On ''Celebrity Duets,'' Cheech practically nods out, while Hal keeps posing as a rocker
Credit: Celebrity Duets: Joe Viles

”Celebrity Duets”: Some stars are blowing smoke

Carly Patterson, who got eliminated last Friday, looked sad in the audience. And she should be sad. She was not a great singer, but she was a spunky gal who was trying really hard to improve. Cheech, on the other hand, looks like he could take or leave the whole show. How are people voting for him en masse — more than they voted for even Hal, who is the studio audiences’ loveable class clown? Are there really that many fans of Up in Smoke?

Seriously people, if you want to hear Cheech Marin’s voice so badly, buy the Scarface videogame. This has to stop now. He can’t make the final week.

Beating out Cheech and Hal for this week’s worst-dressed award was Patti LaBelle. The funny tights she wore for her duet with Jai reminded me of Harley Quinn in Batman: The Animated Series. And that bright purple cummerbund just looked uncomfortable. Maybe that’s why she was yelling at the end of ”Lady Marmalade”: because it hurt. Maybe it was hurting Jai too, because his voice was all over the place by the end of the song, too. And yet Little Richard’s comment that Jai was ”screaming like a white lady” was a compliment. Shrug. I guess Jai needs all of the compliments he can get. Last week’s criticism obviously affected his confidence. I hope he can get it back for the final week; he and Alfonso are the closest things to actual singers on the show.

Runner-up for worst dresser was Lucy Lawless. Her half-snakeskin, half-feather dress just wasn’t becoming. What was becoming: her vocals and Richard Marx’s. They sounded great together, even though Lucy seemed cautious, as if she thought her voice could fly off the handle at any minute. It didn’t though, and this week she earned all of the votes she’s received from her fans. (But I’m sure it helped that ”the beauty was on duty.”)

Hal Sparks kind of embarrassed himself, and it wasn’t just the silver pants. The footage showing him singing in ”the L.A. clubs” made him look desperate for appreciation. I was on his team, but then he was singing at David Foster during ”We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and his eyes were saying, ”Look, look, Twister Sister’s Dee Snider thinks I’m a rock star! So there! You’re not fit to comb Dee Snider’s mullet!” And I know that they’re joking — for the most part — and that David Foster complimented Hal’s voice in the end, but the whole ”You don’t understand what rock is” silliness is losing me, and I don’t think I’m alone. Performance-wise, well, if Little Richard is telling you to tone it down…yeah.

Who couldn’t have toned it down more? Cheech. His jazz song, ”Mornin’,” was too much like talking to truly display his badness. It’s almost as if Celebrity Duets wanted to keep him in for as long as possible, as if one of the producers secretly had money on him or something. Or maybe they just wanted to use a David Foster song — oh wait, Alfonso sang one too! So maybe they wanted to use two David Foster songs, one of which involved Al Jarreau saying mornin’ to some Cheerios.

Alfonso sounded on when he sang ”Through the Fire” (a better song) with Chaka Kahn, and it was so cute how pumped he was afterward. His performance was the best of the night. What a great birthday present. If only Little Richard hadn’t made things kind of awkward with his white vs. black dancing comments. Fox, if you bring this show back next year: Don’t do it ”live.” I love him, but L.R. needs some edits. And maybe a life coach.

The final performance of the night totally supported my new theory that the quality of Patti LaBelle’s performances roughly matches that of her outfits. Her second ensemble was lovely, and her second duet, ”On My Own,” was thus better. It was good to see Wayne Brady (also wearing a nice outfit) sing. And the duet explained why Brady was rushing the judges when they were giving the stars their feedback. He wanted to make sure there was time for his duet. And you know what? I’m glad he did. Nice job, Wayne. You really might be the most likable person in America.

So what do you think: Was Cheech’s song too understated? Is Alfonso the new star to beat? And is Wayne Brady the cutest thing since cute came to Cute Town?

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