Switching my Inner Critic Voice from Dr Phil to Simon Cowell

I am my biggest critic. I am also my biggest supporter. How I think through life, though, is not solo, like a soliloquy or contemplative thought. Rather, it is conversational, with soliloquy like speeches. It’s technically a soliloquy since it’s myself to whom I am speaking, though, more technically, it’s some alter ego to whom I am speaking that will engage in conversation with me. You figure it out what it actually is because I don’t particularly care. 🙂

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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.

    .

    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?

    .

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

    .

    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

    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.

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

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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! 😉

    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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    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. 🙂

    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