Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Can You Duet?

Duet album coverImage via Wikipedia

It's early—we're only three episodes into the season—but so far I'm digging CMT's latest edition of "Can You Duet." While I liked last season's judge/mentors, Naomi Judd, songwriter Aimee Mayo and vocal coach-to-the-stars Brett Manning, this year's line-up of experts is even better. The colorful Judd returns and brings opinionated record exec Scott Borchetta and quirky and extremely watchable Big Kenny with her. Their chemistry is great and each judge has a unique personality and perspective. (First year host Rossi Morreale is also gone, replaced by CMT's Lance Smith, but that's pretty much a wash as far as I can tell.)

I'm not going to weigh in on this year's contestants because I feel like I'm still getting to know them, but I will say that Ryan & Avalon have my attention.

The winner of this year's show will release a record on Borchetta's Big Machine Records. When I recently asked Borchetta why his label was involved in this year's show, he countered, "What you wanna ask me is, 'Why the hell did you do this?'" OK, fair interpretation.

"I’ve wanted to work with CMT, but I didn’t expect it to be this," Borchetta told me. "They said, 'We’re interested in you being a judge.' I said, 'I don’t act. I don’t make TV shows. So, I’m not going to worry about that part. I can’t promise you that I make good TV. I can be myself, and I’ll give you my opinion. If we’re going to do this, I’m going to treat this like an A&R opportunity. If you’re going to screen hundreds of artists, then I’m going to have my A&R crew with me at every stop.'

"It’s a great opportunity," Borchetta added. "Hopefully when the show closes, I’ll feel as good about it as I do now."

Borchetta was right when he sensed my un-asked question about the sanity of getting involved with a reality show.

Outside of "American Idol," which has spawned the country careers of Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington, reality shows (read: Nashville-based reality shows) don't have a great track record of launching country careers. "Nashville Star," which spent four years on cable's USA Network before spending a season on NBC, can claim Miranda Lambert, Buddy Jewell and Chris Young among its alumni, but that's about it when it comes to folks you've heard on the radio. Warner Bros., Universal South and Sony BMG all took turns as the host label for the winning acts.

I won't even mention last year's "Next GAC Star." Oh wait, I did. Move on. Nothing to see here.

Last year's inaugural edition of "Can You Duet," which like "American Idol" is produced by FremantleMedia North America, boasts Joey + Rory (Vanguard/Sugar Hill), Kate & Kacey (Big Machine) and Caitlin & Will (Sony) as finalists that have been heard on the radio in 2009.

So will "Can You Duet" produce a bonafide star duo or will it simply provide entertainment for the masses? I'm betting it will do both.

More later.
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1 comment:

  1. It's nice having something to replace the now defunct Nashville Star!