Scott C. Smith: Susan Boyle, everyone’s dream
Are you one of the more than 100 million people who watched that fateful performance of Susan Boyle on YouTube? You know, the one in which she won the heart of the whole world?
There she was, dumpy, dowdy – automatically judged so negatively by her audience as she was about to perform for Simon Cowell and his chums on the British hit reality show "Britain’s Got Talent," the Anglo version of Cowell’s hypnotic "American Idol." She plodded onto the stage, flipped some marvelous, hippy attitude and then launched into a rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables that blew everyone’s proverbial socks off.
To put it simply, this is the stuff chills are made of.
The sea of "Got Talent" fans in the audience instantly triggered an ocean of Susan fans. A few bars in, they sprang to their feet. The negatives instantly turned to positives, a thousand chills tingling a thousand spines, a thousand instant reminders to never, ever judge a book by its cover. The stunned look on Simon’s face, which morphed into clearly sincere, happy smiles, said it all. Susan Boyle was phenomenal.
If you haven’t seen this clip online, go to YouTube, search Susan Boyle, and watch this moment of entertainment-making history. And now for more history.
Boyle released her first album of songs last week, titled, of course, "I Dreamed a Dream," which instantly became the top-selling release this year, both in Britain and around the world. It is reported to have sold 2 million copies in its first week.
And Boyle’s glowing star is just starting to rise. She is scheduled to perform a Christmas television special – yes, you know its name. And reports this week say she has been invited to perform at the White House in January for Michelle Obama’s birthday. Even rapper 50 Cent reportedly wants to make music with her.
This from a small-town Scottish woman who lives with her cat and said she’s never been married, adding, “I’ve never been kissed.”
Well, Susan, the world is kissing you now.
Boyle said on "Britain’s Got Talent" that she wanted to sing like Elaine Paige, the great English musical-theater star with 20 albums sold. Boy, did that ever get looks from the judges! How dare she suggest a possible comparison to Elaine Paige? Well, the whole world is Susan’s stage now.
"Got Talent" judge Piers Morgan will host a TV Guide Network television special this Sunday at 8 p.m., titled “I Dreamed a Dream: the Susan Boyle Story.” She will perform songs from her new record and will sing with the London cast of Les Miserables. The show will follow her transformation from a Blackburn, Scotland, resident with a dream to her emergence onto the world stage.
What’s in store for this very real person being propelled into super-stardom? Will she live up to the sudden expectations? Can she handle the challenges? Will she melt down and grace ugly tabloid covers with sensational headlines?
I wish her well. I want her to be successful. I wish her success as she defines it. She’ll earn millions no matter where her path takes her – that’s a given.
Will it all sit well with her where it really counts? Will she remain true to herself and the awesome, daring spirit she showed on "Got Talent"?
She’s gone through the makeover stage and appears as glamorous as is likely possible. I’d rather see her stick more to her natural self. I hope she holds onto her core, as that will keep her whole as she races to satisfy the explosion of interest and opportunity falling her way. I hope she doesn’t explode in the process.
Susan Boyle can make it big on her terms. I want that for her. She – like it or not, want it or not – represents the dreamers in all of us. It’s good to dream.
Scott C. Smith is GateHouse Media’s senior managing editor based in the Plymouth, Mass., newsroom. He knows what he’s going to give as Christmas gifts to a few dreamers in his life. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.