A nervous young man who sells car phones in Wales gets his moment in the sun. The guy is admittedly lacking in self confidence when he appears before the Simon Cowell and the other wolves of Britain’s got Talent (the UK version of American Idol), not to mention a huge auditorium full of people.


  1. It’s funny but I had tears in my eyes as I watched this video. It’s amazing. Thanks for pointing this out.

  2. I am of the theory that the main reason most people think that opera is so deep is that they think they’re /supposed/ to, like poseurs trying to interpret abstract art.
    It’s in a foreign language, and is considered “cultured” (what that word actually means illustrates the irony), ergo it must be really significant. They’re afraid they simply aren’t sophisticated enough to understand it, so they pretend to be impressed.
    Hey, check out the emperor! Those clothes are awesome!
    One thing that really annoys me about opera is the abuse of vibrato. Instead of using it as an embellishment to emphasize emotion, it’s simply used for anything longer than a quarter note. It becomes meaningless. People who don’t know much about music seem to think that simply using vibrato is impressive…but it’s more like if Michael Jordan didn’t only leap at the basket for the dunk, but just went around leaping all the time, for no apparent reason.
    In this guy’s favor, he certainly sings opera well, by the criteria of opera fans.
    He’d have to, with that horrific set of English teeth, and that bullfrog face. He’s one of those guys who could be UNDERweight, and still he’d look obese because of his head.
    If he sang anything that people were afraid to not like, though, he’d not be appreciated. But people WANT to like Opera, so that gave him the opportunity he needed. If he got up there and sang a pop song as well as anyone else in the world, the homely mug would have doomed him.
    I totally disagree.  I think most people don’t like opera and admit it.  I think the deck was stacked against him in that he was performing before an audience that was biased against opera.
    I never used to like opera much.  I went from time to time, but never got a lot out of it.  In fact, I counted the minutes until it was over.  As I’ve aged I’ve come to enjoy it more and more until now (as long as it’s good–I hate bad opera) it’s my favorite form of entertainment.
    Perhaps it’s something you’ll come to appreciate with more age and maturity.
    As to the guy’s looks…my looks aren’t perfect, so I can’t go around commenting on others’. 

  3. Kaz,
    I don’t understand what you mean about people WANTING to like opera, since it can only be good music or not (whether it is opera or not). I’m not that big a fan either, but there are some arias that just grabs you by the throat when done well.
    I didn’t even notice the bad teeth until someone else pointed it out to me. I was just overwhelmed by the music, and added to that the context of the shrinking violet who was able to overcome his nerves. I think this video was absolutely awesome. I wasn’t expecting that song (which is admittedly one of my favorites), and when he hit the first few notes, my eyes started tearing up. He did it very well, bad teeth and all.
    Actually, I think people tend to be predisposed to HATE opera. It’s really a testament to how well he did that the audience loved him (after a stunned silence in the beginning).

  4. I also disagree with Kaz. Ask almost anyone nowadays and they will freely admit that they can’t stand classical or opera music. The only people I know personally that like this music are myself, my girlfriend, and one or two of my friends. Out of the dozens and dozens of other people I know none of them like it and they certainly won’t pretend to.

  5. Sir………….. Simon the Pedant here..
    Think you might need to correct Simon C’s surname.
    You’re thinking actor methinks instead of music mogul.
    Oops.  Right you are.  The change has been duly made.

  6. Thanks for posting this….it made my day.
    (As long as we’re in an editing mood, he probably sells car phones, or perhaps sells cell phones ;))
    I guess I was more overcome by the video than I thought.
    Thanks.  Correction duly made.

  7. Kudos on your amendments…I’d decided I was being curmudgeony enough without picking on your post, directly.
    And I think the reason everyone looked so apprehensive is that they were afraid to look stupid, when faced with someone singing opera. Again, this would have led them to seek the positive, if they could possibly find it. They don’t wanna say “oh, ick, opera is the equivilent of Beverly Hills 90210 set to antiquated pop music”, lest they seem ignorant of High Society sensibilities.
    Why on earth did you attend opera in the first place, if you didn’t like it?
    And, by the way, I’m totally mature already, d00d! It’s just that, like, opera suxx. I entirely resent the implication that maybe, ’cause I diss opera, I’m immature.
    On the other hand, I appreciate your implicit validation of my claim that people might be led to pretend to like opera, lest people think they’re unsophisticated…if only I feared people thinking I was immature, surely I would have faked liking it, on here, and therefore avoided your subtle scorn! /grin
    Did you submit to peer pressure regarding Ballet, too? Broadway shows? Big Band Jazz?
    You wrote:
    Why on earth did you attend opera in the first place, if you didn’t like it?
    Why indeed?  How was I to know whether or not I liked it unless I gave it a try?  Had I followed your reasoning, I would never have had children.
    Did I succumb to peer pressure re: ballet, Broadway shows, and Big Band Jazz…
    I never thought I would enjoy ballet until I saw it in person.  Good ballet up close and personal is unbelievable.  I can take or leave Broadway shows:  I’ve seen some good ones and some losers.  It’s been hit or miss, but I still go occasionally.  One of the most recent ones I saw – which wasn’t on Broadway, but was a pretty good traveling troupe – was Rent, which I thought was a total instance of the Emporer’s New Clothes.  I don’t know how anyone could enjoy that one.  It was a modern remake of La Boheme without the fabulous Puccini music and period costumes.  I do like Big Band Jazz, and I certainly didn’t bow to peer pressure to like it.  All my friends thought I was a freak because I enjoyed something of my parent’s generation.
    What I can’t stand is Heavy Metal Rock, which you are probably hot for.  But different people have different tastes.  That’s why both Ted Nugent and Luciano Pavarotti are rich.

  8. Totally agree with Neal. Can’t stand most opera especially with women’s voices (please! make it stop!!!)
    Which is why I was so surprised to shed a tear at this one!
    I was so curious I found the YouTube version by Pavarotti. I could tell the difference in voice quality but still, Paul’s moved me and Pavarotti’s reminded me why I hate opera.
    It must be the 3-minute-sports-movie quality of Paul’s audition that made the difference.

  9. Kaz, as someone who grew up speaking German, I can tell you that Wagner, at least, never struck me as being deep. The Ring’s libretto is rather stoopid, in fact. (My favorite line is when Sieglinde sings to Siegmund: “Be quiet! Let me listen to your voice!”)
    That said, the music can be transporting. Sure, there’s a lot of vibrato in opera, but Whitney Houston goes nuts with the semi-hemi-demiquavers too.
    I think people just hunger for intensely emotional music, whether it’s R&B or opera. And women, I think, especially appreciate it when a man pours out his soul in song. Even this homely guy was sexy while he was singing. Did you see how the female judge reacted?

  10. I saw this video earlier this week and was amazed. It really gave me goosebumps as well!
    On another correction side note, this is actually the UK’s version of “America’s Got Talent.” “American Idol” was actually our version of the UK’s “Pop Idol.” Just thought I’d throw it in with the other things you have crossed out up there, lol.
    I can’t cross any more stuff out.  I’ve already had good friends call and tell me that they don’t understand the puns indicated by the crossouts.
    I’ve never watched a single episode of any of these shows, so I can’t be held accountable to keep them all straight.  You’ve sorted it out, so I’ll leave it at that.

  11. hi
    sorry to blow it, but the guy is a trained opera singer.
    it´s funny to see how easily people are manipulated by the set-up and scenery.
    his singing is really excellent, but the emotions are built up mostly by the story ,wrong expectations and a really good director.
    after seeing the video it was so obvious that this is a hoax that i looked it up in the internet, ok he´s employed as a cellphone salesman but …just check…
    Um, okay.
    I read the Wikipedia entry.  It says nothing about his being a trained opera singer.  It says he’s a cellphone salesman and that he appeared on the show and gives the date.

  12. I don’t think he ever claimed that he was not a trained singer. It’s obvious, even to a clod like me, that the guy has had some serious training. And, whether or not I was being manipulated, I enjoyed the ride.
    Here’s more on Paul (2nd row):
    It’s obvious the guy had some training somewhere. Are you sure this is the same guy, though. It doesn’t look much like him…at least not to me. Plus Paul Potts has got to be a fairly common name.


  13. No, not sure at all. I thought he looked like a much younger, skinnier version of the same guy. And the closed mouth smile makes me think he’s someone used to hiding bad teeth.
    Ok, I now realize the “typos” were intentional. With my recent discovery that I’m a sophisticated, mature opera aficionado, comes the ability to appreciate the subtlety of your humor.
    Hi Rick–
    The typos weren’t intentional.  I screwed up.  And had it pointed out to me by readers.  So, I fixed them.  I suppose I should just go in and make the changes and get rid of the crossouts to eliminate confusion.

  14. Thanks Mike, I enjoyed it!
    In all honesty, I can’t say I don’t like Opera; I don’t like all Opera pieces but there are some that I just can’t get enough of them, like the one this contestant sang. It will always cause the same effect, perhaps because of how difficult that piece is, perhaps because the whole orchestral piece is so dramatic and that really gets me, who knows, I really like that one.
    Hoax or not, I enjoyed it. Personally, I don’t think it is. Besides a scientist I’m also a musician and I did seem to catch a little glitch in one alto parts. A trained singer is not likely to have that kind of flaw so I’m inclined to think he’s just a plain guy who loves to sing and has had some kind of self-training. After all, though practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice does!
    More to the point, I guess the reason I enjoyed it is because I also like to see people discovering their own potential, and sometimes it takes great courage to stand in front of a panel of judges (who may be already tired after listening to countless contestants), and an audience that may already think that Opera singing is for another era and has nothing to do with being an Idol (whether American or British!). I enjoy that process and I’m fortunate to see that with some of my students all the time.
    Yes, I did have goosebumps when the audience just gave the guy exactly what he deserves, the recognition he probably didn’t think he was even worth of. Of course, didn’t help hearing Simon say something nice for a change!

  15. Of course he’s trained. People don’t sing like that magically. But he’s not a professional singer, in the sense that he doesn’t make his living singing opera.
    I can’t find the reference anymore, but I read that he’s had a couple of downturns in his life, including an accident and he considers Britain got talent as his last chance. That’s probably a little exaggerated. But winning or even competing in this competition will do a great deal to further his career. I suspect that he might have already succeeded judging for the interest this video has generated. I have been made aware of this video from three different sources already. My coworker, another coworker from a different office (they didn’t talk to each other) and now your blog. Obviously he’s as hot as the Star Wars kid but much more likely to profit from his fame than the former.
    Antonia is right however. The show did set things up somewhat, but then that’s what all TV shows do, attempt to create drama.
    I think that the reason this clip has generated so much attention is because of the contrast between his appearance and demeanor and his incredible voice. He really is not a good looking man. And he is so nervous on stage that he looks about to burst out in tears. You can tell by the judges’ face that their expectations are really low. I’m sure the audience felt the same way. So when he opened his mouth and out came this beautiful voice, people were shocked. When he comes back to the show, the surprise factor will be gone and expectations will be much higher. Still, people do love a good underdog story, and he doesn’t need to win the competition, just attract enough attention to jumpstart his career.
    And I think Rose is absolutely right, and I was about to post the same. People react to intensely emotional music and this is what we are seeing here. I very much doubt that the ladies wiping their eyes in the audience were pretending to be impressed out of some fear to look unsophisticated. People who have pretensions might do something like that, when faced with opera, ballet or abstract art, but those are a minority. Most people will freely admit they don’t get it and more, that they aren’t really interested. Their family and friends will not think any less of them for it. So why pretend? In fact the reverse is true. Admitting to liking opera might be considered pretentious in certain circles.
    I think that Paul’s achievement was made greater by having crossed a cultural barrier and making people appreciate opera, even for only an instant.
    Hi Angelyne–
    Thanks for the insightful comment.  I think you’re probably on the mark.

  16. PS. I’m certain that the Paul Pott in the link provided by Rick is the person we are discussing. It’s just a thinner, younger version of him. A black and white photo can hide a lot of sins, but they both have the same slightly sad expression.

  17. I take issue with anyone saying he is not an attractive young man. Yes, these saying may be trite, but beauty IS in the eye of the beholder, and it IS more than skin deep.
    If he’s going to sing for a living, though, he needs to have his teeth fixed. He doesn’t need perfectly straight white teeth, but he does need to have all of them and they should be fairly straight.
    But his face is lovely and expressive and he looks like a guy I’d like to hug. Sweet is what I’d say. He looks like a teddy bear of a guy.
    I agree with you.  And I’m sure that if he is able to pursue his career that he will get his teeth fixed.  As to the rest of his looks, I can’t think of a singe opera singer who looks like a movie star; in fact, most of them are overweight.  I don’t think any part of his looks will harm his career other than his teeth, and those can be repaired.

  18. Dear Dr.,
    In the late 1930s a chap named Leonard Warren was driving a delivery truck for a butcher shop. He entered the Metropolitan Opera auditions, blew everybody away, had a huge career, and died–as did Caruso–on stage at the Met in 1960, as he was about to sing the words “Morir, tremenda cosa”. I don’t remember a lot of carping of whining over whether he had sung a note or two prior to the audition.
    Your fan, Norman

  19. In response to norma – Leonard Warren had a powerful and beautiful voice along with a flawless technique. Paul Potts does not posses any of these. Also, Caruso did NOT die on stage. Don’t know where on earth you got that idea. Anyways, without amplification nobody would even have been able to hear Potts. He will never have an operatic career, and the biggest houses in the world wouldn’t ever let him perform for them under any circumstances. If Potts gets more than his 15 minutes of fame, he’ll never be more than an Il Divo wannabe “crossover” singer.

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