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Om Neil Diamond
OK, Neil Diamond is an easy target for parody -- voice straight outta Brooklyn, bespangled shirt straight outta Vegas. But this ex-Brill Building tunesmith crafted a batch of excellent songs during the 1960s (hits such as "Solitary Man" for himself and "I'm a Believer" for the Monkees) before emerging as a stadium superstar. His bombastic, ubermelodramatic work from the 1970s has earned him an enormous, if aging, female following who feel that Diamond tells them what their tight-lipped, big-bellied husbands never will. Today, a new generation of ironic hipster fans have swelled their ranks. Both these groups know that underneath the florid orchestrations and over-the-top emotion lies the truth. Who doesn't feel that love can go on the rocks? Who hasn't experienced a great September morning? Be it a longtime fan in too-snug polyester trousers or a smug 25-year-old in his dad's leisure suit -- both pump their fists in unison during "America." Neil Diamond, an undeserving nation thanks you for trying to put some feeling (however unsubtle) into our bored, numbed lives.