This started as a comment, but I couldn’t stop typing. Darn it all, Neil, what are you doing to me?
I stand behind both Neil Diamond as cheesy and Neil Diamond as good, no, great. It’s unabashed glorious cheese.
Actually, I’d say Neil Diamond is the musical alter ego of Bob Dylan. The music is excellent from both, consistently. Diamond is on the pop love song, loving life end of the spectrum, Dylan on the rock, folk, art, the world is so messed up end. Diamond’s voice is crushed velvet, Dylan’s torn denim. Neil writes songs that tell stories of the heart, the libido. Bob’s tell stories of the soul, the conscience. But the songs are great. Over and over again, they’re great.
And they are the anti-Idol, both of them. I mean, look at them both. At either of their peaks, Neil or Bob make Clay Aiken look like Johnny Depp. In Dylan and Diamond, you have two guys who made it entirely on the strength of their music and their music alone.
No Idol contestant can say that. The genius of Idol is that they have manipulated the pop culture system to perfection. They pick a couple dozen marginally talented singers and surround them with endlessly entertaining buffoons who can’t sing a lick. They market that talent vs. mockery rodeo for a month or so, gradually eliminate some of the less-than-marginally talented folks, and then they kick it up a notch with the master stroke: popularity disguised as democracy. Popularity disguised as talent. Popularity disguised as the real stars who are too good to win the competition (yeah, I’m talking to you Bice and Daughtry . . . you’re no more artistic or genuine than Clarkson or Underwood. You got on the show because you knew it could pimp out your career. Don’t you dare pretend that you wanted to lose so you wouldn’t have to sell out. You sold out at the audition, you loved it, and you’d do it all over again if you had the chance. Okay, go pretend, cuz it’s sellin’ you records.) It’s genius. It really is.
But Neil Diamond didn’t have American Idol. All he had was his music, terrible hair, a magical voice, and the look of a spritely dwarf (same goes for his Hobbit friend, Dylan).
So yes, I like Neil Diamond. (I got nothing agains ALW, either, I just don’t think he belongs on Idol.) I guess you could say . . . I love him. Cheese and all.