Euphoria, unease at UK web singing sensation Boyle

Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:13am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A middle aged Scottish spinster with untamed hair and a plain-spoken manner has captivated millions of music lovers and confounded celebrity watchers with her rise to fame after appearing on a British TV talent show.

Susan Boyle, at 47, became one of the world's hottest celebrities virtually overnight after her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" on "Britain's Got Talent" this month.

She has appeared on Larry King Live in the United States and in countless newspaper and internet articles. The clip of her song has been viewed around 50 million times on website YouTube.

But while most people see her story as a fairytale, some say it casts an unflattering light on the public and its preconceived notions about beauty and fame.

They argue that the reason Boyle, who lives alone with her cat, became the instant star she has was because she did not look or behave like a "typical" celebrity.

"Sadly it all Boyles down to image" said Miranda Sawyer in a commentary piece for the Daily Mirror tabloid.

"No woman gets to perform publicly unless she looks like Mariah Carey. If you're a female singer, you are required by showbiz law to appear sexy at all times."

Tanya Gold, writing in the Guardian broadsheet, asked: "Is Susan Boyle ugly? Or are we?   Continued...

<p>British music mogul Simon Cowell smiles during the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium in London July 1, 2007. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>