Review: ‘American Idol: Diamond Dogs’

Rachel Weisz

Next week on “American Idol,” Jason sucked, David Cook rocked, Syesha sang well but nobody liked her and Little David made yet another song sound exactly the same as all the others while little girls screeched. What’s that you say? Next week hasn’t happened yet? Oh boy. I misread my notes.

Kathy: Next week on “American Idol,” Jason sucked, David Cook rocked, Syesha sang well but nobody liked her and Little David made yet another song sound exactly the same as all the others while little girls screeched.

What’s that you say? Next week hasn’t happened yet? Oh boy. I misread my notes. I thought they all sang next week already. Now I’m embarrassed. Erin can you take over for a minute while I figure this out? Tell the folks a story or something. I’m going to have another swig of Paula’s Coca Cola and try to get my bearings.

Erin: It’s Neil Diamond week on “Idol,” and I am happy to say that Neil looks fab. I’m so glad he didn’t go the Kenny Rogers route in aging. Neil takes the kids under his wing as they step up to the plate to either popularize his tunes for a new generation, or mutilate them so that lifelong fans will learn to hate them.

And since Ryan gets to tell a dumb story about Neil Diamond, I feel justified in sharing my story as well. Back when I was a kid, my mom used to teach at this hoity-toity school were celebs sent their spawn for an alternative education. As the classroom charity cases, my sis and I got to tag along on many of the field trips, which were not your normal “let’s take a bus to the zoo” thing. It was more like weeklong ski trips and tours of Malibu beaches. Anyway, on one of the trips, the entire class went camping for the weekend with parents in tow. Neil came with his kids and even brought a guitar along for the campfire. Looking back, it was pretty cool, but at the time, I had little idea of who he was, so my sister and I spent the night taunting him for not knowing the words to “La Bamba.”
I’m really sorry about that Neil. In hindsight, I was an idiot. If I ever go camping with you again, I’ll just sit quietly and listen to whatever tunes you want to play. You’re the man, baby.

Kathy: Oh yeah, Neil Diamond. We’re on the same page now. I wasn’t looking forward to this week, especially when I heard that each kid was doing two songs. But Neil is an affable guy, although WAY more tactful than Andrew Lloyd Webber so, not as fun. And he does look great. There’s a lot to be said for aging gracefully. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Kenny Rogers. Maybe I’ll cancel that Botox consultation I have set up.

Erin: This week, each Idol gets the two chances to shine, and the judges must remain mute during the first performance. It’s double the fun, double the groans.

Kathy: Before we talk about the actual performances, let’s talk about Paula and that thing that happened last night. It may have been the single most entertaining segment in “Idol” history, but not in a good way.

Erin: When Paula is asked to give an opinion of Jason’s first performance, she has a vision of the future by giving a review of his second performance as well. I think she has taken a few too many of Mother’s little helpers today, or she took the perfect amount and it has released her psychic abilities, “Dead Zone” style.

Kathy: I watched it six times. It fascinated me. The whole thing kind of happened in slow motion, like a traffic accident. Here’s my play-by-play of the whole event.
Paula says to Jason, who has only sung once, “I thought your second performance was, um, lacking that charm you usually bring.” Simon whispers something to her. Then: “WHAT? I can’t read my notes. This is hard. You mean you didn’t sing twice? I thought you sang twice.”

First everyone was frozen, just trying to figure out what the hell Paula just did. Then David Cook barely stifles a laugh, forever cementing a place in my heart. Jason looked confused. Oh wait, no reaction from Jason; he always looks like that. Brooke looked concerned. Seacrest looked bewildered. Then the lady producer (Remember her, the one who wanted to touch Brad Pitt?) obviously yelled something from backstage because everyone suddenly sprang into action. I imagine it was something like “Stop her now, before it gets worse!” Randy and Simon step in like protective older brothers and help Paula out of the fog she’s in.

Randy: “Paula, Paula, Paula, just tell us who was your favorite?”
Simon: “Oh I’ve had enough. Here we go. Jason, you’re forgettable. David Cook you’re just above average. Brooke, it was a nightmare. Archuletta you were amateurish and Syesha, you were old fashioned. You better all step it up.”
Way to bring us back to reality Simey.

Note to Paula from Erin and Kathy:
1) Take notes that you can read. We do it every week.
2) This is not hard. Erin and I manage and we have full time jobs and no servants.
3) You do not get to pre-judge the contestants. Only Erin and I get to do that.
4) Have your doctor regulate your meds.

And here’s what we thought of the performances, after actually hearing them.

Jason (TV Guide power ranking #3)
“Forever in Blue Jeans” and “September Morn”
First perf:
Kind of goofy actually. This happy-go-lucky method of singing is not doing anything for me. Jason’s all chipper like he just followed a rainbow and found a puppy riding on the back of a unicorn at the end of it. Or a Taco Bell.
Second perf: Dull as all get out. There is nothing here we haven’t already seen in the past few weeks. If Marty and Elaine ever kick off that world tour of piano bars inside Italian eateries, Jason is good to go to fill in for them.
Kathy: Last week Erin and I got a letter from a young Jason fan who feels that Jason is getting short shrift, timewise, on his performances. The letter read, in part:
“It has come to my attention… that Jason has received signifant time deficiencies while performing on American Idol. Jason, in fact, was the ONLY contestant whose performance was under 2 minutes. He should not be treated insufficiently because he is ‘different’.”
Girl, I think Jason gets less time to sing because he can’t remember the lyrics for more than 2 minutes. Heck, he got the lyrics of his two Diamond songs mixed up — in front of Neil Diamond.
I take it that by “different,” letter-writing girl means “dopey.”
Jason was boring, breathy, out of tune. I can’t waste one more bit of energy critiquing him.

David C. (TV Guide power ranking #1)
“I’m Alive” and “All I Really Need is You”
First perf:
David C. decides to go with the obscure songs so that he can re-arrange them to fit his singing style. It’s a great strategy actually. His first ditty is actually a bit too rocker. If he had pulled back a bit on the vocals and made it a little bit more mellow, it would have been extremely impressive.
Second perf: David’s version of the song hit all the right notes. It’s a great arrangement and he does an admirable job. Although I am saddened at the fact that it looks like the combover has returned in full force. Oh, David. Listen to the stylists. They are there to help you.
Kathy: This kid has really gotten quite wise with the song selections. He picked two songs most folks haven’t heard, thus allowing himself to make them his own. His second perf was way better than the first and he managed to make a Neil Diamond song sound like Maroon 5, in a good way. David just has to win this thing.

Brooke (TV Guide power ranking #4)
Songs: “I’m a Believer” and “I Am, I Said”

First perf: Again with the goofiness. Being upbeat and super sappy does not endear either Brooke or Jason to me. I found her version of the song sickly sweet and slightly lame. Brooke was bouncing around with the guitar like she’s storybook lady at the local library. “Come on, kids. It’s fun to read!”
It didn’t fly with the judges either.
Second perf: Much, much better. Brooke returns to her pedal-pushing piano ways and her version of Neil’s tune sounds like it was a hidden track on “Little Earthquakes.” When she was done, she took time to thank the little people at the bottom of the stage.
Kathy: At least Brooke wasn’t mopey this week. That’s an improvement. She even made that Richard Simmons “Woo” noise. Twice. Still, I like the Monkees version of “I’m a Believer” better and although she improved with “I Am, I Said,” I fear it’s not enough to keep her around. Carly Simon, who claims to be a big Brooke fan, might not even vote for her this week.

David A. (TV Guide power ranking #2)
“Sweet Caroline” and “America”
First perf:
It’s hard to mess up a song that every bar drunk can do at last call. It’s just a great tune that’s easy and fun to sing. He does a good job.
Second perf: At this point, I’m starting to believe that the competition is rigged. How did the front-runner of “Idol” end up with the two strongest Neil Diamond songs? Did he call dibs on them back during the audition process? (The only reason he didn’t get “Cherry Cherry” because the producers are probably saving that for the singalong tomorrow night.) Anyway, his version of “America” is great. David channels Krissy with the whole “Yay U.S.A.” strategy, but because it’s backed by a Neil Diamond tune, it rescues the performance from being too cheesy. But still, the screen behind him with the American flag is a bit too much. I almost expect a montage of grandmas holding small children on the side of a Fourth of July parade.
Kathy: Way to go the obvious route, Little David. Or David’s dad. Whoever is picking his songs. Ugh. He sings everything exactly the same way. And while I love America, that Kristy-esque patriotism ploy still won’t work on me. The best part of David’s segment was Neil Diamond coming really close to saying that David needed a lot more coaching than the others. Hee.

Syesha (TV Guide power ranking #5)
“Hello Again” and “Thank the Lord for the Nighttime”
First perf:
Is it naptime already?
Second perf: She does a cool bluesy version of the song that actually doesn’t bore me to tears. But I don’t know if this will save her. Kathy, how many weeks has Syesha spent in the bottom during the results show? It seems she’s spent most of the season on a bar stool.
Kathy: I think she’s been in the bottom 2 or 3 every week until last week? Am I wrong? I don’t think she deserves it either. She isn’t good enough to win but she’s one of the only ones to show improvement. Yet Simon basically tells her she’s going home this week. I just don’t get the anti-Syesha vibe. Also I don’t get her disdain for shoes. Sy, honey, shoes are your friends. I did dig the straight hair though. Neil seems to be a Syesha fan. He went all dirty old man on her and asked for a hug. Ew.

What a weird show.

David Cook, by a mile
Erin: Yep.

Jason, by a mile
Erin: Yep again.

American Idol: Diamond Dogs




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