Music Roundup: Susan Boyle Is the ‘Gift’ That Keeps On Giving

 Say what you want about Susan Boyle. She is one of the decade's most surprising, not to mention, endearing stars. It's only been 18 months since she dazzled Britain's Got Talent judges with her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream", but the 49-year-old singer has captivated the world with her angelic vocals, her charming sense of candor and humor and yes, her occasionally odd slip ups with the paparazzi. But today belongs to Boyle, as she issues her second album, The Gift.

The '60s-tinged holiday effort highlights the Scottish entertainer's wide-range of traditional standards like "O Holy Night" and "The First Noel". Sure, she enjoys covering other people's tunes, like Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", but she does it with grace. She is a singer with an impeccable voice, pure and simple. Let her do her thing, y'know? Who cares if she covers such heralded songs? Many before her have gone a similar route and done so without the same ridicule.

And how about this for weird? It seems that Lou Reed has given Boyle a chance, after the Velvet Underground frontman said she couldn't sing his song "Perfect Day" on a September episode of America's Got Talent. We later learned that a licensing snag was to blame, but still Reed took the heat. Well now it seems that not all is lost, for the two have patched things up for Reed to direct Boyle's video for "Perfect Day." Say what?

"I wanted to create a beautiful and intimate piece shot in Susan's native Scotland and she quickly agreed," Reed explained to The Daily Record.

"I loved that Lou understood how much it meant to me to film in Scotland," Boyle added. "I didn't mind how much it rained or blew a gale – I enjoyed every minute."

Other notable releases out this week:

Nadine CoyleInsatiable
Orange JuiceCoals to Newcastle (6-CD + DVD Box Set)
The Orb and YouthImpossible Oddities (3-CD Box Set)
Syd BarrettAn Introduction to Syd Barrett (Remastered)

In other music news:

Liam Gallagher's post-Oasis project Beady Eye will issue their first single "Bring the Light" as a free download on Wednesday, via the band's official site. Thanks for being so generous, Liam. We always knew you had it in ya. (BBC)

– English indie pop outfit The Boy Least Likely To are gearing up for their first-ever holiday release, Christmas Special, out November 30 via +1 Records in the U.S. The 11-song set includes three Christmas standards sprinkled throughout eight original tunes. One of 'em is a festive tale imagining a Cornish bar reunion between Wham!'s George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley on "George and Andrew".

"Making a Christmas album might seem like an odd thing to do, but for us it seems like the most perfect thing…" multi-instrumentalist Pete Hobbs and vocalist Jof Owen shared in a press release. "We've always been drawn to them and we've always written them, with the thought that someday we would have enough Christmas songs to fill a whole album. And at last we have, so here it is… [it's] the Christmas album we've always dreamed of making."

Mark Ronson and The View's Kyle Falconer appeared to have a lot of fun creating "The Bike Song" for the English DJ’s latest LP, Record Collection. Now the two have hooked up again to compose a "bagpipe-based song". Now that sounds absolutely brilliant, doesn't it? (NME)

– The always fabulous Bryan Ferry took to the Strictly Come Dancing stage on Sunday (November 7) to perform "You Can Dance", the lead single from his latest Olympia album. Too bad the Roxy Music frontman didn't take time out to shake a leg.

One to keep an eye on: Spring Offensive

This Oxford-bred fivesome draws from Radiohead's nervy side while building up its own post-rock canvas. The 14-minute "The First of Many Dreams About Monsters" – inspired by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's analysis on the five stages of grief in "On Death And Dying" – is one of the band's epic singles out this year. I just had to share. It's also available as a free download here.

WARNING: Some content is NSFW

"The First of Many Dreams About Monsters":

 

What are you listening to this week?