The World's Got Talent
From Russia to Malta to Afghanistan, TV talent shows are catapulting relative unknowns into bona fide stardom—Oprah Show producers counted more than 600 shows in 104 nations! "I just love it when somebody's dream gets to come true," Oprah says. "That is happening every single week."
Leona Lewis and Carrie Underwood are two superstars Simon says he knew would hit it big the moment he met them. "It's more than a voice; you've got to have 'it,'" he says. "It's rare, and I'm glad that it's rare, because these people should be like diamonds."
Simon's brutal honesty made him famous, but he says he never plans his comments for contestants ahead of time. "The best way of approaching it is to be in the moment," he says. "Then, hopefully you will be saying what people at home are going to be thinking."
Since that first audition, Susan's performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" has gotten more than 100 million hits on YouTube. "There was something Susan said before she came out on stage...'I'm going to rock this audience,'" he says. "She knew we were going to have that reaction, and just to see that look of satisfaction on her face midway through—it was one of my favorite moments."
Susan says her biggest supporter was her mom, who died in 2007. "After that, there was a wee period where I didn't sing," she says.
To help cope with the loss, Susan says she auditioned for Britain's Got Talent. "I am very slowly getting over it," she says. "One of the reasons I applied for the TV show was to try to see if I could perform in front of an audience."
It was the performance of Susan's life—and everything changed overnight. Paparazzi now camp outside of the home she's lived in for 48 years, and her mailbox is filling up with fan mail—with a few letters for her cat, Pebbles, mixed in.
Despite constant public scrutiny over her appearance, Susan says she hasn't had a makeover. "It depends what you mean by a makeover," she says. "I said to my best friend, I said, 'How's about you do my makeup?' I mean, that's hardly a makeover."
Though she cut and colored her hair, Susan says it wasn't part of a dramatic transformation plan. "I did a bit, but that was just to tidy myself up like any other female would have done," she says.
No matter what, Simon says the competition is all about Susan and her voice. "You've got practically the whole world behind you now," he says. "So I want to say congratulations and wish you the best of luck."
When the tour ended, the women decided to stick together. After playing weddings and parties, the group changed their tune and debuted their energetic new show in the Britain's Got Talent auditions.
Though they didn't win, Simon offered the girls a $2 million recording contract and the chance to perform around the world. "They're different," Simon says. "It's talent, and I love seeing that."
Now, they're making their international debut on The Oprah Show, performing "Live and Let Die." "We're just four great friends who just want to have fun together, and we've had the amazing opportunity to create an album that we absolutely love," Chantal says.
This May, contestants from 42 European countries will meet in Moscow to battle it out. One of the most buzzworthy acts is Germany's Alex Swings, Oscar Sings—a producer/singer duo with a mesmerizing act, complete with backup dancers.
Before they head off to Eurovision rehearsals, they perform "Miss Kiss Bang Bang" via satellite from Hamburg, Germany. Producer Alex Christensen says winning the competition would mean the world to them. "This would be the biggest moment in our life," he says.
In 2005, Jane was one of 120,000 hopefuls who auditioned for a new talent show, Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl. After singing Mariah Carey's "Hero," she was instantly chosen to compete for the title of the next Super Voice Girl.
Four hundred million viewers tuned in to see who would take home the title, and although Jane didn't win the competition, she became the show's breakout star. With 15 number one hit singles, Jane's been named China's Best Female Artist three years in a row. She's making her American television singing debut on The Oprah Show!
Despite Simon's initial skepticism, Signature wowed the Britain's Got Talent audience with their moves. They're performing their "signature" dance for the Oprah Show audience.
Simon says initially doubted American Idol would last even two weeks. "If someone had said to me nine [seasons] ago we were going to have this conversation now, I'd say it would never happen in a million years.," he says.
As for this season's finale, the world's toughest critic puts his money on contestant Adam Lambert. "I think he's got that 'it,' and I think he's fearless," Simon says. "I think he's unique, and he's got swagger."
Meet the talents Simon knew were the next big thing.
Oprah's search for the world's most talented kids turned up these little phenoms!