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?
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  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.
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    Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5

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    Hollie Shows Nerves of Steel on Top of Singing Talent in Britain’s Got Talent Semi-final 5!

    Hollie Steel Semi-final 5It didn’t go as planned, but you know, how often has your life gone as planned? There’s going to be some controversy about it, but let them talk, cause Hollie Steel deserved to be talked about. She brought the unexpected in quite a different way than anybody imagined.

    Like all the big contestants in the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent 2009, Hollie showed nervousness. However, she showed the most nervousness and, it seemed, forgot her lines mid-performance! A gorgeous rendition of Edelweiss, from The Sound of Music, just went silent and the poor girl was crying her heart out. It was really a heart wrenching scene to which I will only include a link so you can have an idea from where she came, if you really want to watch it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though, cause it is really hard to watch and I don’t particularly care to see the full video on my blog as a visual reminder.

    In the aftermath of that scene, Simon Cowell showed some remarkable kindness by overruling the producers, who said they didn’t have time for Hollie to try again, despite her plea. Simon said they’d find the time Hollie to try again somewhere, without necessarily showing where. Good for you, Simon! If you’re going to be authoritative, use it right!

    It might have been the right thing to do, but you know, who was to say it couldn’t happen again? I mean, if Hollie got stage fright the first time, it was going to be a hundred times worse the second time given everyone knew what had happened, including herself! If the post title of Hollie having nerves of “steel” confused you, considering she lost it, what I was referring to was the nerves to go back out and try it again!

    At this time, I feel it’s important to point out one thing about performance. People tend to want you to succeed. Even if they were cynical to begin with, like in Susan Boyle’s audition, they jumped on her side after the first line she sung. It was a good line, but not the greatest first line of all time or anything close… and she did set them up to be cynical given her look, gyrations and quirky manners on stage before singing.

    However, little Hollie Steel lived up to her name and came back with resilience! She, like Susan and Shaheen Jarfogholi, didn’t have a great start. That could only have put more pressure on her because the cracks were already showing within the first few notes. But she stuck with it, had a only a few more shaky notes (which was fewer than I could say for Susan or Shaheen in the semi-finals), but nailed the rest, including some extremely high last notes!

    It was one of the gutsiest things I’ve ever seen anyone do, to not only come back, but come back like that! I completely agree with the judges there.

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    Hollie was a bit of a happy crying wreck after it all, not surprisingly, but who wouldn’t? The judges and everyone were on their feet for her. Simon called Hollie “officially the bravest little girl in the world”, and I couldn’t agree more!

    Now, this was a second chance that Hollie had. To many people, that was unfair. The other acts didn’t get a second chance. I can see that point, but I ask, are you looking for the best talent, or the best talent on a first go around? That question was going to have to be answered by the people. They would vote in the top three acts. The first one would go through to the finals, and the judges would have to choose one between the other two. The selection process is in a video below, though don’t read on till you’ve watched it unless you don’t care for the results… in which case, why watch it? Would the people thought Hollie deserved a second chance, or would it just be a complementary chance to right herself?

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    The public voted in Aidan Davis, and I would agree because he had a stunning routine tonight, without any second chances needed.

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    However, they also voted for Hollie Steel and Greg Pritchard, the human cat in heat male soprano singer. That surprised me a bit because I don’t associate Britain with being a land of second chances. America is the land of second chances. You ask all the British actors, actresses and singers who have ever flopped in Britain and came to America and see if they won’t confirm! However, humans are humans, and, in general, the audience wants you to succeed as I said before. Hollie couldn’t be expected to be voted through, but the audience left it in the opinions of the judges.

    With those two choices, the judges then made their decision and went for the better talent. It was as simple as that.

    SO, here’s the big question I have now. The finals are tomorrow night, on Saturday. That’s the day after this post and Hollie’s performance, if you’re reading later. That’s no time to prepare. What were the contestants told, prepare two numbers? Or would they redo their semi-final acts?

    If it were the first, I hope Hollie has something faster and funner. I had hoped she would do something with a little more maturity than something to suit her younger image like Edelweiss, even if not a fast song to show a little more diversity to her talent. Susan Boyle is a one trick singer who can sing the grand parts, but seems to have trouble with anything less than that. That’s great, but limits you to very few songs, especially considering very few are grand all the way through. I think if Hollie does a song something like those faster, more mature songs I had suggested, she could have a chance to win.

    However, if the finalists were to redo their semi-final acts, it would not only be a boring show that’s a foregone conclusions to people who had seen the semi-finals. Based on semi-final performances, Hollie doesn’t stand much of a chance to win cause I just don’t think she picked a song that gave her a really good chance to win. Based on the semi-final performances, if they were to be repeated, I’d say Aidan Davis has the best chance to win. He’s got moves, and charisma to go with it. Of course, having another dancing boy winner would start to make BGT a little stale with two of three years’ winners being such, but that’s the only thing really standing against Aidan under this scenario.

    Still, phenomenal job to come back and do it the way you did, Hollie! Nerves of Steel, indeed! And hey, say what anyone will about second chances, Hollie still easily had the most memorable performance, two if you count one good and one bad, of the semi-finals! But you know, the masses love people who show their vulnerable side. If she can come back with a great number, what happened in semi-final 5 will only help her.

    I hope the contestants were told to prepare two numbers, though, so as to leave some anticipation for the final night. And I hope somebody steps up with something unexpected and amazing cause, otherwise, the auditions would have far outshone the rest of the competition… and wouldn’t that be a bit of a pity in some ways? I mean, if it runs like that, just hold auditions and give them prizes, like recording contracts and so on.

    Regardless, can’t wait for the outcome Saturday night! Good luck, Hollie! Whatever happens, you’ve got a special spot in our hearts and one bright future!

    Update: Here’s the BGT finals outcome post!

    Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5

    Aidan Davis Has Great Moves, But Does He Have Enough to Win Britain’s Got Talent 2009?

    Britain’s Got Talent 2009 turned out another great talent Saturday in Aidan “Hip Hop” Davis, from Audition 6.

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    The kid is good!Aidan’s cascade of “nudging” moves is really cool! I will agree with the judges that he’s better than last year’s winner, another dancer named George Sampson.

    However, that hardly puts him in as a favourite for me. First, there was no competition of the calibre like Hollie Steel or Susan Boyle last year. The bar is not the same as last year for overall talent, even if the bar has been raised for dancing talent. Second, while singers can easily reinvent themselves to sing songs of different feel and genres to wow an audience again, dancers showcasing the same moves to a different song get labeled as the same old stuff. Whether that’s fair or not is not of interest to me, nor should it be to Aidan. It’s a fact of life he’ll have to live with. Third, and far less important than the other two points as it’s just my personal opinion, I don’t think the dancing is as rare a talent as the type of voices found either in Hollie Steel or Susan Boyle, with my preference still on Hollie.

    So while Aidan is going to give some variety to Britain’s Got Talent, I think he’s going to need some serious array of new moves, a couple of weeks over, to show to even give either Susan or Hollie a run for their money. I won’t put it beyond him, but I won’t put money on him to win, either. Still, he’s great to watch. I love the kid and I’ll give him that, but only that.

    Other strong showings like Jamie Pugh, Natalie Okri and Shaheen Jafargholi are farther back, in my opinion. Jamie was discovered lying about never having performed in public before as he had performed in London’s West End theatres before. Seems he’s a washed up singer/actor who could still act to move audiences, but has other issues.

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    Shaheen has got a very good voice, but again, not in the same calibre as Susan or Hollie, in my opinion. Maybe if Shaheen did a similar exercise to choose a song that demonstrates his singing strength while holding some surprise from the genre, like I suggested for Susan and Hollie, he might surprise. But I’m thinking Hollie and Susan are doing the same thing in deciding their next number so no advantage gained there.

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    Finally, Natalie Okri had a very good showing in Audition 6 on Saturday, I thought. However, that’s a song she’s been singing a lot to drive her Mother crazy sometimes. Is she singing anything else that often to give her the practice she needs to do a polished number? Getting in now, she’s got a lot less time to prepare than either Susan or Hollie… not that I thought her voice was anything to compare with Susan’s or Hollie’s to start with. Difference between very good and phenomenal, you know what I mean?

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    Any opinion to the contrary? Please do share!

    Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.6

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