Opinion Brief

ABC's Duets: Another singing competition?

Overload alert: The alphabet net will launch its own American Idol rival this summer, pairing celebrities like Kelly Clarkson with amateurs hoping for a record contract

With American Idol, The Voice, The X Factor, The Sing-Off, and America's Got Talent all vying for viewers and the country's most talented vocalists, reality TV singing competitions are already flooding the airwaves. That's not stopping ABC from getting in the game. The network announced that it's launching its own rival program called Duets, a crossbreed of American Idol and The Voice. The formula: Music stars Kelly Clarkson, Lionel Ritchie, Robin Thicke, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles (three of which, coincidentally, recently guest-coached on The Voice) will travel the country seeking out vocal talent and handpicking two singers to be their duet partners in the competition. The pairs will perform each week, with the final duo left standing (based on audience votes) receiving a recording contract. Could yet another singing competition possibly succeed?

Enough is enough: "By 2013, I predict there will be no undiscovered singers left in America," says John Kubicek at Buddy TV. Counting Duets and The Star Next Door, another singing competition the CW is launching, the tally of singing competitions on the big networks will reach seven. "Is there really that much talent in this country?" Besides, Duets' concept is flawed. "People will most likely wind up voting for the celebrities and not the contestants." A Clarkson-Thicke showdown is therefore a foregone conclusion."ABC orders Duets singing competition for summer"

Don't write it off yet: Each season, the highlight of American Idol occurs when the finalists duet with a "personal singing 'idol,'" as when Adam Lambert collaborated with Kiss, or Carrie Underwood crooned with Rascal Flatts, says Lisa De Moraes at The Washington Post. Duets will give us the chance to see that each week. Plus, despite the glut of singing competitions already on the air, their popularity isn't waning. "These show are still enormous draws." Duets' secret weapon: Kelly Clarkson. As the first American Idol, she single-handedly kicked off the obsession with reality talent competitions that's dominated the past decade. Expect her presence and enduring popularity to woo viewers."ABC to ad Duets singing competition this summer"
This concept is hardly new: Simon Cowell already tried his hand at launching a duet reality show six years ago, says Josef Adalian at New York. Celebrity Duets paired B-list warblers like Cheech Marin with more trained counterparts like Peter Frampton, but fizzled after just one season. Country music channel CMT tried a version a few years later, pairing amateurs with each other, with only slightly more success. To be fair, the celebs involved in Duets do add "a healthy amount of credibility." We'll just have to see if we've reached "a saturation point in terms of music competition shows.""Kelly Clarkson joins ABC's own version of Idol"

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