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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT: Michael Collings

Talent isn't about the fake tan. It's not about being thin. It's not about marketing yourself a certain way. That's what they've been telling us for years, but it's meaningless. If you get the breast implants and create your new 'image' you'll do great, but you'll do great for six months, and then you won't mean anything anymore. You'll capture a moment in time, you'll align yourself with what's selling at the moment; but then you're dead. No-one cares. Fashion moves too quickly.

Real talent is about being yourself. It's about dedication. Michael Collings came on to Britain's Got Talent and he blew EVERYONE away.

Here's what's tricky. Last year, on 'X Factor' - there was a 16 year old girl called Cher Lloyd. And she was fascinating. She had talent and she had a heart. Her singing and style was unconventional. But it wasn't quite honest enough; she wasn't quite sure of who she was, of what she was meant to be - she was searching for an image. This should be fine, because she was sixteen! At that age you should be exploring who you are without becoming a marketing phenomenon. But X Factor ended up taking anything that was unique about the girl and turned her into a bland pop star. As soon as they did that, the magic was gone.

What Michael Collings brought to the show was undeniable. He's not the best looking guy in the world, and as the ever-so-perfect-looking-judge, Amanda Holden quipped, "he looks like he's going on a long haul flight," but five seconds later, the moment he started singing; he connected with the audience in a way that is more profound than all of Amanda Holden's career.

Michael dressed in the way that's most comfortable to him. And when they asked "what is your dream?" he told them about how he wants to tour all over the world-- they looked at him like he was insane; which is a shame, because he said it in such a wonderful and rare way; no ego, no absent minded dreaming, he was just a man with a talent who replied as honestly as he could. 

And he can actually play guitar. 

The timer on the video shows he started singing on 2:08. Before 2:10 hits, the audience react in a massive way. It's a way I can't fully explain. It's not a "wow, you can sing!" cheer, although that is part of it. More than anything, he just hits them in the gut, in the heart. They can hear themselves, and their lives, in his voice. 

And suddenly this guy, this nineteen year old kid on a bullshit talent show; suddenly he is representing all the parts of us that are ugly, that dress badly, that don't quite fit in. And immediately; he's an artist. He's taken who he is and what he's been through, and he's let it all out to an audience. Everyone in the seats are shocked, the presenters, Ant & Dec, are blown away, and the ego's of the judges of talent are knocked down hugely. But I don't mean to make them out to be evil, just human -- that moment on 2:24 when we see Amanda Holden's reaction; she looks beautiful because she's beautiful, because she's vulnerable and human; and we don't always see that with her.

Sure, it's a cover song. But he makes it his own. I didn't even know you could make a Tracy Chapman song your own. But his choice of song says everything about him. He didn't pick a Maroon 5 track or a recent Beyonce hit. He delved into something more meaningful. And it's riskier. The audience was made up of seventeen year olds who, for the most part, probably don't even know the song. But it didn't matter. 

Michael Collins doesn't look like a pop star. He doesn't look like people are meant to look on TV. Instead, he looked and sounded like himself. And I've watched his video about thirty times since I first saw it, because I think he's fantastic, and a reminder of how brilliant we can all be when we be ourselves and do what we are truly capable of. 

"I had a feeling that I belonged."
-Tracy Chapman

Care to share?


  1. Same all Susan Boyle trick again. This is TV.

  2. This was extremely well-written. Thanks! I agree with it all and was glad to discover I'm not the only one who's watched Michael's audition thirty times. :) I wish he would have won the competition, but hey... he'll do fine in this world as long as he stays true to himself and his musical calling. ...Debra