Susan Boyle’s Dream

So Susan Boyle’s dream has come true.  I’m glad I’ve participated in the process.  I’ve contributed to this whole massive dream fulfillment, albeit just a drop in the bucket… bought her CD today.  (No, I did not get this product free… there you go FTC)

The fact that Susan Boyle did not win British Got Talent didn’t affect the sales of her debut Album.  Even before its release in late November, she has broken the pre-sales record on Amazon.  Immediately after its release, her Album has broken the first week sales record for a debut album in the UK (410,000), beating U2 and Michael Jackson. In Australia (85,000), highest first week sales record, gone platinum right away.  In the US, sales reached 701,000 for just the week of Thanksgiving, surpassing the record set by Eminem in May this year for one week sales, by a gap of almost 100,000.  Needless to say, it tops the sales list in Canada as well.

So why did I bother to add another drop in the bucket?  Simple, I just wanted to show my support.  I know, the cynics would say it’s Simon Cowell, her producer, who is the one grinning from ear to ear.  Okay, if it takes Simon to realize her dream, so be it.

I’d like to see the 48 year-old unemployed single woman, church volunteer and obscure Scottish village dweller, who has been living and caring for her mother until her passing at 91, fulfill her singing dream.  In a previous post, I have written about the possible fallout of Susan Boyle’s 15-minute fame, the sensational YouTube appearance, and her later makeover.  But I’m glad it has turned out amazingly well for her.

Now to those who want her not to change but remain an uncouth, rural woman, I’d say, let her be. Although there’s nothing wrong being just that, uncouth and rural.  However, Susan Boyle can be whoever she wants to be,  get whatever hairdo she likes, buy new clothes if she wants, and smile or not smile for the paparazzi ….

I trust her dream is a genuine one, and she deserves to be noticed because of her humble root and high aspiration with its matching talent.  With more professional instructions and training, her skills could be augmented still some more.  Greater versatility means a wider repertoire, maximizing her potential.  From the few selections here on her CD, I feel that her voice can perform convincingly from Broadway show tunes to soft, quiet folk… blues and even jazz.

Just because of that, I’m a bit disappointed in the selections and some of the arrangements on this CD.  Except for her ‘I Dreamed A Dream’, ‘Cry Me a River’, ‘Who I was born to be’ and ‘Proud’, the other titles are somewhat limiting and have not given her enough range to showcase her wonderful voice.  The arrangements are all slow, with piano and/or guitar accompaniment.  At times her voice is solitary, at times blended with nice background chorus and beautiful strings.  Easy, gratifying listening overall… but I think the producers can take greater risks with her strong higher range, and the soulful, slightly raspy voice.

Here’s the track listing:

1.  Wild Horses (A nice rendition of The Rolling Stones classic.  Hear her sing this song on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb3XAP0c8WU)

2.  I Dreamed A Dream (As if she’s the first one singing it!)

3.  Cry Me A River (A song she’d recorded in  1999 for a charity.  Shows she can do blues and maybe even jazz)

4.  How Great Thou Art (Somewhat weak arrangement, with just the four-line chorus)

5.  You’ll See (‘About determination, independence, and the ability to show them what your are made of’)

6.  Daydream Believer (A slow, even meditative rendition of The Monkees hit, my fave as a teenager.)

7.  Up To The Mountain (‘Sometimes I just lay me down Lord, no more can I do. But then I go on again, because you ask me to’… reminiscence of a spiritual. )

8.  Amazing Grace (So many have recorded this and it still feels fresh.)

9.  Who I Was Born To Be (The song says: ‘And though I may not know the answers, I can finally say I’m free. And if the questions lead me here, then I am who I was born to be.’… and then she writes: ‘Mom must have picked this for me.’)

10.  Proud (‘My dilemma was finding my own identity – a conflict… with myself.’)

11.  The End Of The World (A touch of nostalgia.)

12.  Silent Night (For Christmas … and anytime.)

What I’ve appreciated is that in the booklet, she writes a short personal note at the end of each song.  And on the last page, after thanking all who need to be thanked, she wrote these words:

I would like to dedicate this Album to my beloved Mother, to whom I made a promise to ‘be someone’.

X  God Bless

I’ve made a right choice with that drop in the bucket.

***

Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

12 thoughts on “Susan Boyle’s Dream”

  1. I love her story, Arti. I love it for all the aspects you’ve mentioned and that something like this is possible for someone today. And I love her album cover with that smile that seems to say, “I dreamed a dream and it came true.”

    nikki,

    Let’s hope this is only the beginning of a long and successful career… never too late.

    Arti

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  2. It’s a real life fairy tale. I’m glad her cd is selling so well :0)

    Ellen,

    They expect even better sales as Christmas draws near, lots of last-minute shoppers.

    Arti

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  3. Her story is so inspiring to me. I don’t know much about her, but everything I hear makes me respect her all the more. And, it’s so nice to have a woman achieve fame who isn’t the blonde, size 2, that only Americans know how to put on a pedestal. I can’t wait to purchase this CD myself.

    Bellezza,

    I personally would like to see more variety of repertoire, but after a couple of listening, I’m hooked. It’s her voice, despite the simple arrangements, it stands out capturing you. Yes, you’ll really enjoy it.

    Arti

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  4. The fact is that sales of this first album are based on her story, rather than her talent. It doesn’t surprise me at all to hear you say it’s a little rough in places, or that it might have been better produced, giving her voice fuller expression.

    The question now is whether she has the discernment, grit and commitment to continue developing her talent and begin making artistic decisions that reflect her values and preferences. I think she does, and I’m looking forward to watching her growth.

    Sales will dip a bit with her second album, and perhaps a third – that’s my prediction, at any rate. But I believe she has the talent to begin developing a real following that will continue to keep her in the headlines.

    Linda,

    I just got the CD yesterday, but I’ve already listened to it half a dozen times. You know, it makes the best driving music, at night too, because all the songs are slow, even meditative, tranquil and solitary. … best kind of night music for me.

    For some reasons, Roland Barthes came up in my mind again, but this time, it’s Barthes applying to music… and it works much better than writing. Tonight as I listened to her songs, I began to just screen out the background and accompaniment, and focused only on her voice because it’s just so riveting. I had a feeling that I was being drawn closer into just that voice and the lyrics. So despite the simple arrangements of certain selections, it’s that mesmerizing voice singing, even the old tunes become fresh and even moving… like Amazing Grace. These words particularly stood out for me as I was driving tonight: ‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.’

    As you have expressed, I wish to see her grow and still maintain her integrity and character in the callous arena of entertainment and music industry.

    Arti

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  5. I agree, let her succeed, let her be, let her live her life. It’s such a good story that makes me feel hopeful. Clearly many people feel that connection with her.

    Yes Ruth, Susan Boyle speaks to many of us, and I just hope she can hold up and remain untainted in the limelight of fame and success… this is a good CD for self or as a gift… the more I listen to it, the more I like it.

    Arti

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  6. I’m not anti-Susan Boyle, but I just don’t see what the fuss is all about. I like her whole rags to riches story and I’m sure she is a lovely woman, but the whole internet thing bewildered me then and still does today.

    Sorry, not trying to be a hater, and I hope it didn’t come off that way.

    thegirlfromtheghetto,

    You’re absolutely right… we should appreciate SB’s talent and not the sensational YouTube clip. In my previous post ‘The Appeal and Fallout of the SB Phenomenon’, I mentioned the mismatch and surprise that the reality show producers attempted to generate. The YouTube clip shows how scripted, contrived, and manipulative reality shows can be, like the cameras catching exactly the right moment of eyes rolling, the roused up jeers…etc. That’s exactly what tick some people off. It would be complete naivety to take the clip as it is, purely incidental.

    As Linda comments, SB’s story sells the debut Album, but hopefully her talent, that beautiful voice, will continue to sell subsequent ones. And that’s why I wish her the best in holding up and not be destroyed by the sensationalism, and the profit and image driven entertainment industry. The limelight isn’t real, what’s real is her own talent and her will to pursue excellence and growth.

    Arti

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  7. I got a bit teary reading the last note of dedication. I’m happy she’s able to realise her dreams.

    mee,

    Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment! You have an interesting book blog there yourself, and I think we share the same first language, albeit maybe a different dialect. Anyway, we do share our love for books. I look forward to some mutual visiting in the days ahead.

    Arti

    Like

  8. She is inspiring. Even if I’ve only heard snippets of her voice I’m thrilled that hidden talent can sometimes emerge. Plus, it gives me hope (as a late bloomer) than I can bloom late too.

    Janelle,

    Yes, there’s always hope, and she’s lived it to tell the story… never too late.

    A.

    Like

  9. I hope she does continue to inspire and aspire. Her version of I Dreamed a Dream makes me weep; her story gives me hope. I wish the handlers had left her alone at the beginning…

    ds,

    While the YouTube clip has more or less become a cliché, her voice is fresh and moving on this album. That’s why it’s crucial to separate the sensation and all the publicity, with the real talent… and that voice. I hope she’ll have many more albums to come.

    A.

    Like

  10. Thanks Arti for another insightful review.

    I couldn’t wait to get Susan Boyle’s CD, and was one of the 701,000 who purchased it the very first day it was released, and has been listening to it over and over ever since. Like you, I was a bit disappointed with the song choices, but for a first album it is still wonderful because of Susan’s beautiful, beautiful voice. Two of my favorites are “I dreamed a dream”, of course, which I think she sang better than anyone I have heard, and “I am who I was born to be”, appropriately written for her.

    Along with millions of her fans I wish her all the best in her future endeavors, and how lucky for us that she had the courage to let her beautiful voice be heard.

    yinling,

    Yes, ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ seems to have been written for her… she is that song. Now that she has taken flight, let’s hope her producers would believe in her talents enough to help her continue to soar. Susan Boyle deserves to be taken seriously, and not be exploited by profiteers and opportunists. Thanks for sharing your view!

    Arti

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  11. The ninth song is so wonderful! I can imagine skaters using it in the upcoming Olympics as their signature piece. “Who I Was Born To Be” speaks to a lot of us. Like you, however, I hope that her next CD has some more uptempo songs. It’s time to dance! SB deserves it. :0)

    Cathy,

    You’re right… that’s one scenario where we’d hear that song, and to good use too. It would make one aesthetically beautiful skating routine. Thanks for your comment!

    Arti

    Like

  12. Happy New Year, Arti! I hope 2010 is good to you and to your family.

    I was lucky enough to get the Susan Boyle CD as a gift from our mutual friend, Yinling 918. Isn’t she just “the bee’s knees?” Anyway, although that means I have yet to contribute personally to SB’s success, she has certainly won me as a fan because of her extraordinary voice and her equally extraordinary personal story. I am always buoyed when reminded that it’s never too late to reinvent oneself…or to pursue dreams long ago put on hold.

    I, too, am in the camp that hopes for more SB and less embellishment in future albums. I’ve often wondered why artists with the most amazing gifts — whether vocal or instrumental — give in to less worthy arrangers. At best it’s an exercise in gilding the lily, but in many cases I think it makes something that is perfectly beautiful in its own right somehow less so.

    On the other hand, poor SB has been singing alone for so many years that it is probably quite wonderful for her to have someone else with whom to make music, don’t you think :o)

    Jay,

    “… in many cases I think it makes something that is perfectly beautiful in its own right somehow less so.” So true. The dilemma is, though, without media exposure, real talents probably would still remain undiscovered, and without some sort of packaging, they would not be heard so widely. Enjoy the tunes, Jay. And yes… it’s great to have friends who love to share their favorites!

    Arti

    Like

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