Diversity Dance Troupe Wins Britain’s Got Talent 2009, But Hollie Steel Still Dazzled

Was it unexpected? The odd makers say it was! Susan Boyle was the favourite going in. Aidan Davis was second. The others were too far behind, it seemed, to give realistic consideration to the crown. But the Diversity Dance Troupe (already with their own Wikipedia entry I see) won Britain’s Got Talent 2009! They got the people’s vote, as well as judges Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden‘s votes, by the sounds of what they said at the end of the video. Piers Morgan did not agree, and I’m with Piers there, but not on Flawless being better than them. Just that there were better acts than Diversity.

Diversity’s winning performance breezed through a range of movie and dance songs for music and choreography. They included Transformers, Superman, and some dance songs of the 90s. I especially liked the touch where they created the table with the judges and threw in three buzzes. Very clever and fun, talented and creative. They also did not use their semi-final routine so they brought something new. That was more than Aidan Davis could claim, I’m afraid. Aidan used his audition routine in the finals, on a grander and glitzier stage that added the technical background effects of his semi-final routine. Unfortunately, special effects don’t count for votes, and it was also a routine which I actually thought was inferior to his semi-final performance. However, I think I’ve seen too many good dance routines to be nearly as impressed as the people of Britain and judges. They might not have seen moves like those in Britain, but in America, I’ve seen better in just about everything from break dancing to tap dancing. Even Irish dancing! However, the good thing about Diversity winning is in their name. It left Britain’s Got Talent a show about diversity, not predictability. They had an adult singer, a child dancer, and we were heading there again with either Susan Boyle or Aidan Davis. Even Hollie Steel wasn’t a big stretch in a child singer, of which they’ve had a strong past contender in six year old Connie Talbot (2007, absolutely adorable audition video).

Susan Boyle came in second despite regurgitating her audition number of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables. There was no drama, no crowd energy, no surprise or anything like the audition. I would even say it wasn’t say it wasn’t as good as her audition. For that reason, I’m only including a link for anyone who wants to watch. Not worth the blog real estate for an embedded video. I’d highly recommend her audition video if you haven’t seen either. THAT, was a magical moment!

Hollie Steel BGT FinalsUnlike Susan Boyle, though, Hollie Steel came out with an angelic, heart wrenching and professional rendition of Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, from Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Phantom of the Opera. It was just beautiful! She sang it like she meant every word of it, and justifiably so given how appropriate the lyrics were! I bet Hollie wished the crowd would be there again for more performances. The whole experience definitely taught her how to live, and what it means to forgive (reference melt down and comeback in the semis). Even the line about “then my world was shattered” became prominent given what unexpectedly happened in the semis. Then, of course, to end with “no more memories” and “help me say goodbye”, was absolutely appropriate for the occasion. Whoever thought of it couldn’t have chosen a better song.

It was also a new piece for Hollie. You’d think if a child could come up with three songs to sing that someone like Susan Boyle could have as well. As I had speculated in my previous post, Susan is a one trick pony who can sing the grand songs, but that there weren’t many and many of the grand songs aren’t grand all the way through. I thought Hollie would have to do something a little faster and more mature if she were to win, but will put that thought aside to complement her in surprising with a soft, dramatic and loving piece that was difficult to sing. On top of that, she added a few touches of her own and also acted out some of its emotions! And no nerves, either, despite the semi-final breakdown that would still be on her and everyone else’s mind! Fourth time she’s made me cry in BGT! Just lovely!

I don’t know if that second chance she got last night affected Hollie not getting second place over Susan Boyle, given the British were going for dance and not singers. However, she should have gotten second in my mind, and just confirms my belief that Britain is not a land or a people of second chances. They probably gave Hollie a second chance because Simon led the charge to give her a second chance.

Saxophonist Julian Smith got third place with yet another regurgitation of an audition, playing Somewhere. That’s completely lame! Since he didn’t put an effort towards it, I won’t to put even a link to it, either. You can go find it if you want it to see it that badly. And I’ll also say that Britain, you should be ashamed of yourself for voting him in third!!!

For a 29 year old music teacher, you should expect him to have more songs in his repertoire. There are also many other challenging songs, and it’s not like he didn’t have the time to practice, either! Singers, like instrumentalist, have a much wider source of material than dancers have to draw upon, and likely something to showcase every strength they have as well as hide any weaknesses. To regurgitate, especially if you’re a music teacher, is deplorable!

Is this Britain’s Got Talent, or Britain’s Got Redundance?

Hollie Steel BGT Finals2So while the audience vote was:

  1. Diversity (24.9%)
  2. Susan Boyle (20.2%)
  3. Julian Smith (16.4%)
    Full finals and semi-finals vote info here.
    (courtesy of Commenter Steve, thank you!!!)

My vote would have been:

  1. Hollie Steel
  2. Diversity
  3. Aidan Davis

I think the Queen would have preferred to have seen Hollie as well, royalty being what it is in “properness”. But she’ll get to see Hollie soon enough, I’m sure, which is more than I feel I can say for Diversity’s long-term future. What do dance troupes do for shows? Could they dance for an hour? If they could, why didn’t they dance for like 3 minutes instead of 2, show more moves and more likely guarantee their win? And they are going to be in for a major reality check when they go international and see what the Americans, Irish, French, Koreans and so on can do with respect to real dancing!

My consolation with Hollie’s outcome, though, is that Hollie will be getting some very good recording contracts, as well as television appearances. In the long run, I think the public will be easily more enamoured with her than with Susan Boyle. There’s no more anticipation and no fairy tale ending to look forward to any more for Susan. She’s had a few blow-ups with the press already! Hollie, meanwhile, is just adorable and sings like an angel in every sense of the word. With the redemption she showed in the finals, people won’t be nervous about having her not be able to perform live again in talk shows and such, any more. So I say, Oprah and Ellen, Larry, Jay, David and Conan, bring on Hollie! Let’s once again prove America is the land of second chances, as Malcolm Gladwell documented in Outliers, so give the kid a second chance. But wait till summer when she’s done school, eh? 🙂

Hollie will be a full-fledged bonafide star by this time in 2010 that she won’t need to come back to BGT 2010 to try it again, either! “Failure” will do something for one’s resiliency for those who know how to handle it, and Hollie showed that admirably in the semi-finals. Remember, failure is not about falling down, it’s about not getting back up!

So I guess that’s it for now with Britain’s Got Talent 2009. I’m going to really miss it, but really look forward to the 2010 season. Meanwhile, America, as I said before, you’ve got to up the talent to match what they’ve got over there. And for the British, watch more American dance. You’ll really be wowwed by what they’ve got. As well, expect more, especially of singers and instrumentalists who have so much material to draw upon they shouldn’t have to regurgitate materials for the finals! That’s really sad! Maybe they should make that part of the show rules, about no repeats in the finals for musicians and singers cause it’s a boring show otherwise.

As for me being Canadian, I don’t even watch Canadian Idol, the closest thing we’ve got to these talent shows… and for good reason. However, I am comforted by how many professional singers, bands and such, of all genres, we have on the charts consistently these days. For a low population country, we sure produce our fair share of professional talent!

Two question to end.

  1. How would you have voted in the finals among the acts?
  2. How much do you think Christmas concert tickets at Hollie’s school will go for this year? 🙂

Nov 8 add-on. See George’s extensive comments below for a huge bunch of other insights and information that is a nice supplement to this post. Many others who have also comment also add to the value of this post, and I want to genuinely thank everybody for their insights and time.

    Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5


    51 thoughts on “Diversity Dance Troupe Wins Britain’s Got Talent 2009, But Hollie Steel Still Dazzled

    1. I agree with you in reference to the British public not being knowledgeable about Breakdance, Hip Hop dance or Street dance.I have watched the World break dancing contests where many nations usually participate example: LiLou from France and other American competitors, Koreans, etc., that have truly amazing and incredible power moves.However, I have never seen someone from GB representing their country.Yes the choreography was smart and Diversity seemed well rehearsed.But I was very touched by Hollie’s performance.

      Have a nice day.

      • Thanks for your comment, Lourdes. Very insightful and true. Diversity will be in for a reality check once they step outside of England. Hollie, meanwhile, is primed for the world. Not nearly as well known as Susan Boyle at the moment, question will be is the world ready for her? Gonna be a lot of wet eyes hearing her sing in the next few years. 🙂

    2. While I agree with everything you say about Hollie – I voted for her three times – I disagree with your comments on Diversity. So what if there is more dancing talent on the other side of the pond, or even nearer home? This was BRITAIN’S Got Talent, and you were just spectators, if we wanted to vote them top then that’s our prerogative and no-one else’s. As much as I liked Susan Boyle (although I felt her audition was her best performance), she didn’t give the same level of performance as Diversity did on 3 occasions, so it’s a good job that no-one outside the UK could vote, otherwise she’d have won a (unfair) landslide victory.

      Grandads and grandaughters, overweight father and son Cypriot dancers, child singers and dancers and a saxophonist – only in Britain would you get such a diverse (there’s that word again) range of finalists.

      Get your own talent show and leave us eccentric Brits alone! 🙂

      • Thanks for your funny and insightful comment, Helen! You’re right, this was Britain’s show so it was your people’s choice who to vote for. Please don’t attach my comments to my fellow Canadians. The rest of them tend to be quite the docile bunch without nearly so much opinion as I who often act more American than Canadian with my opinions. 🙂

        We would do well to have our own talent show here, instead of just the singing Canadian Idol. But I would have to say your diversity would hardly compare to ours. We are the land of immigrants, after all, and our Aboriginal population could put forth more diversity of talents than what you had in the finals. They are a beautiful tapestry of cultures. Then we’ve got all the talents you could find in our multicultural festivals of all sorts from all corners of the world, literally, because unlike in America, there’s no melting pot system here to assimilate. Plus we would have the obligatory hockey and get your tongue unstuck from a frozen pole outdoor batch of talents. 🙂

    3. I completely agree with your comments about Hollie Steel and Julian Smith. I do hope and pray Hollie has a great future ahead of her, and her voice is simply amazing. How is it possible for a ten year old to sing that high? I very much wanted one of these singers to do something from Phantom of the Opera, and sure enough Hollie did. She pulled it off wonderfully.
      As an instrumentalist myself (I play both the violin and the clarinet), my thinking on this matter is probably fairly relevant. Julian Smith, you could have done a much better job than that!!! Somewhere was probably an OK choice for the first performance, but to do it again in the last performance was not the best decision. I don’t much like the tune of it. So many other songs would have sounded much better, especially as instrumental songs. If you really want to become the Kenny G of Great Britain, you have got to do better.
      I don’t know how much of a life span (so to speak) a dancing group could really have. Over the years, they may have to continually get new dancers. Having said that, I must admit their last routine was amazing. Very clever and inventive, imitating the judges buzzing and different movies.
      I suppose my personal voting would have been:
      1 Susan Boyle
      2 Diversity
      3 Hollie Steel
      4 Julian Smith

      Speaking of that, I was wondering what the official voting actually was. Who was number four, and then five, and all the way to ten when the final votes were tallied? If someone knows, please do post it. I would like to find out that information.

      • Thanks so much for sharing your voting choice and other info, Daryl. I agree with you Hollie is quite the rare talent I don’t think Britain has quite appreciated fully. Hollie’s purity of voice I would only compare to Sissel from Norway, and the notes Hollie reaches, you’re right, they’re spectacular.

        Also, good point on Julian’s choice of songs. I didn’t want to get too far into that. The post was long enough as it was. He could have chosen far better songs. He may have the raw potential to be the Kenny G of Britain, but he’s got to show it in some range of song types before he’s going to be the Kenny G of Britain.

        I see Steve has responded with voting info you requested. Don’t you love the Internet? Thanks, Steve! I’ll put the link into the post in case people don’t read through the comments.

    4. Here are the percentage breakdown figures for the public voting on last week’s shows…
      The Final
      Act % of vote in SF
      Diversity 24.9%
      Susan Boyle 20.2%
      Julian Smith 16.4%
      Stavros Flatley 16.3%
      Aidan Davis 6.5%
      Hollie Steel 3.9%
      Shaheen Jafargholi 3.8%
      Flawless 3.6%
      Shaun Smith 3.4%
      2 Grand 1%
      Semi Final 1
      Act % of vote in SF
      Susan Boyle 52.1%
      Diversity 36.2%

      Semi Final 2

      Act % of vote in SF
      Flawless 38.7%
      Shaun Smith 37.1%
      Semi Final 3
      Act % of vote in SF
      Stavros Flatley 50.4%
      Shaheen Jafargholi 26.3%
      Semi Final 4
      Act % of vote in SF
      Julian Smith 56.7%
      2 Grand 24.6%
      Semi Final 5
      Act % of vote in SF
      Aidan Davis 50.6%
      Hollie Steel 26.0%

      • Thanks SO much, Steve! I was curious myself! I will put it into the post with credits to you! So sad to see Hollie only get 3.9% of the votes, though. She definitely deserved better!

    5. I will ask Julian Smith why he chose to play the same tune next time I see him, as he lives in my home town 🙂

      What’s with the Aborigines in Canada?! Last time I looked (at Christmas when I was in Alice Springs) Aborigines are from the land down under. Or, is that a generic word you are using for a group of peoples?

      Plus we would have the obligatory … get your tongue unstuck from a frozen pole outdoor batch of talents -now that’s my kind of entertainment!

      • You are connected, Helen! Do tell if you get an answer. Don’t tell him I panned him, but really, I’d have expected more out of MY music teachers! They’re supposed to have repertoire!

        As for Aboriginals in Canada, it is not a generic word but rather a unifying one to refer to all the native tribes and people. I’m not sure if it refers to one specific people in Australia, but in Canada, it refers to them all… and there are quite a few with very interesting cultures, tales, traditions, dances, art work, music, etc. quite distinct from each other. I’m not an expert in it, but I have a deep appreciation for it.

    6. what song was it tht diversity danced to in the final wen tht perri (kid wiv big hair) did tht audition and got buzzed wat sng was he doing it to??? ty if u can help i wil b so happii x x…B…x MWA 😉 🙂 😀 😛

      • That would be Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now), by C & C Music Factory in 1990. I really liked the song then, and still now. I see adding a YouTube link puts the video on, even if the embedding is disabled by request, whether I wanted the video display on my comments or not. Just click on it twice and it should take you to the YouTube site where it can actually be played. Thanks.

    7. Diversity was terrific but I wonder how long until those kids put on 20 lbs? What will happen to the act?
      I didn’t see the little girl act but it has to be better than “cute” to get my vote.

      • Thanks for your comment, “flower”. Nice choice of username. 🙂

        I don’t even want to think about those kids gaining 20 lbs. I hope they stay fit and healthy and enjoy their dance for as much of a life time as can be fairly expected of aging bodies. I worry they don’t have enough content to do prolonged shows, or enough talent compared to what I’ve seen of dancers in other countries. But they had great ideas. Something to work on, I guess, since this shouldn’t be the top of the mountain.

        To what little girl act were you referring to be better than cute? Hollie? That was on my post. It wasn’t the cuteness of the act so much as the maturity, talent, purity in the voice, and even the slight acting of a fist pounding at 1:15 when she sung “Teach me to live”, to show she meant it, from a little girl with the voice of an angel that was the difference maker. Sure, she’s a cute kid, but it wasn’t the cute factor that won me over. That’s all on top of the recovery she made from Friday night semi-final 5.

    8. Really, Helen, the same town as you? Which town is that?
      I have a friend who composed an instrumental song which he called “Somewhere.” I like my friend Richard’s “Somewhere” a lot better than the “Somewhere” that was played in BGT. I was thinking of transposing Richard’s song for my clarinet soon.
      Another song that Hollie could have done was “Think of Me” from the Phantom. Always loved that tune too, but what she sang was nice too. There’s hardly a song in that play I don’t like.
      Getting your tongue unstuck from a frozen pole, hmmmm….That’s nothing. As Weird Al says, when I was your age, I had to walk naked through forty miles of snow.

      • Daryl, does your friend have this song online somewhere so we can hear it? Not necessarily to judge and compare (not me), but go for it and promote it! 🙂

        Think of Me is a beautiful song, too. However, Hollie really turned me on to Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. It was only a little more than a nice and sad segue song for me from Phantom. In the movie, “Christine” just walked around in a graveyard singing it sadly. However, Hollie, with just that tiniest bit of acting to touch fists at 1:10 (Try to forgive), then pound the right one at 1:15 (Teach me to live), and probably her recent drama from Fri night semi-final 5, really sold it to me. She sang it like she meant every word of it, not just lamenting internally, but showing on her face and gestures to us how much it really meant to her, that sold it to me. I’m taking improv acting class and am starting to notice what a difference these little things make!

        And Daryl, if you wouldn’t be impressed with tongue on frozen flag poles, we can also do pee in snow art, 2-D paintings or 3-D sculpting from melting snow rather than just “colouring”.

    9. Unfortunately no, he doesn’t have it available online. I have a recording on tape he made for me, so I’m trying to figure out how to get that on my iTunes. Or maybe record it on Garageband playing it with my clarinet, whenever I can do it in the right key. It goes: La, la, la, la, la, la, laaaaaa, la, la, la, la, laaaaa……oh, wait, you can’t hear me, that’s right.
      Hollie got SIXTH place! She deserved at least fourth, if not third place.
      Urine art? That the kind of art that really pisses you off?
      I’ve seen snow sculptures and ice sculptures, those are very cool. I’ve always liked those. But they melt fast.
      yes, do let us know what Julian says, Helen. That will be interesting.

      • Yes, isn’t that shameful little Hollie was in sixth place, Daryl? I don’t think the people of Britain really know what a treasure they have on their hands in her. Great joke on the urine art! Jury still out on the postscript weight joke. 🙂

        I’m of no help on the tape solution to digitize it, I’m afraid. Thanks for your comments.

    10. Sorry, here’s a post script:
      One hundred thousand pounds was part of the reward for Diversity’s winning. That means they have ALREADY put on a LOT of weight. FYI

    11. 1. hollie steel
      2. hollie steel
      3. hollie steel
      4. hollie steel
      5. hollie steel
      6. hollie steel
      7. hollie steel
      8. hollie steel
      9. hollie steel
      10. hollie steel

    12. This is how I thought it should have gone:

      1. Susan Boyle-can’t believe she didn’t win although I thought she was easily the best.

      2. Diversity

      3. Stavros Flatley

      4. Julian Smith

      5. Shaheen

      6. Aiden Davis

      7. Hollie Steel-honestly guys, she’s good but there’s no way she would’ve won. I’ve seen much better 10 year olds. Look up Zara Larsson, she’s a true singer.

      8. Flawless

      9. Sean Smith

      10. 2 Grand

      • Thanks for your opinion, Madeleine. Love to see all the different opinions. But for a response? Whoa! No. Zara’s got nothing on Hollie. I know kids who sing better than Zara! No purity in the voice and lots of strain. I also know choir members who sing better than Susan and who are more than one trick ponies for singing style. And as said before, Diversity’s dancing might be good for Britain, but pales to many other places.

        However, thanks for taking the time to write it all out to share with the rest of us. Diversity in opinion is what makes the world a beautiful place!

    13. Susan might not have the BEST voice in the world but we all know what she’s famous for. I guess I just like Zara’s style better than Hollie’s but I still think Hollie’s good for a 10 year old. And by the way Zara’a song isn’t supposed to be sang purely. I have to say I felt sorry for Hollie when she cried in the semi finals. Overall I think Zara is better than Hollie but Hollie is still good and pretty and deserved to be in the final.

      • Yay, Madeleine! We agree! On Susan’s reason for being famous, which is our own flaws, of course. We never expected the talent from her based on how she looked, and it made her our darling. I still love her for that, and her singing, but judging is not about that, and that was what the post was about. So don’t get me wrong on her by my criticisms. And you should know, I am ruthless towards myself as a critic, though I am also fair to acknowledge my successes to myself so I’m not one of these “never happy about myself and my life” people. 🙂

        For Zara’s style and our different opinions on it, please see my comment on the Aidan Davis post in response to yours. I think I understand that now, and appreciate it that people can have such differing opinions.

        And as for Hollie crying, yes, I definitely felt sorry for her. I can understand the people who didn’t want to give her a second chance, but you know, in the end, that wasn’t their call. The nasty ones posting comments and such calling it an act and so on just have issues in their lives they need to address directly, but are the way they are because they don’t and take it out on others.

        I’m glad to see Simon had a heart, too. 🙂

        As usual, thanks for your interesting and insightful comments!

    14. You have got to be kidding me. Hollie Steel? She sucked. Susan Boyle should’ve won. She’s the only one who could sing (Shaheen was pretty good too). Hollie shouldn’t have passed the first round her high notes made your ears hurt. She might as well try and sing like Sally in 2 grand where at least her voice is consistent-Hollie’s vibration goes all over the place. Trust me this is not a prefernce of style it’s about having talent or no talent.

    15. Hollie was great but I prefered Connie (even though she was in 2007). But Hollie had a great voice and was my second favorite after Susan. Out of all the kids I thought the worst (no offense) was Bessie Cursons (2007.) I didn’t see her talent. I guess it was just stage presence. I’m twelve and I have to say I have a much better voice than her. She’s an ok dancer, bad singer and ok actress. My favorite child singers are Hollie, Connie, Zara, Andrew (Johnston)and Kaitlyn Maher.

      • Hi Anna,

        I don’t have access to your British TV and Britain’s Got Talent shows here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada, so I’ve only recently been introduced to your show and have only watched some of the better acts. However, if you think you have a better voice than some of the contestants, then I would say “Go for it!”. Try out! Have you ever tried out?

        If you have and didn’t succeed the first time, listen to what the judges say, work on it and try again! You’ve got a lot of years ahead of you! I would only say that try to sing and/or do something (like Hollie dancing) that might feel natural to you but that is “unexpected”. In other words, lead the audience and judges to think something, and then smack them with something unexpected. Hollie had the dancing, then singing. Susan had the bad looks, then beautiful voice. The easiest thing to do in that respect might be to sing something that isn’t typical of a 12 or 13 year old the way Hollie did the Phantom of the Opera piece. Maybe sing a very mature emotional song, or a signature piece by a male singer.

        Thanks for your comment and good luck! I can’t wait for BGT’10! Can you? 🙂


    16. Minh,
      I don’t live in Britain but in the states. I would much rather try out for Britain’s got talent than America’s got talent. It’s just better. But how am I supposed to convince my parents to go to Britain for an audition when they think I would end up backing up or I wouldn’t even make it to the next round. I know next year I’ll be voting for BGT whether I’m in it or not!

    17. “For a 29 year old music teacher …”

      Julian is 39. I, too, was a bit disappointed that he did his audition song in the final, but that seems to be the rule among singers and instrumentalists, including the author’s beloved Connie Talbot, Paul Potts, Faryl Smith, 2Grand, Shaheen, Escala and others. Still, I enjoy listening to Julian. As a friend who’s a professional musician (French horn) put it, any competent musician can do the technical bits. (Look for Julian’s clip with Kenny G.) The real test is if you can make the instrument sing–and Julian does.

      Two points, though. Most singers & instrumentalists would do their best song for the audition, as that’s where the biggest competition is. (40 of 448 who auditioned made it to the semifinals–9%. 25% of the semifinalists made it to the finals.) Because of the nature of BGT, they will take only a limited number of singers for the semifinals–they seem to want a wide variety of types of acts, including eccentric bits. I expect that at least half of the auditions are singers, but only 11 of the 40 semifinalists were, including the two “musical theater” acts.

      The other point is that singers and instrumentalists can have “signature” pieces (e.g., “Over the Rainbow” for Judy Garland)–most dancers don’t. (Stavros Flatley is an exception, with Lagi’s “chainsaw” move that brought down the house in the audition.) Piers Morgan said as much in his comments after Susan’s final performance, that people expected her to sing “I Dreamed a Dream.” In Hollie’s case, Simon essentially told her to not do “I Could Have Danced All NIght” again in his comments after her audition. He said three things:

      1. “You came across as a typical little girl who wants to be a ballerina …” = Don’t dance. (Good advice!)
      2. “I wasn’t crazy about the song …” = Don’t do it again.
      3. “You’re better than that.” = Sing something more challenging. (She did.)

      Re: Susan being a “one-trick pony”: find the YouTube clips of her singing other songs in the past, including, “Killing Me Softy,” “Cry Me a River,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” and “The Way We Were.” I agree that her final performance didn’t have the impact of her audition, perhaps because we expected it. (If folks in the US could have voted, she would have won going away.) A real test is the audience response — the truly great acts don’t just get a standing ovation–the audience is on its feet BEFORE they finish. See the auditions of Susan Boyle and Stavros Flatley, for example. With SF, the audience JOINS them! I’ve never seen such an expression of pure joy! It starts as a roar when Demitri bounds onto the stage and goes up from there. Amanda nearly falls off her chair and is laughing so hard at the end that she can’t speak.

      Re: Aidan Davis redoing his audition performance. I’ve read many comments that he didn’t have time to practice a new routine. Bull. The other dancers did entirely different routines. Anyone going into the finals should have TWO acts ready, in case they make it to the finals. Diversity obviously did, as did Stavros Flatley (who involved two different sets of dancers) & Flawless this year, and the Cheeky Monkeys in 2008. In the first season of BGT, Bessie Cursons did two different acts.

      Re Diversity: “If they could, why didn’t they dance for like 3 minutes instead of 2, show more moves and more likely guarantee their win?”

      Because they are limited by the show to that length. The producers have to fit 10 acts into the show and leave time for voting and the “awards.” That’s why Hollie didn’t sing the entire song, for example.

      Re: Second chances. I have read a lot of hateful, spiteful comments about Hollie and Simon giving her a second chance. Some say that her breaking down was an act, though WHY? It probably cost her first place in the semifinal and dropped her in the finals. Some say that she has no tears in the break down. (I’d disagree.) I’ve seen kids frightened and embarrassed who are quite upset, but show no tears. The look of terror on Hollie’s face when she forgot the words was very real. In her re-try, she does well (a few bobbles), then, after she’s through, her hands come to her face as she realizes that she’s made it. In the “judges’ choice” at the end, Ant has a tight grip on Hollie’s hand (and she’s holding his with both of hers). He (and the producers) may be afraid that she’ll collapse or faint, especially as they know that she’ll be put through. (BGT published the voting in the semifinals for the winner & “judges’ choice.” In EVERY case, the judges “picked” the real second-place act. Add the the two shown and subtract from 100%. In each case, there are fewer votes left than the judges’ choice received. In Semifinal 5, Aidan Davis got 50.6%, Hollie 26.4%. Together, that’s 77%, leaving only 23% for ALL 6 other acts. I suspect that the judges knew the results and voted accordingly.)

      Simon gave OTHER acts a second chance, as well–in two instances, the acts went on because of the second chance. The most obvious was Sue Son, the violinist. Her first audition, with her (gorgeous!) keyboardist friend, got 3 buzzers–it was really terrible. Simon called Sue back on stage and offered her the chance to audition alone the next day. She did and wowed the audience and judges–and made it to the semifinals. Shaheen also got through because Simon gave him a second chance. The song he chose for the audition fell flat and Simon, rather than buzzing him, stopped him and asked if he had another song. He did–and blew them away! I’m no Michael Jackson fan, but Shaheen was amazing. That started him on the way to the finals and more. (He’s already sung for the Michael Jackson tribute.)

      Simon is an expert at recognizing talent–that’s how he made a fortune in the beginning, finding singers and bands for a record company. He knew that Hollie has an exceptional–literally one-in-a-million–voice–just watch his face in her audition. Her second try vindicated his judgment. (The audience apparently thought so, too.)

      I, too, would have liked Hollie to have won–though Diversity was very, very good. (She might have had a better chance with “I Could Have Danced All Night.”) I watch her clips several times each week. I have a big soft spot for Stavros Flatley and really enjoy both Susan Boyle & Julian Smith. My votes:

      1. Hollie Steel & DIversity (tie–too hard to compare a singer and dancers)
      3. Susan
      4. Stavros Flatley
      5. Julian
      6. Shaheen
      7. Aidan
      8. Flawless
      9. Shaun Smith (Yes, I know the women will put him higher!)
      10. 2Grand (sentimental favorites, but Granddad lost his way)

      I played Hollie’s audition and final performance on my iPod for a friend who has a BA in voice (wife of the French horn player). She immediately said, “Child–fairly young, maybe 10-12.” Still, she thought that Hollie was very, very good. She said that “Wishing” was too old for Hollie, though. She struggles in the beginning, which is below her optimal range. Hollie is very small, even for a 10-year-old, so not much lung volume to resonate on those lower notes. (The song–and the play!–was written for Sarah Brightman, perhaps to showcase her range. The fact that she was married to Andrew Lloyd Webber at the time may have had something to do with it.) Several people have said (and I join them) that they prefer Hollie’s version to Sarah Brightman’s. Brightman’s song is a “mournful dirge,” to quote a commenter on YouTube. That fits the play well–the movie shows why–but Hollie’s performance has more emotion.

      I’ve also read snarky comments about Hollie’s appearance–big ears (true), buck teeth (normal for a 10-year old; our permanent teeth come in full-sized, so they look big in a pre-adolescent’s head)–even fat legs (WHAT?) In her audition, she looks a bit goofy in the tutu. (That was Mum’s choice–she wanted to wear a pretty dress, as in the semifinal and finals, where her clothes are perfect for her age and size.) In the final, especially, with professional makeup, she is stunning. One commenter compared her to a porcelain doll. (She does have a small mouth and almost heart-shaped face.) The makeup artist(s) did a great job, understated (she is a child), but glowing. My own comparison would be to a pre-Raphaelite painting.

      The audience loved Hollie. She was, apparently, a big hit on the BGT tour, as well. (2Grand joined her in “Eidelweiss.” It’s a real treat.) She has an album coming out sometime early next year, with a single in time for the holidays.

      This was the “Year of the Kid.” Hollie was the youngest at 10 (she turned 11 on July 1, while on the tour), plus Sally of 2Grand (12), Aidan (11-12), Shaheen (12), Lagi of Stavros Flatley (12-13), and the boys in Diversity. In 2008, there were 4 pre-teens–Cheeky Monkeys (8 & 9), Faryl Smith (12), Andrew Johnston (12). In 2007, there were two–Connie Talbot (6) and Bessie Cursons (11-12).

      • OH, MY, GOODNESS, GEORGE!!! Thank you SO much for ALL those observations and comment, not to mention the time to share it! WOW! You’re definitely moving on to the next round!

        Have you considered having your own BGT blog? I’d bet you’d get tons of readers and the passion you have is what it would take to engage the many readers I’d bet you’d have! And it sounds like you’d love it, too. I don’t know. Maybe you do have such a blog. You didn’t leave a URL for a website with your comment. But that’s my serious opinion you should get one.

        I wouldn’t know where to begin to respond. I think I’d need a new post for it! However, I agree with most of it so there wouldn’t be too much debate… and am still processing a lot of it. 🙂

        Thanks again for the extremely detailed comment. It really adds a lot to the post. I’ll add a comment to the blog post to check out your comment to supplement my post.


    18. Thanks for your comment Minh.
      Going away from auditioning, I bought Hollie’s single and thought it was absolutely amazing. But as I think of it, in her first and final preformances, she sang opera songs (in my opinion I could’ve danced all night was sort of an opera song.) It’s weird to hear a ten year old sing an opera song and I think she might be a bit too young for it. Eidelweiss was okay and so was Where are you Christmas.
      I also think the same goes with Zara. Talented ten year old but screams too much for her age. They’ve got great voices though and they sing the songs that fit their voices, it just doesn’t seem right…
      I think that earlier comment about the ‘little girl act has to be more than cute to get my vote’ refered to Connie instead of Hollie because you said Connie’s audition was adorable.

      • So you auditioned? Is that what you’re saying? If so, how did it go?

        I thought of all of Hollie’s songs as being musicals because, well, they were all from musicals. I’d love to see her do some opera, like O mio babbino caro. That’s extremely high and suitable for her voice. I like the softer versions, like from A Room with a View,

        not some who overpower it like Maria Callas… but that overpower is awesome for many other opera selections! I still think Sissel should mentor Hollie.

    19. Also have you heard of Jackie Evancho? If you haven’t you should youtube her ‘wishing you were somehow here again’. She is 9 years old and also really talented.

      • Thanks for sharing what you knew of Jackie Evancho. She’s good! I like her! Too bad the videos weren’t on a grand stage to have a crowd reaction. It’s not the same using a home sort of studio. If it were, people would just be stars in the shower and that’d be that.

    20. I see that you were talking about American, Jackie Evancho so, while many singers faulter occasionally and some recover remarkably, I thought I’d provide a link to one such occassion with Jackie. Her recovery was amazing, not to mention this sohw was being recorded by the local media and Marvin Hamlisch was in the front row! She also has a website that shows her performing with David Foster!


    21. No, I didn’t audition for BGT, sorry if I didn’t make that very clear.
      I think Hollie’s album will have some opera songs. Jackie’s recovery was amazing! I would have burst into tears.

    22. NewKid, I don’t think too highly of myself to have an intelligent conversation. I’m just looking for one so whenever you decide you’re capable, please do engage.

      I said “average” vocal range for the elites, if you read carefully. I even had said it twice to make sure I got the point across. That’s part of your problem. You’re so engulfed on your emotions you can’t even read straight. You see a few key words and you jump on it. You connect things where there aren’t any, like my former comment about the video’s ambiance being related to Jackie’s talent and success. Also, at that level, 3 octaves isn’t THAT superior. As well, to put things into context, every note beyond 3 at that level is a precious edge so it’s not like someone needs 6 octaves to be noticeably superior, but voice range doesn’t much have to do with singing success. It’s just a nice tool to have, so this whole bit doesn’t mean a lot.

      But whenever you decide you can engage in an objective intelligent conversation, please do engage. I’m just not going to stand and take a beating by someone charging in claiming this and that and telling me to wiki David Foster, OK? You should adjust your expectations on people’s reactions if you’re going to use tactics like that… especially on people who might otherwise give you a beat down in return!

    23. Yup – definitely highly of yourself. FYI I said look it up in Wiki because the majority of the population have NOT heard of either David Foster OR Carnegie Hall – these are only important to a very small group. So your ego (or perhaps insecurity?)leads you by the nose.

      I chose to ignore your repetitions of “elite” because I didn’t see how they related to a conversation about 8 and 9 year old singers. So are you telling me that in your mind Hollie is in the same category as Maria Callas, Dame Kiri Takanawa or Renee Flemming? Pah leeze

      You bore me.

    24. They are both good,but I like Jackie Evancho better. If you have heard of Jackie who do you think sings better

      • I’ve always been with Hollie and I’m sticking with her. I’ve heard Jackie and thinks she’s good, but I’ve seen more kids who can do what she can than Hollie. I also know more adults who can do Jackie’s style of singing and from what I know of singing, it’s the easier style. That’s how I made my decision, not even including I like the purity of Hollie’s style better. But different styles for different tastes, that’s all. Try not to swamp me like some overzealous people in Jackie’s camp have, and I don’t mean just fans, but either close family or friends (some people aren’t that good at hiding their online trails). That sort of thing doesn’t help win anybody any fans.

    25. I’m back! And I see my Jackie talk has gotten further…anyway I think Hollie’s voice is higher and lighter, Jackie’s is more opera like and stronger/heavier. I kind of like Hollie’s better because Jackie’s is more grown up, but well that’s just me.

    26. I can’t say I fully agree with all the comments from this article, but it does have a few correct points that I would agree with.

      I think Hollie Steel was splendid and very angelic in her song, and no doubt that she will have a big future waiting for her if her voice stays and grows better, but I don’t think she was a stand-out performance. She was good, very good, but it wasn’t a shock and awe performance. But I do give Hollie points for choosing to sing a different song than her audition song, it was a nice refreshing change.

      I do agree that finalists should stop re-doing previous performances, but I, as a performer myself, also understands that in a competition like this, sometimes you have to go with the performance with better solid chances than taking on something new. And it’s not that they can’t sing new songs or think new dance moves, but just the simple fact that in a competition, there really isn’t that much time for preparation as people like to believe. So most of the time, you go with the safe bet. It’s like that in every competition.

      Personally for me, I still would have voted Diversity for number one. They may not be the world’s best dance troupe ever, and sure America or other places may have better dancers, but to me, what Diversity may lack in technique, they more than make up for it in charm, spirit, passion, and soul. I have seen many dance teams from all around the world and seen some really amazing acts, but Diversity is the first group that’s had me on my feet jumping up and down in excitment and cheering like a kid on Christmas Day. There is something about them and their dance routine that draws me in and I feel like I’m watching this amazing story unfold right in front of my eyes. Diversity had the edge in their originality and creativity, and not to mention the cuteness of Perri and Mitchell, who are both not just there for cute purposes, but also amazing dancers in their own right. For me, Diversity takes the cake because this is the first dance troupe that’s had me so entranced. And as for Diversity’s future, they’ve toured the country with a more than successful tour, they’ve performed at MOBO awards and many different award shows and events, they were the only standing ovation at the Royal Variety Performance, they were the first dance group to perform outside Number 10 Downing Street for the Prime Minister, they’ve got their own TV show, they’ve danced at various charity events, they came back to perform on BGT 2010, they’re bringing the tour back for Christmas, and they have only gotten even better and more creative than ever, and if Simon keeps to his world, they could possibly even open the Olympics in London in 2012! They may not be the best dance group in the world, and sure they’re future won’t last forever, but they have captured the imagination of a nation and that’s pretty rare for a dance troupe to do. Sometimes it’s not always about the talent or the skill, but the heart, and Diversity has lots of it. And even if this glorious future isn’t permenant, they will still dance like always because it’s what they love, and they haven’t given up on their education as well, so there are still so many open possibilites and successful careers other than being a superstar.

      My second and third place would have been Hollie Steel and Flawless. I thought Hollie, despite it being not exactly an earth-shattering performance, sang beautifully and with a lot of emotion, so kudos to her coming back so strong. And Flawless because they came up with another new performance that was stylish and fun to watch, while Britain may not have the best dancers, but they have dancers with lots of passion, and that makes it an enjoyable performance to watch!

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