Is that Rita Wilson? I never recognize her. Ryan refers to "last week's drama" with Carly, and then makes the crowd say hello to Carly like they're in kindergarten. His hair is just a little off-center tonight, which I've always wanted. He seems a little bubbly and giddy, but not as much as Paula, whose cloudy eyes and wobbly demeanor are clear from the get-go.
Two songs! I love this, the first two-songs episode, because production has to speed up from doing six intros and songs, last week, to ten songs this week. Which means Ryan talks incredibly fast and won't let anybody off the chain for anything. Which, we'll see, does not stop some people from heading off the chain anyway.
Neil Diamond is, in a nutshell, awesome: Ryan explains who he is, and how he's this awesome songwriter, and was the Jazz Singer but not exactly the racist kind, and now looks even more like somebody's dad than he always did. Seacrest employs a bunch of puns that nobody cares about ("time to...hello again") and Neil Diamond says the best part was to just sit down for five minutes and watch somebody else sing the songs he's been singing every day for a hundred and fifty years.
Neil likes Jason's very varied choices of "Forever In Blue Jeans" and "September Morn," but was weirded out how he accidentally found the words to his first song while trying to sing Neil his second song. This is ironic, as you'll see.
Jason starts in low, and then jumps it up in the second part of the first verse, which is awesome. He's wearing blue jeans, I hope not the same ones he's been wearing forever. The backup is majorly cheesy, strings and very '70s. It's pretty great. His vocal is pretty introspective and the overall tone is much softer than the usual Neil thing, and he gives a pretty-boy smile at the end. I like it. Not hugely memorable, but he's clearly comfortable and not pushing himself too hard in any one direction, so it's just a sweet little not-terribly-memorable moment. A Castroment, in other words.
Ryan explains his life with Neil Diamond to David Cook, who's singing "I'm Alive" and "All I Really Need Is You." Neil is surprised by all this noise, because they're kind of not huge hits -- although you'll recognize them -- and as usual, is totally shocked by how awesome David's voice sounds all the time. He seems hopeful.
The first one starts way low, as usual, so you know there's going to be screaming. It's one of those songs that goes higher and higher and higher. I like it, because he definitely puts a Neil spin on his voice, that "Solitary Man" kind of gruffness. Even if I didn't love it, I would still be happy because anything is better than the Hootie voice, no matter how much magic he does with it. The track itself is about one second long, so you kind of have to just try and keep up, and again: too short to really matter, but very exciting while it's happening. And again, Ryan introduces Brooke immediately in such haste that maybe he's talking about MicroMachines.