ABC’s ‘Duets’ review: Johnny Gray gone, J Rome shines again

Controversy is brewing.

While as a show “Duets” still has plenty to prove, it did prove yet again Thursday night that it is more than a little bit of a mess behind the scenes. First, John Legend ended up coming on the show as a replacement for Lionel Richie — and this week, we also had a rather big shocker courtesy of Johnny Gray.

The show’s host Quddus did not really do a good job of actually explaining what went down, as all he really did was explain that he had “drop out” of the competition. Considering that Gray finished in second place last week, what likely happened here is that there was some sort of issue behind the scenes — quite possibly in relation to a rule or contract violation. (Why would he ever leave on his own?)

Ultimately, we’re going to have to wait and see just what happened here — but it’s a shame, since Gray was a shining star in the competition.

As for the performances on the night. J. Rome was once again a leader — even if he was tied at the top this week. Here’s where the performances ranked in a night that was treated much more fairly by the judges than the Kelly Clarkson massacre from last week’s ho-hum premiere.

1. (tie) J Rome, “You’re the One I Want” (Jennifer Nettles) – You have to give Jennifer some credit for the risk she took here. This song could have been karaoke in lesser hands, but J Rome really made it fun — and it was the first moment of the season that had us dancing (even if it didn’t move us like the performance coming up).

1. (tie) Meleana Brown, “Endless Love” (John Legend) – Wow. Where did John find her? Despite being a last-minute replacement for Johnny Gray, Meleana is suddenly now a favorite to go deep in this competition. She has a great tone, and you could feel the pain in what she and John were singing. The first real moment of this season.

3. Bridget Carrington, “I Know You Were Waiting For Me” (John Legend) – It’s so strange seeing John Legend dance around without his piano, and it’s easy to know why he is as successful as he is with his unique tone. However, this is supposed to be about something other than him, so let’s turn to Bridget — she has a nice sound, but it’s nothing distinct that we could actually see selling records.

4. John Glosson, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Jennifer Nettles) – Do you like some cheese in your “Duets”? Let’s hope so, since this had plenty of it. It’s hard to understand what Jennifer was thinking with this song choice. It was fun and pretty well-sung, but it was hard to really take it seriously with his awful dance moves.

5. Alexis Foster, “You’re All I Need To Get By” (Robin Thicke) – Does anyone else feel that Robin has the most unexciting team in the competition? Alexis is a pretty good singer, but we tended to zone out at times during this performance.

6. Jordan Meredith, “Misery” (Kelly Clarkson) – After Kelly’s team pretty much got smacked in the face last week, Jordan had to step it up, and shined almost brighter than her pink hair. Almost. Despite going second on the show, she still couldn’t crack the top spot. She’s got that sort of “belter” voice that we have heard on these shows time and time again, but she also was a little off on some of the high notes.

7. Jason Farol, “Wherever You Go” (Kelly Clarkson) – If this competition was about the singer with the most potential, Jason could win. Unfortunately, it’s not — and he’s probably the greenest singer there. You can see his nerves out on the stage, but the confidence is growing. Will it grow fast enough? That’s the question.

8. Olivia Chisholm and Robin Thicke, “Where Is the Love?” (Robin Thicke) – Vocally, there’s no denying that this performance was a near disaster. Olivia was all over the place, and there was no chemistry at all in the performance. As a matter of fact, we’re willing to bet that these two never really recovered from Robin tearing into her for not knowing the lyrics. (Ironically, Robin flubbed the lyrics at the end of the actual performance.)

Let’s celebrate first and foremost that “Duets” felt like a far better show this week without all of the backstory, and everyone was more comfortable whether it be the judges (who did some genuine judging) and the contestants. We don’t really feel that invested to everyone just yet, but hopefully that will change soon.

Who was your favorite from this week’s show?

Photo: ABC

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