Picks and Pans Review: Desperately Seeking Susan

updated 07/13/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/13/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

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A few months ago Susan Boyle didn't exist, at least not beyond a world defined by her town and her cat. Now the Britain's Got Talent runner-up is a global star and—despite her troubles and a performing repertoire of two songs—her eccentric yet electric gift has changed the stakes of the show's likable, low-key U.S. version. Previous winners included a ventriloquist and a tenor, but never a Susan Boyle. Could this be the year?

The audition rounds have teased the audience with the possibility: One notably frumpy lady opened her mouth wide, only to emit monkey sounds. An animal impersonator! The big emotional wallop in the first week was delivered by a gospel trio called the Voices of Glory, kids who'd begun singing to wake their mother from a coma. Sharon Osbourne wept. The audience, though, may be in the mood for talent that actually rattles the soul. The guy with the novelty song about having a crush on David Hasselhoff won't do.

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