Magdalane Boyle, (born 1 April 1961)is a Scottish singer who came to international public attention when she appeared as a contestant on reality TV programme Britain's Got Talent on 11 April 2009, singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables. Her first album was released in November 2009 and debuted as the number one best-selling CD on charts around the globe.
Global interest in Boyle was triggered by the contrast between her powerful voice and her plain appearance on stage. The juxtaposition of the audience's first impression of her with the standing ovation she received during and after her performance led to an international media and Internet response. Within nine days of the audition, videos of Boyle — from the show, various interviews and her 1999 rendition of "Cry Me a River" — had been watched over 100 million times. To date, her audition video has been viewed on the internet over 347 million times. Despite the sustained media interest she later finished in second place in the final of the show behind dance troupe Diversity.
Boyle's first album, I Dreamed a Dream, was released on 23 November 2009 and has become Amazon's best-selling album in pre-sales. According to Billboard, "The arrival of I Dreamed a Dream ... marks the best opening week for a female artist's debut album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991."In only six weeks of sales, it became the biggest selling album in the world for 2009, selling 8.3 million copies.
Boyle was born in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland, to Patrick Boyle, a miner, World War II veteran and singer at the Bishop's Blaize, and Bridget, a shorthand typist, who were both immigrants from County Donegal, Ireland.She was the youngest of four brothers and six sisters.Born when her mother was 47, Boyle was briefly deprived of oxygen during the difficult birth and was later diagnosed as having learning difficulties.Boyle says she was bullied as a child and was nicknamed "Susie Simple" at school.
After leaving school with few qualifications,she was employed for the only time in her life as a trainee cook in the kitchen of West Lothian College for six months, took part in government training programmes. and performed at a number of local venues.
Boyle took singing lessons from voice coach Fred O'Neil.She attended Edinburgh Acting School and took part in the Edinburgh Fringe. Prior to Britain's Got Talent, her main experience had come from singing in her local Catholic church, Our Lady of Lourdes, in local choirs, and in karaoke performances at pubs in and around her village. She had also auditioned several times for My Kind of People. She also has long participated in her parish church's pilgrimages to the Knock Shrine, County Mayo, Ireland, and has sung there at the Marian basilica.
Her repertoire through the years has included songs such as "The Way We Were" and "I Don't Know How to Love Him." British tabloids claimed "exclusives" of video clips of some early performances. In 1995, her audition for Michael Barrymore's My Kind of People at the Olympia Shopping Centre in East Kilbride was filmed – the amateur video shows Barrymore was more interested in mocking her than in her ability to sing.
In 1999 she recorded a track for a charity CD to commemorate the Millennium produced at a West Lothian school. Only 1,000 copies of the CD, Music for a Millennium Celebration, Sounds of West Lothian, were pressed.An early review in the West Lothian Herald & Post said Boyle's rendition of "Cry Me a River" was "heartbreaking" and "had been on repeat in my CD player ever since I got this CD..."The recording found its way onto the internet following her first televised appearance and the New York Post said it showed that Boyle was "not a one trick pony." Hello! said the recording "cement[ed] her status" as a singing star.
In 1999, Boyle used all her savings to pay for a professionally cut demo, copies of which she later sent to record companies, radio talent competitions, local and national TV. The demo consisted of her versions of "Cry Me a River" and "Killing Me Softly with His Song"; the songs were uploaded to the Internet after her BGT audition.
After Boyle won several local singing competitions, her mother urged her to enter Britain's Got Talent and take the risk of singing in front of an audience larger than her parish church. Former coach O'Neil said Boyle abandoned an audition for The X Factor because she believed people were being chosen for their looks. She almost abandoned her plan to enter Britain's Got Talent believing she was too old, but O'Neil persuaded her to audition nevertheless. Boyle said that she was motivated to seek a musical career to pay tribute to her mother. Her performance on the show was the first time she had sung in public since her mother died.
Boyle still lives in the family home, a four-bedroom council house, with her 10-year-old cat, Pebbles. Her father died in the 1990s, and her siblings had left home. Boyle never married, and she dedicated herself to care for her ageing mother until she died in 2007 at the age of 91. Boyle has a reputation for modesty and propriety, admitting during her first appearance on Britain's Got Talent that she had "never been married, never been kissed".A neighbour reported that when Bridget Boyle died, her daughter "wouldn't come out for three or four days or answer the door or phone."
Boyle is Catholic and sang in her church choir at her church in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland.. Boyle remains active as a volunteer at her church, visiting elderly members of the congregation in their homes.
On a 2010 episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show, Boyle summarised that her daily life was "mundane" and "routine" prior to stardom.
Britain's Got Talent
In August 2008, Boyle applied for an audition for the third series of Britain's Got Talent and was accepted after a preliminary audition in Glasgow. When Boyle first appeared on Britain's Got Talent at the city's Clyde Auditorium, she said that she aspired to become a professional singer "as successful as" Elaine Paige.Boyle sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables in the first round of the third series of Britain's Got Talent, which was watched by over 10 million viewers when it aired on 11 April 2009. Amanda Holden remarked upon the audience's initially cynical attitude, and the subsequent "biggest wake-up call ever" upon hearing her performance.
I know what they were thinking, but why should it matter as long as I can sing? It's not a beauty contest.
Susan Boyle, The Sunday Times
This performance was widely reported and tens of millions of people viewed the video on YouTube.Boyle was "absolutely gobsmacked" by the strength of this reaction. Boyle is aware that the audience on Britain's Got Talent was initially hostile to her because of her appearance, but she has refused to change her image.Since the appearance, Paige has expressed interest in singing a duet and has called her "a role model for everyone who has a dream".Boyle's rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" has been credited with causing a surge in ticket sales in the Vancouver production of Les Misérables. Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of the Les Misérables musical, also praised the performance, as "heart-touching, thrilling and uplifting".
She was one of 40 acts that were put through to the semi-finals.She appeared last on the first semi-final on 24 May 2009, performing "Memory" from the musical Cats. In the public vote she was the act to receive the highest number of votes and go through to the final. She was the clear favourite to win the final,but ended up in second place to Diversity; the UK TV audience was a record of 17.3 million viewers.
Hospital stay and BGT tour
I didn't pick up on any unduly troubling signs. She was nervous, yes, but no more nervous than Paul Potts had been before his live final two years previously. She understood the significance of the night.
Then, during the final show, at the crucial point when the dance group Diversity won, I looked over at her face and thought: 'Christ, she doesn't know how to deal with not winning.'
Simon Cowell, Daily Mail
The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) became concerned by press reports about Boyle's erratic behaviour and speculation about her mental condition and wrote to remind editors about clause 3 (privacy) of their code of press conduct.The day after the final, Boyle was admitted to The Priory, a private psychiatric clinic in London, TalkbackThames explained "Following Saturday night's show, Susan is exhausted and emotionally drained." Her stay in hospital attracted widespread attention, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown wishing her well. Cowell has offered to waive Boyle's contractual obligation to take part in the BGT tour. Her family said "she's been battered non-stop for the last seven weeks and it has taken its toll [...but...] her dream is very much alive," as she had been invited to the Independence Day celebrations at the White House.
Album and promotional tour
Boyle's first album, I Dreamed a Dream, was released on 23 November 2009. The album includes covers of "Wild Horses" (scheduled to be her first single) and "You'll See" as well as "I Dreamed a Dream", and "Cry Me a River". I Dreamed a Dream became Amazon.com's best-selling album in pre-sales on 4 September 2009, three months before the scheduled release. In Britain, Susan's debut album was recognised as the fastest selling UK debut album of all time selling 411,820 copies, beating the previous fastest selling debut of all time, Spirit by Leona Lewis. I Dreamed a Dream also outsold the rest of the top 5 albums combined in its first week.
In the U.S., the album sold 701,000 copies in its first week, the best opening week for a debut artist in over a decade.. It topped the Billboard chart for six straight weeks and although it narrowly failed to become the best-selling album of 2009, with sales of 3,104,000 compared to 3,217,000 for Taylor Swift's Fearless, it was one of only two albums to sell over 3 million copies in the U.S., and was also the top selling "physical" album of 2009, with only 86,000 of its sales coming from digital downloads.This has in turn garnered more media attention, as mentioned by People Magazine.
In Italy, it was the first album of the month in the Italian #1 Account by a non-Italian artist ever. In only a week, it already sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, becoming the fastest selling global female debut album.
Boyle gave a U.S. concert tour in November as a lead-up to the album release. On 13 December 2009 she appeared in her own television special "I Dreamed a Dream: the Susan Boyle Story", featuring a duet with Elaine Paige. It got ratings of 10 million viewers in the United Kingdom and in America was the TV Guide Network's highest rated television special in its history.
In November 2009 it was reportednm that Boyle's rendition of 'I Dreamed a Dream' would be the theme song of the anime movie Eagle Talon The Movie 3, that was released in Japan on 16 January 2010.
In May 2010, Susan Boyle was voted by Time magazine as the seventh most influential person in the world. Fourteen places above US President Barack Obama, who received one fifth of her votes, and fifty seven above French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Web sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have been crucial in facilitating Boyle's rapid rise to fame:The most popular YouTube video submission of her audition garnered nearly 2.5 million views in the first 72 hours. On the day following the performance, the YouTube video was the most popular article on Digg. The same video was judged so popular on Reddit that it was put on the site's main page.Within a week, the audition performance had been viewed more than 66 million times, setting an online record, while on Wikipedia her biographical article attracted nearly half a million page views. A total of 103 million video views on 20 different Web sites was reached within nine days.The Los Angeles Times wrote that her popularity on YouTube may in part be due to the broad range of emotion packed into a short clip which was "perfect for the Internet". In December 2009 her audition was named the most watched Youtube video of the year with over 120 million viewings, more than three times higher than the second most popular video.
Many newspapers around the world (including China, Brazil and the Middle East) carried articles on Boyle's performance. British tabloid The Sun gave her the nickname "Paula Potts" in reference to the first series' winner Paul Potts. Later, the British press took to referring to her by a short-form of her name, 'SuBo'. In the U.S., several commentators also drew parallels between Boyle's performance and that of Potts. ABC News hailed "Britain's newest pop sensation", and its Entertainment section headlined Boyle as "The Woman Who Shut Up Simon Cowell".
Within the week following her performance on Britain's Got Talent, Boyle was a guest on STV's The Five Thirty Show. She was interviewed via satellite on CBS's Early Show, Good Morning America,NBC's Today, FOX's America's Newsroom. and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Via satellite on Larry King Live,Boyle performed an a cappella verse of "My Heart Will Go On". She was also portrayed in drag by Jay Leno, who joked that they were related through his mother's Scottish heritage.
At the invitation of NHK, Boyle appeared as a guest singer for the 2009 edition of Kōhaku Uta Gassen, annual songfest on 31 December at the NHK Hall. She was introduced as the ouen kashu (応援歌手 lit. "cheering singer"?) by the MCs and appeared on the stage escorted by Takuya Kimura, and sang "I Dreamed a Dream".
Although not eligible for the 2010 Grammy Awards, its host Stephen Colbert paid tribute to Boyle at the ceremony, telling its audience "you may be the coolest people in the world, but this year your industry was saved by a 48-year-old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes."There was also earlier controversy, when Boyle was failed to be nominated in any of the categories for the 2010 Brit Awards.
Judging by appearance
The Huffington Post noted that the producers of the show would have anticipated the potential of this story arc, by deliberately presenting Boyle in a manner that would enhance this initial reaction.The Herald described Boyle's story as a modern parable and a rebuke to people's tendency to judge others based on their physical appearance. Similarly, Entertainment Weekly said that Boyle's performance was a victory for talent and artistry in a culture obsessed with physical attractiveness and presentation.
Modern society is too quick to judge people on their appearances. [...] There is not much you can do about it; it is the way they think; it is the way they are. But maybe this could teach them a lesson, or set an example.
Susan Boyle, The Washington Post
The Washington Post believed that her initial demeanour and homely appearance caused the judges and audience to be "waiting for her to squawk like a duck".New York's Daily News said that an underdog being ridiculed or humiliated but then enjoying an unexpected triumph is a common trope in literature, and the stark contrast between the audience's low expectations and the quality of her singing made Boyle's performance such an engaging piece of television.
R.M. Campbell, music critic for The Gathering Note compared her to Ella Fitzgerald, in that "[... it is] really, really hard to make a career if a woman isn't attractive." In another Huffington Post article, Letty Cottin Pogrebin wrote that although people may "weep for the years of wasted talent", Boyle's performance was a triumph for "women of a certain age" over a youth culture that often dismisses middle-aged women.Tanya Gold wrote in The Guardian that the difference between Boyle's hostile reception and the more neutral response to Paul Potts in his first audition reflected society's expectation that women be both good-looking and talented, with no such expectation existing for men. Los Angeles vocal coach Eric Vetro stated "She's an everywoman as opposed to an untouchable fantasy goddess, so maybe that's why people react to her."
Several media sources have commented that Boyle's success seemed to have particular resonance in the United States. An American entertainment correspondent was quoted in The Scotsman comparing Boyle's story to the American Dream, as representing talent overcoming adversity and poverty. The Associated Press described this as Boyle's "hardscrabble story", dwelling on her modest lifestyle and what they characterised as urban deprivation in her home town. Similarly, The Independent's New York correspondent David Usborne wrote that the United States will always respond to "the fairy tale where the apparently unprepossessing suddenly becomes pretty, from Shrek to My Fair Lady".
The American cartoon show South Park made a reference to Susan Boyle in the episode "Fatbeard", which aired on 22 April 2009; the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show aired a comedy sketch showing the "feel good" effect that Susan Boyle's performance has had on people; The Simpsons aired a new commercial for its 20th-anniversary show "Springfield's Got Talent", in which Homer Simpson talks about his dreams "to be a great singer like Boyle". A European trailer for the video game The Sims 3 includes a character mocked up as Boyle. In June 2009, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a short story called "I Dreamed a Dream" that was based on a combination of Boyle's appearances on Britain's Got Talent and the political difficulties of Gordon Brown. The 5 November 2009 episode of the show 30 Rock showed recurring character Kathy Geiss (Marceline Hugot) - who has a dowdy appearance - singing in the style of Susan Boyle as Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy teared up. In a Season 35 sketch on Saturday Night Live, an accountant (Andy Samberg) said that Boyle's income for 2008 was $1, $62,000 for 2009, and $1 for 2010. Bobby Moynihan played Boyle in the sketch.
Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold) Sales
2009 I Dreamed a Dream
Debut studio album
Release date: 23 November 2009
Label: Syco/Columbia Records
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 3
NZ: 10× Platinum
AUS: 8× Platinum
UK: 7× Platinum
CAN: 5× Platinum
US: 4× Platinum
Year Single Peak chart positions Album
AUS NL BEL FRA
2009 "Wild Horses" 9 11 — 98 95 93 99 — 31 I Dreamed a Dream
"I Dreamed a Dream" 37 20 43 62 65 66 — 27 37
As featured artist
2010 "Everybody Hurts" (as part of Helping Haiti) 1 1 — — — 28 — — — Charity Single
"—" denotes that the record has not yet charted in that region.