'Duets' Finale Recap: J Rome With Love - Rolling Stone
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‘Duets’ Finale Recap: J Rome With Love

No surprise as best act crowned season winner

j rome

J Rome performs on 'Duets.'


While the Season One winner of Duets wasn’t shocking – or even remotely surprising – at least we breathed a sigh of relief that America came through and crowned the most deserving contestant. Even better, the least deserving came in third.

Yes, after 53 minutes of fluff and filler, long-time frontrunner J Rome was crowned the victor, which comes with a recording contract with Hollywood Records. And while it was a great night for him, it was a pretty darn good night for his mentor, Jennifer Nettles, too. With both her amateurs in the finale (alongside fellow mentee John Glosson and Kelly Clarkson’s Jason Farol), Nettles had good odds she’d be the proudest of stage moms.

But before she got a chance to gloat, the final three performed one last time as all of the amateurs returned for no apparent reason but to make the giant benches behind their mentors look a little less sad and lonely. Well, that’s not completely true – Bridget Carrington and Olivia Chisholm each performed.

While Bridget’s performance made us wish she had placed in the top three, Olivia’s only reaffirmed why she got the boot. The girl’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard. We’re not sure why these two were welcomed back while the rest of the former contestants got zero screen time (we missed you, Jordan Meredith), except that they allowed John Legend and Robin Thicke to have their moment in the spotlight, since they were knocked out of the running.

Also disappointing was the fact that the four superstars didn’t perform together one last time. Nope. Only Clarkson and Nettles got to duet, singing the poorly chosen “Would I Lie to You?” by the Eurythmics. While the two women exuded charisma, we have no clue why their final song had them singing to each other about leaving a cheating lover. It came across as one final reminder of how sloppy a show Duets was.

On the flipside, the most poignant moment of the night came when Glosson and Nettles sang “For Good” from the Broadway musical Wicked, in which they mentioned being “changed for the better” because they met each other. We’ll let it slide that Glosson was a little pitchy, considering emotions were probably running high. In one of those rare glimpses behind the curtain, he admitted afterwards that the show’s producers kept egging him on to “cry a lot” in footage for the finale – a wish he did not grant them. (Clarkson was the only one who played along in that respect, dabbing her eyes several times throughout the night.)  

Next up was Farol, who awkwardly sang Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” proving he hadn’t come very far as a performer. He still came across as uncomfortable in his own skin, and he clearly never learned what the word “enunciate” means. Week after week, the judges pushed him forward, often referencing his looks as a reason why he might win, as he rode Clarkson’s coattails to a spot in the finals. It was painfully obvious he was out of his league on this night.

Finally, it was time for J Rome with DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night.” Starting off slow, he and Nettles eventually burst into a lively rendition that proved just how polished and recording-contract-ready he is. They even pulled off some choreographed, in-sync steps! The performance screamed “If you don’t pick me, you just wasted nine weeks of your life watching this show.”

But, as we said, the voters came though. As the night wound down, the top three stepped onstage to face their fates. For a brief moment, we feared there’d be an upset with Farol taking the lead, but he was actually the first to be voted off, landing in third place. This left us elated – and left Team Nettles shining mighty and bright, as J Rome and Glosson rightfully took their places as the top two. Anything else would have been just wrong – although Glosson would have been a complete, but welcome, surprise.

In the end, though, J Rome basked in the winner’s spotlight as the judges and contestants crowded around him. Again, nothing shocking here – but sometimes there’s nothing wrong with being satisfied. 

Last week: Going Solo


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