Although some of the show’s details were as well-guarded as Fort Knox (uh, insanely complicated judging system, I’m looking at you), ABC has been hyping its new singing competition “Duets” for weeks. By combining the superstar power of Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles (of Sugarland) and Robin Thicke, ABC was attempting to create the musical equivalent of Captain Planet’s Planeteers. With each superstar wearing their unique “ring,” they have the potential to combine to form a musical super force, evidenced by the show’s opening number of “Let Me Entertain You.” Clarkson brings a powerhouse voice and a uniquely unaffected charm, while Robin Thicke is the perfect combination of smug and sexy. Jennifer Nettles seems like the ideal next-door neighbor with her twangy drawl, but she’s a force to be reckoned with on stage, and John Legend mellows out the panel with his cool charm and smooth vocals.
The show quickly launched into the live music, focusing only a bit of time on the audition process, which seemed to be random and at the superstars’ discretion. Team Jennifer hit the stage first and although we may have snarked a bit over her partner J. Rome’s cheesy photo on ABC’s website, the New Jersey native proves to be a vocal powerhouse, shining alongside Nettles on the Sugarland song “Tonight.” The audience and the judges love it (a common theme of the evening) and the show is off with a bang. We’re only one performance in and I’m already convinced that ABC picked the perfect ambassador to make country music shine on this show with Jennifer Nettles.