This past weekend, a friend tried to convince me that Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream was a good record. It was at this moment that I turned up the radio so the latest Beyogaga jam could drown out the rest of his argument. But that’s not to say that Scotland’s pop ambassadress deserved to get shut out of the Brits. (If you look at our own comparable year-end summary of pop music, a ceremony that stands out in its drive to reward mediocrity above ingenuity, she’s really not that bad). So why then, in a year when women rule the Brit Awards, did SuBo earn no nominations?
Because Boyle may finally be past her sell-by date. Apart from Lady Gaga, Susan Boyle was the only pop star last year who arrested the entire world. But from the moment her YouTube hit clocked a gajillion viewers, everyone only expected novelty, not some kind of post-pop answer to Céline Dion.
Unlike our Grammys, the Brit Awards this year did reward some of the best musicians to break into the mainstream. On their shortlist: Florence & the Machine, La Roux, Alesha Dixon, Bat for Lashes, Dizzee Rascal, Calvin Harris, Lily Allen, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams and naturally, Cheryl Cole. Clearly, the Brit Awards panel isn’t short on good taste this year. They just want to hand out prizes to people who (a) are very easy on the eyes; and (b) stand a chance of sticking around for more than one fluke megahit of an album. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but that combo obviously precludes any SuBo nom.
More telling: This Boylean omission highlights a marked difference between how the UK chooses to reward their talent (perhaps by giving Boyle a backlash as a courteous way of saying, “You’re lovely, really. But you have nothing else that interests us. Enjoy your swag, dear!”) and how America caves into passing fads (although Nickelback can’t be classed as a fad, just a curiosity) to ensure that there will be enough advertising dollars for the next Grammys telecast.