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Neil Diamond and Diagnostix – Sweet Caroline Review

Following on from EURO 2020, where England football fans adopted a track from an American because the lyrics were easy to remember and better than David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s effort, Sweet Caroline has hung about. Adopted by fans of the national team in a move that made as much sense as Newcastle United supporters picking up Liverpudlian four-piece The Beatles’ Hey Jude, a remix of a current footballing staple was always going to turn heads. But this. This piece of music. This collection of sound and inspired remixing from Diagnostix on Sweet Caroline, is something nobody should ever have to prepare for. It is possibly the best example of excess in music, and what a defiant beast it is. 

Amplifying everything there is to love about Diamond’s classic track by popping a .25x speed-up to the track, padding it out with some delicate foghorns and hoping that is a decent swing into the mismatched dub and soulful lyrics, is gorgeous. Sweet Caroline is taken to a level it should never have graced nor ever needed to. An absolute hilarity from start to finish. A tear-inducing track for all the wrong reasons. So insane and unhinged it became a meme for the ages, and it is clear to see why. That foghorn ruins the credibility of an otherwise harmless, if misguided attempt to make the man who sang Forever In Blue Jeans a rave specialist. Who’d have believed Diagnostix would come along? It’d be quite the feat to see England fans chant this masterclass out, foghorn and all. 

Amazing, though. How bold it is to be told of terrible ideas, and yet someone pursued this anyway. Sweet Caroline’s turn from a touching-if-overplayed ballad of considerable charm and human connection, turned into a track played for sweaty rave-induced action. What a change of pace. Still, hand touching hand and reaching out to the skies as Above & Beyond pops this right in the middle of their playlist would be quite the charm. Inconsistent mixing aside and a nervy drum machine that comes and goes at the sound of every foghorn, the idea is tasteless, and the execution is just that, like lining up for a one-stop trip to the chopping block. That would be preferable, or it would be if this Diagnostix mix wasn’t hilarious. No section or second of this can ever be taken seriously, and for that, it has that articulate so-bad-it’s-good quality. 

Somehow, Sweet Caroline has held an immediate and ever-present subtext to it. Objectively one of the funniest releases of all, and the passion that was clearly put behind this mix is admirable yet misguided. Someone cottoned on to a popular project that was handy at a time of footballing near-triumph, but this is a fascinating endeavour. Years from now, when music history is documented and filed, what genre, what place, does this go under? How does a track of this stature, this necessity in the face of all that makes sense, even begin to be profiled and considered? Those foghorns make it impossible, truly impossible, to think of anything else but the docks on which people will throw themselves from after hearing this.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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