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"The Woman Who Silenced Simon Cowell"
What captures hearts and minds? The helpless dog on your T.V. from ASPCA, or maybe a Facebook post going viral for its sentimental message… the options are limitless nowadays. For Susan Boyle, it took less than 10 minutes for her to capture the hearts of millions of people. This 54-year-old woman from Blackburn, West Lothian (Scotland) went from being unemployed and living with her cat to having a net worth of over $33 million dollars – a feat of which very few popular singers do not even achieve over their whole careers. How? Her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables” in the first round of the popular show “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009 had the crowd on their feet and left the judges no other option but to move her on to the next round. It did not start as smoothly as you would imagine an audition to go. Before she went on stage, her awkward personality and appearance made it hard for the judges and audience to take her seriously. She even said that she lives with her cat and has never kissed a boy. The crowd was far from accepting at first, with sarcastic whistles and snarky faces – it wasn’t looking good for this singer. Yet, as soon as she started singing – the crowd was shocked, the judges couldn’t let her stop and even let her sing the whole song. The music was triumphant and the reactions were priceless. What followed her performance is what made her career and it was solely attributed to one thing; the Internet. Within 72 hours of the performance being posted, it gathered 2.5 million views on YouTube, within a week, 66 million views – setting a new online record. Within nine days, a total of 103 million views on 20 different websites and by the end of the year, it was dubbed the most watched YouTube video of 2009, coming in at 120 million views, more than three times higher than the second most popular video in 2009. The LA Times deemed the video, “perfect for the internet,” due to the fact of the broad range of emotion packed into a short clip. Entertainment Weekly said “Boyle’s performance was a victory for talent and artistry in a culture obsessed with physical attractiveness and presentation.” It caught on so fast because of how shocking it was, and how easily society can be harsh on those who are not the most physically appealing. It proved not only the people in attendance wrong, but also the world. What can be learned here? The right environment and right person, anything is possible as soon as something goes viral. It just needs that spark, the initial shock; the Internet will latch on and take it farther than anyone can predict. No one wants to grant someone failure if they do not deserve it, and the initial reactions that most people had followed by them being proven wrong. I can see the conversations being, “Did you see that one lady from Scotland sing the other night? Gosh, was I wrong.” Her career took off after following her Internet fame; her album released in November of 2009 was the number one best-selling album on charts around the globe. It sold very fast and reached the number one position in charts all around the U.S. and U.K. She was later nominated for two Grammy’s in 2011 and 2012 for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album; a real rag’s to riches story if you ask me.
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