Saying you’re disappointed in Susan Boyle’s debut album is kind of like complaining to your grandma about how lame you think her local weatherman is. You could do it, but what’s the point?
Susan Boyle was not meant for you. Despite racking up hundreds of millions of views on YouTube since April, the infamously dowdy Scottish singer has released a full-length album I Dreamed a Dream that is laser targeted to the over-40 demo. When I unwrapped the disc last week, I have to admit I was excited. I’d heard her cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” and I was blown away by the depth of emotion and richness of Boyle’s voice.
But by the time I slogged through predictably schmaltzy takes on “How Great Thou Art,” the forgettable Madonna tune “You’ll See” and — ugh — the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer,” I began to wonder if mentor Simon Cowell had not missed a grand opportunity.
Yes, Boyle has already broken records in England for the biggest debut in history, and she’s poised to smash the charts in the U.S. with an album that has reportedly already sold more than two million copies around the world. But I think Boyle and her collaborators could have aimed much higher and hit a much broader target if they had only taken the Johnny Cash/Rick Rubin route.
Much like uberproducer Rubin revived Cash’s career late in life with a series of albums that brilliantly saw Cash covering contemporary acts including Beck and Nine Inch Nails, Boyle could easily have risen above Broadway cheese and traditional retreads for an album that might have appealed to both blue-hair sets: grannies and their punk grandchildren.
Here’s my suggestion for what could have been:
» Johnny Cash, “I Still Miss Someone”
» Eels, “Not Ready Yet”
» Roxy Music, “Slave to Love”
» R. Kelly, “Heaven, Need a Hug”
» Steve Earle, “The Boy Who Never Cried”
» Kooks, “Love It All”
» Aimee Mann, “Driving Sideways”
What do you think? What songs would you have liked to hear Boyle cover? Let us know and we’ll compile your suggestions for a follow-up column.