Malcolm Gladwell on Korean Pilots and Plane Accidents

I wonder if anyone is thinking the San Francisco Asiana 214 crash might have been a case of this situation rearing its head again.

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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… 😉

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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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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