After last week’s series opener of Duets, we were still scratching our heads about the structure and rules of the brand new competition show, but this week things got a little clearer.

To refresh: Each of the show’s four judges — Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, John Legend, and Jennifer Nettles — have chosen two competitors to duet with in hopes of winning the whole competition side-by-side. Last week, the contestants and judges made their debut duets, and tonight they’ll get the chance to improve their standings on the secret ranking scoreboard. Then next week, two competitors will be up for elimination and get the chance to save themselves with an a capella duel. By Week 6, America will get to vote as the show goes live. The endgame for the contestants is a chance at a recording contract with Hollywood Records, by the way. Phew! Now we get it!

Tonight’s show starts with a rockin’ duet between Kelly Clarkson and Robin Thicke of Jackson 5’s “State of Shock.” Kelly’s really showing off her new figure in that blue dress!

As host Quddus introduces clips of last week’s performance, one contestant is noticeably missing from the footage: John Legend’s partner Johnny Gray. We will later learn that he’s been removed from the competition because of “unforeseen circumstances” and will be replaced by a young lady named Meleana Brown as John Legend’s second partner. Drama already? Wow!

Here’s the rub on who sang what, what the judges had to say, and where the contestants ranked at the end of the night:

Bridget Carrington & John Legend
Song: “I Knew You Were Waiting” (George Michael & Aretha Franklin)
John blamed last week’s song choice for Bridget’s placement on the Episode 1 chart, so this week he’s chosen a very different sound for their second duet. The two have trouble connecting with one another. They eventually meet somewhere in the middle of the song and end on a good note, with judge Robin Thicke observing, “it was amazing how you finished the song.” Kelly added, “ya’ll nailed it.”
Rank: 2

Jordan Meredith & Kelly Clarkson
Song: “Misery” (Pink & Steven Tyler)
Kelly and Jordan are working hard to make up for a poor ranking last week, and Kelly’s concerned because the song calls for drama and Jordan’s gravitating a lot toward the sweet. After the performance is complete, Jordan admits, “I did feel like I had to prove a little bit, just enough to show you I got somethin’!” The judges are split between enjoying parts and noticing some major flubs. Jennifer called the performance “fantastic,” while John expressed concern about her “precision,” saying “there was some pitchy-ness” in the performance.
Rank: 4

John Glosson & Jennifer Nettles
Song: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
Jennifer felt that John was given an unfair ranking last week, so this week she bragged, “we are not fixing to go into a gunfight with a knife.” Unfortunately, none of the judges were completely convinced. Kelly, Robin, and John all agree John has talent, but Kelly thought the duet came off a little “cheesy” and John Legend said it “maybe felt a little Broadway-ish.”
Rank: 3

Olivia Chisholm & Robin Thicke
Song: “Where is the Love” (Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway)
Olivia has a little trouble with the lyrics during practice and admits she wasn’t familiar with Robin’s song choice at first. The two struggle to find a harmony with one another on stage. Kelly agrees they could’ve chosen a better song for their duet.
Rank: 8

Meleana Brown & John Legend
Song: “My Endless Love” (Diana Ross & Lionel Richie)
Meleana is the newest newcomer to the show. Since it’s only the second episode, though, she fits in like a glove — especially since she’s got a mondo set of pipes on her. She and John do very well with each other on the song and send Robin into a crazy metaphorical rant about Meleana’s delivery. “You know when you get a sandwich with too much onion, not enough mustard, and they forget the cheese? Well your sandwich had just the right amount of onion … and you threw provolone on there too!” The rest of the judges give the duo high praise as well. Meleana takes the lead at the outset and scoots all the returning contestants down a space. Ouch, new girl!
Rank: 1

Jason Farol & Kelly Clarkson
Song: “Whenever You Call” (Mariah Carey & Brian McKnight)
Kelly wants young Jason to amp up his stage game before he joins her for this difficult duet. Unfortunately, when he follows instructions and starts Casanova-ing around the stage, he loses his grip on the music. Jennifer noticed his little pitch and accuracy issues, and John thinks he needs to stop looking to partner Kelly for her approval and “open up to the audience a little more.”
Rank: 7

J Rome & Jennifer Nettles
Song: “You’re the One that I Want” (Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta)
J Rome and Jennifer had a great performance last week, so Jennifer decides she wants to play around with their sound a little bit and pull off a Grease number. J Rome’s a little nervous about basically tackling a show tune, but he’s touched by Jennifer’s major confidence in him.
It pays off, of course, and they put on a lively performance which includes costumes, back-up dancers, and, yes, pelvic thrusts. There isn’t much room for solos or crescendos in the song, though, and the judges noticed that but were overall impressed by how polished J Rome already is with the stage. “You get a 10 for your presence and a 10 for your pelvic thrusting,” Robin joked.
Rank: Tied for 1st with Meleana

Alexis Foster & Robin Thicke
Song: “You’re All I Need to Get By” (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
For the night’s last performance, Alexis joins Robin on the stage, and he wants her to “bring out some stage charisma” tonight. After all, he’s known for being a little flirty during his performances — a wink here, a shoulder lean there. Unfortunately, the two are a bit “disconnected,” according to Kelly Clarkson, during their performance.
Rank: 6

What did you think of tonight’s return on Duets? Also, what do you think is the deal with Johnny Gray being ousted from the contestants line-up and what did you think of the gal who replaced him?

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