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'Imagine,' Six Months Later

Gal Gadot in the 'Imagine' video.
Gal Gadot in the 'Imagine' video. By Courtesy of @gal_gadot/Instagram
By Chinmay M. Deshpande, Contributing Writer

Back in March, when the phrase “global pandemic” was something new and scary instead of a cliché, we desperately searched for something to bring color to the bleak monotony of newly-imposed lockdowns. Fortunately for us, the best and brightest stars of our entertainment industry joined together to create a work of art that would raise us up with the sublime power of hope and transcendent beauty. Unfortunately for us, they failed.

Failure, of course, is far too generous a description for what even the “New York Times” couldn’t resist calling a “clusterclump of hyperfamous people with five seconds’ too much time on their hands.” (“Clusterclump,” by the way is one of the more creative editorial compromises this writer has seen.)

But six months after the faux-utopian, sickly-sweetly-patronizing, hypocrisy-smeared, horribly, horribly tone-deaf — in every sense of the word — dumpster fire that purported to be a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” we decided to return to it, hoping against hope that the past half year had vindicated it, and that our fresh ears would come away with a revised opinion. As you can probably tell from the top of this paragraph, this hope was soon to be pulverized even worse than our ears.

As soon as mastermind-ringleader Gal Gadot begins by talking about being “philosophical,” things are worrying. But then she launches into the song itself, and it’s far worse than anyone could have remembered.

“Imagine” is not an especially difficult song to sing. Its range only spans an octave and a third. Each verse uses the same melody, and the same musical phrase is used for the first few lines of every verse. The fact that, despite all this, these people — some of whom are actual singers! — managed to mess it up as badly as they did is, honestly, pretty impressive.

Or maybe we’re just being too harsh. Maybe they meant for it to turn out as it did. The way they didn’t bother to decide on a key to sing in before recording, and everyone just started on whatever note fancy gave them? A radical new chromatic interpretation, lending variety to an otherwise mundane tune! The ones who sang out-of-tune and the ones who barely sang at all? Ironic! The obvious disconnect of lyrics about “no possessions” and “a brotherhood of man” being sung by celebrities in multimillion-dollar homes? Satirical! The whole project was actually a Very Smart Critique of John Lennon’s own hypocrisy, and not just that same hypocrisy all over again. Definitely not.

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