With so many reality singing competitions on TV, ABC is hoping to raise the bar with its new series "Duets", a show that partners an amateur hopeful with a superstar singer on the live stage. But don't expect mentors Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Robin Thicke and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles to spin around in big red chairs. These celebrities are hitting the road to find the next voice.
The biggest draw for Thicke, however, who has only had one song succeed on the pop charts (2006's "Lost Without U"), is being introduced to a whole new audience.
HuffPost TV chatted with the new reality singing judge about his new gig on "Duets", what he learned from his dad ("Mr. Smooth") and what "morning coffee on the veranda" (a reference he made as a mentor on "The Voice") really sounds like.
What made you want to join ABC's "Duets"?
My music is my life, and my art is my life. I just wanted an opportunity for more people to hear my music. I figured that if I do this show, there will be a bunch of people who have never heard of me before listening to my music. I don't play on pop radio a lot, so it will be nice to just get my music out there. That's my goal.
It's an interesting concept for a show because you're going to be singing every week with your contestants.
That's what I wanted -- the opportunity to perform and to sing and to not just be a judge.
So you wouldn't be happy just sitting in a big red chair?
No, absolutely not. I couldn't do that.
Do you think that's where "Duets" separates itself from the other reality singing competitions?
Yeah, that's what is fun about it. We get to sing every week, and I know that the four of us all love to do that. [Laughs.] So I think it will be fun for all of us.
What are you looking for in a duet partner?
Sometimes the more different you sound from one another, the better. I'm looking for someone who sings with passion and soul because then we'll get along just fine.
Are you prepared to send people home? That's always the toughest job for a judge, especially when there can be public backlash.
Oh, I don't know. I think I'm just going to find a way to let the audience make my decision for me. I'm not really one to pick and choose, so we'll see how that goes. I really don't know how it's going to go. I'm not going to pay that much attention to it. I'm just going to show up and sing. I'm going to pick some good songs and sing them. That's what I'm going to do.
Which songs are you hoping to cover?
We'll definitely need to do some Marvin Gaye, and Al Green and some Michael Jackson or Aretha Franklin. Stevie Wonder would be great. Bob Dylan!
Your dad, Alan Thicke, is a TV icon. Did he give you any advice or did you ask him for any tips?
He's pretty much always been giving me little tips here and there. He tells me to get my charm and my game together. He pretty much leads by example. He's Mr. Smooth and Mr. Cool. He's bulletproof, so I just learn by watching him.
I'm trying to imagine Jason Seaver as Mr. Smooth.
Well, he played the silly dad! But in real life, he's Mr. Cool. He's Clark Gable.
Coincidentally, you were on "The Voice" this past season, helping Adam Levine. Did you know about "Duets" when you were guest mentoring with Adam on "The Voice"?
I actually got the offer right after I was on "The Voice".
At least you had some practice.
Exactly. Being a producer and a writer for other people, mentoring comes naturally to me. You try to pull a performance out of people when you're a producer.
There was a moment on "The Voice" when you said Nicolle Galyon's voice was like "morning coffee on the veranda." Can you please explain what morning coffee on the veranda sounds like?
Apparently, it sounds like her! [Laughs.] She just had such a sweet, peaceful voice, and it sounded like that part of the day when you're just at peace for a little bit before the day gets crazy.
Just like that morning coffee.
On the veranda with grape fruit!
"Duets" premieres Thursday, May 24 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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