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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Kelly Clarkson talks about ‘Duets’ debuting on ABC May 24

Kelly Clarkson duets

With “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “Dancing With the Stars” out of the way, we have three more competition shows in our midst.

Already, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” is under way and tonight, “So You Think You Can Dance” on Fox and the new “Duets” debuts tonight.

Kelly Clarkson and “Duets” creator Robert Deaton talked to the press yesterday.

Clarkson was especially gabby.

Deaton, who had produced the CMA Awards, was approached by ABC to do a music show last fall. They decided early on they needed big stars and wanted them actively involved. To do so, they came up with “Duets.”

The convinced Clarkson, Lionel Richie (replaced at the last second by John Legend), Sugarland lead singer and local Jennifer Nettles and R&B star Robin Thicke to sign on. The four singers scoured the country for talent and each found two to work with. The winner gets a recording contract.

I was the first journalist on the line so I got to ask the open-ended, “How did this come about and why did [Kelly] get involved.” (After all these years, this is actually the first time I’ve ever conversed with Clarkson.)

“I was captivated by the idea,” Clarkson said. “Robert mentioned the CMA Awards. My favorite part of awards shows are the collaborations, the mix of people who aren’t normally on stage together. That’s what drew me to the idea of the show.” She said she didn’t just want to be a judge. “That’s not my style,” she said. “I love the fact we also get to walk the walk. We have to be part of it every week… we get to perform with the other stars on the show. It was kind of fun.”

She said that it was especially challenging to find singers who could harmonize well. “It’s a bit of an art,” she said. “You have to know when to shine and when to pull back. Not only the contestants but all of us.”

Losing Richie was a disappointment. (Apparently, the success of his album “Tuskegee” meant his obligations got too heavy. Then again, it’s not as if Clarkson is twiddling her thumbs. She just had a No. 1 single and is in the midst of touring to promote her current album).

Clarkson said she picked two singers “who were like me when I started on ‘Idol.’  ”

She also liked the idea of working on a new show because that’s what “Idol” was in 2002. “No one’s jaded or entitled.”

On “Idol” at the time, “nobody knew what they were doing. The show blew up at the top four,” she said. She then repeated her description of it at the time: “Ghetto Idol.” “We just didn’t have anything they have now. We couldn’t get songs cleared. We didn’t have people helping us as contestants. I love the fact, 10 years later, I get to actually be that person for two of these contestants. I get to handpick them. I get to actually help and give someone a chance.”

She admitted it all felt a bit nostalgic.

Clarkson has built a thick skin over the past 10 years, absorbing a steady drumbeat of complaints from inside and outside the industry about her weight, her sexual preferences, her musical choices. She’s proud when fans come up and say they love what a great example she is, how she exudes confidence no matter what challenges she faces. Citing Jennifer Lopez and Paula Abdul and others,  “we’re all examples in our own way. We all stand up for some group of kids,” she said.

One reporter asked why she’s lost weight in recent months. She noted that she has fluctuated about 20 pounds for years. She credits her boyfriend Brandon Blackstock for inspiring her to work out. “I’m kind of that girl,” she said. “I tend to tone up or get fit whenever i want. And I choose to. My boyfriend and I are really into it at the moment. I’d love to say it’s for work. It wasn’t.”

Clarkson said she had two weeks to find her two singers. Legend, who came in to replace Richie, had only one. He watched YouTube clips and 300 people out of Los Angeles.

She then raved about Legend: “He is such an artist. He brings musicianship and integrity, an underground indie level of integrity and artistry. I’ve been super impressed. You get your own John Legend concert ever week. It’s kind of ridiculous… His critiques are amazing.”

Who’s her biggest competition on “Duets”?

She cited Nettles. “We all have really great people. I think she did a great job nailing people that really shine with her. I think if you ask Robin and John, they’d answer that, too. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see the show.”

As for the music business herself, she repeated what Bo Bice told me last week: being on “Idol” does not guarantee success. “It’s hard work,” she said. “The four years after ‘Idol’ was grueling. I had no life. I went overseas and had to break in as a new artist because they didn’t have ‘Idol.’ I tell the people who are with me on the show that this is your 15 minutes in front of the world. What you do afterwards is what counts. Find a good group of people, a great manager and a great band. A great production team. It takes a village! And persistence.”

And she reminded the reporter that coming off “Idol” was a bit of a hindrance at first. “Everyone hated ‘Idol’!” she said. “I was getting bashed left and right! I did all these state fairs. I joked that I started playing in cow manure. I still do! You have to work the markets. You have to be there for your fans.”

On TV
“Duets,” 8 p.m. ABC, Thursdays

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

64 comments Add your comment

JTesla

May 24th, 2012
2:45 pm

Thanks for the interview and Duets information Rodney. It’s good to have more Kelly.

Rodney Ho

May 24th, 2012
2:50 pm

I’m listening to Phillip on his post-show press conference. He was proud he stuck to his guns about what to sing and dress. Wonder how that will play out now that he’s going to be under the thumb of “Idol” for the next few years (or maybe just a year or two) and what sort of behind-the-scenes conflicts will happen!

MyPatootie

May 24th, 2012
4:38 pm

“Duets” is not an original idea. It was actually done in Nashville about 4-5 yrs. ago and I think it was on either CMT or AGC. I do remember watching it and Naomi Judd was one of the judges. It was a pretty good show that lasted about 2 or 3 yrs. I know the duo of “Steel Magnolias” (husband/wife team) came from it, but that’s the only one I can remember right now. BTW, the hometown area for Phillips(Leesburg and Albany, GA) are not too happy with AI right now. Was reading in the Albany media that they had to get permission from AI just to have a screened showing last night, and they have been told it could be several months before there would be a “homecoming” concert in Leesburg. Sounds like AI ties them up pretty well, and I don’t think PP will be too happy with that. I still think some “high level exec” in Nashville will grab him and convert him to a country artist. That would be pretty easy to do, in my opinion.

Rickster

May 24th, 2012
4:56 pm

Just can’t get excited about another singing show – not even one that will showcase Kelly. I’m burning out on talent show types.

The lovely & gracious Mrs. Rickster and I have two as-yet unviewed episodes of AGT on the DVR. We’ve decided to erase them & not watch the show.

JTesla

May 24th, 2012
5:14 pm

Rickster, I think that is why I’m looking forward to Hell’s Kitchen. It has nothing to do with singing, and it doesn’t even have anything to do with cooking. For me its a good break from the last few months of singing television.

Rickster

May 24th, 2012
5:23 pm

No Idol. No non-repeat Grey’s. What’s a guy to do?

Rickster

May 24th, 2012
5:24 pm

Whatever it is… it’ll be with the Lovely & Gracious Mrs. Rickster. ;-)

Have a good evening everyone.

G

May 24th, 2012
5:34 pm

Chef Ramsey is the man! Love Hell’s Kitchen.

Kelly Clarkson had a lot of interesting things to say. I’m looking forward to Duets, and the critiques/support from Idol fans on this blog. Just think, the success of Idol laid on the shoulders of the Kelly’s talent moreso than her “popularity”.

bknsty14

May 24th, 2012
5:44 pm

Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef. Can’t wait.

JTesla

May 24th, 2012
6:04 pm

I’m looking forward to what he will do with the hotel show too. I like Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel, so I guess Ramsey can’t go wrong.

For some reason I’m also looking forward to watching that dating show that ripped off The Voice. I usually don’t watch the real cheesy shows for long, but I’ll at least give the first episode a… spin!

bknsty14

May 24th, 2012
6:09 pm

JT – I hear Fantasia’s ripped pants will be on the Choice looking for a date.

Rodney Ho

May 24th, 2012
6:13 pm

I’m on the road and realized I forgot to DVR “Duets.” Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up elsewhere online…

bknsty14

May 24th, 2012
6:19 pm

Rodney – ABC is re-airing Duets on Sunday night 8-10 PM Eastern.

JTesla

May 24th, 2012
6:33 pm

bknsty14, I think I saw the preview for that. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I want to see the Jonas Brother or Taylor Hicks spin their chair only to be faced with that. That makes for some good television.

Barbara B

May 24th, 2012
6:39 pm

So good to see I am not the only reality show junkie here! Love Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef. I also watch Big Brother….no fair throwing things at me ;)

Seth T

May 24th, 2012
7:10 pm

Kelly’s comment about a new show where no one’s “Jaded or entitled” is interesting. Have seen a couple small articles about the idea that Tyler, J. Lo and Ryan pulled 50 million combined for the season. Don’t know what Randy gets,

Add the cost of producing the show, which involves many types of expenses, gratuities and payrolls,

add-in the 25% drop in viewers for the year – and resultant drop in ad prices for next year –

and the fact that Fox wants a nice profit from Idol – there is going to be a forced change in how they do business next year. If they can’t make a profit and viewers drop again next year, the calculator will decide what and who – after next season.

Looking forward to Duets and Kelly.

Barbara B

May 24th, 2012
7:17 pm

Rodney pretty sure there is an app for that! Let’s you control your tv/DVR while away.

Barbara B

May 24th, 2012
8:03 pm

Is everyone here yet?

JD

May 24th, 2012
9:00 pm

I thought Jennifer is the best so far.

JD

May 24th, 2012
9:01 pm

and her partner.

JD

May 24th, 2012
9:02 pm

and the scores support me. lol

JD

May 24th, 2012
9:04 pm

When does Hell’s Kitchen start? Braves giving up grand slam again in Cincinnati.

Seth T

May 24th, 2012
9:14 pm

Watching “Duets” and like it – some really, really good singers and fun to watch.

Deirdre

May 24th, 2012
9:17 pm

Watching Duets and kinda bored so far. It moves very slowly.

Barbara B

May 24th, 2012
9:17 pm

Switched out Duets for my dance show. Was a bit bored. Though that first guy with Jennifer was amazing everyone else failed to impress.

JD

May 24th, 2012
9:20 pm

Not sure how long this show will last. Slow even though they have some good singers.

Barbara B

May 24th, 2012
9:31 pm

JD I think their format is what is sinking the show for me. It just doesn’t have that excitement factor or something.

G

May 24th, 2012
9:36 pm

Finally good to get back to a show about singing…..moreso than popularity.

Barbara B

May 24th, 2012
9:40 pm

Masterchef starts June 4th for anyone who is interested :)

Deirdre

May 24th, 2012
9:44 pm

Still really boring and the second guy who sang with J,Nettles was WAY better than the girl who just sang with Robin Thicke.but she got better scores. ??????

Barbara B

May 24th, 2012
9:44 pm

Hell’s Kitchen May 29th

JD

May 24th, 2012
9:51 pm

More singing, less backstory. Strong song for Kelly. (no pun intended)

Barbara B

May 24th, 2012
9:52 pm

Deirdre that’s where personal preference comes in. That’s why some people got so upset over AI. We each have our own taste.

G

May 24th, 2012
9:57 pm

D, I think they both fit for the style of the song. Just a matter of song preference in deciding who’s better.

Barbara B

May 24th, 2012
10:05 pm

Sure wish there was a blog for So You Think You Can Dance :(

MyPatootie

May 24th, 2012
10:29 pm

Sorry, watched some of “Duets” but not my cup of tea. Ranks even behind “The Voice” with me. Will give “X Factor” one more try when it starts, but afraid BS(yep I know but it is her initials) will turn me off so much I can’t hang in there. Having to wait on AGT now to get past the really silly and weird stuff, and will just hit the “mute” button when HS is talking. I actually get nauseated when watching or listening to that “piece of nothingness”.

skeeter

May 25th, 2012
12:15 am

I think they could have named “Duet”, singing with the stars. Not bad, it has a heartbeat. Even if the amateurs don’t shine, atleast you have the pros to listen to.

Just read where PP said there’s no shame in his game, he knows that he is not a great singer. So you heard from the horse’s lip…..WOW!!

dancer

May 25th, 2012
6:52 am

LOVED duets, I will be watching. J Nettles can sing!!!!!!!Never heard of her, but I want more. And the girl with kelly was awesome. Their blend was incredible.

t h i s s h o w w a s . . . . . . . .

May 25th, 2012
6:59 am

well honestly, this show DRAGGED on for waaaaayyyyy toooooooo long. like the “judges”, but good gosh land the plane already.

dancer

May 25th, 2012
7:02 am

I too agree it dragged, but I assumed that was just because it was the first show…hopefully it can pick up the pace.

Deirdre

May 25th, 2012
7:38 am

Morning!

Bored! I will watch again to see if it was first show problems but seriously, that was extra-special boring. I thought the singers were good but the pace of the show crawled. Even Kelly Clarkson, who is always cute as a button, paled behind the down-home good ol’ girl-ness of Jennifer Nettles(great singer, don’t get me wrong, but trying WAY too hard)

The host is a lot better than the X-F robot and has potential. I’ll give him some time to settle in as well.

But what is the point of the show? Are they trying to find good singers or are they trying to find people who sing good with THEM?

Sam-A

May 25th, 2012
8:26 am

Yet another new thread re Px2. Getting confusing where to post. It’s a pain having to check back over 2 or 3 places!

G

May 25th, 2012
8:48 am

What I liked best about Duets:

* It’s a SINGING competition and there’s no room for a WGWG to cheat on vocals
* I like the scoring system
* Good mix of judges/mentors in terms of genre
* Cool host
* So far, the song list is current and “whats hot”

What’s not so good about Duets:

* Timing of the 1st show. Debuting a day after AI finale is not good.
* For some reason, the pace of the show moves slowly
* I wish they would’ve made room for a hard rock mentor/judge

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

May 25th, 2012
9:10 am

Hi y’all,

Because I’m sure y’all are wondering what I think (I kid!), here’s my take on Duets:

It has potential. I know you think it moved slow, but I found myself thinking the opposite. I mean, it felt a tad rushed when it came to the auditions. We barely saw any, and they jumped right into the performances. That said, most of them were really good.Those who complained about the lack of R&B-style performances on Idol should be happy with Duets.

I do like that the judges get to score the contestants in addition to the commentary. But I have to wonder when they get rated basically in the order of performance. It seemed they were overly generous to the first performers and then not so with the later ones. One flaw with the scoring, imo, is the lack of audience voting. At least they haven’t mentioned people can vote so far. There is no denying that voting engages the audience. BUT, by voting I mean more of a DWTS-style of vote with caps.

I thought Kelly did well, but her partners aren’t the strongest so it will be interesting to see how this shakes out. I think Jason has potential if he can get past his nerves. Also, Kelly picked a fan. Why am I not surprised? And before y’all ask, sadly, singing (publicly) is not one of my talents! ;)

Deirdre

May 25th, 2012
9:18 am

Still don’t get what they’re shooting for. Kelly seems to want a voice that blends with hers. OK but for what purpose? Yes, I know they are singing duets but what is the potentialpurpose? Just to sing duets with their mentors? Or to become solo artists? A great job as a backup singer?

And will the audience get to vote? I thought the scoring was weird and agree with k&cf. Why did the first guy get the high score and then the others, not so much? He was good but……so were some of the others.

There is still a lot to learn about this show and I will continue to watch to see where it’s going.

Orlando

May 25th, 2012
9:27 am

Deirdre, I think the premise of the show is to find a solo star, but the road to that is singing duets with famous people to push you along to solo stardom. JMO.

DanJ

May 25th, 2012
9:30 am

I thought Duets was laid back to the point of boring. I kinda enjoyed it but too much back story information and what is the goal other than promote the professional singers. I will watch it for a while because it is different.

Barbara B

May 25th, 2012
9:37 am

I really tried to like this show but….life is too short to be that bored.
When I switched to dancing I laughed, I cried, I was awed and I fell in love with a little baby girl in a pink tutu who danced her heart out just like her mommy!

G

May 25th, 2012
9:39 am

As THE R&B voice of the blog……………………

Yes, it’s refreshing to see a strong representation of r&b mentors/judges and contestants. See, all smooth r&b is not about sounding like Luther. Robin Thicke and John Legend are well respected artists, that emote in a different way. Meaning, I don’t think you will get a lot of “screaming” (as described by Idol fans) so it will be “interesting” to hear what the r&b critiques will be.

Orlando

May 25th, 2012
10:03 am

G, I agree. And yes it is refreshing to see.