It will have escaped no-one’s notice that the narrative of Susan Boyle is very similar to that of Paul Potts: the undiscovered talent, sitting dormant until middle-age. Both tell stories of a mundane life, and both defy the judges’ expectations in the most satisfying manner. Simon Cowell is the wicked-witch and faery Godmother, rolled into one: he is the cynic to be flummoxed, and also the bestower of fame.
Its a double-delight to watch Susan and Paul ‘turn’ the crowd in the process. Unlike the cool kidz and the prettyboys who expect the mobb’s support (until the proven otherwise), Boyle and Potts have to win over a crushing cynicism. And it is that sweet, sweet triumph which makes these clips so throatblockingly beautiful.
A third delight is the fact that these performances emerge from a TV format that, elsewhere, depends on precisely the cynical, sing-by-the-numbers yawnery that usually serves to suppress people like Susan and Paul. This is clearly a feature of the auditioning process, which takes place with a live audience in situ. Contrast this with the X-Factor, which is auditioned in lonely, acoustic-poor conference rooms. With just Simon, Louis, Sharon and Dannicherylpaula in attendance, there is little to rein in the instinct to follow the tested formula, and the whole ungodly affair is quickly homogenized. While token fat and/or middle-agers do get through to the second round, its generally a highly conventional face-voice combination that will win X-Factor. The opposite seems to be true with BGT, which strikes me as much more interesting and obviously better.
Also, expect to see a Paul Potts/Susan Boyle duet album and co-tour, sometime in 2009/10. They complement each other in appearance and demeanor, and as an added bonus, their surnames could not be better suited. Their story could be a great little Potts Boyler. If I was a more cynical I person I might even hint at a Chart Throb/Wag The Dog style conspiracy… but watching that clip of Susan, again, drains me of all such heresy.