I am a shameless fan of singing competition reality shows. While some may write off shows like American Idol and The X-Factor as overhyped karaoke contests, one cannot deny the tremendous impact that these shows have had on the music industry. Where would stars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and One Direction be today without Idol and XF? Probably not on our iPods!
This summer, Queen Kelly (a.k.a. the original Idol) is devoting her time to being a mentor/coach on Duets, a new singing competition which pairs amateur singers with their musical idol as duet partners. The fascinating premise of this show led me to realize something significant about these reality shows. Though Idol and XF mainly serves as a launchpad for solo artistry and group acts, some former reality show alums have gone on to establish some great singing duos as well, forging collaborations with fellow musicians, contestants from other singing competitions, and even former competitors!
On that musical note, here are three of American Idol and The X Factor’s finest duos for you to check out – it’s double the discovery and twice the listening fun!
Jack and White – “California Dreamin’”
Brooke White placed fifth on Season 7 of American Idol. Jack Matranga played guitar for the band, Self Against City. Brooke and Jack met during a writing session, where they immediately clicked and subsequently formed the indie-folk duo, Jack and White. These two can harmonize like a dream, and their breezy California-Americana sound evokes memories of idyllic summers spent by the shore or on the road. Jack and White have released two original EPs, “Gemini” (listen to ‘Double Trouble‘) and “Winter” (listen to ‘Night After Night‘), along with a covers EP, “Undercover”, which features a collection of covers of great songs (including their rendition of the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’”) spanning across the musical decades from the 1960s to the 2010s.
Tim Halperin and Hayley Orrantia – “What Makes You Beautiful”
Tim Halperin was a Top 24 contestant on Season 10 of American Idol. Hayley Orrantia was a finalist on the inaugural season of The X-Factor USA as one-fourth of the pop-country girl group, Lakoda Rayne. Together, with their heartfelt vocals and penance for catchy pop tunes, the two Texan singers are a match made in acoustic-music heaven. Tim and Hayley first collaborated on their cover of British boy band sensation One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”, where they turned the bouncy chart topper into a sweet and tender piano ballad. They got their swag on in a hip and hilarious cover of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend”, joined up with The Voice Season 1 winner Javier Colon on Adele’s emotional “Someone Like You”, and even released a couple original songs of their own, “It’s Too Late” and “Nothing Can Keep Us Apart”. Most recently, Tim and Hayley covered Katy Perry’s latest single, the hypnotic “Wide Awake”.
Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart – “Hit The Road Jack”
Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart hail from the tenth year of American Idol; their delightful duet of the jazzy ‘Moanin’’, with their bursting musical chemistry and spontaneous scatting, was THE highlight of the season. These two cool cats thrive on taking songs to unpredictable places through grrroovy improvisation (while still keeping to the original melody), unique vocal twists, and all that jazz. Last winter, Casey and Haley released a smooth and sultry cover of the Christmas classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Recently, the duo has released their rendition of Ray Charles’ “Hit The Road Jack”, which can be found on Casey Abrams’ self-titled debut album.
What are some of your favourite singing duos?