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Susan Boyle aims to turn celebrity into album sales

 'Britain's Got Talent' contestant Susan Boyle gestures to onlookers in Blackburn in West Lothian, Scotland, in this April 21, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/David Moir/Handout

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish singer Susan Boyle, one of the biggest stars of the Internet age, seeks to turn global celebrity into record sales next week with the release of her debut album "I Dreamed a Dream."

Named after the song from the musical "Les Miserables" that made her famous, the 12-track album is a mix of pop covers like Madonna's "You'll See" and The Monkees' "Daydream Believer" and Christian stalwarts like "Amazing Grace" and "Silent Night."

The Sony Music record hits stores in Britain on Monday and in the United States on Tuesday, and the early commercial signs are promising.

The album is the largest ever global CD pre-order on online retailer Amazon.com, with sales reportedly in excess of 100,000, and is the bookmakers' favorites to top the British chart over the lucrative Christmas period.

"She's definitely one of the frontrunners for the Christmas number one spot," said Gennaro Castaldo, spokesman for Britain's HMV music retail chain.

Her main competition for the coveted slot comes from other stars of television talent contests like Leona Lewis, Cheryl Cole and JLS, he added.

Early reviews have been unfavorable, however, with the Times newspaper calling it "an uncomfortable package" in a two-out-of-five star review, the same rating as the Guardian.

UNLIKELY STAR

The 48-year-old church volunteer won over the public with her performance of I Dreamed a Dream on the popular "Britain's Got Talent" series earlier this year which has been viewed more than 300 million times online.

Her fame, earning Boyle interviews on top U.S. chat shows and front page headlines the world over, was attributed to her unkempt hair, eccentric behavior and looks described as dowdy and frumpy -- anathema to the airbrushed world of celebrity.

The fact that she suffered minor brain damage at birth, lived alone with her cat, had no job and was admitted to a clinic for exhaustion after losing out to a dance troupe in the final round of the show only strengthened her appeal.

Boyle, affectionately called "SuBo" in the media, has undergone a major makeover for publicity shots and public appearances since her initial break.

And despite concerns over her ability to cope with fame, she said she was generally enjoying her success.

"I had a slight disability, but rather than let that rule my life I had to find my abilities and make the most of them instead," Boyle told the Daily Mirror tabloid this week.

"This feels like a good way of making up for that -- a very, very enjoyable way of making up for it as well."

Boyle, who was signed up by music impresario Simon Cowell, cranks up the publicity over the coming days, starting with an appearance on Britain's "X Factor" over the weekend which is expected to attract an audience of over 15 million viewers.

She also travels to the United States, the world's most important music market, for a live appearance on the Today Show.

Boyle has already performed one track from the album -- a cover of the Rolling Stones' hit "Wild Horses" -- on "America's Got Talent" in September.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

 
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