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Last night’s two-hour premiere of Duets sure didn’t waste any time. Mere seconds into the show the four superstars—Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, John Legend and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles— hit the futuristic-looking stage with all the glitz, glamour and pyrotechnics of a Vegas revue show, hoping to answer the question: Is two really better than one?

The first night was all about the hits, with each of the eight contestants performing their partner’s biggest songs. Nettles started things off with J Rome, a Maryland native who almost kissed his dreams of singing goodbye after a botched tonsillectomy. The flashy singer tackled Sugarland’s “Tonight” with Nettles looking deep into his eyes. After the performance, Thicke joked, “You’re handsome. You have a great voice. I hate you already.”

Unlike other reality competitions, Duets doesn’t give America a chance to weigh in; instead the superstars hold the power to send someone packing. Each week the performers are rated on a scale from 1 to 100. The singer with the lowest score at the end of the night goes home, while the last one standing at the end of the 9-week competition gets a recording contract.

Nettles ruled the night with Rome holding onto the top spot and her other partner, John Glosson coming in fourth with his rendition of Sugarland’s “Stay.” With both her guys in the top 5, this might be why Clarkson declared Nettles the one to beat in a recent press conference.

“I think Jennifer will surprise a lot of people,” she said. “She really nailed it with her people. She’s got an amazing voice and is a great teacher. I think she’s probably the one that all of us are eyeing.”

Legend showed why he was a great late addition after Lionel Richie was forced to drop out by coming in second with Johnny Gray, the sensitive quarterback who performed a classy rendition of “Ordinary People.” While Robin Thicke showed he had chemistry with both his female partners.

It was a rough night for Kelly though. The original Idol’s partners, Jason Farol, who nervously sang “Breaking Your Own Heart,” and Jordan Meredith, who gave it her all on “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” were both in the bottom two.

No one went home last night, but Team Clarkson will have to bring its A game next Thursday for the classic duets competition.

Go here to learn more about the Duet superstars and their partners.

Shannon Carlin, CBS Local

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