Pop Culture

Susan Boyle’s debut album tops Britain’s charts

In the contest, she finished second. But on the charts, she's number one.

Susan Boyle's debut record, "I Dreamed A Dream," entered the British album chart in the top spot Sunday. The 48-year-old Scottish songstress famously finished second on "Britain's Got Talent," but the variety show launched a career that has seen her win success on both sides of the Atlantic.

According to the Official Charts Company, which tracks music sales in Britain, the more than 410,000 copies of "I Dreamed a Dream" sold since its release Nov. 23 make it the fastest selling album so far this year, and are the largest first-week sales for a debut album in U.K. chart history.

Millions of people have seen an online clip of Boyle auditioning for the judges. Wearing a somewhat dowdy frock and with a halo of untidy hair, Boyle told judge and producer Simon Cowell that her dream was to be a professional singer. "I've never been given the chance before, but here's hoping it'll change," she said then.

She sang "I Dreamed a Dream," from Les Miserables, and her soaring vocals earned a smile and raised eyebrows from Cowell — and a standing ovation from the audience.

"In 'Britain's Got Talent' she opened her mouth and the world fell in love with her, which is why her album has been the fastest selling of any woman making her debut," Cowell said. "She's amazing."

Since the show — in which she eventually finished second to a dynamic dance troupe called "Diversity" — Boyle has become one of the more recognizable faces of British music, both at home and abroad.

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    Susan Boyle Signs Her New Album At HMV Glasgow

    Susan Boyle wows the world

    Scottish singing sensation captures attention around the globe and deals with the pressures of instant fame.

  • Susan Boyle & Syco Music Make Special Announcement

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    Holiday offering

    Scottish singer Susan Boyle attends a photocall to announce a charity single for Save the Children at Sony Music in London on Oct. 28, 2013.

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    Sacred visit

    Boyle holds a banner with an image of the Virgin Mary as she poses for a photograph in a hotel during her pilgrimage to the city of Lourdes, France, on May 21, 2013.

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  • Susan Boyle Signs Her New Album At HMV Glasgow

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    Her 'Standing Ovation'

    Boyle attends an album signing at HMV in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 20, 2012. Dozens of fans lined up to get signed copies of her new album titled "Standing Ovation."

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    Great pride

    Boyle attends the Pride of Britain awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Oct. 29, 2012.

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  • Image: Susan Boyle Launches Poppy Scotland Appeal

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    Poppy appeal

    Boyle and the Scottish Military Wives choir launch the Poppy Scotland appeal in Glasgow on Oct. 24, 2012. Boyle and the choir called for help to raise vital funds for Scotland's Armed Forces community during the campaign.

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    Her dream

    Boyle performs during her musical "I Dreamed A Dream" at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle, England, on March 27, 2012.

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    Hearing her now

    Boyle visits SiriusXM Studio on Nov. 1, 2011, to talk up her new album, "Someone to Watch Over Me." Though the title Gershwin tune is included, much of the other selections are takes on rock tunes.

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  • Image: Susan Boyle Attends Press Conference In Shanghai

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    Lady in red

    Boyle spent time in "China's Got Talent" in July 2011, where she met Cai Hongping, a Shanghai market stall owner considered to be the Susan Boyle of China. Hongping's rendition of "Amazing Grace" on the Chinese version of YouTube garnered her 10 million hits within 10 days ... and landed her a slot on "Talent."

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  • Image: Scottish singer Susan Boyle stands with her new wax work model at Madame Tussauds in Blackpool, northern England

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    Beside herself

    A wax figure of Boyle was revealed at Madame Tussauds in Blackpool, England in April 2011... and the original apparently approves.

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  • Image: Scottish singer Susan Boyle performs at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow

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    Her 'Dream' job

    Boyle performs at a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland, on Sept. 16, 2010. In a pre-Mass statement, the Scottish-born Boyle said "it's a great honor to sing for the pope and it's something I've always dreamed of."

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  • Image: ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" - Season Nine - Week Eight

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    Knock 'em dead, Susan

    Boyle performed "I Dreamed a Dream" on the "Dancing With the Stars" results show on Nov. 10, 2009. Accompanying her performance were professional dancers Tony Dovolani and Chelsie Hightower.

    The 47-year-old singer became a worldwide phenomenon after her rendition of the Les Miserables song on the reality TV show "Britain's Got Talent."

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  • Image: Celtic v Hamburg - UEFA Europa League

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    Celtic pride

    Boyle holds up a celtic scarf during the UEFA Europa League Group C soccer match between Celtic and Hamburg at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, on Oct. 22, 2009.

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    Fame takes its toll

    Boyle entered The Priory, a private clinic in north London, on May 31 2009, to be treated for exhaustion according to the "Britan's Got Talent" producers and a newspaper report. Television company TalkbackThames said on June 1, 2009 that Boyle was “exhausted and emotionally drained” and was taking a few days off.

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    The pressure mounts

    Boyle leaves Wembley Plaza Hotel in London on May 27, 2009. Britain's tabloid newspapers wrote about how the singer had lost her temper and swore at two journalists who were taunting her in the days before the finale.

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    Larger than life

    Locals gather at Blackburn community center to watch Boyle on TV during the final of "Britain's Got Talent" on May 30, 2009.

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  • Fans of television show 'Britains Got Talent' singer Susan Boyle react in their local community centre in Blackburn, Scotland after it was announced that Boyle came second in the competition

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    Sad song

    Boyle fans show their frustration after she finished second in the "Britain's Got Talent" finale on May 30, 2009. Boyle's financial future is seen as secure, as Simon Cowell and his Syco music label are widely expected to sign her up for an album and there is talk of a Hollywood movie.

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  • Image: Friends Gather To Watch Susan Boyle In the Final Of 'Britain's Got Talent'

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    A little Susan in all of us

    Friends and fans at Blackburn community center show their love for Boyle. Although she lost to the dance troupe Diversity, Boyle remains a winner to millions.

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    Thumbs up, Mum!

    “I did this for my late mother,” the unemployed Boyle said about her appearance on "Britain's Got Talent." “I wanted to show her I could do something with my life.”

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    The world at her doorstep

    Boyle faces the media outside her home on Thursday, April 16, 2009.

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    Singing telegram?

    Boyle receives a well wishing message from an unidentified fan at her home on April 16, 2009. In a telephone interview, Boyle did express some impatience with questions over her love life: She raised eyebrows when she told the "Talent" audience that she'd "never been kissed." "It was said as a joke, not an advert. Can we move on?" Boyle said, laughing.

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    A new look

    Boyle, pictured outside her home in Blackburn, Scotland, reveals a new hair color and style after undergoing a makeover on April 24, 2009.

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  • Susan Boyle Seen At Home After Her Recent Success On Britain's Got Talent

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    Wardrobe change

    Boyle returns to her home in Blackburn, Scotland, on April 21, 2009 sporting a new leather-type jacket and print dress.

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    Caught in the Web

    A young boy watches Boyle on YouTube on Monday, April 21, 2009 in Glasgow, Scotland. The boy is not alone. Millions of people around the world have watched Internet clips of Boyle singing on "Britain's Got Talent."

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  • "Britain's Got Talent" contestant Susan Boyle poses with fans outside her home in Blackburn in West Lothian, Scotland

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    Instant fame

    Boyle poses with fans outside of her home in Blackburn, Scotland, on April 21, 2009.

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  • Town shows support for Britains Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle

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    Town pride

    Locals in the town of Blackburn show their support for Boyle on April 18, 2009. To friends and neighbors in the community of 4,750 people 20 miles west of Edinburgh, it was not surprising that the talent of a local treasure should finally be recognized. “Susan can’t help herself. She just sings whenever she can sing,” said Jackie Russell, manager of Blackburn’s Happy Valley Hotel, where Boyle sings karaoke.

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    King and singing queen

    Boyle appears on "Larry King Live on April 17, 2009. She asserted that she wouldn't be opting for a new look. "Why should I change?" she said, according to the show transcript. But she conceded, when King mentioned that she's been receiving a lot of fan mail: "I certainly won't be lonely anymore."

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    Brush with fame

    Boyle poses singing with a hairbrush at her home in Blackburn, Scotland, on April 16, 2009. The unlikely star said she loves the attention and isn't bothered by those who poke fun at her unpolished appearance. "It goes with the territory. It doesn't bother me."

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Though she was taken aback at first by her fame, Boyle has since had a glamorous makeover, been photographed by an upscale fashion magazine, and been profiled for "NBC's People of the Year" special in the United States. In Britain, she's appeared as a special guest on a wildly popular talent show, "The X Factor."

"I accept now that my life will never be the same. And I don't want it to end," Boyle told Matt Lauer on the special, according to an NBC transcript.

Of her number one album, Boyle said only, "it's fantastic" in a statement released by her record company.

"Everyone expected this to be a big record, but not as big as this," said Martin Talbot, managing director of the Official Charts Company. Of the more than 410,000 copies — both physical and digital — sold in Britain, he said the majority of buyers purchased the CD. In the United States, Amazon Music it was the largest pre-order in the company's history.

Boyle's cover of the Rolling Stones classic "Wild Horses" debuted in the ninth spot on Britain's singles chart.

Gennaro Castaldo, spokesman for the HMV music store company, said Boyle's record could challenge for the top spot at Christmas — a highly coveted position in Britain's showbiz world.

He said Boyle's frequent appearances in Britain's newspapers likely helped boost her sales, along with her reality television background. Shows like "Britain's Got Talent" and "The X Factor" — which produced last week's chart-topper, Leona Lewis — help viewers bond with artists, he said. Fans follow the artist's career from the start, "so when the album comes out, quite a few of them will go out and buy the album, too," Castaldo said.

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