Thursday, April 16, 2009

Britain's Got Talent - And Soul

I've never been a big fan of reality shows in general, or American/Canadian Idol in particular. With that being said I must admit I did get into one season of the Canuck wife called me to watch, and all the remaining contestants were playing instruments to a Gordie Lightfoot song. I love Lightfoot, but maybe its just a name thing. But typically speaking the Idol franchise is all about looks and marketability, talent too of course....but it has to be married with an attractive young face.

Britain's Got Talent on the other hand, it seems that show is about so much more. The recent airing of a show with Susan Boyle auditioning is a case in point. It touches a chord that I think is pretty universal...something a great many people can relate to. Here we're presented with a 47 year old woman, decidedly frumpy in appearance, a woman with the gall to expose herself to the world and attempt to live out her dream of becoming a professional singer.

If you haven't seen it, here's the link: Susan Boyle on BGT

Obviously she is a huge success, I wouldn't be blogging about it otherwise. Who among us doesn't have unfulfilled dreams and fantasies? Very few I would strongly suspect...especially those who are in or have lived through middle age. When you're young its different, there's time to fulfill those dreams. But as you age you come to realize that many of your dreams will remain just that, it can be a sobering realization.

Susan sings the song "I Dreamed a Dream" from my favourite musical 'Les Miserables'. It is a fitting song, while at the same time paradoxical. In the play it is Fontine lamenting the loss of her dream, how' life has killed the dream I dreamed'. Fontine had dreamed of a much better life, instead she was forced into a life of prostitution to support her child Cosette, after being abandoned by the father. And yet here we are presented with the same song...being sung by a woman using it as a vehicle to realize her own dream. I don't mind admitting choking up and feeling pins and needles.

Seeing someone break free of the obstacles and attaining their dream, or simply having the courage to awakens and stirs the soul. I wasn't writing this blog when Paul Potts appeared on BGT, but his story is every bit as compelling. A man lacking in self confidence, working at a job selling phones...with dreams of being an opera singer. You can see the looks of disbelief from the panel and in the audience, and an almost tearful look in the eye of the aspiring tenor. And his dream was achieved, he's a best selling artist around the world.

On this side of the pond we're left to admire the talent of young karaoke singers, but while they might have decent enough voices...there isn't anything that draws the viewer in the way BGT does with Mr Potts and Ms Boyle. I'm unable to embed the video of Susan Boyle, but here's the one of Paul Potts for those who might have missed it.

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