Saturday, April 18, 2009

So what should Susan Boyle sing next?

That's a very good question, hypothetical question asker!

For those of you who haven't heard of Miss Boyle, she's a contestant on this year's edition of Britain's Got Talent, and her video on You Tube has gone crazy viral since it was put up earlier this week. There are several different version of it on You Tube, but the main one now has over twenty six million hits since Wednesday. Blog buddies Pissed Off Patricia and FranIAm both have links. I heard it first through an e-mail sent to me by my sister Karlacita! The Huffington Post is weighed down with bloggers who got e-mails from family members who rarely if ever send viral stuff, but Susan Boyle has certainly hit a nerve.

If you don't know the story yet, the show Britain's Got Talent is in the regional section where they pick the people who will be on stage for the next few weeks. This is the time when the producers will pick a few completely hopeless people with dreams to go on stage who humiliate themselves completely. American Idol does the same thing. The most famous example is William Hung, a homely engineering student with no voice who parlayed people's disbelief into a minor celebrity status.

Well, Susan Boyle may be as homely as members of Monty Python were when they dress in drag, but she has a professional quality voice and she chose the perfect song for her debut, I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables. It is right in the sweet spot of her range and the song is about life crushing the dream of a woman, which is what we expect is Miss Boyle's life story. About this, I'm not so sure. She's a devout Catholic and she spent many years taking care of her ailing mother. While the story presented on TV is that she's a 47 year old unemployed virgin spinster who lives with her cat, she does have a social life, both at church and singing karaoke in the local pub.

The thing is, she can't surprise us again. We now know she can sing. Ten years ago, she had a recording of Cry Me A River on a charity CD released by a Scottish newspaper. It's not perfect in some of her choices for phrasing, but all the notes are definitely there. It would be an excellent choice for another song for her to sing on the show, but she needs more tunes if she continues on the show. Currently, British bookies have her as a prohibitive favorite to win the whole thing.

A song like Don't Cry For Me Argentina would be very easy for her to sing, but completely out of character. She needs to choose more songs that people can identify with her life story. Here are a few modest proposals.

Solitude by Duke Ellington
There are a jillion great loneliness songs. This is one of the best.

Here Comes the Flood by Peter Gabriel
"Lord here comes the flood.
We shall say goodbye to flesh and blood.
If again the seas are silent and any still still alive,
It'll be those who gave their island to survive.
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry. "

The Green Song by Elvis Costello
The One True Living Elvis wrote this song for operatic soprano Annie Sofie Von Otter, a duet between a person alive and another who is dead. I don't know if Susan has the high note in her arsenal, but it's a lovely tune that matches her life story taking care of her mum.

When She Loved Me by Randy Newman
Sarah McLachlan sang this in Toy Story 2. People who don't cry when they hear this... I'm not sure they are people.

Children Will Listen by Stephen Sondheim
Since she wants to sing show tunes, this might be the easiest of these songs to sell to Ms. Boyle. Again, I don't know how high her range goes. Another good choice from Sondheim would be Not A Day Goes By, which has a shorter range and the right emotional message.

What would you like to hear her sing?


CDP said...

I became emotional watching that video. I do that a lot lately.

Matty Boy said...

It's not just you, CDP. That was a real string tugger.

Anonymous said...

I want to hear her sing "Crazy" by Patsy Cline. The range of notes would show off her talent, and we know she can sing it with emotion.

Karlacita! said...

Earlier in the week, she was thinking about doing Whistle Down the Wind, which I didn't know. It's another ALW tune.

It's not very good, though.

My ideas:

Someone to Watch Over Me
You Don't Know What Love Is
Where or When (down tempo)
How High The Moon
I'll Be Seeing You
Send in the Clowns
It Might as Well be Spring
Out of my Dreams from Oklahoma

namastenancy said...

The post above has some great ideas - I'd also add "At Last" and maybe even some of the great 40's and 50's torch songs. Those would be a natural for her range. She'd be fabulous singing with a big band. But I just hope the media hype and sharks who surround the sweet naive people with talent don't eat her alive.

FranIAm said...

I am late as usual. Wow, this is a good question... I just am pretty moved in general by her story.

Here is a link to blog with a video of her from many years ago.