If you’re online (and if you’re reading this, you are), you’ve no doubt seen – and heard – Susan Boyle, the dowdy Scottish, never-been-kissed cat lover with the voice that has the angels cursing with envy.
The unassuming 47-year-old tornado in a housedress has become an unlikely, but purely 21st Century viral superstar: her stunning appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent” sparked an Internet explosion that’s mushroomed into eight-figure YouTube viewings, fan pages and more Twitter mentions than anyone (sorry Ashton Kutcher).
Now it’s time to bring her back to TV and give her a mass, live audience: put her on “American Idol.”
The very busy Simon Cowell, blessed with enough acerbity to work both sides of the Atlantic, was clearly floored by Boyle’s soaring rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables.”
Perhaps the most entertaining part of her appearance was watching Cowell go from a typically dismissive let’s-get-this-over-with introduction of the frumpy Boyle to his inability to suppress a smile reminiscent of the moment the Grinch understood the true meaning of Christmas (“Cowell’s heart grew three sizes that day!”)
Cowell, who, if nothing else, is a smart showman, no doubt recognizes the potential promotional value of giving Boyle a guest shot on “American Idol.” But such a move would be about a lot more than boosting ratings.
Boyle is living proof that talent can defy looks, age – and expectations. Her story also shows the power of the Internet as a tool for rooting out and quickly spreading talent, with few filters or national boundaries – even if her star began its meteoric rise with a TV launch.
So give Boyle a platform on “American Idol” to further share her inspiring gift – and give the current kiddie crop of contestants and the rest of us a refresher lesson about the true meaning of talent.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.