- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2009

LONDON

In the contest, she finished second. But on the charts, she’s No. 1.

Susan Boyle’s debut record, “I Dreamed a Dream,” entered the British album chart in the top spot Sunday. The 48-year-old Scottish songstress famously finished second on “Britain’s Got Talent,” but the variety show launched a career that has seen her win success on both sides of the Atlantic.

Millions of people have seen an online clip of Miss Boyle auditioning for the judges. Wearing a somewhat dowdy frock and with a halo of untidy hair, Miss Boyle told Simon Cowell that her dream was to be a professional singer. “I’ve never been given the chance before, but here’s hoping it’ll change,” she said then.

She sang “I Dreamed a Dream,” from “Les Miserables,” and her soaring vocals earned a smile and raised eyebrows from Mr. Cowell — and a standing ovation from the audience.

“In ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ she opened her mouth, and the world fell in love with her, which is why her album has been the fastest selling of any woman making her debut,” Mr. Cowell said. “She’s amazing.”

Since the show — in which she eventually finished second to a dynamic dance troupe called Diversity — Miss Boyle has become one of the more recognizable faces of British music at home and abroad.

She’s had a glamorous makeover, was photographed by an upscale fashion magazine and has been profiled for the “NBC’s People of the Year” special in the United States. In Britain, she has appeared as a special guest on a wildly popular talent show, “The X Factor.”

“I accept now that my life will never be the same. And I don’t want it to end,” Miss Boyle told Matt Lauer on the special, according to an NBC transcript.

Of her No. 1 album, Miss Boyle said only, “It’s fantastic,” in a statement released by her record company.

“Everyone expected this to be a big record, but not as big as this,” said Martin Talbot, managing director of Britain’s Official Charts Co. He said the album sold more than 410,000 copies - both physical and digital - in Britain, although the majority of buyers actually purchased the CD. In the United States, Amazon Music said it was the largest pre-order in the company’s history.

Miss Boyle’s cover of the Rolling Stones classic “Wild Horses” opened in the ninth spot on Britain’s singles chart.

Gennaro Castaldo, spokesman for the HMV music store company, said Miss Boyle’s record could be a challenger for the top spot at Christmas - a highly coveted position in Britain’s showbiz world.

“People of all ages seem to be buying it, and it’s clearly going to be one the must-have gift items this Christmas,” Mr. Castaldo said. “Susan’s accomplished performance on ‘The X Factor’ has given the album a massive, timely boost.”

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