Susan Boyle will always have a place in our short memories because, for a short moment in 2009, she allowed us to pat ourselves in the back and congratulate ourselves for being able to appreciate a strange and very homely woman who can sing. See? We are not shallow, we are all amazing people who can appreciate the beauty within a person! The fact that she performed everyone’s favorite martyr anthem, I Dreamed a Dream, also appealed to that side of us which tears up and sobs brokenly during dramatic crescendos of a typical crowd-pleasing musical.
Now that Susan Boyle is poised to become an artist in her own right, her handlers demonstrate their faith in the longevity of her career by putting out this rushed collection of cover versions. The only original song here is Who I Was Born to Be, which is a treacly and sentimental ballad full of bombastic clichés and dramatic wailing. I won’t be surprised if this was one of the rejects that were supposed to the coronation anthem of some Pop Idol or X-Factor winner.
The other tracks are shockingly lifeless and artificial versions of songs both old and somewhat newish. There is I Dreamed a Dream, of course, but this version sounds pretty cheap, complete with a background track that feels more like elevator pap than genuine orchestral splendor. Wild Horses is repetitive and dull, The End of the World comes off like a karaoke rendition of the original version, and it’s all downhill from there.
A big problem here is that while Ms Boyle may have the vocal chops, here on this album her interpretation of each song is severely lacking. She’s just singing, without any evidence of passion or spirit. In fact, she does that high-pitched cutesy kitten-mewing thing with her voice that Elaine Paige was frequently guilty of in the past, only here Ms Boyle does that in every song, thus making every song feel like one long tedious and unvarying vocal warm-up session.
I Dreamed A Dream demonstrates that, despite the hype, Ms Boyle is still more akin to the struggling understudy rather than the shining diva of the music hall.