Which stars had the biggest year? All this week, we’ll be unveiling our top nine men and women of 2009, counting down to the #1 man and woman on Friday.
8. Susan Boyle
In 2009, your favorite YouTube sensation became your mom’s favorite recording artist, as Susan Boyle — a frumpy, 47-year-old shut-in from Scotland — became an international megastar, thanks to her prodigious vocal talents, a now-legendary audition on “Britain’s Got Talent” and some fabulously erratic behavior. YouTube clips of her performances have racked up more than 100 million views, and her debut album, I Dreamed a Dream, shattered sales records worldwide. She’s been parodied on “The Simpsons,” “South Park” and “30 Rock,” analyzed ad infinitum by journalists and social critics, and adored by millions of fans. Despite all that, she still lives in the same Scottish council home she grew up in, with her cat, a 10-year-old longhair named Pebbles.
2009 Highlights: It’s safe to say that before April 11, 2009, no one knew who Susan Boyle was. But that night, she auditioned on the season premiere of “Britain’s Got Talent,” belted out a jaw-dropping take on “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misérables,” and the rest was history.
The clip of Boyle’s audition — which starts with the “Talent” audience and judges rolling their eyes and snickering at the plain-faced singer, then quickly takes a turn as Boyle wows the room with her voice — became required viewing on YouTube, attracting millions of eyeballs within hours of the show’s initial airing. Within a week of the audition, Boyle’s Wikipedia page was viewed more than 66 million times, an online record. And within days, she was appearing live via satellite on CBS’ “Early Show.”
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The Boyle juggernaut rolled on, and not even a shaky rendition of “Memory” could keep her from the “Talent” finals. But, along the way, cracks started to develop. Boyle reportedly suffered a meltdown after being taunted by a pair of journalists in the lobby of a London hotel. On the eve of the finale, there were rumors that she might not even perform . She did, but in a shocking result, finished second to a dance troupe called Diversity .
Following the show, Boyle was hospitalized after suffering an “emotional breakdown.” Her stay in the hospital attracted widespread attention, and even Britain’s prime minister wished her a speedy recovery. Five days later, she was released and skipped out on rehearsals for the upcoming “Britain’s Got Talent” tour. She subsequently appeared on only a handful of tour dates so that she could begin work on her debut album.
In September, Boyle appeared on “America’s Got Talent,” wowing audiences with her take on the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.” At the end of November, she released her I Dreamed a Dream album in the U.K. , and it set a record for the biggest first-week sales in the country’s chart history. Here in the States, Dream also debuted at #1 , selling more than 700,000 copies (the largest first-week number of the year) and giving her the biggest debut for a solo female artist in SoundScan history. She easily held on to the top spot the following week, selling an equally impressive 502,000 copies of the album.
Boyle served as an inspiration to people everywhere, including the painter of this picture. She also attracted the attention of artists like 50 Cent , who said he wanted to work with her. “I got to get her on a track, for real. We’d make a hit,” the rapper laughed. “Everyone is talking about her. She’s got an amazing voice, and together, we’d get everyone dancing.”
Which stars had the biggest 2009? Over the next week, we’ll be unveiling our top nine most newsworthy, controversial and fascinating men and women of the year. We based our list on factors like music sales, box-office performance, MTVNews.com headlines and traffic, overall reach (crossover singles, appearances in movies, licensing of songs for commercials, clothing lines, etc.), plus X-factors like “impact” and “buzz.” (And no, President Barack Obama didn’t make the list — we’ll leave that to the folks at Time.) This is by no means an exact science, but we think the list we’ve put together represents the men and women who helped make 2009 the most exciting and memorable 12 months in recent history.
We’ll be rolling out our list of the Top 9 Men and Women of 2009 two per day until Friday, when we unveil MTV News’ Man and Woman of the year! As always, we also want to know what you think, so weigh in with comments below, or upload them to Your.MTV.com!