American Idol Neil Diamond Night. The Expert’s Verdict. Live.

The Pond has rarely been involved in live escapades. (Not since the three month suspended sentence.)

However, there has been a cascade of tension washing over this, the Neil Diamond Septuaginarian Comeback Show, that readers have compelled me to offer my spontaneous, heartfelt view of this historical event.

Historical, because, well, these songs might well have emerged from some strange scroll discovered by Nicholas Cage is one of those movies he makes just for the art.

I should explain the headline of this post.

I am an expert. An expert at watching television. Television has been one of my greatest friends and confidants over the years. It is always there with something to soothe me.

Like a dog without the shedding and the anal percussion.

I am a purist. I will not be reflecting on the banter. Just the singing.

Although I think I just heard Ryan refer to Mr. Diamond as “the granny-winning artist.”

I dread to think who is up first.

It is the dreads.

Jason has lovely eyes. He shuts them occasionally. I regret to say I would like to do the same with my ears.

He is singing “Forever In Blue Jeans.” I stare at the violinists who are accompanying him. They are staring somewhere in the general direction of Fiji.

They are accomplished musicians who have, possibly, had a couple of Corona Lights before taking the stage.

Jason, I am afraid, takes the biscuit, as they say in the Disunited Kingdom. The violinists look at their instruments wondering how life can have been so cruel to them that they must play all these correct notes, while Jason struggles to hit his banjo with a cow.

His image is willing, but his singing is weak. Then I reach for my Cabernet and remember that he has another song to redeem himself. Then I try to forget.

David Cook has stolen the first two letters of the AC/DC logo and planted them on a jacket that someone picked up for him from Urban Outfitters. Initially, I think he is attempting something the professionals call branding.

Gosh, what a modest, artistic, canny commercialist he is. Instead of an obvious DC, he puts AC.

Ah, everything is fine. He has his guitar. And he still plays left-handed. But he has an AC on the guitar too. Oh, no, I take it back. It’s a homage to his sick brother. I think. I hope. Branding turns to nobility in an instant. Oh, I don’t know. Things get very complicated when there’s so much fame at stake. We end up wondering whether we’re being manipulated even when we’re not. Or are we?

David’s is a version of “I’m Alive”, a song that is something of a diamond in the buff. It ends very quickly.

And it sounded like a pop song. Which I am not sure is the effect David would like to ultimately create.

He knows he must tread this water to reach the Island of the Stars where the drinks are free and the girls are very, very dear.

Brooke White tries to make a Monkee of herself. She succeeds. If your favorite Monkee is Peter Tork. I am fun, I really am fun, she pleads. Unfortunately, her voice bleeds the notes like a knee that has just collided with Carrot Top’s teeth.

I like Brooke. Everyone likes Brooke. But Brooke tries too hard to be liked. It is her confidence that gives way. And her voice that suffers.

My surround sound suffers a little too. One speaker has just turned away in apparent disgust. Either that, or I have just experienced a 5.7 and not even noticed. Honig is very good Cabernet.

David Archuleta is trying to make it with “Sweet Caroline.” He handles her verse like a veritable Shakespearian prodigy.

But then the band winds itself up for the chorus. And David disappears beneath the horniness.

Strangely, though, for this performance he appears to have left his own right arm in the dressing room and attached one from an H&M mannequin. I have heard of sponsorships that cost an arm and a leg, but this is taking things a little too literally.

Which rather defines quite a few of Little David’s enthusiasts.

Syesha sings a song I’ve never heard before. It could be a song by anybody. It’s one of those warm songs. She sings it well. She is likable. She is good. But I simply won’t remember her in the morning. And I know that is an experience every one of you has once enjoyed. Precisely once in the case of some of the Little David faithful. And that is OK. Really. I am a big fan of abstinence. I will have no more than one glass of wine until I am done.

On the other hand, it is only half time.

Paula gives a review a of a song Jason hasn’t sung yet. She didn’t seem to like it.

Paula has never taken any performance-enhancing substances. I fear she may have occasionally dabbled in performance-debilitating substances, however.

I have suddenly realized why these first songs seemed shorter than Little David in flip-flops. These poor half-stars-to-be were only allowed to sing half of each one.

Unfortunately, given the standard of performance so far, I am afraid that is not such a bad thing.

Jason Castro returns.

Instantly, I feel I have been transported to the Four Seasons in Bangladesh. Rajiv, the jazz singer, hasn’t turned up. Jason, a waiter who has been there a year, has stepped in, because his girlfriend told him to.

At the end of the evening, the manager asks him to cut his hair.

David Cook returns with acoustic guitar. He still plays left-handed. We are reassured.

He has arranged Mr. Diamond’s “All I Really Need Is You” in a manner to which we have become very used. (In both pronunciations of the word.)

Slow at first, building up to a rasp and then the hint of a resolution-free ending.

Perhaps this will accurately describe his Idol journey in the end. Still, he consistently rises above the general torpor and slightly, well, ineffectual madness of the other contestants.

You know that if he avoids bad management and inappropriately contracted diseases he will benefit hugely from this exposure. If he can perform competently live, he will definitely sound good when the mp3 strokes your ear lobe.

Brooke again. She is, she said. She is Carole King Lite, I said. After all the nervous exhaustion she has inflicted on mind and body, very lite.

My mind and body, that is.

She sings. She makes me wish for Kristy Lee Cook, who would have made an immeasurably better fist of this.

Kristy Lee is probably making a fist as we speak, in fact.

Yes, Brooke sat behind the piano. Yes, she would have been an adequate replacement for Jason at the Four Seasons in Bangladesh.

But I am afraid this did not sit well with the Cabernet. I am sorry.

Little David returns. I notice that his hair spikes in the opposite direction to Big David’s. What does this mean? That Idol can only afford one hairdresser and she uses both hands simultaneously to kill two Davids with one comb?

He is singing “America.” For anyone who believes this is one naive schoolboy, please try and call your objectivity collect and see if it is prepared to give you an audience.

He hits some notes very well again. Please forgive me for being an Icarite, however, but he misses some notes as much as Brooke misses her psychotherapist.

He projects joy. But it’s a forced joy, the joy of a boy who needs to win even more than Hillary.

Perhaps he will reveal next week that David Cook is a member of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s congregation.

Talking of the Reverend, Syesha follows Ryan trying to sell an iPhone to an eight-year-old with a psalm thanking the Lord for the nighttime.

Which I know is one of the more popular songs in some Vatican circles.

Syesha is too good for a ship, but not quite good enough for a hit. At least not on iTunes.

I am reaching for my glass again now. I promised my encouragers that I would post within half an hour of Ryan’s farewell.

I know all the Left-Coasters are voting as I write.

I wonder what injustice they, with perhaps a nod, a wink and a dirty-sneakered hanging chad from the Idol Inner Sanctum will eke out on the innocent.

Because tomorrow night there has to be some drama.

Or why would we be here next week?

Paula, put that bottle down, Paula.

The Pond thanks jaqian for such a beautiful and spontaneous visual performance. The Pond would also like to point out that, for some unfathomable reason, this blog’s clock is set to GMT. This really was posted 15 minutes after the show ended. Honest. Scout’s Honor. Cross My Heart and Hope To…Oh, hold on a minute.



Filed under Uncategorized

14 responses to “American Idol Neil Diamond Night. The Expert’s Verdict. Live.

  1. df

    “This is officially the strangest show we have every done,” Simon said. How about a little more talent on display. That would help.

  2. Funny and pretty damn accurate, I’m afraid. I’m a David Cook fan and hope he wins the whole thing.

  3. thespine11


    You are obviously someone of irascible nature and high expectations.

    Talent is not the reason we watch this show.

    Please believe me, Lakisha and Melinda, to name just two, had far more talent than anyone this year.

    Save, perhaps, for Big David. Perhaps.

    Yet they didn’t have the record-selling ‘personality.’

    Do you have record-selling personality, df?

    Perhaps you could go to auditions next year?

  4. thespine11

    Hello, Lisamm,

    It is very kind of you to write.

    It is not easy to offer one’s first impressions without the time to edit and consider.

    So I am glad that you appear to have had similar feelings.

    Was I right about all those ACs on DC’s jacket and guitar?

    DC does deserve to win. Although he really doesn’t have much competition there.

    It would be a travesty if Little David won. He really doesn’t have stage presence or, actually, the voice.

    He is no Josh Groban, even.

    This is something his enthusiastic supporters seem unwilling to accept.

    But they, as all human beings, have their own motivations.

    I hope you have a pleasant remainder of the evening.

    Welcome to the detritus that is the Pond.

  5. Hello, and thank you for the warm welcome. I’ve been getting my feet wet on your blog and it’s an interesting little ecosystem.

    You were right about the AC on DC’s jacket and guitar- big brother’s name is Adam Cook, suffering from brain cancer that has moved to his spine. So sad.

    L’il David is cute as a bug but isn’t ready for the big time, IMO. However, he’s got a ton of screaming (phone dialing) female teen and pre-teen fans, my kids among them, so he could win. I’m predicting a Big/L’il David season finale and hoping DC is the winner. Not that it matters.. seems pretty certain he’ll have an instant career as soon as this is over.

    I predict that at this time tomorrow, Jason will be on a plane on his way to that gig in Bangledesh.

    And all I have left to say is: Paula is on something!!

  6. thespine11


    If you wander around recent comments to the Pond, you will discover that Little David has a veritable corpus of fans in their thirties.

    They are both men and women and they believe the Chosen Eunuch (as one terribly cruel blog has him) is the latest coming of the Divine.

    One lady wrote to me that she had listened to classical music and talk radio for twenty years before Little David’s angelic tones brought her back to pop.

    This is a deep-seated cultural phenomenon. Not entirely dissimilar to the Mike Huckabee thing.

    Except that Mike Huckabee is funny and I get the strangest feeling that Little David is somewhat sad.

    As for Jason to Bangladesh? Hmm, you may be in for a surprise…

  7. Judy Casteel

    Ok, ok, you’re absolutely right and very funny. I can certainly relate to your speaker cringing in horror as I wipe the blood from my ears. Even Neil Diamond can sing better than the Idols did tonight, and he’s what….95 or so?

    But, they’ve had ghastly nights before, so that’s no big deal. The real story is Paula drunkenly reading the producers pre-written judgement condemning both of Jason Castro’s songs BEFORE HE SANG THEM. I knew it was all rigged, but thought they’d be more careful about letting the viewing public in on the joke. Some of us don’t have much of a sense of humor, especially the kids who wear out their thumbs texting and speed dialing for their favs every Tuesday night.

    thespine11, to whom do I make an official complaint? You must know some top secret e-mail address at Fox where I can send a rant. Rigging a National TV show should be done way more subtly – of course if they wanted subtle, Paula Abdul’s name wouldn’t be listed anywhere in the credits. Come on, where’s the FCC when ya need ’em?

  8. Thanks for directing me to the comments! Hysterical.

  9. thespine11


    There have been many scandals in the UK recently when it was discovered that all phone-in competitions on TV were faked. Many of the ‘winners’ were on the production staff.

    So how can any of us be surprised that Idol might be a little bent?

    The fact is, though, that there would be little point the producers rigging Paula’s comments. Because her comments don’t even influence her cleaner.

    Her comments were pre-prepared because she makes notes at rehearsals so she doesn’t get, er, tongue-tied when the show goes live.

    Often she doesn’t even turn up on set till a few seconds before the start. That pretty little face needs a lot of work.

    If you want to complain, the FCC is a good place to start. You don’t really think the dirty-sneakered Idol mob give a toss, do you?

    I am touched, though, that you do not seek to defend the indefensible Jason.

    There is hope for humanity.

  10. thespine11

    Yes, Lisamm,

    A very particular form of hysteria.

  11. Erika

    Good morning and thanks so much for starting my day out with a huge laugh…I have tears running down my face…hilarious article! I do think David Archuleta is fantastic…really. I have navigated around the internet and it seems he is a lovely, genuinely sweet and humble guy with enormous talent (my opinion) and I truly don’t get the David Cook thing; he sounds like every other “rocker” to me…nothing unique about him at all. Anyway, I’ll re-read your article and the comments a bit later as by lunch time I’ll be ready to crack up again. Thanks again….so pleased to have found this site!

  12. thespine11


    The pleasure is entirely mine. I know life is not easy. And I exist only to lift the burden, if only temporarily.

    You are right in the sense that there is nothing particularly unique about either of the Davids.

    It’s just that at least they hit more recognizable notes than most of the other contestants.

    Which makes it easier to get through the evening with them.

    I suspect we’ll be forgetting about both of them sooner than will make us comfortable, though.

    Sort of Haagen-Dazs vanilla rather than dulce de leche.

  13. Chasee

    David Cook is a Daughtry wannabe. Sorry that is just my opinion. Is he talented, yes of course, he made it to the top 5, does he deserve to win, because he closes his eyes and shouts the loudest, and now has a new jacket AC (branding now that his CD was pulled off amazon) don’t think so. Oh better yet, did you see when Natasha said to Ryan that I would like to go over there and say hi to David, David Cook stood up (but of course he was told he is the Idol already..:) and then such a big disappointment, she ran over to David Archuleta, gave him a big hug and invited herself to his prom…haha people. Who said only 6 year olds are fond of David Archuleta..only to have David Cook think, what about MOI???? they said I already won…I gave up my white jacket for the new one and Neil got goosebumps, no hug for me… Sorry David Cook we have enough shouters outselling rocker CD’s we are not interested in another one..David Archuleta is going to win this year LOL (and really now I love rock and roll music too, grew up in that era)..

  14. thespine11


    You have passion.

    I like that.

    I suspect, deep in your soul, you know that none of these proto-artists is a real winner.

    Perhaps you should listen to a little Vampire Weekend.

    That might do it for you.

    We will always appreciate you here.

    We’re like that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s