Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Susan Boyle – Wild Horses

If it’s good enough for Piers Morgan…


Dave Moore: I mean…what am I going to do, NOT give this a passing grade? It’s Susan Boyle. That would be like the UK equivalent of punching a baby bald eagle in the face. And anyway, she brings some real feeling to it, and the song’s pretty maudlin to begin with, and there’s a nice amateur portrait of her up at her Wikipedia page, which (psst) I’m hoping will be used as the picture.

Doug Robertson: Listening to the track bare exposes her voice for what it is and, while she undoubtedly has talent, it’s the same level of talent that can be found in the cast of any touring musical show. It was the contrast between her personality and her singing that dragged her into the public eye, but the singing on its own lacks personality and it’s impossible to imagine the bandwagon rolling along for much more than a couple of tracks. People might buy it for their grans or their mums, but they’re sure as hell not going to buy it for themselves.

Hillary Brown: Apart from the half-second in which she goes too soft on the R in “horses” and brings back horrible memories of junior high school chorus, in which we were instructed to enunciate things in the weirdest possible way, this is kind of lovely, yeah?

Kat Stevens: I have no particular interest in Susan Boyle’s soft-focus sob story but fuck, that voice – vulnerable and trembling but still clear and strong and defiant. But it’s not the voice of an angel, it’s the voice of a…. teenager? How old is she meant to be again?

Matt Cibula: She has a strong voice, but it is neither warm nor graceful. Sounds like she’s fighting her way out of quicksand.

Chuck Eddy: This is the first performance I’ve ever heard by this grande dame, and I’m totally stumped about what’s supposed to make her so great. Something like “hitting the proper notes”? As if “proper” anything has anything to do with this kind of music. But I’m preaching to the choir here, no doubt. Anyway, I found this bearably blank in your usual clueless cabaret-interpretation-of-rock way until she started getting operatic, at which point my sinuses started to ache.

Anthony Easton: She isn’t a great singer, and the narrative rests on a techincal virtuosity that simply is not there — but the Rolling Stones as torch song, sung in a vague Scottish burr by someone who is reversing the melancholy of the song’s intent, has a complicated post-fame intensity that makes the track almost enjoyable.

Edward Okulicz: To a generation too young for the original, this song belongs to Harriet Wheeler, and it’s interesting to hear it done as a stately torch song with piano rather than strummed as a thing of fey beauty. The verses don’t seem to fit the style or the singer perfectly — too slow, too low perhaps, but Boyle’s reading of the chorus is rich and soaring, and she sounds astonishingly young and naive, really suiting the pop-standard arrangement that envelops it.

Martin Skidmore: I could have had a lot of guesses at her first single without coming up with any Stones covers — I’m quite pleased and impressed by this unexpected decision. Dignified piano and gentle strings, and she is, of course, a technically excellent singer. I dislike how she misjudges her emphases here and there, and I don’t really need a version of this that makes it sound like it could have been written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but there is a genuinely haunting quality to this.

Martin Kavka: The vibrato is a bit too much for my taste, and I wish that she’d enunciate a bit more. Still, Mariah Carey could learn a thing or two here about how to do a ballad properly.

Alfred Soto: Since Mick Jagger is not my go-to guy for romantic longing, the original version of “Wild Horses” has always sounded as arch as Bowie singing “Time.” The Sundays’ cover is closer to what the song requires, and, no surprise, so is this version by everyone’s favorite Little Ugly Duckling That Could. It’s too slow, too conscious of being a set piece for a woman everyone’s rooting for, but alright within its limitations.

7 Responses to “Susan Boyle – Wild Horses”

  1. Uh…So I wasn’t preaching to the converted after all, apparently. Wow. (I also punch baby bald eagles, btw. But who knows, maybe I should have given this a “2” instead.)

  2. FWIW, My default grade for “I neither like nor dislike this at all” is a “5,” which is what I probably should have graded this, though it feels like a 4-5 average range. Am somewhat surprised at the 8’s though!

  3. Fail to see what Mariah could learn from this though. I WANNA KNOW WHAT LOOOOOOVE IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS…..*whale shriek*

  4. 1. I still quite like this.
    2. She has covered “You’ll See” by Madge on her record. This really could be tremendous.
    3. Susan, if you or your people are reading this, three words for you. EVANESCENCE. MY. IMMORTAL.

  5. To my knowledge I haven’t heard the original (or any other version) – whether or not this has affected my score I cannot say.

  6. I like the original, and I wouldn’t say this one is better, but I do like it better than the Sundays’ version. Boyle really gets at the helplessness at the core of the song, I think.

  7. I feel sorry for those people who have rubbished her singing ability, she looks like that she is going to make big bucks, so that proves she has got what it takes to sells million of records.she is woman who sings beautifully from her heart, that is why she apleals to so many people throughout the world.