Saturday, April 25, 2009

Susan Boyle

I just watched the Susan Boyle video for about the 75th time. In my defense, I've been quite sick, so watching the same four minutes over and over has been just about my speed. But this was the first time in a few days and it was lovely to have the same experience again, namely goose bumps and a tear or two--this, despite the absolutely horrible news coverage that has left me feeling as if I am from a different planet than the rest of the people who inhabit this world. Apparently, at least if one reads the people who write for major newspapers, the important thing about the clip is how it shows that we all judge based on appearances. What? That' interesting point, of course, but who gets goose bumps from that??

There are three moments that I love in the video, that I've gone back to again and again. The first is when she smiles her cheeky grin. There's a moment, right before the music starts, when she almost smirks at the audience. It's as if she's saying, "I know something you don't." Her confidence radiates. And it's confidence despite the forgotten word, the awkward stripper's hip roll, the skepticism she must have already seen the judges show--it's confidence in the face of adversity and it's thrilling.

And then there's the moment in the song when she so gracefully hits and holds the high notes on the word "shame," the five steps that reach the ceiling. The audience is on its feet, screaming, Amanda is on her feet, the judge to the right is laughing, and even the cynic is leaning back, smiling. It's almost possible to feel, just from the video, the joy and the energy that is filling that room. That's a goose-bump moment. It has nothing to do with Susan Boyle's eyebrows: it's about the feeling of being part of a crowd that is witnessing something miraculous. Oh, maybe part of the miracle is that a frumpy woman with funny eyebrows is creating the joy, but it's the joy that's amazing, not the woman singing.

Finally, I love when she finishes her song and starts walking off stage. The judges are calling her back, Simon beckoning with the patronizing single finger of a man who knows his power, and she's just walking. She did what she came there for; she sang in front of a large audience and she made that audience rock. And now she's done.

Now that I've picked three moments, I have to admit there are others. There's how she seems so surprised, almost babbling when Amanda says yes; and there's the almost shy kiss she blows the audience as she's walking off stage after having pumped the air like a footballer; and there's the lovely woman in the audience bouncing in her seat with happiness; (and I do have to wonder what it feels like for those audience members who have now been seen by something like 50 million people; it must be horrible to be one of those in the beginning whose most famous moment in life might be as an example of what not to do as an audience member.) All of which brings me to my final thought, which is that the film editor is brilliant. Yes, maybe he or she had good material to work with, but it was still an incredible job. A real person picked each of those seconds of reaction shots, each angle onstage, and he or she created a seven-minute masterpiece. Compare it to the Paul Potts video and you'll see what I mean.

And now, having posted for the first time on months on something that is completely unrelated to saving my own memories (which is what I think this blog is for, really), I'm going to go watch it again. If I'd known that I'd watch it this many times, I would have counted because I expect someday to hit 100!

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