A bum note can't stop Susan Boyle

The "Britain's Got Talent" sensation stumbles, and she still reminds us of ourselves.

Published May 26, 2009 1:27PM (EDT)

Welcome back from the long holiday weekend. While you were cleaning off your grill and stocking up on booze for your fancy Mayday picnic, nearly half of Britain's TV viewers tuned in to watch the indomitable Susan Boyle sail into the semifinals on "Britain's Got Talent." The underdog of the year received a standing ovation from the judges, all of whom roundly ignored the fact that the most anticipated performance in the show's history started on a bum note. (And that the most anticipated performance in the show's history was … from "Cats"?) But so fierce is our identification with Susan Boyle -- overnight celebrities: they're just like us! -- and so in thrall are we to her fairytale that even a stumble in the spotlight was deemed a kind of triumph. Here's how CNET writer Chris Matysczky describes her fight back from the shaky start: "A stoicism built from the bricks of a thousand days of dank, dark Scottish existence and a life experience of being bullied, teased, and tormented for her supposed disabilities, was her lifeboat." Oh, and also, it helped when she changed key.

Whatever you thought of the performance -- and I cop to goosebumps in the final third -- when it comes to Susan Boyle: We want to believe. Even the kids over at Gawker refuse to tear her down: "Susan Boyle's one of the few things keeping us all sincere," wrote Foster Kamer.  Which just goes to show how badly we need heroes these days, and that hey, maybe nice really is back after all.

Then again, not everyone is afraid to cast a stone. During the performance, pop singer Lily Allen Tweeted, "Susan Boyle is so over-rated." And the backlash begins.


By Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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