A New Kind of Singing Competition: 'Duets' Judges on What Sets Their Show Apart
A New Kind of Singing Competition: 'Duets' Judges on What Sets Their Show Apart
Jenn Lee
Jenn Lee
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
This year is officially the year of reality singing competitions. To summarize: The Voice's second season competed against veteran American Idol this spring, the reboot of Simon Cowell's The X Factor (premiering this fall) involves the buzz-worthy addition of Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges, and now ABC has joined the genre battle with newcomer Duets, a show that brings the celebrity singers from behind the judges table to the stage, where they will sing alongside the show's hopefuls.

Here's how it will work: judges John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke will search the country for their pick of the best talent, ultimately choosing two contestants to mentor. Once in the live performance stage, the four singers will take the stage and perform duets with their mentees, and the winner from the best duet will go on to win a recording contract with Hollywood Records.

Though the TV world of singing competitions seems crowded, judge Kelly Clarkson (and first American Idol) believes Duets has a unique angle. "It gives kids the opportunity that I didn't have when I did Idol," she tells E! Online. "Nobody really was guiding us or helping us. And I could have really used it." And though the pop star has her experience from Idol, Duets has proven to be a lot more work than she expected: "This show is a completely different animal behind the scenes," Clarkson told The Huffington Post. "It's just - it's harder." The singer mentioned the added work of performing with two different people each week while and employing a strategy to get their contestants through the competition. Clarkson summarized it succinctly: "It's a lot more work than people have to do on Idol or The Voice!"

The challenge of having to sing with such big names in the business will also make the show's contestants that much better. R&B singer-songwriter Thicke said, "Sometimes they rely on us to protect them and other times they get a little freaked out... that's the fun of it; it's an unpredictable performance each time." Legend added, "They benefit from our advice and counsel, but I think they also are a little intimidated that they have to sing with us onstage."

Lastly, Clarkson told Access Hollywood their show won't be about bashing their singers, but supporting them honestly and positively. "We're all honest, but we're all very positive about it," she said. "We sat down together and really wanted to make sure we weren't the show that was just like, 'Oh, you suck.' I don't ever want to tell someone that."

Duets premieres on Thursday, May 24 at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)