Home » Off Topic » [Offtopic:] The Amazing Paul Potts

[Offtopic:] The Amazing Paul Potts

Watch the faces of the judges as this fellow walks on the stage. Based on his looks and the fact that he is a cell phone salesman, they initially misjudge him. Sometimes you have to stop believing what everyone is telling you and start listening to your passion.

Click here: Phone Salesman Amazes Crowd – Video

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33 Responses to [Offtopic:] The Amazing Paul Potts

  1. Thanks Bill,

    That’s fabulous! I think it just really made my day.

  2. Okay, so why does this:
    -) bring tears to people’s eyes?

    and,

    -) how does it fit from the theory of evolution that people should react this way?

  3. An even more celebrated story is that of Russell Watson who came from even humbler beginnings and became known as the Voice. He too got his big break in show business when he sang Nessum Dorma in front of the owner of Manchester United. Nessum Dorma is one of the 2-3 most beautiful opera solos.

    Russell Watson has had some serious medical problems in the last couple years which are apparently life threatening but his classical album was the fastest selling classical album in UK history and reached #5 on the pop charts. I highly recommend it even though I am not a fan of classiical music. He mixes in some pop with opera classics including a cover of a Freddie Mercury song.

    It will be interesting to see if Paul Potts can emulate Russell Watson.

  4. Looks like he may have already started down the road to success. He won the competition is travelling the world singing opera.

    See here: http://www.paulpottsopera.org/

    An inspiring story to say the least.

  5. Great clip Bill!,

    I am not sure that this actually is “off topic.” It has to do with the “The Sin Of Stereotype

  6. I love Italian opera, and that brought a tear to my eye.

    Bravo

  7. My standards are pretty high when it comes to classical music, and that was absolutely superb and moving. Isn’t the power of music interesting? Even without knowing what the words mean, this music brings tears to one’s eyes. I wonder what the evolutionary explanation for that is. Could it be that there isn’t one? Maybe we were just designed that way.

  8. Hahaha Gil, maybe we were just designed that way indeed

  9. Goosebumps…

  10. Paul certainly has talent, but it seems to me he has yet to grow into it. Of course, that is probably just a lack of exposure to crowds and all. With practice and exposure to pressure situations he will certainly become a force in the music world.

    I think that this situation points out clearly exactly how on topic this post really is. Paul got a chance to shine and made the most of it, despite the establishment thinking very little of him.

    This is the same fight that ID is waging, only the stakes are higher, so the establishment is fighting harder against pro-ID scientists, keeping the response to one of low expectations and ridicule. I think they’ll be surprised when a pro-ID Paul Potts rises to stardom.

  11. Il tell you what, honestly, with sex and hip hop and bling counting as everyhting in the modern day entertianment/ music iindustry- this really was a breath of fresh air. To hear the sound of sorrow and struggle and true emotion like that man peformed, really was special. I never would have thought a show like American Idol would allow somthing like that- but i was surprised. Great performace- almost brought tears to my eyes.

  12. I don’t want to come off as a grinch here but…Paul Potts does indeed have a nice voice, but to anybody who knows much about opera will soon realize that it is not a great voice and more to the point, it is an untrained voice. This was at best a very shakey performance (to be fair he does sing it better now, but it is still quite apparent that his voice needs a lot of work). This is, by the way, why most true opera lovers don’t have much time for the likes of Andrea Bocelli – it’s nice, but it’s not the real thing. Maybe Potts can find a nice niche for himself in “popera” but no real opera company is going to touch him until his voice vastly improves.

    There are probably hundreds of young opera stars in training who sing better than Potts can (for example listen to any of the broadcast auditions for young singers at the Metropolitan Opera), but they realize the way to get ahead is not through a vehicle like Pop Idol but through hard work and training.

  13. tdean, your right, the same goes for fine wine, but its the story that counts here- american idol is… well…. “AMERICAN IDOL.”

  14. tdean,

    Party Pooper!

  15. …not so off topic at all. Why is it that aesthetics can be objectively discerned, classified, and taught? ( I have read Aristotle, by the way). But biologically speaking, why is art “good” or bad — existentially satisfying or dissonant? I haven’t yet read THE SPIRITUAL BRAIN. Perhaps Denyse has addressed this?

    For example, there is a significant difference between Bill Evans’ approach to the piano and Cecil Taylor’s approach. And although both have notoriously contributed to the genre, I don’t know very many keyboard players whose goal it is to play as if they had no fingers. They always prefer to claim their allegiance to Evans. Perhaps GilDodgen can comment on that also.

  16. Great performance. But let’s also give some credit to Puccini ; ) . Wonderful composer.

  17. Paul Potts Semi Final winning performance…

    http://video.google.com/videop.....;plindex=4

    Paul Potts finale performance on Britains got talent

    http://video.google.com/videop.....;plindex=1

  18. Since this is an off-topic thread I feel justified in presenting an off-topic story about amateur music critics, with a major off-topic digression.

    When I was in college pursuing one of my three unmarketable degrees (one in particular in music — piano performance) I studied with a Hungarian concert pianist by the name of Istvan Nadas (pronounced isht-von nah-dosh). He was a very interesting person.

    He was a piano student of Bela Bartok, and had many interesting stories to tell about him. But Istvan’s most compelling stories were about his experiences and miraculous survival as a prisoner in a Nazi death camp. Nadas told me about seeing people randomly chosen and either hanged or machine-gunned to death in front of the other prisoners. Istvan’s camp was liberated by the Russians, and he was put on a train headed for what he knew would be another camp, so, as the train slowed on a steep grade in the mountains he managed to jump off under machine-gun fire and eventually made his way to the US with the help of a black American GI who smuggled him across Checkpoint Charlie in the back of a jeep, hidden under a tarp. Nadas eventually learned that almost every member of his extended family had been shot or gassed to death.

    As you can imagine, Nadas was not shy, and he had great contempt for amateur music critics. He once told me about a concert he attended. The pianist was the great Sviatoslav Richter, and it was an evening of piano works by Beethoven. At one point in the concert, during a moment of musical silence, a woman seated behind Nadas said (in a hushed voice), “I don’t think Richter really knows how to play Beethoven.” Nadas stood up, turned around, and in a very loud voice so that everyone in the concert hall could hear, shouted: “Madam, how do YOU play Beethoven?”

    Amateur music critics are free to criticize my interpretations of Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Liszt, and Gershwin here:

    http://worldchampionshipchecke.....piano.html

  19. Darwin is powerless when it comes to aesthetics. His feeble story about the existence of beauty in nature involves a pathetic fallacy. Unintelligent creatures choose that which is beautiful, and this becomes an aspect of their fitness for mating? How do they make this choice? By what standard? By what means, since they have no power of judgment?

    There are similar mysteries embedded in music. What is melody, and why do we love a great one? Sit down at the piano and start to play. You cannot create a beautiful melody randomly; melody, in fact, seems to call itself into being, as seen in the fact that the best melodies are usually written very quickly. The composer is free to create an unlimited number of pleasing melodies, but prohibited from doing so randomly. Why?

    Similarly, harmony is far from random. For reasons that are obscure to science, the ear naturally wants to hear a harmony based on some progression of the tonic, the subdominant, and the dominant. These can be varied to the relative minors, and in other ingenious ways, as in Bach, but the basic pattern cannot be changed without a loss of elegance and simplicity. (Note the number of changes.)

    Beauty is the threshold that naturalism and materialism cannot cross. There is no explanation in nature per se for the existence of beautiful things, whether they are flowers, the songs of birds, or melodies called into being by intelligent agents. The attempt to resist the clear (telic) implication of beauty in the modern age led to ugliness and the annihilation of aesthetics.

    For that matter, naturalism can provide no explanation for the existence of desirability itself. If, as Darwin claimed, beautiful things come into being through the power of desirability, then science must account for the existence of this power. If, on the other hand, existence is attributed to purely random change, as gloomy Gould claimed, then desirability, strictly speaking, cannot exist.

    In a materialistic age, beauty becomes an illusion which must be smashed in order to serve a lesser god.

  20. Actually, the real story is a little more complex – if you watch the final performance, the judges admit that they were surprised during the “auditions”, which presumably happened before the whole event. (Today’s TV shows are all staged and set for the best effects, nothing is left for “chance” and that is just too bad.)

    Re:”Watch the faces of the judges as this fellow walks on the stage. Based on his looks and the fact that he is a cell phone salesman, they initially misjudge him.”

    Therefore, the facial expression of the judges and their acting during the surprising semi-final performance were all staged! Perhaps there is another lesson or lessons for the ID to learn from this.

    About Paul: there are a lot of unknown people with hidden talents, and it is great that sane and clean shows like this are becoming increasingly popular. I enjoyed Paul’s singing, but tend to agree with tdean, that Paul will have to work on his voice to become a “pro”. (Besides, modern audio electronics can perform miracles.)

    But that would be another interesting discussion about the virtues of professionalism as opposed to amateurism.

  21. Yes, I probably am a party-pooper. But I am trying to make a valid point here.

    Undoubtedly the story of Paul Potts is heart-warming, but at the end of the day his talent (at least judged operatically) is that of an amateur. Maybe he or his supporters might feel he is now entitled to sing at Milan at Covent Garden, but the reality is that he is simply not good enough; not at least without substantial training. Actualy Andrea Bocelli has apparently tried to sing on the real opera stage and it has been nothing short of disastrous.

    I guess the point I’m making is lets applaud Paul Potts for his achievement, but let’s be careful about going around saying silly things like he is ‘the greatest opera singer in the world’ (and sorry Granville just standards for classical music are abysmally low if you think this performance was good – just go to any major opera anywhere in the world and you will here better singing).

    My point is, of course, that this misinterpretation of ‘talent’ applies to the science world too…it’s easy to mistake amateur science for the real thing…

    Frost122585 – Paul Potts didn’t appear on American Idol, but on a show called “Britian’s Got Talent”

  22. tdean, you are right, he needs some professional training, but I think he’s got a great instrument and the soul to go with it, and his performance was moving. I was watching some pros on PBS just last night and thought that Potts was naturally better. I hope a good coach takes him on.

  23. i have to disagree with you guys. paul is phenomenal. i am no opera singer, but i am quite picky. i did train in choir for 10 years and competed in high school at a high level. i was 1st chair all area in 9th grade.

    i realize my accomplishments are nothing compared to truly great singers, but this guy’s voice is flat out amazing and beautiful. i am sure training will be of great help to him, but to act like he isn’t very good seems a bit overstated to me.

  24. What’s with all the sour grapes. This is a great story. They guy didn’t look the part, but he went out and knocked their socks off. You have to be pretty good to make people weep—come on. If a seventy-year-old-man high jumped seven feet, some of you would say, “Big deal, the world record is eight feet.”

  25. Hi tdean,

    You have put the word “popera” in quotation marks (scare quotes?) but pop operas and rock operas (with their ability to move the general public) are important and fully legitimate art forms in their own right.

    The “pop” in “pop music” refers to “the people” and the people are sacred. People matter. People are important. Like it or not, your “real opera” is seen by the masses (the people) as a distant, outdated pompous display of technical prowess and far less musical/moving than say “popera.”

    If ID wishes to be effective for positive cultural change – if the ID movement wishes to change(move) the world — it would be wise to support the development of inspirational pop-operas (that appeal to the masses) and not so-called “real opera.” “Real opera” appeals only to a small stuffy musical elite. Musical performance necessarily includes the ability to connect with the audience and for that, genuine humility is required. While technical prowess is important, it is only half of the performance equation IMO.

  26. Paul Potts has already appeared in the US at Rockerfeller Center last June and his website has his 2008 tour schedule. So these videos are probably from over a year ago. These videos are showing up now I am sure as part of a marketing campaign for him. It seems to be working on this site and it did with my brother who last time he was at my house wanted to show me Paul Potts’s video. So something is going around generating interest in Paul Potts.

  27. The best part about this story is that an actually talented form of music was introduced and accepted in the stupid peoples culture- if we can keep pushing real tallent and intelligence on the masses ID might overthorw darwin quicker than expected ;)

  28. Nesun Dorma is sung often at football games in the UK so it is well known. Nessun Dorma put Pavrotti on the pop culture map when he sang it at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. I believe it is now the official song of the World Cup but that could be mistaken.

    Paul Potts is a Russell Watson wannabe and I am sure his handlers are following the game plan that made Watson a world wide star. Russell Watson got his big start singing Nessun Dorma at a Manchester United foot ball game and within a couple years he was singing at the White House and Buckingham Palace. His album of mostly classical/opera songs was 5th on the pop charts in the UK so the English are well aware of this music and probably fully aware that Paul Potts is being made into a hopefully new version of Russell Watson.

    I think the whole tv show was a set up and all the judges knew what was coming and all surely knew of Russell Watson and what came before. Watson had much humbler beginnings and was a bolt cutter in a factory who sang at local bars before hitting it big. By the way you can purchase Paul Potts cd on Amazon which I did yesterday. I am anxious to hear it.

  29. My friends really enjoyed this- thank you for posting it Bill.

  30. Actually, the real story is a little more complex – if you watch the final performance, the judges admit that they were surprised during the “auditions”, which presumably happened before the whole event.

    No, I don’t think that is correct. The audition referred to in the final performance is the video Bill linked to. That was the audition. There was nothing staged about the crowd’s reaction or Piers’s or Amanda’s or Simon’s. They were genuinely stunned and surprised.

    tdead: I have to somewheat disagree with you. Potts isn’t that far removed from the true opera pros. Sure he’s an amatuer in the sense that up until now music has not been his career. But he has had training. I’ve listened to his recording and I think its quite good, actually. I speak here as a musician myself. Sure, Potts needs additional training and coaching…but that’s true of all singers, including the great ones. He’s not as far away from the level of say, a Pavarotti, as you make it sound. I think 5 years from now, after his 5th or 6th recording is out you’ll be singing a different tune about Potts (pun intended!)

  31. There are several performances of Nessun Dorma on the YouTube, so listen, and judge for yourself how they compare to Paul Potts’:

    (First hook up a decent audio system to your PC or Mac)

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VATmgtmR5o4

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ONUCPKdGcrk

    I don’t want to take anything away from the great Pavarotti, but of the Three Tenors I always preferred Placido Domingo, who, in my opinion is the greatest living tenor of the recent times. You can listen to his Nessun Dorma here:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=2RdJmqLrsbo

    Andrea Bocelli also has a great tenor, certainly better than Paul, but I find this performance less spirited than Pavarotti’s. The ambience of the place, with fans singing, shouting, etc. (which may have been added to Paul’s performances electronically), adds a lot to the overall impression:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=YbGKQ8YASCY

    And I also like the new rising star of male tenor, Ben Heppner:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=FPAgTnmGF5Y

    Donald M, This is Paul’s final performance of the “competition”, notice how the judge praises Paul at about 75% mark, and how he specifically says that the judges “felt the hair on their back go up during the auditions”, and “it carried on every time you sang” … implying that the “winning” semi-final performance ( http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=rDB9zwlXrB8 ) wasn’t really his first big surprising performance:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=K_5W4t_CBzg

    Also, Wiki explains that the auditions are before the semi-final performance:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.....Got_Talent

  32. tdead: Like DonaldM I also have to disagree with you. While he needs additional training he has spent 20,000 pounds on voice training and probably more now that he has the money. He even sung for 15,000 people albeit in an amateur capacity.

    While I am no opera fanatic this story touched me and I did a lot of looking around for information on him. It seems that opera fans are divided. Some describe his voice as average others give it the highest praise see http://blogcritics.org/archive.....073115.php as an example.

    Now I bought the Christmas edition which includes Panis Angelicus. If you listen to that track you will be impressed.

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