Posts Tagged ‘ Reality TV ’

Belatedly, Susan Boyle


It has taken me a while to catch up with the Susan Boyle phenomenon.  I’m not a fan of ‘reality’ talent competitions as a rule, so I didn’t see the episode of Britain’s Got Talent where this woman wowed the judges and audience with her rendition of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Miserables.  Just in case you are one of the few people who, like me, had not seen this, the video is up on Youtube.  Have a look and listen, then pop back here.

Right.  I had read about the performance in various blog posts and newspaper articles, but it wasn’t until a colleague asked my opinion that I finally investigated it.  I have to confess I was cynical.  Was this performance really going to wow me?  Was this just the first of the inevitable tabloid stories that such television series inevitably generate?  Still, I was intrigued.  It’s not often that the nation starts discussing someone singing a showtune, even from such a popular show as Les Mis.  So I tried to approach Ms Boyle with an open mind, but I wasn’t expecting anything special.  My first observation was that the singer was nowhere near as ugly as I had been expecting, in fact, ugly is definitely far too harsh a word.  The various reactions in the press had made me expect someone truly hideous, but this was not the case – plain, perhaps, and not having had the dubious ‘benefit’ of a makeover of any kind, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  The reaction of the judges and audience, though, was fascinating – here was someone who is not beautiful, who wanted to be a professional singer, they thought, clearly this is going to be a disaster.

And then she sang.  The crowd went wild, and expressions of shock abounded.  It was immediately obvious that here was a woman with a great singing voice.  Unrefined, yes, and sometimes there was a feeling that she wasn’t really connecting with the lyrics, but in this case Britain has talent.  I have heard better renditions of the song.  Quite a lot of them, in fact, given how very many people have recorded it, and I have heard much worse versions as well.  There were no moments when she went horribly off-key, as there so often are on these shows, and no flights of histrionic nonsense.  She certainly connected with the live audience, and the way they responded gave me chills.  They adored her, and surely that’s all that counts?

However, with my cynical head back on, I couldn’t help but wonder what will happen the next time she sings for us – the surprise is gone, we know she can sing now, and all the media attention will lead us to expect great thinks from her.  If a large part of the appeal is the difference between the expectations her looks and her nervous personal demeanour evoke and the voice that appears when she sings, then what more has she to offer? It seems obligatory to talk about her story, not just her talent, and I fear that this story may well outshadow her abilities.  If she ever appears in a designer dress, or has a new hairdo, will the British public turn on her?  I hope not.  She has truly great potential.  And my goodness, she’s so much better than the terribly overrated Paul Potts.

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