In the last performance episode of ''Celebrity Duets,'' Hal, Alfonso, and Lucy pick their own partners and play to their own strengths
Credit: Celebrity Duets: Joe Viles

”Celebrity Duets”: The final trio’s last songs

Man, Jai has a couple of off performances, and now he’s on the same level as Cheech? How did this happen?

Well, take a look at the final three, and you’ll know.

They are very different from each other. They are not pulling from the same pool of voters at all. Each finalist has his or her own shtick: Hal is a rocker, Lucy is a siren who sings romantic ballads, and Alfonso is a Broadway baby, one part professional singer and one part goofy showman. It was probably Alfonso’s decent voice and on performances that pulled a few people away from Jai’s camp. (I don’t know who stole Cheech’s fans, because I still have no idea who they were.) Bottom line: Each of the final three is the most popular kid in his or her clique.

So let’s start the analysis with the prom queen: Lucy Lawless, who sang ”Total Eclipse of Heart” with Bonnie Tyler. It was typical Lucy: Her singing was okay; she looked great (and hugely tall next to Tyler). What wasn’t typical was what happened after her performance: Little Richard made sense when he spoke to her! He wasn’t stuttering, and he gave her actual criticism! My jaw is still on the floor. Is it possible that just as the show is wrapping up, Little Richard is finally tuning in?

The judge was still feeling Alfonso in his toes, but even that didn’t distract him from again making legitimate comments post-song! Insane! (Or rather, not!)

Speaking of Alfonso, his practice footage was so funny. Because I’m immature, I was still laughing at his ”aaahh-aaahh” voice warm-up when suddenly the show cut to him on stage singing the hell out of Jon Secada’s ”Angel.” He was good. And not just Celebrity Duets good, like singer good! Wow. And then David Foster said just that. You know the two of them will be in the studio this year.

Now, I’ve been an Alfonso champion from the beginning, just because he promised to do the Carlton dance if he made it to the finals (and he delivered!). I don’t know how a Carlton album would do on the market, (and Alfonso has made it clear that he is really interested in the music business), but he is a likable guy. He could sing ”The Star-Spangled Banner” on a Fourth of July special or ”Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and people would smile and enjoy his act. So Alfonso and his future record-company people will just have to know his strengths.

On that same note, the producers got the message that Hal was going to sing metal whether they gave him a metal song or not, so they gave him ”18 and Life.” It worked out for the best for everyone. Hal and Sebastian Bach even sounded somewhat similar, despite having such a short time to work together. (Maybe Hal studied some episodes of VH1’s Supergroup.)

The Celebrity Duets audience was hardly the best one for Bach. I didn’t notice anyone throwing her underpants at him. But I say: Sebastian Bach for President. Or at least mayor of Stars Hollow. (For those of you who don’t know, Bach plays Gil, an aging rocker in Lane’s band, on Gilmore Girls. I don’t really know much about the Skid Row/Damnocracy singer, but I love that Gil.)

After the rocking duet, Little Richard got a little weird (in a cute way) when he was talking about his grandma calling in cows, but his voice was still totally clear and audible. Where was this guy all season?

Also appearing for the first time in this episode: options. I loved that the celebrities got to choose their final duet partner. (If they really did…)

Although Lucy’s choice of Smokey Robinson was totally understandable, (as Wayne Brady said, the man is a legend), I think the song was a little slow for her. There were too many long notes where her voice could have faltered. But she did well, and the previously critical Marie ”Birds Only Pick at the Best Fruit” Osmond thought Lucy nailed this song.

Alfonso and his partner, Gladys Knight, looked like friends. The judges were right: The pair had good chemistry. They even took the time to coordinate outfits. Every judge declared that Alfonso would win it all after this duet. But was it the singing that pushed him over the edge? I think Little Richard was right when he said, ”Whenever Alfonso does the white boy dance, he’s got it.”

Meanwhile, Hal relied on vocals alone. He chose to rock out with Styx’s Dennis DeYoung, who really was a great partner. Both gave little sing-outs to their lady friends, who were in the audience. But could Hal’s revealing that he has a girlfriend hurt him vote-wise? I’d hate to say it, but it might. I don’t think anybody out there is thinking, ”If I vote for Hal, we will someday be together, romping about in matching silver pleather pants, yelling.” But there is a weird disappointment that comes when you find out your celebrity crush has his own crush. Little Richard told Hal he should be ”the one,” and the other two judges had equally nice things to say. Though moments before they had praised Alfonso! In fact, the judges had nice things to say about everyone. What does it all mean?

The winner of Celebrity Duets really is going to be a surprise.

So what do you think: Will Alfonso Carlton-dance his way to the top? Will Lucy’s rabid fans tie up the Celebrity Duets phone lines? Will Mr. Personality, Hal, win it for the underdog? And which celebrity contestant has the best chance at a real career in music?

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