Television has so many singing competitions now, any new one had better offer something different.
So how about teaming contestants with such music superstars as Kelly Clarkson and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles?
Such is the approach of “Duets,” which ABC premieres Thursday, May 24. The aforementioned artists, plus John Legend and Robin Thicke, go on the road individually to find two amateur partners they consider worthy of competing; that will translate into a recording contract for the eventual winner of “Duets.”
For both Clarkson and Nettles, the show puts a new spin on their musical histories: Clarkson, of course, started her career by winning a music contest — FOX’s “American Idol” — and Nettles long has been familiar with performing in a duo, thanks to her plentiful work with Sugarland partner Kristian Bush.
Clarkson reports that in videotaped applications she watched while on tour, “They could pick any one of the four mentors, and almost all of them were like, ‘I want Kelly, because she’s been there.’ I know this is a TV show that people are expecting or wanting different things from, but having been that [auditioning] kid 10 years ago, I want my two people to have careers after this.”
With the same “Duets” mission, Nettles also knows about musical partnerships from such teamings as hers with Jon Bon Jovi on “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” She reflects, “When you consider all the different duets that I’ve been lucky enough to be able to be a part of, I’d like to think that’s fertile ground from which to spring and be a mentor.”
Still, Nettles admits the “Duets” offer wasn’t an instant “yes” for her: “Having paid my dues by coming through the club route and sharpening my chops onstage night after night, I have been somewhat skeptical of reality competition shows. However, when you look at the Kelly Clarksons and the Carrie Underwoods and all these other wonderful talents who have come through that way, as with any outlet, the cream rises to the top.”