Susan Boyle's biggest rival (age 12) now on YouTube

Susan Boyle, who has now enjoyed more than 100 million online views, has competition. 12-year-old Shaheen Jafargholi already has more than 1 million YouTube views of his own since Sunday.

If the Web didn't exist, Susan Boyle would be, at best, a local hero. At least for a substantial amount of time.

However, the Web's insane insatiability, coupled with that of Simon Cowell, means that no sooner has she reached the quite strange figure of 100 million online views (and growing with every minute the world turns) than "Britain's Got Talent" attempts to inject a rival.

So, in the interests of social science, may I present 12-year-old Welsh boy Shaheen Jafargholi? He and his single mom graced the show's auditions last Saturday. (Well, in fact, the auditions were many months ago, but let's not quibble to a dribble.)

And just as Susan Boyle's impact was based not merely on her talent but her overwhelming authenticity, you may feel that little Shaheen's performance doesn't quite leap the authenticity barrier quite so effortlessly.

Shaheen Jafargholi. Age 12. "Britain's Got Talent"

In the YouTube clip that has already given Shaheen 1 million views since Sunday, you will see Shaheen begin to sing "Valerie," a song Amy Winehouse made famous (originally a Zutons tune, but somebody killed them), only to be halted by Cowell's right hand.

"You've got it all wrong," declares a deadpan Cowell. The audience gasps. The cameras cut to the audience gasping. The audience is about to weep. So is Shaheen's mom. The world does not have enough buckets to collect their tears, nor enough tissues to wipe them away.

But wait.

Neatly, and remarkably conveniently, Mr. Cowell asks Shaheen if he sings something else. Shaheen, just as neatly and conveniently, has some music prepared from another song, Michael Jackson's sweet, innocent ditty, "Who's Loving You?"

This is a composition that features the stanzas: "Wheeeeeeen I had you (had you), I treated you baaaaaaad and wrong my dear. And girl since, since you went away, Don't you know I sit around, With my head hanging down..."

For me, this sounds a little less authentic emerging from the elevated, if powerful, gutturals of a 12-year-old than "I Dreamed A Dream" coming from the lonely hopes of a 47-year-old (now 48).

Oh, entertainment. Pain is your father. Hope is your mother. And greed is daddy's overly enthusiastic, attention-craving, highly neurotic lover.

 

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