Did Boyle buzz turn to burnout?

People at a community center in Blackburn, Scotland, watch Susan Boyle during the final of ''Britain's Got Talent.'' People at a community center in Blackburn, Scotland, watch Susan Boyle during the final of ''Britain's Got Talent.'' (David Cheskin/Associated Press)
By Meera Selva
Associated Press / June 2, 2009
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LONDON - How could Susan Boyle lose?

Here after all was the Scottish spinster who stepped up to a microphone at a British talent show seven weeks ago wearing an ill-fitting dress and tousled hair only to stun the audience with the voice of a Broadway star. The video of her first appearance on "Britain's Got Talent" had 220 million hits. Demi Moore twittered her praise.

The bookies made her the favorite; no one dreamed she could lose a public vote for the best act.

But like everything to do with celebrity in Britain, what went up inevitably crashed in a heap of stories about prima donna behavior. The public apparently grew tired of the fuss.

Boyle on Saturday found herself to be a celebrity supernova, eclipsed by a clever street dancing troupe from Essex, east of London.

"I'm only sorry that the extraordinary tidal wave of publicity she attracted meant so many people got either bored or irritated by Boyle mania and decided not to vote for her," contest judge and former tabloid editor Piers Morgan wrote on his blog.

At first, people loved her. She was the frumpy everywoman who belted out "I Dreamed a Dream," from "Les Miserables" - a song about lost opportunities that mirrored her own story. Readers warmed to the woman who had been bullied, who had learning disabilities, who sacrificed for her aging parents.

But Boyle tampered with some of the things the public liked. She dyed her hair, got new clothes, tweezed her eyebrows.

The national mood changed.

"Never in our fast-changing history, until Susan Boyle, have we managed to quite so swiftly canonize and then pillory another human being, for our own titillation," The Observer newspaper wrote Sunday.

On Saturday night, she appeared on stage in a glamorous sparkly floor-length dress and sang. But by now, there was no surprise that she could sing. There was no wow.

"A lot of people said you shouldn't even be in this competition, that you weren't equipped to deal with it," judge Simon Cowell told Boyle. "For what? For you to sit at home with your cat and say 'I've missed an opportunity?' I totally disagree with that. You had the guts to come back here and face your critics and you beat them."

She smiled, but seemed shy, almost scared.

By contrast, the winning group, "Diversity" - 11 dancers ages 12 to 25 - mesmerized the audience with a frenetic but precisely choreographed dance routine that featured a Superman costume and a move that poked fun at the way the show's judges used buzzers to dump second-rate contestants.

Cowell, said their performance was the "only 10" he had seen so far in the program.

The group won 24.9 percent of the phone-in vote - there was a charge involved - while Boyle took 20.2 percent. ITV, which aired the show, said more than 19 million viewers had tuned in, the biggest television audience in Britain in five years.

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