American Idol wrapped up its latest season on Wednesday, but viewers hungry for more competitive warbling didn't have to wait long. On Thursday, ABC launched Duets, a singing contest that pairs amateur vocalists in search of a record contract with celebrities like Kelly Clarkson (who, not coincidentally, won season one of Idol). Though TV's crowded field of Idol rip-offs already includes The Voice, The X Factor, America's Got Talent, The Sing-Off, and The Glee Project, Duets isn't the only new entry set to debut in the coming months. Here, a guide to the onslaught of vocal competitions:
Duets' approach superficially resembles The Voice. Four celebrity singers — Kelly Clarkson, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, John Legend, and Robin Thicke — will hook up with an amateur singer in hopes of scoring his or her newbie a record deal. The twist: Each celeb performs duets with his or her respective amateur, and they're judged as a pair. It's "very different from anything else on TV," says Amanda Bell at Wetpaint. But by pairing unknowns with the likes of Clarkson, says Jenni Maier at Crushable, the show shines "an extremely bright light on the fact that random Americans might be talented, but they're nowhere near as talented as our actual beloved performers."
2. Opening Act
American Idol head honcho Nigel Lythgoe is branching out to cable with Opening Act, a reality series that debuts on E! July 9. Over the course of the series, an "artist development team" that includes Mary J. Blige will comb YouTube for talented amateurs, surprise them at home, send them to Hollywood for superstar boot camp, before putting them on stage as one-time-only opening acts for major recording artists including Nicki Minaj, LMFAO, Brad Paisley, and Rod Stewart. The You-Tube twist feels very current, says David Hinckley at New York's Daily News. "If you can upload, you can become a star."
3. 60-Minute Superstar
VH1 makes its first foray into the singing-competition arena with 60-Minute Superstar. Unlike other series that hold cattle-call auditions, the show's contestants are nominated by friends and family. Each week, three singers will be sent to Hollywood to receive a makeover and learn the ins and outs of being a performer. Each crooner will have to wow judges to advance toward a yet-to-be-revealed grand prize. It's actually a bit surprising "that it's taken this long for a cable network that was once music-video-based to jump into the singing competition fray," says Leslie Kasperowicz at Cinema Blend. Sadly, when it premieres (a date hasn't been set), it'll likely get lost in the white noise of an "already crowded genre."
4. The Star Next Door
Even though TV has a surplus of talent-search series, they all seem to be "surviving the heated competition," says John Mitchell at MTV, making the CW's entry into the field a logical move. The Star Next Door blends elements of American Idol, The Voice, and the other forthcoming new competitions into one reality TV hodgepodge. Star mentors Queen Latifah, Gloria Estefan, and country singer John Rich will travel the country searching for untapped talent lurking at karaoke bars and country fairs, and bring their discoveries back to Hollywood, where the unsuspecting singers will compete for a record contract. The all-too-familiar-sounding series will premiere this summer.