Half way through the afternoon today I suddenly spot links on Twitter to a breaking news story relating to that darling of the media – our very own SuBo – AKA former Britain’s Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle.
It would seem at first glance that she’s been the victim of some rather caddish behaviour from legendary former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed.
Within what seems like moments this story is all over the net. With many outlets – such has the Mail On-Line claiming America’s Got Talent 2010: Susan Boyle banned by Lou Reed from singing his song (also here at Ace Showbiz Susan Boyle Cries After Banned by Lou Reed From Singing His Song ) with other sources seemingly suggesting that Lou Reed has somehow banned Su-Bo from taking part in the America’s Got Talent 2010 show – for instance the Hello Magazine website Susan Boyle pulls out of US show over Lou Reed song and also The Metro Susan Boyle ‘in tears’ after Lou Reed pulls the plug on her America’s Got Talent performance
What all of the sources (and many many others) report is that Susan was due to sing a cover of Lou Reed’s song “Perfect Day” on the enormously successful America’s Got Talent – the counterpart to the Britain’s Got Talent show that shot her to fame. It would seem that permission from the copyright owner of the song is needed for her to perform the song on television, and that Lou Reed, the writer of this song, has denied permission – only two hours before the performance, and the only reason given that he’s not a fan of Susan Boyle.
Sounds a bit mean.
Or does it ?
What I’d have liked some of these intrepid reporters to have done was to dig a little deeper.
This is a major television show – it’s as big as they come. I wonder why no one has asked why the issues concerned with copyright weren’t sorted out – BEFORE the day of the performance ?
I wonder why no one has asked why the production company didn’t have another song lined up ? She is after all a fairly prolific recording artist now – it would not have been difficult to have had a reserve song up her sleeve – particularly if they were having difficulty chasing up permission to perform the original song.
I wonder why no one’s got a statement from Lou Reed’s team ? or Lou himself ? Because, while I’m sure he’s not a fan of Susan Boyle’s, I can’t imagine he was a fan either of many of the people who covered the song for Children in Need a few years back – although he did describe the recording as the best cover ever of his song.
Could it be perhaps that the sheer number of people involved in that recording, and the charitable nature of the recording, complicate the copyright issue ?
Is it not feasible that someone working for Lou, faced with a request for permission to perform a song, given just a few hours notice, and unable to contact the man himself, knew all of that, and erred on the side of caution by not giving permission. It’s possible in fact that Lou Reed was never even consulted.
Of course it’s also possible that he’s being unreasonably difficult, and nasty to Susan Boyle – but let’s be absolutely clear – if he owns the copyright (do we know that he does ?) – then he has every legal right to deny her permission to perform it. The issue is also not raised of how much they were willing to pay in order to perform it – remember that although this song was made popular by Lou Reed among his own fans, it was made immensely more popular among the general public by the BBC recorded cover which raised many many thousands of pounds for charity.
So America’s Got Talent are rather piggy backing on that success in performing the song, and such a lucrative show should presumably not get this song free of charge. Would it be morally right though for Lou Reed to take a whacking great sum ? These are interesting things to ponder over – and I’d suggest that the pondering would take longer than a couple of hours.
So I’ll be interested to see if any of these news outlets investigate further and give us the full story.
I’m not holding my breath though.