Duets with Pop Stars, Round 1

It’s Duets with Pop Stars! Here’s what Idol’s Missing Mean Judge is looking for. Who sounds like they belong up there as a peer? Who can hold their own and not be overshadowed by the presence or ability of the star? Who can seamlessly work together with their partner but also find the right spot(s) in the song to take their own opportunity to stand out?

Here were the two best of the night.

  • Gabby Barrett & Sugarland Stay Dang. That was awesome. I loved Sugarland singing solo and then allowing Gabby to enter which brought immediate attention on her. Did I mention it was awesome? Gabby really redeemed herself from last night. I think she’s a serious contender to win this thing. A
  • Dennis Lorenzo & Allen Stone Unaware That was a real duet: at times, voices blending together as one; at times, taking solo turns. And Dennis took his opportunities to shine. A

Here’s who also survived – with my surprises duly noted.

  • Catie Turner & Andy Grammar Good to Be Alive Where did she go? She was singing more as a backup than a duet partner. In that role she was good – she added wonderful harmonies and does have a pleasant voice. I would have cut her, though. B-
  • Cade Foehner & Bishop Briggs Never Tear Us Apart (INXS cover) I am still not a fan of his voice but this was a real partnership in terms of vocals and stage performance. Holding your own as a stage presence next to Bishop Briggs is a real challenge (see Trevor, below), so I’ll give him that.  B
  • Michelle Sussett & Luis Fonsi I Can’t Make You Love Me She is a beautiful girl who looks like she should be a pop star. But while she is a technically proficient singer, I feel nothing when I hear her. In an emotional song, she sang emotionless. I would have cut her. C
  • Jonny Brenns & Andy Grammar Back Home I had already made my notes about his needing to learn how to move on stage by the time the judges talked about nothing else in their critique. His awkwardness on stage takes away from his nice voice. C+
  • Michael J. Woodward & Pat Monahan Angel in Blue Jeans On this song, I finally liked him. Moreover, I LOVED his joyous, innocent, infectious stage energy. B+

Here’s who was rightly eliminated.

  • Layla Springs & Sugarland Stuck on You Again, she’s adorable but she’s a little girl which really showed singing next to Jennifer Nettles[1]. B- (for effort and personality)
  • Brandon Diaz & Luis Fonsi Despacito Meh. Brandon was totally overshadowed by Luis and never looked or sounded liked he belonged. C-
  • Dominique & Aloe Blacc Wake Me Up This was a much better song for Dominque than last night (Chaka Khan & Rufus) and was one of the best duets of the night, no small feat singing with someone as distinctive as Aloe Blacc. Still, I think he’s sufficiently limited as a singer that he wouldn’t survive long in the competition. A-

Here’s who was wrongly eliminated.

  • Trevor the Idolist in Black & Bishop Briggs River[2] Their harmonizing was good but several things went wrong for Trevor on this song. First, Bishop’s manic energy blew him off the stage. In that regard, it was a bad clash of performing styles. And while her songs would be good for him to sing solo, they’re not good for him to sing with her. They were like oil and water, e.g. his growl vs. her yelp; his understated power vs. her turn-it-to-eleven. I also felt the song’s key fit her voice but was too low for his. All that said, I felt Trevor has a compelling set of attributes and I wanted to hear more of him. B
  • Kay Kay & Pat Monahan Drive By Like Trevor, this pairing was a shame. I wouldn’t mind her singing a Train song solo that she could put a Rihanna-ish spin on. But singing a classic Train song with Mr. Train was a terrible match for Kay Kay. Everything distinctive about her vibe was lost in that duet. Arrrggggghhhhhh! C+

I guess it’s that time of the season when I’m going to disagree with the judges (and producers?). Eventually, I’ll disagree with the voters, too. Alas, that is my burden to bear and I’ll bear it with grace.[3]

The usual outrage aside, I enjoyed this week and am really looking forward to next week’s solo and duet rounds. The duets will be with Lea Michele, Colbie Caillat, Rachel Platten, Banners, Bebe Rexha, Cam, and Allen Stone, again. I’m really excited about My Girl Lea (I loved her on Glee) as I was actually thinking how great it would be if they could get her. And yes, I am really looking forward to seeing how Jurnee is going to do. I think Gabby Barrett threw down the gauntlet tonight.

See you next week. In the meantime, I hope you listen to some good music. I know I will.


[1] Who I adore. I really want to be her friend. And I think she’s a dynamite singer, too.

[2] LOVE this song. I discovered her on this song.

[3] Uh, who are we trying to kid LOL?

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