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.