Want to launch a new singing competition in the vein of American Idol? Well, get in line. And then recruit some famous faces to get the ball rolling. Also: you'll need a gimmick.
The latest entry in the talent contest game is ABC's Duets, which is scheduled to air this summer. The famous faces attached to this project are: Kelly Clarkson, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, Lionel Richie and the R&B singer Robin Thicke. And the gimmick? Well, OK, that's pretty obvious -- contestants are vying for a shot at dueting with one of the above-mentioned superstars.
Here's how it works: The four singers will set out across America, scouring the land for duet partners through an open audition process. Each will then choose two contestants. Then the competition begins, with the famous singer performing weekly alongside the protege in front of a live audience. Viewers will vote for their favorite pair, and the mentee half of the coupling will win a contract with Hollywood Records.
Allow Clarkson, Nettles, Richie and Thicke to explain it all to you -- watch the teaser here:
After being discovered on a singing competition -- let's not forget that Kelly Clarkson is the original American Idol! -- we're glad that the singer has come full circle and is amped up about finding new talent through the same channel that launched her career. "The simple fact that I get to go out and find two people that I believe in, sing with them every week, and help them accomplish their dream is an amazing thing that I can't wait to be a part of," she said in a statement.
So, how will Duets differ from the existing competitions, aside from the two-people-are-singing concept? On Idol, the famous people are judges. On The Voice (where Clarkson, Nettles and Thicke have all guest mentored) and The X Factor, the famous people are both judges and mentors. On Duets, the famous people are playing a role similar to the pro dancers on Dancing with the Stars: They're both mentors and fellow competitors.
But this new show is most likely to be compared to the other latest singing contest, The CW's The Star Next Door, which is also set to air this summer. Here the famous faces are Gloria Estefan, Queen Latifah and John Rich. And the gimmick? Said celebs will travel to the contestants' hometowns to immerse themselves in their local culture, and help them to incorporate their unique experiences into their act.
Is this search for the next American Idol benefiting TV viewers? Some might say yes, because The Voice and The X Factor have both garnered healthy (though not bigger-than-Idol) ratings. Clearly there's a market for these kinds of shows.
But honestly, how many is too many? When our DVR players explode? At this point, the networks just appear to be throwing that proverbial spaghetti at the wall. Will Duets stick? The truth is, ABC won't know unless it tries.