ABC's new singing competition Duets premiered on Thursday night, featuring superstars Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke. Like many other singing competitions, Duets had viewers asking if the next big name in music would be found amongst the show's contestants. Unlike other singing competitions, viewers asked, Who is Robin Thicke?
R&B singer-songwriter Robin Thicke might not necessarily be a household name yet, but he is hoping that his role on ABC's Duets will help introduce him to an entirely new and larger audience base.
I've really only had one song that played on the pop charts, Thicke told The Hollywood Reporter. The singer is best known for his 2006 song Lost Without U, which became the No. 1 most-played song in Urban Adult Contemporary and soared to the top of four Billboard charts that year.
All my music lives on black radio. So, TV is a huge opportunity to be seen by everyone in Middle America and all these other places where I don't really tour, he said.
Thicke is not intimidated by his Duets co-stars' resumes. Clarkson was the first American Idol winner and is a best-selling recording artist with over 23 million albums sold worldwide. John Legend is an R&B singer, pianist and songwriter who has lent his talents to songs for top artists Jay-Z, Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Lauren Hill. Jennifer Nettles is the lead singer of country power-group, Sugarland.
I don't think any of us are taking it too personally, because we all actually truly respect each other, Robin explained to THR. Jennifer Nettles, Kelly and John, these are great singers. For me, I'm the underdog of the group. I'm just happy to be part of it and give my best I can each week.
But Robin Thicke is certainly not a newcomer.
Thicke is the son of actor Alan Thicke, from Growing Pains, and actress Gloria Loring, from Days of Our Lives. He has written popular hits for the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Usher and Mary J. Blige. He is also the husband of the beautiful Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol actress, Paula Patton.
When Thicke was presented with the opportunity to join Duets, he jumped at it.
The first pitch they gave me was, 'Oh, you're going to sing on every episode in front of millions of people,' he told THR. I was like, 'Hey, I love to sing. I love to make music.' So, it seemed like an easy decision to make, he said. Then after I had already signed on, they were like, 'Oh, by the way, you're going to be judging other people.' I was like, 'Wait, I thought I was just performing. I don't want to judge anybody.' But, you realize it's not about judging, it's about inspiring, and trying to give anything I've learned in my career back to these young contestants to help with their future.
Duets challenges the four judges to find two contestants with whom they will share the stage until only one contestant is left. That one finalist will receive a recording contract with Hollywood Records.
The judges were given video submissions from contestants and chose about 10 to fly out to L.A. to meet with in person and on stage. A final eight contestants were revealed on Thursday night's show.
Robin Thicke chose contestants Alexis Foster of Knoxville and Olivia Chisholm of Charlotte as his two singing partners.
When I saw their tapes, I saw these beautiful spirits and I saw this great talent in both of them, Thicke told THR. And then when I got to sing with them in person, I thought there was a connection. This show isn't just about them [singing] on their own, it's about how we blend together. So once I realized we can look in each other's eyes and create a spark on stage, that was when I made my decision.
Thicke is glad that he is still able to maintain some privacy in the midst of this primetime premiere.
I see ['Duets'] as performance TV, because they don't follow me home after I have a glass of Scotch. Now, that's reality, he told Indy Star. Nobody's going to come into my house with a camera, that's for sure. For this, because it's performance-based, I still get to get into character and walk out there and try to make something special for people on the stage. It's not a reality thing. It's the dream, it's the fantasy part. I'd call it fantasy TV.
For me, it's all about the music and all about the art, because that's what lasts forever, so I just try to put everything I've got into the music, he added. I want to use these opportunities to help inform more people about my music, because there will be a lot of people seeing this who've never heard of me before.
And he is already beginning to see a spike in his popularity.
They're calling us 'superstars.' They're like, 'The superstars will do this' and 'The superstars will do that' on all the e-mails I'm getting. I'm like, 'I like the way you guys talk! Talk dirty to me.'