Tuesday, May 26, 2009


She's back! Last night Susan Boyle returned to the Britain's Got Talent stage to perform "Memory" from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats. How'd she do? If you ignore those first few wobbly notes, the overall stiffness of her performance and the fact that she showed no real emotional connection to the song, it was passable (though way better than Jason "I didn't know a cat was singing it" Castro's breathy, anemic take on last season's American Idol). But let's face it: If, say, Bernadette Peters or Patti LuPone were to offer the same exact vocal at this year's Tony awards, everyone would shrug. We expect more from our legends.

Susan, though, despite her current fame, is no legend, and the BGT judges raved. Of course. After more than one million hits on YouTube (as everyone is so fond of saying, but what does that even mean?) for Susan and considering the still-in-progress press sensation she has created, it would have appeared positively villainous for any of them to rob the viewing public of its media pet by dissing anything but an utter train wreck. So the judges drooled. Piers Morgan spouted some feel-good jive talking about how Susan's debut performance of "I Dreamed A Dream" weeks ago gave "hope and inspiration" to a world in crisis. Oh, brother! And Simon Cowell apologized for initially dismissing Susan, sight seen but voice unheard. Please! If I remember correctly, the only ones who mistreated her were the BGT editors who, pre-performance, presented her like a punchline waiting to happen.

How does Susan's rendition stand up to Barbra Streisand, who recorded the tune for her 1980 Memories compilation, and Elaine Paige, who sang it in the original West End production of Cats in 1981? I say it doesn't (Barbra is such a tough act to follow), but you be the judge.

"Memory": Susan Boyle

"Memory": Barbra Streisand

"Memory": Elaine Paige

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