I Called It! Susan Boyle Sang Memory to Get Through Semi-Final 1 of Britain’s Got Talent 2009

Susan Boyle Semis

On May 15, I posted an entry about What Should Hollie Steel and Susan Boyle Sing Next?

There, I speculated on some songs the two finest singers in the Britain’s Got Talent 2009 should sing to up the ante for their next performance, now that the world knew what to expect of them that was unlike the first round. I concluded that Susan’s strength was grandeur. She can hit those big fanfare notes like she did in I Dreamed a Dream that was from her first performance. However, she was weak on the playful, soft and less dramatic materials. In the end, I thought she should stick to her strength and pay an hommage to her idol, Elaine Page, with a powerhouse classic on which Elaine has a signature. That would be Memory from the musical Cats.

Sure enough, Susan came out with Memory for the semi-finals tonight, weak on the softer, less dramatic start than the the full flare part 2:22 into the video below. In fact, she was so weak on the softer parts, especially the first few notes, I’d call it awful. Let me tell you, in her audition, with what people expected of her, had she sung those first few notes like she did in this song, Simon would have buzzed her out!!!

True to my predictions, though, Susan got stronger as the song got more dramatic, and recovered enough in time, flourishing at the end to get her through because it is how you finish that matters most. If you’re not well-versed in music, I’ve included a video of Elaine Page singing Memory from Cats for you to compare to Susan’s rendition, especially in that really shaky beginning Susan had. Now, I didn’t expect Susan to be Elaine’s equivalent (yet), and I know she’d be nervous, but I did expect her to hit the right notes and not be that shaky for that long.

I was also disappointed Susan did not show up in costume. She’d have made quite the cat! A “little tiger” as Simon Cowell called her in her original audition.

You can watch Elaine’s even better stage concert version of Memory here, included with my past post.

Regardless, well done, Susan. Congratulations! I’m now waiting for my girl Hollie to stun the world! πŸ™‚

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.0

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What Should Hollie Steel and Susan Boyle Sing Next on Britain’s Got Talent?

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Hollie Steel

Hollie Steel

Update: May 24 2009 – I got Susan Boyle’s prediction correct! Waiting on Hollie!

Hollie Steel and Susan Boyle both made great use of the surprise element to enhance their dazzling auditions on Britain’s Got Talent to stratospheric levels. Hollie started off dancing, dressed in a ballerina outfit before she opened her mouth the blast away everybody with her stunning singing. Susan Boyle, meanwhile, looked “frumpy” and over the hill, incapable of having such a polished voice since nothing else about her said “polished”.

But now, we’re getting ready for the next round and those elements of surprise are gone. People will be expecting great performances out of both. What should they each sing to get them the edge over the other?

Simple answer, in terms of concept, if you ask me. Difficult as heck of an answer, in terms of details, if you ask me.

I think they should both sing something which demonstrate the strengths in their vocal abilities, as well as show us a new element of their singing and/or character to add a little surprise. That is, keep the same formula as much as you can. But without both elements, the expectations of another great song would just be too great for either to fully satisfy now that people have an idea of how great their voices are.

There are many songs that suit the strength criteria, with all of breadth, power, great lyrics and such. A British crowd pleaser would certainly be a bonus. Susan’s strength is seriousness and grandeur. We heard her sing I Dreamed a Dream that was slow, with notes held long and several grand flourishes. Hollie, meanwhile, has more dexterity and range in her voice, singing a suitably playful and light I Could Have Danced All Night to suit her girlish looks.

That said about both Susan and Hollie, what might they be able to surprise us with, then? Well, I find it hard to imagine Susan doing most fun number convincingly. She might look like a granny, for example, but can you imagine her singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins, for example?

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The best I can imagine Susan to do for fun is Honey Bun from South Pacific, like Reba McEntire does below, hip twisting and all as Susan showed she could do in audition intro to Simon Cowell while saying “and that’s just one side of me” that drew quite the reaction from the crowd. Susan would never win on that number, but it’d be hilarious and I’d pay a lot to see it!

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Susan might do well in the style of fun if she were to choose something like A Wonderful Guy from South Pacific. It’s the prototypical fun song for the “frump next door”. Hahaha. I can’t believe I just came up with that! Frump next door. That’s my new affectionate nickname for Susan. Anyway, Susan can even seduce the judges with this song by dedicating it to, say, Piers Morgan, who had asked her on a date to apologize for his cynicism of her abilities on the show and she had accepted. I don’t think Simon Cowell would fall for it, though. It’s all in the lyrics so listen carefully! Brilliant choice for Susan, in my opinion. But, alas, can’t you also imagine how cute little Hollie would be doing something like this??? Susan would be beaten at her own song, even if Hollie could not try to seduce any of the judges with it like Susan could given her age.

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Hollie, meanwhile, I think could go serious in any number of ways while still retaining her childish charm. That is, she could be on Susan’s turf and still keep her identity in all this. What if Hollie stepped out and did the Liverpool soccer team favourite of You’ll Never Walk Alone, in the style Sissel does below with the ravishing surprise ending? I think they’d go nuts for her! Susan couldn’t hit that note, but wouldn’t sound all that unique or special if she were to sing it, even though she’d sing it well.

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Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle

I thought about Josh Groban‘s You Raise Me Up, but that was recently done by former BGT super contestant Connie Talbot. It was outside of BGT at the age of 8, and as much better as Hollie would be able to do it, it’d be too close in time for comparisons. I think if Hollie were to really dazzle, she’d sing For Good, from Wicked. It’s one of my favourite 10 songs, and so thoughtful a song it’d be the one I’d play at my funeral to share a last thought if I could only have one song. Turns out, it might also be one of Hollie’s favourites as Hollie had said on the Today Show that she would love to sing in Wicked in London’s West End! She might well do this song! I only found out in trying to find hints Hollie might have given for her next song and saw she was thinking something similar, if not the same thing. Imagine that! I might just get my wish, and wouldn’t that just be Wicked? Listen to the lyrics in this duet version that I’ve heard interpreted solo before, and imagine a 10 year old singing that to you! I think I’ll need to Kleenex to sponsor me for that one! Ironically, Susan might be old and more suited to give this kind of advice, but she just wouldn’t move me the same way Hollie would. Not even close!

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So what’s Susan to do then, if going fun isn’t suitable for her? I say stick to the powerhouse classics. Maybe she could try one sung by her idol Elaine Page? There’s an emotion filled rendition of Memory from Cats below by Elaine. If Susan could do it with that much emotion, given her voice and less polished look to look like a character who might say those lines, and add in a few growls, it’d be stunning! Even better, I’d love to see Susan sing it in costume! She’d be quite the cat! A “little tiger”, as Simon Cowell called her during her audition on Britain’s Got Talent… πŸ˜‰

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Of course, if Hollie showed up in a little cat outfit, everybody would all be melting over how cute she would be! And even if the audience could immediately predict she’d be singing Memory upon seeing her in her cat suit, I think the voice power and the image of a little girl pouring out such maturity would confound them and dazzle them enough to stun them like Susan could not.

Ah, let’s face it. I’m convinced Hollie Steel will win Britain’s Got Talent 2009, even if the odds are not with me. But whatever Susan and Hollie come up with, though, I’m sure it’ll be good and frankly, I can’t wait! When is that next round anyway?

What would you suggest Hollie Steel and Susan Boyle sing next on Britain’s Got Talent?

By the way, WordPress just enabled videos in Comments. I don’t know how it works yet but if you want to try, see if you can make it work with a video to illustrate your choice of song/s!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5

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It’s Over Susan Boyle, Hollie Steel’s Got Your Number

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Update from May 15, click here to share what Hollie Steel and Susan Boyle should sing next in Britain’s Got Talent in order to be better than the other!

From May 30, see Hollie’s semi-final and final performances.

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OH… MY… GOODNESS!!! Whatever’s in the water over there in Britain, the Americans could only wish they had the same thing going. Where the British keep finding some of these talents is beyond me but have a listen to what little 10 year old Hollie Steel does in her Britain’s Got Talent 2009 audition… especially the last notes in the song that she hits… and I mean HITS! Can you say, ree-DONK-u-lous???

Hollie Steel

Hollie Steel

Well, wait a minute. I take that all back. I actually have no words worthy of what I saw Hollie do in that video.

However, I had to come up with a story to blog and share this video because my superlatives weren’t good enough. So how’s about me making the call Hollie’s going to beat out Susan Boyle to win Britain’s Got Talent 2009 unless some even more amazing comes along? That might be hard to imagine but, hey, that was hard to imagine when Susan Boyle did her audition. You can leave your opininon in the poll below to agree or disagree with me if Hollie will win, but here’s my reasoning, psycho and social analysis, Siminh Cowell style! πŸ˜‰

Let’s start with talent. After all, BGT is a talent show, right?

No contest. Hollie Steel could sing Susan Boyle out of the auditorium. Don’t get me wrong, I like Susan Boyle’s voice a lot, but she simply doesn’t have the power, dexterity, range, timbre or much of any other qualities by one gauges a voice that little Hollie does. This girl could sing the birds out of Britain, never mind Susan Boyle out of the auditorium! If there were no birds in Britain left next year, it won’t be because of climate change. They’ll have gone to where the singing competition weren’t nearly as tough!

Second, not in importance but what popped into my mind, appearance. Are you kidding me? Sure, the old spinster look is charming and refreshing among all those teenage pop stars and older ones who overdo their looks, but that can’t complete with an adorable 10 year old girl cuter than any button I’ve ever seen!

Third, expectations. Susan got the audience so riled up because initial expectations for her were below Hollie’s. People were so cynical towards Susan, which was what made her audition video so moving the way she turned them on a dime to be her supporters. Of course, Hollie dealt with cynicism towards her in the form of Simon Cowell flashing his hand just 15 seconds into her audition, ready to buzz out her out at 3:19 left in the video. But true to her name, she was solid steel to stand her ground. She did not so much as even flinch at the sight of his look and opened hand. She just waited for a few seconds till the music queued her in, opened her mouth, almost as if on queue to respond, and released a tsunami of a singing voice that startled Simon back in his place, with a shocked reaction on his face that was just priceless! But, in general, Hollie was a cute girl people were hoping to succeed from the start. Nobody likes to see a little girl get crushed publicly, and so the expectation change from start to end for Hollie wasn’t nearly as large as Susan’s. Just look at judge Kelly Brook‘s face light up at 3:54 remaining in the video when Hollie came out. Kelly was just enamoured with this girl throughout! However, next time out, the surprise will be gone for both. The audience will listen and they’ll look, to which I defer to my first and second arguments above in favour of Hollie.

Fourth, determination versus innocence. Susan Boyle knew she could “rock” that audience as she said in her audition video. It was a matter of people giving her the chance. She was going on determination, not innocence. She knew she was good, had recorded before and that it was her looks that stood in her way. Hollie Steel, meanwhile, “only entered in the competition so she did not feel left out when her 15 year old brother Josh also went for an audition”, according to the UK Telegraph. It may be easier to admire determination than innocence, but I argue it’s easier to fall in love with innocence. If BGT isn’t a talent contest, it certainly is a popularity contest. Hollie’s got talent, and she’s got love, doubly trumping Susan again. Besides, Simon’s already issued public warnings to Susan to focus on the contest and not get carried away with fame. Susan’s already lost her innocence. As for Hollie and determination, she’s got plenty, overcoming near death from pneumonia at the age of four!

Finally, voter demographics. Britain and the Western world are getting older. Susan Boyle’s got a lot more people in her age bracket (40-60 year olds) than 0-20 year olds in Hollie Steel’s age bracket, half of whom won’t likely be calling in much. However, last I checked, children, especially adorable little girls singing the birds to shame, rather loved by the general public. I think a lot of people Susan’s age will vote for Hollie the kid, hoping or having grandchildren of their own at their age. It’s all about the children at that age, not your fellow age groupers who are talking about failing body parts and new medication! And no, those few cowardly cyber bullies doing stupid things online dissing little Hollie, hiding behind their Internet covers, aren’t nearly enough to alter the votes. (see Sun story link below)

Right now, Susan Boyle is still the 1-2 favourite (The Sun, UK), but I’m going to step out and call it for Hollie barring a better candidate later.

Right or wrong, though, BGT 2009 has got me hooked! I will be following this year the rest of the way!

As for their American equivalents, I blogged just the other day asking what does America’s Got Talent, or American Idol, have to compete with Britain’s Got Talent seeing videos the likes of Connie Talbot, Paul Potts, Susan Boyle? The question becomes even more pressing now with Hollie Steel coming along! I’m starting to think those American shows should be called America Ain’t Got No Talent and American Idle! Go to the post questioning that talent and prove me wrong with some answers!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.6

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What Does America’s Got Talent Have to Compete With Connie Talbot, Paul Potts and Susan Boyle?

Top to bottom: Connie Talbot, Paul Potts, Susan Boyle

Top to bottom: Connie Talbot, Paul Potts, Susan Boyle

Update from Apr 27 2009, you can add Hollie Steel to this list! WOW!

I do a lot of research for this blog. I want to take a rest today and let some readers share their knowledge and opinions on some content from America’s Got Talent, the American version of Britain’s Got Talent, or even American Idol.

I don’t watch any of those three shows, but Britain’s Got Talent videos the likes of Susan Boyle, Paul Potts and Connie Talbot have managed to reach me (see videos below). They have amazed me, taken my breath away, made me cry, inspired me, and so on.

However, nothing from America’s Got Talent or American Idol seemed to have reached me… and YouTube is an American phenomenon! Why nothing from either show has reached me isn’t the point here, though.

What I want to know is what does America’s Got Talent (or American Idol) have to compete with the likes of the Britain’s Got Talent videos below of Connie Talbot, Paul Potts and Susan Boyle?

Tell me, because I’ve got no idea. I believe the best viral stuff on the Net works similar to a free market where the true best will make it to the top be better known. But if so, then America’s Got Talent and American Idol has nothing that comes close to the aforementioned videos from Britain’s Got Talent.

That is probably wrong, though, so please help me. Post a comment suggestion of some of America’s Got Talent’s best moments with a YouTube link. Or American Idol as well. Maybe your favourite moment/s is a good way to identify that choice?

Or can I be right that America’s Got Talent and American Idol don’t have anything that can compete with the viral videos below from Britain’s Got Talent? Somehow, I can’t imagine the Americans agreeing with that. But maybe the American hype machine has pretty much picked up everyone hitting the “good” level so as to leave nothing quite as stunning as some of those Britain’s Got Talent folks. We’ll see, I guess.

If you haven’t by chance seen any of these videos below, I would highly recommend you have a look. I think they’ll move you, probably a lot. They certainly moved me a lot.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.8

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Connie Talbot on Britain’s Got Talent 2007

Connie made it to the finals and has also gone on to stardom, as Connie’s website shows or by searching her name on Google and YouTube. For all her various videos, there are over 80 million views… which Susan Boyle has yet to reach at time of posting, but has 2 more years to do that, which shouldn’t be a problem. There are some other great and charming videos of Connie, like:

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Paul Potts on Britain’s Got Talent 2007

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Paul won the overall competition in 2007 and has gone on to stardom. See Paul’s website or just search his name on Google and YouTube and see what shows up. This video with Natasha Marsh shows Paul singing Verdi, and this one is a more polished Paul singing the same Nessun Dorma as above, but is formal and has no crowd electricity like the above one.

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Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent 2009

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Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent 2009 as Your Literal Wake-up Call

Most Viewed YouTube Clips Ever, as of Apr 17 2009 (courtesy of Visible Measures)

Most viewed YouTube clips ever, as of Apr 17 2009, with Susan Boyle's video still rising by millions of views per day (graph courtesy of Visible Measures)

In under one week, a video of 48 year old Scots Susan Boyle singing I Dreamed a Dream (magnificent lyrics below) from Les Miserables on Britain’s Got Talent 2009 (April 11) became the most viewed YouTube video ever (Mashable.com)! A search of all the versions now, 8 days later on Apr 19 2009, show well over 50 million views among them! That’s a HUGE statement when you hear about all kinds of stuff that goes viral on YouTube, most of which is crap anyway. But best of all, Susan’s video and story is all real.

If you haven’t seen the video of Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent 2009, have a look below and you’ll understand why. It is the BEST YouTube video I have ever seen, without a doubt… though it’s not like I watch a ton of YouTube compared to the average person. In the intro, the unemployed, self-proclaimed cross-eyed spinster who’s never been kissed said that “I’m going to make that audience rock!” And man, if you’ve never known what making an audience rock meant, this will be all you’ll ever need to see to understand that!

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I dreamed a dream in time gone by, When hope was high, And life worth living, I dreamed that love would never die, I dreamed that God would be forgiving, Then I was young and unafraid, When dreams were made and used and wasted, There was no ransom to be paid, No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night, With their voices soft as thunder, As they tear your hope apart, And they turn your dream to shame (5 note rising crescendo on a desperate word, beautiful!)

But still I dream he’ll come to me, That we will live our lives together, But there are dreams that cannot be, And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be, So different from this hell I’m living, So different now from what it seemed, Now life has killed the dream I dreamed

What lyrics!!! So that was the background on Susan. The idea I wanted to share came from BGT panel judge Amanda Holden (insert whistle here). She said people were being “cynical” of Susan based on Susan’s appearance, and that Susan’s performance was the “biggest wake-up call ever”. That spawned the literal idea in my head of using the video, with all its crowd energy, as either my wake-up alarm or something to listen to while I made and/or ate breakfast. I’ve started doing the former. So instead of hitting the snooze button or accepting whatever came across the radio as a wake-up call, which is often a mediocre to bad mood to start the day, I wake up with a build up that ends in a roar upon Simon Cowell‘s confirmation Susan was “in” at the 6 minute mark. Seriously, I get up near that point, turn to place my feet on the ground and get up to roar with the crowd!

And man, does it ever make me feel like I could do anything and handle anything that life throws my way!

The adrenaline that built up in the previous 6 minutes to that point in the video helps, I’m sure, even though I already know the story. Hey, people watch the same movies over and over again for the same reason. I’m sure this wake-up call using Susan Boyle’s video audio will lose its effect soon enough, but I’ll milk anything that lets me feel like I could do anything in life for all it’s worth. That’s not to say I’m a negative person or anything. No. I’m a very positive person. I’m just a very positive realist.

1999-charity-cd

1999 Charity CD by the Scottish Daily Record featuring Susan Boyle on Track 12

As an added note to Susan Boyle’s history, she is not an instant sensation. She’s been doing this for a long time, and others have heard her before. They just never believed in her and/or gave her a chance. This YouTube “video” below of just Susan’s picture plays rare recording of the Blackburn, West Lothian native beautifully singing Cry Me a River, from a charity CD in 1999 by the Scottish Daily Record newspaper. Only 1000 copies of that CD was made. Betcha it’s worth a ton now! It’ll be worth more after Susan appears on Oprah some time in the future! And she won’t be lonely any more, as she said on Larry King Live just last Friday. πŸ™‚

Ah, yes. Don’t you love life stories like Susan Boyle’s? It further affirms my belief in my two biggest philosophies in life. The first is the best thing you can give someone, including yourself, is a chance. Susan gave herself a chance and so did Britain’s Got Talent. The second is failure is not about falling down, it’s about not getting back up. Susan gave herself many chances, in fact, despite people always blocking her way or ignoring her. She’s gotten back up about as many times as the number of people who have gotten up to cheer for her since her breakthrough, and remains “humbled” through it all as seen on this CNN interview.

Way to go, Susan, and may all your dreams come true!

By the way, who followed Susan on the show? Wow! If you ever want to know what a tough act to follow means, just imagine that scenario!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.0