Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Susan Boyle

The Scottish spinster wowed Simon Cowell in April with a stunning rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," the popular song from Les Miserables, during the American Idol–esque show Britain's Got Talent. Her ugly-duckling narrative — she's a frumpy, eccentric church volunteer who, at 48, claims she's never been kissed and lives alone with her cat Pebbles — proved irresistible to reality-TV fans. "I'm gobsmacked, absolutely gobsmacked," Boyle told CNN of her overnight stardom, despite the snickers she heard in the audience when she first took the stage. That she went on to lose the finale — and checked herself into a London clinic for exhaustion — hasn't diminished her appeal. A clip of her inaugural TV performance has been viewed on YouTube more than 300 million times, and her debut album, the inevitably titled I Dreamed a Dream, is the most preordered in Amazon.com's history. The singing sensation's celebrity may not be so fleeting after all.