkson): “Mr and Mrs. Jones” | I agreed with John Legend (a pretty solid judge, if say, Idol is looking to knock Randy Jackson off the right end of the table) that Jason took a step backwards with this ballad. The first verse was the weakest, and while the kid’s voice opened up nicely on the bombastic breakdowns, Robin Thicke had a point that from an emotional perspective, there really wasn’t a strong sense of a grown-ass man embarking on an illicit relationship with a married woman. Side note to Quddus & Robin: Your “innocent” mentions of Jason’s “teenage girl” fan base has been duly noted. It’s clear who you guys don’t want to win. Grade: B
John Glosson (with Jennifer Nettles): “The Prayer” | John is usually pretty solid pitch-wise, but I felt like the opening verse was a little too low for his comfort zone, and the final verse fell part like a bargain brand paper towel tackling a grotesque Starbucks counter after the morning coffee rush. Plus, dude still hasn’t learned to rein in his talent-show tendencies, like that corny cock of his head at the end of “lead us to a place.” In the recent history of “The Prayer” covers: Jessica Sanchez > Chris Mann/Christina Aguilera > John Glosson/Jennifer Nettles. Grade: C
SOLO ROUND (In the spirit of the show, shouldn’t this have been a second duet, maybe with each contestant pairing up with an opposing mentor?)
J Rome: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” | J.Net is right: Her season-long leader came to the competition and has just gotten better with each week. Loved his “up the steps” dance move — it’s nice to see somebody on this show knows how to move while staying on pitch, no? Grade: B+
John Glosson: “Bless the Broken Road” | Was it just me or did emotions get the best of him? I heard a lot of unexpected quaveriness, and the second to last glory note was flat as a well-pressed panini. Grade: B-
Jason Farol: “Runaway Baby: | If I’d have known I was headed to a karaoke bar, I’d have had a second glass of Sauv Blanc with dinner. Jason was mostly in tune, but there was a feeling of desperate amatuerness that pervaded the performance. Getting trapped in the caged-in gauntlet between the judges and audience didn’t help. Dude is no Joshua Ledet. Grade: C+
What’d you think of Week 8 of Duets? Did you actually vote for any of the contestants? Who’s your pick to win? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!