'Duets' Recap: Kelly's Team Showdown Concludes the First Performance Round
'Duets' Recap: Kelly's Team Showdown Concludes the First Performance Round
Jenn Lee
Jenn Lee
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
After last week's questionable elimination, there are only six finalists left (Jennifer Nettles and Kelly Clarkson still have their two duets partners, while Robin Thicke and John Legend have one each). Quddus reminds us of the good news - this week is the last of Superstar eliminations, and next week, the remaining five will compete for America's votes (and the scoring of this singing competition will finally start to make sense).

Although I do find it a little odd to make the switch at five; wouldn't the logical point be at four, when the initial eight have been halved? Perhaps the showrunners had the foresight to know Jennifer's two partners weren't going anywhere, so they had to cut the first performance round short to ensure all four Superstars had at least one partner going into the live rounds. Just my two cents, but onto the duets, which are songs from movies this week.

Jennifer's First Duet: "My Heart Will Go On" with John Glosson
My first thought when they announced this song was Oh no. Could they have picked a more overdone, overwrought song from a movie? Even Kate Winslet admitted to being nauseated by this song. But Jennifer is convinced they can simply focus on "capturing the emotional integrity of the song," and that will shine through. Plus, Celine is one of John's favorite people in the world, so the duo apparently has no qualms.

Once again, Jennifer has made an interesting wardrobe choice. John starts off the duet so cleanly, so effortlessly, it actually feels unfair. Despite my feeling they were at a disadvantage in choosing a song that has become so culturally saccharine, Jennifer and John keep their performance raw, without a trace of sentimentality. Their rendition garners a standing ovation from Robin, who says it seems the two have been singing together for 10 years. John says "gorgeous" and Kelly believes there's nothing positive left she can say, because she's said it all. Before John gets put at #1, Robin says, "Here it comes..." and follows with "still feels good!" with a genuine enthusiasm that makes this formality a little more bearable. 

Kelly's First Duet: "Take My Breath Away" with Jordan Meredith
Jordan's had a bit of a rough run on Duets so far (although not as disheartening as her team member Jason), but this time there's a good feeling surrounding her upcoming performance. Her parents have flown in from Wisconsin to witness her rehearsal with Kelly, Jordan picked the song herself and Kelly voices confidence in Jordan's improving vocal ability, particularly for this ballad.

Right off the bat, Jordan does seem more comfortable in her own skin on stage. Maybe it's the maxidress. She seems calm throughout, but the climatic moment never seems to deliver. Robin wishes her eyes would emote as much as her voice, but John thought it was beautifully arranged and Jennifer loved the country spin of Jordan's phrasing and agrees that she is more comfortable than she has been in previous performances. Jordan is placed at #2; she can only hope she doesn't stray too far from this ranking (which will be inevitable, I'm sure).

Robin's First Duet: "Stayin' Alive" with Olivia Chisholm
Robin, who has struggled the most in terms of the success of his chosen partners, still seems like one of the better mentors. He really champions Olivia and says he's very proud of her elimination solo that kept her in the game (albeit suspiciously). "As long as she keeps fighting, that's all that matters to me," he says. He picks this song as an anthem for Olivia's fighting spirit in the game.

Robin starts off the disco tune with his impressive falsetto and then Olivia comes strutting out in her red-hot dress. Perhaps it's because her hair is down (I know it seems trivial, but these wardrobe/style choices - see Jordan's week going barefoot - can play a role in confidence for these amateurs!), but she seems to be having fun for once. The Superstar judges all agree - both Kelly and Jennifer cite this as their favorite performance of Olivia's and Jennifer believes these upbeat numbers showcase a different side to her voice and lend that energetic feel. Olivia is ranked #2, which is somewhat promising.

John's First Duet: "What's Love Got To Do With It" with Bridget Carrington
Perfectionist John still isn't satisfied with Bridget's ranking at #2 last week and he's still shaken after Meleana's elimination. But that also means he can focus all his energy into making Bridget's performance the best. Thankfully Bridget doesn't seem to be the anxious type (unlike Kelly's partners), so this sort of pressure from her mentor doesn't unnerve her.

Bridget comes onto stage wearing a Tina Turner-esque peache-nude fringe dress and she works it the same way she works the song. She's got attitude and power to her voice, but it seems pretty similar to her past performances on the show, and I question whether she's improving or showing as much versatility as she should be. Kelly wasn't feeling the song, calling it melodically linear, but compliments Bridget's legs. On the other hand, Jennifer says it was the perfect song and that she forgot she was supposed to be judging, she was so engrossed in the song. Robin uses a string of adjectives to describe Bridget, including "volcanic," "fearless," "sensual," and "electric." Bridget is shot to #2, meaning she's officially safe (along with John, obviously) and moving onto next week's live show.

Jennifer's Second Duet: "I Will Always Love You" with J Rome
After Jennifer takes a jab at heartless John Legend (she recommends hormone supplements to increase his empathy), she and J Rome have some serious work to do - they've chosen one of the late Whitney Houston's most iconic songs, and as she is J Rome's biggest inspiration, he has to "nail it." I'm really liking how J Rome doesn't let the fact that he is so painfully ahead of everyone else in the competition get to his head. After being #1 every single week so far, this type of humility is admirable.

There's nothing really to say about their duet -- we know J Rome is the best, and he certainly did Whitney proud. This might have been his best performance yet. His notes are perfection and his voice and Jennifer's complement each other like no other pair on the show. After finishing, J Rome manages to hold back tears (for you, John), but calls this "the biggest moment of my life." Kelly cannot stop repeating how incredibly GOOD J Rome is and eventually concludes with "I love you." Robin says J Rome was so convincing, he believed the singer was in love with Jennifer. John does his part by fake crying, but gives praise where it's due. Of course, J Rome is #1 (this feels just as routine as the first singer being placed at #1), meaning Jordan is definitely in the bottom two.

Kelly's Second Duet: "Come What May" with Jason Farol
I am excited about this duet - who doesn't love a bit of Moulin Rouge? Jason's feeling good too, as he experienced his first time not being in the bottom two last week. But Kelly's got a major piece of criticism for her young partner: he needs to be "uber-present." She says he has a tendency to be non-committal, which makes him pitchy. Then for some reason she calls Robin "Paul" in her interview. Poor Kelly - she's working so hard to keep her kids in the game, she can't remember her co-Superstars' names.

Jason starts off a little soft, but that's all right, Ewan had that quality too. But by the time the chorus rolls around, his voice fails to rise to the crescendo needed for that big emotional moment. He tries to add a last vocal punch at the end, but it feels like too little, too late. Robin/Paul compliments Jason's young Hugh Hefner look (is that a good thing though?) and his personality. He mentions wanting to hear Jason's beautiful tone, which was masked in the lower register of the verses, and Jennifer, John and I all agree. Kelly defensively raises her hand to alert us that the entire part was a tenor. But alas, it's no surprise Jason is #6, meaning Kelly's two partners will have to duel it out for the final spot.

Solo Showdown: Jordan Vs. Jason
Jason starts with "Mama Knows Best," where he showcases again that his tone is nice in brief moments, but overall he's not the most polished vocalist. Jordan follows with "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going," a fitting choice for a last-chance defiant plea. She's got more power and spunk than Jason, and I think based on their performances tonight, she should be chosen to stay. The judges all pitch their words of never-ending encouragement for the amateurs' future careers, and then Quddus reveals the singer going home: Jordan! The pink-haired Kelly fan is overcome with tears, ending the episode on a sad note, despite the pumping beats from the Duets studio speakers.

Here is the chart results at the end of the night:

  1. J Rome (Jennifer)
  2. John Glosson (Jennifer)
  3. Bridget Carrington (John)
  4. Olivia Chisholm (Robin)
  5. Jordan Meredith (Kelly) -- eliminated
  6. Jason Farol (Kelly) -- saved

Though I don't think it was the right choice, I'm not surprised, as Jason is very likable and will surely do well once America has a say. What do you all think? If you could have voted, who would have stayed? Are you excited for the show to start its live performances next week?

(Image courtesy of ABC)