Susan Boyle- the Emperor's got Talent

December 1, 2011

I was right about The Darkness. Sorry, but while you were all hailing them as the new ‘Queen’ I was shaking my head and thinking, ‘That lad’s a ‘top C’ and a bag of chips away from disaster.’

I still feel I’m right about button flies. I stand there by the exit of public toilets, fiddling with myself and thinking, ‘This is how they came up with ‘The Cube’!’

I was wrong about Uggs- fair enough. I was wrong about Mark Wright- seems like a decent lad, he can live. I’m happy to be corrected.

So can somebody, please, tell me why Susan Boyle is worth millions?

I saw her this morning on the day-before-yesterdays ’This morning’, which I’m sure qualifies me for my own Tardis, and all I could think was what I always think when I hear her sing: “It’s just a woman, singing!”

As I write, my wife is treading the boards in a West-End musical. Many of our friends are from the same industry. Trained, talented people. My wife can sing. She’s a very good singer- a professional, as it were. She’s not worth millions.

Susan Boyle can sing, of course she can. She’s got quite a nice voice, but take the echo off her microphone and she’s just a woman who can sing, and there are thousands of those.

Everyone, even now, goes back to that moment on BGT when she came out onto the stage looking, it has to be said, slightly bovine and did what has, in my opinion, made her fortune. She sang ‘better than expected’. In other words, she sings better then she looks like she can sing. If she’d looked like Celine Dion she’d have got a raised eyebrow from Simon and a, ‘yes, but would the Queen like it?’ from Piers.

She waddled out before the judges, all flock wall paper and facial hair, and started gyrating her hips and speaking in tongues. Everyone thought she was going to be guided gently back off by someone in a smock and marigolds muttering, “Honestly Susan, I turn my back for five minutes…” But instead she nodded to the magic hand on the sound system that, thankfully for her, could still play C90 cassette tapes, and let rip.

It was impressive. Anton- the taller half of the conjoined presentation unit ‘Anton Dec’, turned to the camera, “You didn’t expect that, Didga!” I shook my head- I hadn’t. But then, I didn’t expect Diversity to be as good as they were. I didn’t expect that guy who swallows snooker balls and goldfish to be able to regurgitate Amanda Holden’s ring after unlocking it with his over-worked duodenum, but he did, and he’s not worth millions either.

Nine days later she’s an internet sensation and tipped to win the whole thing. She’s mentioned on Oprah and has been credited with reinventing music altogether and fathering/mothering Jesus, so I thought I ought to Google her performances since that moment on BGT and see what all the fuss is about.

Well, apart from that two minutes and twenty seconds of audition, and a CD version of ‘cry me a River’ from TEN YEARS previously. There was nothing… that would be ‘nothing at all’, the kind of thing that you’re left with if you take something from something- that nothing.

That CD of ‘Cry Me A River’ by the way, was dug up after her appearance on BGT. ‘Hello’ claimed it “cemented her status” as a singing star and no less a journal than the New York Times saw it as proof that she wasn’t just a ‘one trick pony.’ But, surely, even a pony with two tricks is no ‘Mr. Ed’.

Years pass and I’m left fiddling with my flies while I queue outside the Ugg shop for a £200 pair of lazily-crafted slippers, expecting the moment of revelation to come. Waiting for that enlightenment where I suddenly hear what everyone else can hear, but I can’t. All I can hear is a woman singing. All I can see is a woman who can sing better than her appearance would have you expect.

Susan, like Cher and Madonna, is now known by only one name but, unlike them and more like Jedward, it’s not her actual name but an abbreviated amalgamation: ‘SUBO’. Thankfully her second name isn’t Bale or it would be ‘SUBA’ which is ‘A BUS’ backwards and her PR people will want her as far from associations with the back of a bus as possible.

The worry is that, as her image is cultivated and her appearance improves, that ‘juxtaposition’ [wikipedia’s word- not mine] is lessened. As her fame and income increase she will, inevitably, end up looking more like Beyoncé Knowles and less like Nick Knowles and somebody, somewhere will finally look at her and think, ‘Hang on, it’s just a woman, singing.’

From what I’ve seen of her, Susan Boyle is a lovely lady. She seems to have a good sense of humour, a degree of humility and a half decent singing voice. I have nothing against her at all and wish her all the best. I just don’t understand, now the surprise has worn off, what all the fuss is about.

Maybe I’m wrong- maybe, thankfully, she’s not ‘in the altogether’ after all and her voice really is millions of pounds better than all the other women who can sing but, like the emperor’s new outfit, I just can’t see it.


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