How Susan Boyle’s unexpected Olympics appearance stole the show

26 July 2021, 11:26 | Updated: 26 July 2021, 11:27

How Susan Boyle’s unexpected Olympics appearance stole the show
How Susan Boyle’s unexpected Olympics appearance stole the show. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

“SUSAN BOYLE at the Tokyo Olympics. Did I hear that right?!”

You absolutely did. Amid the fireworks, flag bearing and musical pomp and circumstance of Friday’s Olympics Opening Ceremony, a familiar-sounding voice soared through Tokyo’s stadium.

It was, rather unexpectedly, that of Scottish singing treasure, Susan Boyle, whose quietly powerful mezzo soprano vocals accompanied the traditional symbolic release of doves.

As thousands of paper doves floated down through the stadium, SuBo’s hit cover of The Doves’ ‘Wings to Fly’ played in the background.

Read more: All the music played at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony

The Britain’s Got Talent runner-up said it was a “true honour” to feature in the landmark ceremony.

SuBo tweeted about her starring role: “It was a true honour to be asked by the #TokyoOlympics to use my song ‘Wings To Fly’ during the dove release at the Opening Ceremony. Good luck to all of the athletes competing and especially to @TeamGB.”

Organisers of the Tokyo Opening Ceremony said they chose Boyle’s rendition of ‘Wings to Fly’ because the song is “known by all generations, and is especially popular among sporting fans, for whom it has become a widely performed supporters’ song.”

People on Twitter were in equal parts flabbergasted and delighted to hear SuBo’s voice ringing through Japan’s great stadium.

One viewer tweeted: “I never thought I’d see the day when Susan Boyle and Sonic the Hedgehog were on the same bill. #Tokyo2020”

Another said: “They played Susan Boyle during the Olympics opening ceremony!!!!! God bless you Japan.”

Susan Boyle grew up singing with her local church choir in Scotland, but her life was changed when, in her late 40s, she appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and brought the house down with an impassioned rendition of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Misérables.

Her audition became the most watched video of the year in 2009, with 120m views, and her debut album later that year became the UK’s best-selling debut album of all time.

Music was central to the Tokyo 2020 ceremony, with an orchestral medley of music from iconic Japanese video games accompanying the international flag-bearing parade. Soundtracks to Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and Sonic the Hedgehog were all spotted in the mix.

“I never thought I’d see the day when Susan Boyle and Sonic the Hedgehog were on the same bill,” one viewer tweeted.

As it turns out, Susan’s cover of ‘Wings to Fly’ was only released as a bonus track on ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ in Japan. The original version was a Japanese folk ballad, released in 1970.

What a beautiful way to honour Japan’s musical pedigree, while speaking to the world with an anthem for peace.