‘The Voice’ Mentors Show Up on ABC’s ‘Duets’: Is the Celeb Judge Trend Getting Out of Hand?

Robin Thicke, Kelly Clarkson, and Lionel Richie will be joining Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles as judges in yet another reality singing competition: ABC series, "Duets" slated for a summer 2012 debut. If three of these names sound incredibly familiar, it's probably because Richie, Clarkson, and Thicke have recently served as vocalist mentors on NBC's "The Voice." And it would seem that judges' panel Switch-a-Roos have become a trending behavior in Hollywood. With "American Idol," "X Factor" and "The Voice" swapping celeb judges, coaches and mentors, these shows now seem more complicated than the NFL draft season. Is it a coincidence that three of "The Voice" mentors will be crooning with competitors on another network competition? While it may seem fishy, the occasion raises other observations.

Mentors and judges get to stretch out their careers.

We can't necessarily say that Alanis Morrisette and Ne-Yo really need mentoring jobs in order to stay relevant. But it's a great way to reacquaint the world with their bodies of work. And in the case of "Duets", we'll get to see that some of our favorite artists still have their chops. Maybe this is the reason why so many shows feature celebs that perform as guests (like ABC's "Dancing with the Stars"). Ultimately, these competitions have presented a great platform for some musicians who have either taken a break from the industry or have gone on to work on "quieter" projects.

But are we really taking these shows seriously?

The saturation of television with singing and dancing competitions hasn't gone unnoticed. A recent clip of comedy "What to Expect When You're Expecting" features a taut and toned Cameron Diaz dancing in a DWTS parody---a testament to the way we're beginning to view the entertainment world. Finding a way to exploit the dreams of America's Hollywood hopefuls has essentially become a new marketing tool. We're not exactly knocking the musical expertise of the celebrities chosen as judges and mentors on reality shows. But there are so many shows using them that it seems like overkill.

A major shift in the music industry…

Some might also say that this trend is a direct result of shifts in the entertainment world as a whole. No longer are new pop stars groomed personally by record labels. The independent market has dictated that another niche be filled. This niche would include all the aspiring artists who might not otherwise be recognized by heavy-hitters in the industry. Indeed, there's a lot to be said for independent success. But these reality show competitions (and their judges) simply remind us why it's still desirable to reach for bigger dreams. Millions of amateurs clamor for their fifteen minutes of fame. Ironically their efforts help celebrities remain relevant for more years to come.

More From This Contributor:

Why Blake Shelton Should Have Chosen Lex Land on "The Voice"

Creative New Challenges for DWTS Competitors

Why We Kinda Like the Idea of Britney Spears as an "X Factor" Judge

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