Celebrity Duets 9/22 Recap: Live! Clothed! Results!
Last night I went out to dinner to try a new Mexican restaurant. I’d been to their original location and was excited to try the new one closer to my house. Well, the service sucked, and everyone who had anything beef was highly disappointed, but man alive, did the margaritas rock. Which was a good thing, because they had a karaoke machine in the next room, and that awful, tone-deaf singing really was getting to me. After a couple of margaritas, I came home to watch my tape of Celebrity Duets, and was highly disappointed that the table service of margaritas did not continue so as to make the experience more tolerable.
Let’s Start the Show!
Host Wayne Brady appears on the screen and tells us that tonight two celebrities are going to be eliminated and the remaining three will go on to the finale next week. What, was this show dragging at a six-week pace? Five is all we get? Maybe the producers ran out of tequila. Wayne then says that the “celebrities” have been having a great time matching voices with “music’s biggest stars” to win the money for charity. Fox has a very ironic sense of language, no?
With that, the five remaining contestants—Lucy Lawless, Cheech Marin, Alfonso Ribeiro, Jai Rodriguez, and Hal Sparks—enter the stage singing Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.” I hadn’t seen Lucy Lawless since last season’s Battlestar Galactica, and I was shocked at how much she now resembles a younger, blonder version of Meredith Vieira. Lucy has certainly mastered the stage moves for a singer, but her voice is kind of shaky. Most notable during this whole opening number is poor ole Cheech Marin, who has obviously forgotten the words and when he’s supposed to come in on the song. He looks embarrassed at his mistakes, but the other castmates help him out and cover his parts when they see he’s in trouble. It’s also pretty clear that Jai and Alfonso have the best voices to carry the tune, even in this group sing along. It’s also clear that Hal Sparks has never gotten over being mostly naked frequently on Queer as Folk, as he’s constantly carrying around a guitar, conveniently covering his nether regions.
After the opening song, Wayne asks the three judges who they think will be going on to the finale and who would be eliminated based on last night’s performance (which you can read all about in MotherSister’s fabulous recap). Marie Osmond thinks they all have given the competition “their best shot” but that Lucy, Jai, and Alfonso will continue on to the finale. Little Richard has a slightly different take and thinks Jai, Alfonso, and Hal will be going on to the finale. David Foster would love to see Cheech go on, but he ultimately agrees with Marie. Wayne then informs us that tonight won’t just be a result show, but we’ll get to see whole new duets with the celebrities and their super-star singing partners. I can hardly keep my excitement contained.
One Step Closer to the Carlton Dance
Alfonso spent the week rehearsing with Chaka Kahn, and he was over the moon with excitement. We see them practicing around a piano and he tells us that Chaka kept him focused on performing. Quickly we’re cut to the live performance, which starts out with Chaka warbling incoherently, and I momentarily wonder if there is a doctor in the house. Then Alfonso gets in on the song – “Ain’t Nobody” – and he really energizes the song. I hate to say it, but Alfonso makes Chaka sound better; maybe she should keep him around. After the performance, Wayne tries to coax a little of the Carlton dance out of Alfonso, but we only get a millisecond of it. If he makes it to the finals, we may get to see the whole thing. Wayne also informs the audience and contestants that they won’t know who is eliminated until the end of this show.
Why Johnny Hated Jazz
After commercial break, we come back to see Wayne Brady sprawled across the little stage behind the judges, in some lame attempt to prove that the show is live. He could have done that just as easily on tape, so I don’t know what his point is. I used thing Wayne Brady was somewhat funny, and now have concluded he is mostly lame. Where’s Drew Carey with that buzzer noise?
Wayne introduces Cheech Marin and Al Jarreau next and they butcher Al’s “Roof Garden.” In the little video leading up to the performance, Cheech said he has come to love jazz because you don’t always have to get the right note. He demonstrates this throughout the song as he scats along and sings incomprehensible lyrics. Cheech looks like he’s having the time of his life, but he really shouldn’t be allowed to sing. After they’re done “singing,” Cheech again flirts with Maria and suggests that he record with her and have David produce. You’ve just got to love cheesy celeb banter, but from the looks of Cheech’s girlfriend in the audience, Maria is about 20 years too old for Cheech.
Pass the Lozenges, Please
Next up is Hal Sparks and Dee Snider. I’ve always loved Dee Snider based on his stance back in his anti-PMRC days, and he’s still entertaining. In the video diary showing their rehearsal week, we see Dee pontificating on heavy metal, and Hal looking up to him nodding. That’s about it and then there’s a weird cut (live TV, folks) to Dee coming out performing “I Wanna Rock.” Hal is around shouting some lyrics too, faux-playing the privates guard guitar, but it’s all about Dee. He seemingly forgets the “Duet” part of the title and gives a very energetic performance. And Hal mostly shouts, so much so my throat hurts listening to him. After the performance, Wayne asks Hal how important it was to sing his favorite genre—rock—this week. Hal says that it wasn’t that important because if people didn’t like him last week, they really weren’t going to like him this week. Then he gives some generic platitudes bout being true and honest to who you are, and that’s all that is important.
The Last Time We See “Judge Beauty”
After the commercial break, Wayne asks the three judges what advice they have for the contestants going to the finale. Marie says the bar will be raised much higher for the finale week, and that the contestants need to be mindful that this is teleVISION and their visual presentation is very important. Little Richard, who apparently calls himself “Judge Beauty,” says that they need to remember that the grass may be greener on the other side, but it is just as hard to cut. Ummm, okaaaay…. David brings it back to reality and says that the singers have to push the arrangers to make the songs their own and really sell the songs.
No Freak-Out Zone
Next up is Lucy Lawless and seemingly botoxed Richard Marx. From their rehearsal video, it looks like Lucy and Richard hit it off really well. Then we segue into Richard singing his song “Should’ve Known Better.” His performance is effortless, in the sense that it looks like he’s sung this a million and a half times and couldn’t give a tiny rat’s ass right now about it. Lucy joins in, all warbly-like, missing notes and a bit off key, but she’s very enthusiastic and has all the sexy moves down pat. After the song, Wayne comments she looks more confident on stage than before. She said she learned from Dionne Warwick to be comfortable on the stage and make it her comfort zone.
Hey, Isn’t This Guy a Broadway Regular?
Finally, we’re treated to Jai Rodriguez and Patti LaBelle. In the video of their rehearsal time, we see that Jai very excited to sing with Patti and was nervous to meet her since he is such a big fan. For tonight’s duet, they sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Does Fox now own the rights to this song? I thought I read somewhere it was overused on American Idol last season, but since I never watch that show, I can’t say for certain. Jai has a very theater-ish voice—distinct pronunciation of the lyrics, and a fairly big voice, although strained at times. He should be on Broadway, maybe in Rent or The Producers…oh yeah, he already was. Somewhere along the line, the lyrics are changed up a bit, so Patti is singing to Jai and then they end with screeching high notes, that Wayne inexplicably complements.
The End is Nigh
Wayne brings all the contestants back out on the stage, and divides them into two groups: Cheech, Hal, and Alfonso in one group on the right and Lucy and Jai on the left. He first addresses the group on the right, and says Alfonso is safe. He then tells Cheech that he’s out. Cheech said he had a great time hanging out with the “kids” on the show, and was really glad his mom got to come to the show and see him sing.
Wayne then sends Hal over to join Lucy and Jai. He asks the judges who they think will go home. Marie says the horoscopes said to “expect the unexpected”, and so she thinks Hal will go home. David thinks if it’s “unexpected” then Jai will go home. Little Richard is nowhere in sight. Maybe he went to get some Judge Beauty Rest.
Wayne then reveals that Hal (and the guitar he is still wearing) is safe. Jai, however, is out and Lucy is safe. Jai looks shocked, and, frankly, so am I. He and Alfonso are clearly the best performers there. Lucy even says “That can’t be right” to Jai—she knows he’s better than she is. The show wraps up with Jai and Cheech singing us out with a reprise of the Benatar from the beginning of the show.
Tune in next week when the remaining three sing some more and we may just get to see that Carlton dance.