Pop quiz: Which of the following artists have solds the most CD pre-orders for a single album?
b) Bruce Springsteen
c) Clay Aiken
d) Susan Boyle
The answer, if you’ve not heard the news, is Susan Boyle. According to the Amazon press release, Susan tops accomplished artists such as Norah Jones, U2, even The Boss. Even fellow reality-star Clay Aiken, known for his rabid fans, doesn’t hold a candle to Susan’s Scottish charm.
Her voice enthralled the audience on Britain’s Got Talent, primarily because the audience was shocked to hear someone with actual talent. Review Susan’s track record in the music industry, and you’ll see that she had made several attempts to break into the field. She’d even received favourable reviews in 1999 from the New York Post and Britain’s Hello! magazine.
But that was it. No record contract, no singing career outside of her church.
After her audition on Britain’s Got Talent, Susan Boyle’s 15 minutes of fame were guaranteed. Her audition was viewed by tens of millions of people on YouTube. One could find her on morning TV shows sporting a striking new makeover from the dowdy lass first seen on TV. Rumour had it that she would visit President Obama.
And here’s where the William Hung comparison comes in. William Hung basked in similar celebrity after his notorious audition on American Idol. The cult following that ensued was remarkable, most likely an attestation to his positive attitude as he responsed: “Um, I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all.” With those words, Hung’s 15 minutes of fame were guaranteed. He’d appear on numerous TV shows, and recorded three albums with sales of 200,000, 35,000, and 7,000 units respectively.
We’ll all admit that Susan Boyle is no William Hung. But Susan’s path to stardom seems relatively similar. Already there are people seeking to make money off Susan’s notoriety, rather than her talent (the CD sells on eBay for $19, where you can pre-order it for $10). Will the world, now over the shock of such a voice coming from a physical presence not stuffed and packaged a certain way for the mainstream audience, believe that her CD covers are “heartbreaking?” Or will they expect something more of a woman who has proven that she can sing like any other vocalist, and allow Susan to slip back into anonymity, only to be resurrected in VH1’s “I Love the Aughts – 2008?”