Page last updated at 23:57 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Why Susan Boyle was snubbed by the Brit Awards

Susan Boyle
Susan Boyle's album has sold eight million copies in under two months

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News

Susan Boyle has gone from a YouTube phenomenon to Britain's most successful recording artist in less than a year. So why has she been snubbed by the Brit Awards?

The Susan Boyle phenomenon began five seconds into her audition for ITV's Britain's Got Talent, screened last spring, and spread within days to all corners of the globe thanks to its power on the internet.

Its impact has led eight million people around the world to buy the Scottish singer's debut album in less than two months - statistics that are all but unheard of in the music industry in this day and age.

I think it's a crime... every year there is something the academy gets wrong and this year they got that wrong
Brit Awards chairman Ged Doherty

But she was nowhere to be found on the Brit Awards' shortlists when the nominations were announced on Monday.

"I think it's a crime," said the Brit Awards chairman Ged Doherty, who is also head of Boyle's record company, Sony.

"I can't explain it. Every year there is something the academy gets wrong and this year they got that wrong."

The nominees are chosen by "the academy" - a panel of more than 1,000 people from the music industry and media.

They reward two things - commercial success and artistic talent, in varying combinations, depending on the act.

Fan with a Susan Boyle mask
Boyle shot to fame after appearing on Britain's Got Talent last April

I was one of the voters and I did not vote for Boyle. My best female choices were Florence and the Machine, Little Boots, Lily Allen, Bat For Lashes and Imogen Heap.

And I admit there was a bit of musical snobbery in the collective decision not to vote for Boyle.

She was "just" a TV talent show contestant - and a slightly odd one at that - who did not write her own material and (largely) just sang cover versions.

That did not go down well with the panel, who like their chosen acts to have at least a small creative spark to go with their commercial appeal.

There may also have been something else against her - timing.

To be eligible, every release must have reached the UK top 40 by 30 November 2009, and Boyle's album scraped in with one day to spare.

Voting closed two weeks later and while she notched up the fastest-selling debut album in UK history during that period, what followed happened after voting had closed.

She went on to be at number one in the US album chart for six weeks - the first UK artist to do that since the Fine Young Cannibals 20 years ago - as well as having the UK's best-selling album of 2009 and reaching the top in many other countries.

Lady GaGa
Could Susan Boyle duet with Lady GaGa at the Brits ceremony?

Had the voters been aware of the scale of her genuine success, they may well have seen fit to reward her.

But her omission this year means she could well be nominated next year as she would still be eligible under Brits rules.

And nor does it rule out an appearance at the Brit Awards ceremony at London's Earl's Court next month. She could still feature in a surprise collaboration on stage.

Press speculation has suggested she could team up with Lady GaGa. That idea would no doubt appeal to Lady GaGa's unconventional nature, and organisers would kill to have those pictures in the papers the next day.

Lady GaGa was the only other major global breakthrough artist of 2009 and is highly likely to take at least two of the three gongs she is nominated for.

She appears a shoo-in for best international female and best international breakthrough, but bookmakers think she will face a challenge from the Black Eyed Peas for best international album.

Kasabian are favourites to be named best British group

Among the British nominees, Florence and the Machine and Kasabian are favourites to be showered in the greatest glory on the night.

Both have combined commercial success with critical acclaim and artistic credibility to be two of the stand-out stars of the past 12 months.

Florence, whose album finally went to number one on Sunday, six months after its release, is the frontrunner to be named best British female.

Kasabian are in pole position to win best British group, and the two acts will go head-to-head for best British album.

Florence is also up for best British breakthrough artist. But, with the winner of that award chosen by BBC Radio 1 listeners, she could be outdone by the army of fans behind boy band -and 2008 X Factor contestants - JLS.

For the same reason, JLS could scoop the award for best British single, which is voted for by listeners to commercial radio.

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