BGT: Michael Collings the new Susan Boyle? by itnnews
The promos for NBC’s new singing competition show, The Voice, have made much of the show’s swiveling chairs, which are designed to allow a blind audition for the judges. Not so with Britain’s Got Talent, which from its launch (with Simon Cowell in one of the judge’s chairs) has wholeheartedly embraced the narrative of deceiving appearances. The latest such entrant is Michael Collings, a young IT engineer and father-to-be who played guitar and sang “Fast Car”, by Tracy Chapman, with surprising power.
Before the performance, the show’s editors practically dare the viewer to interpret their intentions as mockery. The cameras linger on the schlubby sweatsuit-clad 19-year-old and his pregnant fianceé of 18 months, Sarah, while they eat muffins.
Interspersed with this, and scored by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman‘s sickeningly sweet version of “Something Stupid,” Collings explains in his interview that he lives in a trailer park with his parents (“It’s quite posh, actually”), and that he proposed to Sarah at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.
That he wins over the judges—and the audience—with his coffee-shop-John Mayer performance is meant to overturn the show’s own cruelty. This narrative is familiar from schlubby cell phone salesman Paul Potts‘s surprising rendition of “Nessun Dorma” in 2007 and especially brash/batty Susan Boyle‘s take on “I Dreamed a Dream” in 2009. Potts just sang opera, but Boyle’s song choice seemed almost autobiographical.
In the same way, Collings’s choice may as well be his story (at least as Britain’s Got Talent has told it). “Fast Car” is the best—and most popular—song of the 1980s about the broken dreams and harsh realities of the working-class (eat your heart out, Bruce Springsteen). Collings’s own dream is “to be a successful recording artist, sell lots of albums, play all over the world”—and Britain’s Got Talent could get him there.
Does Collings have what it takes to make it in the recording industry? We’d love to read your opinions in the comments.