Duets is a rather confounding show with a questionable ranking system based on super-secret judges' votes and absolutely no viewer input. And with another three weeks of pre-taped episodes, there will continue to be no viewer voting until the live shows roll around. At least we assume viewers get to vote at that point, but who knows, since they've yet to address this mystical concept.
Right now, the show has so many flaws it's too exhausting to point them out. We're just trying to enjoy it for what it is: something to fill the void until must-see TV returns in the fall. Hey, at least eliminations have finally begun, making things a little more interesting.
But wait – how can there be an elimination if viewers didn't vote? Well, the power is completely in the judges' hands. Yes, Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, Jennifer Nettles and John Legend are the be-all and end-all when it comes to deciding who stays and who goes. But don't expect any of them to actually get their hands dirty when it comes to tossing one of the hopefuls aside, as it's all done by that super-secret vote we mentioned earlier.
On a night filled with "Songs That Inspire," one amateur's dreams were ironically dashed when they learned they would duet no more. Here's a look at the final rankings and who ultimately went home.
1. J Rome and Jennifer Nettles
This was J Rome's third straight week occupying the Number One spot, making him the one to beat so far in the competition. He dedicated his rendition of Michael Bolton's "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" to his late grandfather, which brought tears to several pairs of eyes. He's certainly one of the most seasoned and technically proficient amateurs in the game, and he already looks the part of a pop star. So . . . good luck with that, everyone else.
2. John Glosson and Jennifer Nettles
The Sugarland singer's other duet partner finally got the bump-up he deserved after spending two weeks in fourth place, proving Team Nettles is a force to be reckoned with. Glosson doesn't look as polished as J Rome, but his voice is like butter. And the gospel hymn "How Great Thou Art," dedicated to his brother (who died before he was born), really showcased his talent. Kelly Clarkson didn't mince words during her critique, saying, "I'm secretly trying to figure out how to get you kicked off the show." Yeah, he's that good.
3. Jordan Meredith and Kelly Clarkson
This pink-haired popster might be Team Clarkson's only hope, as she has slowly but surely made improvements, inching up the chart week after week. After being paranoid about looking "stupid" the previous two weeks, she literally kicked off her shoes and did a toe-tapping, barefoot rendition of Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart" that showed she has spunk. It certainly earned Robin Thicke's carnivorous stamp of approval, since she looked "tasty as pie." Make it a ménage a trios and we're in! Oops, we meant a la mode.
4. Bridget Carrington and John Legend
Although Jordan bumped her from the Number Three spot this week, Bridget's proving to be the strongest female vocalist in the competition. Poured into a slinky silver and white dress, she's also the most stylish. (See last week's "Skittles" outfit.) We were somewhat surprised her effortless rendition of the Motown classic "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" didn't rank a little higher (like, uh, Number Three), but there's always next week.
5. Meleana Brown and John Legend
After making a splash last week by landing at Number One with her very first performance, this late addition settled into the middle of the pack. Nothing in particular precipitated the drop, especially considering the judges had mostly positive things to say, but she just wasn't very captivating while singing Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You." Still, she could give Bridget a run for her money when it comes to who'll go the distance on Team Legend. Work those pumps – and pipes, girl.
6. Olivia Chisholm and Robin Thicke
Bringing up the rear last week, she just barely pulled herself out of the danger zone this time by doing a so-so impersonation of Beyoncé on "Crazy in Love." Honestly, the judges must have been distracted by her short, sparkly dress, greased-up thighs and the mere presence of a powerful uptempo pop tune in order to have placed her this high. Her voice sounded thin, and she just can't seem to shake that Stepford Wife stare. Prediction: She'll be in danger of elimination next week unless she steps it up. Team Thicke is seriously in trouble.
7. Jason Farol and Kelly Clarkson
Oh, Jason, Jason, Jason. What are we going to do with you? This was his third straight week of being in the bottom two, once again coming in at Number Seven on the chart. He feebly mumbled his way through "Hallelujah," a song clearly too big for him in every way, shape and form. His lacklustre showing guaranteed him a spot in the inaugural "solo showdown," which determined who went home.
8. Alexis Foster and Robin Thicke
During rehearsal, Robin gave his mentee a most unfortunate piece of advice: sing as if she were "going home." Despite being the first to perform, automatically nabbing the coveted Number One spot on an empty chart, she slid all the way to the bottom over the course of the night after a shaky, disjointed performance of "Killing Me Softly." "You and Robin don't really connect well," said Captain Obvious, a.k.a. Kelly Clarkson.
The latest convoluted element of Duets had nothing to do with duets at all, as the bottom two faced off in an a cappella "solo showdown" in order to stay in the competition. There was no band, no celebrity crutch, no backup singers, just two sweaty-palmed people standing on stage under a spotlight.
First, Jason Farol sang a meek but rather good rendition of "Me and Mrs. Jones." Then Alexis Foster belted out "Natural Woman," starting off strong but mucking things up at the end with some unnecessary vocal acrobatics. She's just not that strong of a singer, and the judges agreed.
After a super-secret vote – c'mon, can't we get anyone to own their decisions here? – Alexis was sent packing. Her parting gift? Some encouraging words and one last grope from mentor Robin Thicke. Not too shabby, if you ask us.
Last week: Where Is the Love?