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Simon Cowell reflects on Susan Boyle’s ‘Britain's Got Talent’ audition: ‘Expectations were quite low’

The flawless vocalist became a household name after wowing Cowell on the show in 2009. 
/ Source: TODAY

Simon Cowell is reminiscing about the moment he and the rest of the world discovered Susan Boyle’s unbelievable singing voice. 

The year was 2009 and Boyle, then unemployed, auditioned for Season Three of “Britain’s Got Talent.”

Cowell, who created the "Got Talent" franchise and has been a judge on the British version since it launched in 2007, recently joined “America’s Got Talent” host Terry Crews to rewatch Boyle’s tryout. 

On July 25, a video of the pair fawning over Boyle’s vocals almost 15 years later was uploaded to the long-running NBC competition series’ YouTube page. 

The video begins with a throwback clip where a then-47-year-old Boyle tells “Britain’s Got Talent” co-hosts Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly that she lives with her cat, Pebbles, has never been kissed and dreams of performing for a live audience.

Cowell, a current judge on “America’s Got Talent” as well, watches that clip as he sits beside Crews in a theater. He tells that actor that it is “amazing” reliving the moment Boyle became a household name. 

“I’ll never forget this,” Cowell says. “I was having a terrible, terrible day and I remember saying, ‘I really, really hope she’s not gonna sing,’ because there were so many bad singers that day and I thought, ‘I just can’t take another one.’” 

Thankfully, his wish didn’t come true. Boyle stunned the judges and the audience with her performance of “I Dreamed A Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables.”

“Our expectations were quite low,” Cowell recalls. “But she is the perfect example of ‘never judge a book by its cover.’” 

As the old clip of Boyle singing and a shocked Cowell plays, Crews says, “No one was expecting that!” 

Cowell continues to compliment the vocalist, calling her “the most incredible person.” 

By the time Boyle sang the final note in the clip, fellow judges Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden were standing and clapping while Cowell sat in his chair in disbelief. 

After applauding Boyle in the present, Crews asks Cowell how it feels to witness the magical audition again. 

“This is special because, you know, she is just the most incredible person,” Cowell reiterates. 

The record executive points out that Boyle came from humble beginnings in Scotland and lived on her own before she became an inspiration. 

“She came on this show and everything changed because up until that point, you know, there was a perception that you had to look this way or be this age. And she just changed the rule book, full stop,” Cowell says. 

Fans celebrated Boyle’s success and impact in the comments. 

“Even years after, this still puts a smile on my face and I still cheer her on,” one person said. 

Another wrote, “She really did change everything for older contestants, especially the singers.” 

Boyle, who ended up coming in second on Season Three, has made appearances on “America’s Got Talent” and “Britain’s Got Talent” throughout the years. She returned to compete on “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” in 2019 and made it to the Top 12 as a finalist. 

Last month, she made her return to the “Britain’s Got Talent” stage for the Season 16 finale. 

The Scottish singer, 62, shared a health update after singing “I Dreamed A Dream” alongside the West End cast of “Les Misérables.”

She told Donnelly and McPartlin it felt “great” to come back. 

“It is extra special for me actually because last April there, I suffered a minor stroke,” she shared. 

She added, “I have fought like crazy to get back on stage. And I have done it.”

Cowell commemorated her perseverance. He told her, “Susan, we owe you so much and I knew you weren’t well, but if anyone was going to come back you were going to come back because we wouldn’t be the same without you. You are amazing.”