LONDON, May 31, 2009 (AFP) - Unlikely Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle was dealt a blow Saturday when she lost out to a troupe of young street dancers in the final of the British talent show that made her a global star.
Despite winning praise from the audience and the judges in her final performance on live television, Boyle, 48, graciously accepted second place, saying the "best people won" and wishing the winners "all the best".
|Supporters, wearing masks of Susan Boyle, gather to watch herduring the final of 'Britain's Got Talent' on May 30, 2009, in her hometown of Blackburn (AFP photo)|
Boyle enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame over the past two months after video footage of her audition piece for the show, "I Dreamed A Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables", was posted on YouTube.
It has had about 100 million hits and brought her celebrity fans including actress Demi Moore and rock star Jon Bon Jovi who embraced the dowdy spinster from small-town Scotland with a voice worthy of Broadway.
Bookmakers made her the favourite to win, but after an unconvincing semi-final performance there were fears the unemployed church volunteer, who lives alone with her cat outside Edinburgh, was suffering under the pressure.
In a live performance in the "Britain's Got Talent" final Saturday, however, Boyle proved the critics wrong and repeated her audition piece with gusto.
One of the three judges, Piers Morgan, called it the "greatest performance I've seen on the history of 'Britain's Got Talent' -- you should win the competition, I loved it."
Boyle was up against nine other acts to win the show, which brings with it a cheque for 100,000 pounds (115,000 euros, 160,000 dollars) and the chance to perform for Queen Elizabeth II.
More than one million viewers cast their vote following the live performances -- but in the end, Boyle lost out to a multi-ethnic posse of 10 street dancers aged 12 to 25 from London and Essex called Diversity.
Following her performance, Boyle -- wearing a grey-blue, long sequined dress -- gushed appreciation for her worldwide fan base.
"I want to thank people for all the support they've given me," she said.
Asked if it was worth all the media pressure, she replied: "Well worth it!... I really feel at home on stage, I'm among friends."
Boyle put in a shaky performance of "Memory" in the show's semi-finals last weekend, singing occasionally out of tune and out of time, and some fans on YouTube questioned whether she could handle the weight of expectations.
News media meanwhile reported some erratic behaviour over the past week, including how she had lost her temper in the foyer of the London hotel where she was staying.
Morgan, a tabloid journalism veteran who forged a friendship with Boyle, described her in his blog as a "frightened rabbit in headlights" and revealed she considered quitting the contest.
But his fellow judge Amanda Holden said after Saturday's performance: "I have never heard such powerful confident vocals."
Reports on Sunday suggested Boyle could strike it rich if she capitalises on her global success, with the News of the World saying one of the show's judges, music promoter Simon Cowell, had big plans for her.
"It's the biggest phenomenon I've ever seen out of any of my shows," Cowell -- a household name in the United States as a judge on "American Idol" -- told the newspaper.
Asked on television about her plans, Boyle said: "I hope to get an album out -- I'll just play it by ear. What a journey -- unbelievable, and very humbling. Thank you for everything."