Oh, dear. I run the risk of being lynched by Susan Boyd fans having compared her to William Hung and then, by extension in the week’s discussion, to a troop of vervet monkeys. If it makes you feel any better, I was lumping the whole lot of us in the comparison to the vervet monkeys, so…
That’s probably not helping.
Let me assure you that the focus in this discussion was purely economic; an analysis that upon the sudden perception of an individual’s new skill, we tend to highly value that person. In the case of the vervet monkeys, it catapulted the container-opener to a highly dominant rank. In the case of Susan Boyle, it catapulted her to the top of the Amazon pre-seller charts.
But what happens once we realize that Susan is a talented jazz cabaret singer, just like other talented jazz cabaret singers? What’s next?
Ms. Boyle got voted out of Britain’s Got Talent in the finals because she reprised her audition song — she had not provided the voting audience anything new. That’s quite telling. Now she’s getting more tabloid press than performance press, presumably because she vaulted into the reality celebrity arena, whereas a soupçon of respect is given the veteran performers who are perceived to have paid their dues.
Thus my comparison to William Hung. Yes, the dame can sing, and Hung could not. But Ms. Boyle is still a novelty act, someone who captured the emotional buying power of the public with a fantastic story. Will she produce a second CD to the same results of the first? That’s a legacy too hard to live up to, so it’s doubtful. A third? She’ll probably realize a further decline in sales. And then she’ll enter that dangerous territory where the record executives revisit the business decisions they made in 1999 when Susan first tried to make it into the business.
Sure, she can sing. But so can a thousand others.