Friday, April 24, 2009

Never judge a book by its cover....

Please go and watch this if you haven't. Great stuff.

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle (born 1961)[2] is a Scottish[3] amateur singer and church volunteer who came to public attention on 11 April 2009,[4] when she appeared as a contestant on the third series of Britain's Got Talent.[5] Boyle found fame when she sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables in the competition's first round.[6]

Before she sang, both the audience and the judges appeared to express scepticism based on her unpolished appearance. In contrast, her vocal performance was so well received that she has been dubbed "The Woman Who Shut Up Simon Cowell."[7] She received a standing ovation from the live audience, garnering yes-votes from Cowell and Amanda Holden, and the "biggest yes I have ever given anybody" from Piers Morgan.[8] The audition was recorded in January 2009 at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, Scotland,[9] and was first broadcast on Saturday, 11 April 2009 in Britain.

The juxtaposition of the reception to her voice with the audience's first impression of her triggered global interest. Articles about her appeared in newspapers all over the world, while the numbers who watched videos of her audition set an online record.[10] By 20 April 2009, a mere 9 days after her televised debut, viral videos of her audition, subsequent interviews of her, and her 1999 rendition of "Cry Me a River" had been viewed over 100 million times on the Internet.[11] Cowell is reported to be setting up a contract with Boyle with his Syco Music company label, a subsidiary of Sony Music.[12]

Television performance
In August 2008, when Boyle became aware that Britain's Got Talent would be holding auditions, she applied and was accepted for the audition, which took place in Glasgow in January 2009. Boyle, contestant number 4,321, performed a rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables in the first round of the third series of Britain's Got Talent, which aired on April 11 and was watched by an average of 10.3 million viewers.[31] This performance was widely reported, and millions of people viewed a video of her singing on YouTube.[31] The strength of this reaction reportedly shocked and amazed Boyle, who later said she was "gobsmacked".[32]

Boyle is well aware that the audience on Britain's Got Talent was initially hostile to her because of her appearance, but she has refused to change her image:

“ I know what they were thinking, but why should it matter as long as I can sing? It’s not a beauty contest. ”
—Susan Boyle, The Sunday Times[15]

Within the week following her performance on Britain's Got Talent, Boyle was a guest on STV's The Five Thirty Show.[42] She was interviewed via satellite on CBS's Early Show,[19] ABC's Good Morning America,[43] and NBC's Today, and via a telephone interview on FOX's America's Newsroom.[44] In an interview, Simon Cowell said Boyle had received an invitation to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show and predicted that if she did appear "there's every chance Susan Boyle will have the number one album in America".[43]

She also appeared via satellite on CNN's Larry King Live opposite Piers Morgan, who apologized to Boyle for not giving her "anything like the respect" she deserved when she walked out on the stage before singing.[45] Boyle went on to perform an a cappella verse of "My Heart Will Go On" on King's show about which Morgan remarked, "That was just absolutely stunning. To sing that with no musical backing is unbelievable." He previously invited Boyle to have dinner with him in London, and she accepted.[46]

Social analysis
Boyle's sudden fame has drawn much commentary on why this story was so widely reported and what it implies, while others drew moral lessons from people's reactions to her performance.[57] For instance, writing in The Herald, Collette Douglas-Home described Boyle's story as a modern parable and a rebuke to people's tendency to judge others based on their physical appearance.[58] Similarly, Lisa Schwarzbaum, in an article in Entertainment Weekly, said that Boyle's performance was particularly moving as it was a victory for talent and artistry in a culture obsessed with physical attractiveness and presentation.[59] Commenting on the audience's reactions before she started singing, Boyle said:

“ Modern society is too quick to judge people on their appearances. [...] There is not much you can do about it; it is the way they think; it is the way they are. But maybe this could teach them a lesson, or set an example. ”
—Susan Boyle, The Washington Post[6]

After Boyle's performance, Holden said:

“ I am so thrilled because I know that everybody was against you. I honestly think that we were all being very cynical, and I think that's the biggest wake-up call ever. And I just want to say that it was a complete privilege listening to that. ”
—Amanda Holden, Britain's Got Talent[60]

Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of the Les Misérables musical, also praised the performance, stating:

“ Just like the judges and audience, I was gob-smacked by the emotional powerhouse performance of Susan Boyle's show-stopping rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream". Vocally, it is one of the best versions of the song I've ever heard—touching, thrilling and uplifting. I do hope she gets to sing it for the Queen. ”
—Cameron Mackintosh[31]

Echoing Amanda Holden's comments, Jeanne McManus wrote in The Washington Post that, in talent shows such as Britain's Got Talent, one of the main sources of drama is the collision between performers' sometimes exaggerated sense of self-worth and the opinions and reactions of their audience.[61] In Boyle's case, McManus believed that her initial demeanour and homely appearance caused the judges and audience to be "waiting for her to squawk like a duck".[61] Indeed, New York's Daily News said that it was this stark contrast between the audience's low expectations and the quality of her singing that made Boyle's performance such an engaging piece of television.[62] This article also noted that the idea of an underdog being ridiculed or humiliated but then enjoying an unexpected triumph is a common trope in literature and that this is why, when this theme made its unscripted appearance in reality television, it created an enduring and powerful effect.[62]

On the other hand, although this audience reaction was unscripted, it may have been anticipated. Writing in The Huffington Post, Mark Blankenship noted that the producers of the show would have been aware of the potential of this story arc, stating that the programme seemed to deliberately present Boyle in a manner that would enhance this initial reaction.[63] He does note, however, that "as fabricated as it is, her on-camera arc is undeniably moving".[63] The fact that Boyle is in her forties has also been cited as contributing to this strong emotional impact. In another Huffington Post article, Letty Cottin Pogrebin wrote that people may have been "weeping for the years of wasted talent", since most of Boyle's life has been spent in obscurity and those wasted years can never be recovered.[64] All the same, Pogrebin still classed Boyle's performance as a triumph for what she called "women of a certain age", as she saw it as representing a victory over a youth culture that often dismisses middle-aged women.[64]

Tanya Gold wrote in The Guardian that the difference between Boyle's hostile reception and the more neutral response to Paul Potts in his first audition reflected society's expectation that women be both good-looking and talented, with no such expectation existing for men.[65] In a similar vein, Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote on that Boyle's performance reminded people that "not all fortysomething women are sleek, Botoxed beauties," going on to say that Boyle's sudden fame came from her ability to remind her audience that, like them, she is a normal, flawed and vulnerable person, familiar with disappointment and mockery, but who nevertheless has the determination to fight for her dream.[66]

Several media sources have commented that Boyle's success seemed to have particular resonance in the United States of America. Writing in The Scotsman, Craig Brown quoted a U.S. entertainment correspondent who compared Boyle's story to the American Dream, in that it represented talent overcoming adversity and poverty.[67] The Associated Press described this as Boyle's "hardscrabble story", dwelling on her modest lifestyle and what they saw as urban deprivation in her home town.[22] Similarly, The Independent New York correspondent David Usborne wrote that America is a country that will always respond to "the fairy tale where the apparently unprepossessing suddenly becomes pretty, from Shrek to My Fair Lady".[68] Piers Morgan, one of the show's judges, also commented on the unusual power this story seemed to have in the US, noting that "Americans can be very moved by this sort of thing", and likening Boyle's rise to fame from poverty and obscurity to that of the fictional boxer Rocky Balboa.[50]


ecrunner said...

While I enjoy the clip and the fact that she inspires so many people to become the best that they can, I have to say that her story is going over the top. All of a sudden she is being hounded for dying her hair, and plucking her brows, which makes it seem like people weren't falling in love with her voice, but the fact that she isn't as made up as others. It is disappointing to me and to those artists that can respect and admire her for her true talent (like The Band IceBloc), not the comedy of her appearance.

Nightwing said...

Helo ecrunner,

Thank you for dropping by and for ur input.

Agree with you on the appearance part. Should be her singing that matters and not her looks.

Thanks for the link..will check it out.