Why America Has a Crush on Susan Boyle

Scottish songstress Susan Boyle seems poised to conquer the world. The unassuming 'Britain's Got Talent' star has already sold more than 1.8 million copies of her debut album 'I Dreamed a Dream' in its first three weeks of release in the U.S. (not to mention the millions she's sold worldwide). She also set an impressive record for the best first-week sales of any woman since SoundScan started tracking in 1991. If Boyle continues to sell albums at this pace, she'll likely steal Taylor Swift's crown as top selling artist of 2009.

So what is it about this homespun 47-year-old charity worker who lives alone with her cat that has us running to our nearest record store to pick up her debut album? We at PopEater checked in with some renowned pop music critics to see what all the fuss is about.

It's Boyle's "every woman" quality that's so appealing believes Aidin Vaziri, San Francisco Chronicle's Pop Music Critic. "She's ordinary. She's like us. People can relate to her," he says. "When she got onstage to face Simon Cowell she brought a million office workers' daydreams to life. I think everyone who saw the ('Britain's Got Talent') video felt moved by it wanted to be part of the story and make sure it had a happy ending."

It's Boyle's "underdog" status combined with our obsession with reality show sagas that has us rooting for her says Gaylord Fields, Senior Editor of AOL Music. "Susan Boyle's story is a classic underdog tale -- yet one that played out in front of the entire world," said Fields. "It embodies a couple of popular reality-show trends in one: it's a music competition coupled with a makeover story, with a hint of medical program savant syndrome thrown in."

"Shows such as 'American Idol' and 'Britain's Got Talent' are as interested in a potential star's looks as much as their talent," said pop music critic Stephen Humphries. "Boyle managed to up-end all that. Dowdy and close to age 50, she seemed to have no right to be trying out for a market most interested in youth and sex appeal. But her voice trumped all that. I think the fact that Boyle isn't a particularly self-confident or precocious person only added to her underdog appeal."

Fields concurs that it is these personal attributes that make Boyle so relatable. "The juxtaposition of Boyle's one-in-a-million voice with her modest looks and her seeming simplicity and innocence add up to something unique -- and ultimately relatable," he says.

Interestingly, Boyle is bucking current record sales trends. While most artists are selling more digital than physical copies of their albums, Boyle has people rushing out to traditional brick and mortar stores. Humphries has a theory as to why this might be the case. "Boyle's success comes down to older shoppers who still buy CDs and who only buy one album a year when they're out doing their Christmas shopping," he says. "In past years, this older demographic -- the type that gets its music fix from PBS -- has bought millions of copies of albums by the likes of Michael Bublé and Josh Groban. Her album seems perfectly suited to this market, from boomer-era songs ('Wild Horses') to show tune ballads."

So does this plain Jane songbird have what it takes to stick around and keep her music career soaring? Vaziri's not so sure. "I think most of the people who bought her album just wanted a souvenir of the moment," he says. "I'm guessing most of them probably buy one or two records a year and will have moved onto the next thing by the time they wear out this album."

Fields, however, is a bit more optimistic. "As Boyle is not packaged as any sort of visual image that can date her, there is little worry of her becoming passé as a trend," he says. "Also, she is presenting a repertoire of classic songs, so her biggest concern is to avoid being considered a novelty act. With her talent, there are literally thousands of songs she can handle with ease and comfort. The biggest thing that can hamper her career is if she's no longer willing to put up with the demands of stardom, as she does come off as emotionally fragile at times. It seems long-term success is hers to accept or reject." via: www.popeater.com

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