July 17, 2024

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Why is the Video of Singer Susan Boyle an Internet Phenomenon?

Why is the Video of Singer Susan Boyle an Internet Phenomenon?

“Have you ever heard of a singer named Susan Boyle?” my husband asked. When I replied negatively he retorted, “You will.” He asked me to come and look at the video of Susan Boyle singing on Britain’s Got Talent television show and, as he expected, I was stunned.

I was stunned for the same reason the talent show judges were stunned, the same reason the audience was stunned, the same reason Internet viewers were stunned, and the same reason bloggers were stunned. None of us expected this magnificent voice to come from a (sorry to use the word) frumpy 47-year-old, soon to be 48, unemployed woman.

Susan Boyle’s choice of song, I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables was brilliant. Her song exemplified her life’s dream of becoming a professional singer. This choice also showed her amazing range of voice. I have watched the video 15 times and each time I pick up on a different nuance. Look carefully at Susan’s face just before she starts to sing and you see a fleeting smile, a smile that says “I have something special to share with you.”

Her rendition of the song is a “grabber,” to say the least. But I think there is more to this story. I think Susan Boyle exemplifies hope — hope for the person who has lost a job, hope for someone who is getting a divorce, hope for caregivers who face daunting tasks, hope for parents with dreams for their children. Daniel Goleman writes about hope in “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ.”

Goleman sees hope as a motivator. “From the perspective of emotional intelligence,” he writes, “having hope means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks.” Susan Boyle said she applied to the talent show in the hope of becoming a professional singer. Though I cannot speak for the show judges, I think they felt the hope of Susan’s song.

As the camera pans the faces of audience members, you see astonishment in their faces and, it seems to me, you also see hope. Judith Viorst writes about hope in “Necessary Losses.” As Viorst notes, people with all kinds of fatal ailments “hang on to hope.” We hang on to hope when loved ones die, Viorst continues, and when we are terminally ill ourselves. I searched for hope after four loved ones died in the span of nine months. Thankfully, I found hope again. Because I found hope I cried when I heard Susan Boyle sing.

Bloggers have cried, too, and I think hope is behind these tears. We all have dreams we dreamed. Susan Boyle was living her dream as she sang. Perhaps she sang for all of our unrealized dreams — dreams we have worked for, waited for, and hope will come true. I am grateful to Susan Boyle for sharing her voice, her dream, and herself with the world.

Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson