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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Talent, Schmalent

Whilst America was surprised by the triumph of apple-pie, poster boy Kris Allen over neo-new-wave Adam Lambert on American Idol, at least these were two singers going head to head. In matters of talent-related taste, the gobsmacking shock occurred on Britain's Got Talent*, where Scots mezzo-soprano and fashion/coiffe rebel Susan Boyle was beaten out by a cheerleading (oh, all right... "dance") squad called "Diversity."

There's an excellent rule of thumb for talent contests: in matters of dance vs. song, usually singers have the edge. This is partially because most people recognise the basic differences between good and bad singing and the vocal qualities needed to excel**. Meanwhile, whilst people understand that there is a fair amount of coordination and athleticism involved in dance, we also know that most dance looks completely ridiculous. Take for example any given ballet. No matter how graceful and flexible the performers, one is still distracted by the fact that the dancers express the depths of emotions in really freaky ways. True love for example, is most often conveyed in ballet by vaguely spinning around in place, doing exaggerated leaps past one another, waving the hands about in odd fashion, and all in less clothing than many couples have conceived thier kids in.

Pop group dancing is even worse. Most of these "routines" consist of 20 people rhythmically moving their hips out of joint whilst staring at the camera like a randy Derek Zoolander.

So, Boyle's second place finish was unexpected, but in a contest dependent upon the general public's vote we can always track down reasons for such anomalies, or, in lieu of actual demographic and social research, speculate wildly***. So, here are some of the possible reasons Susan Boyle finished second:

  • Brits tired of her winsome flirting with Simon Cowell when everyone knows Piers fancies her.

  • Many sodden Brits confusedly refused to vote for someone "with a boil."

  • Amanda accidentally sabotaged the voting when she playfully and inaccurately suggested that Boyle was a member of a Thuggee death cult.

  • President Obama unleashed the White House call-in machine as soon as he found out a small, unglamourous Scottish woman was challenging "diversity."

  • Boyle was mistakenly implemented in the British parliamentary expenses scandal when it was discovered that an MP from Aberdeen had purchased several thousand copies of her bootleg CD at government expense. The MP thought he was buying the soundtrack of Cats.

  • Someone photoshopped a picture of her hugging Mike Ashley, prompting Newcastle United supporters to tie up lines for hours voting against her. This could be ruled out if there is not a corresponding record of death threats in Geordie acccents during the same period.

  • The generous British public decided to throw dancers a bone for a change.
  • Boyle's song choice of We Didn't Start the Fire turns off fans expecting a medely of ska hits.
  • Diversity's concluding move, where they form a giant human structure in the shape of the M4 won over the sceptical public. Rail passengers account for Boyle's strong showing.
  • Simon's grudging compliment of "not bad" to Diversity convinced voters that they were the best dance troupe in history.
  • Vote tabulators forgot to carry a one when adding the tally.
* Over in Britain, coincidentally enough
**And yet a Bob Dylan or an Ashley Simpson can still sell millions. It's a great business to be in, if you can get there.
*** For obvious reasons, I have chosen the latter.

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