Boyle-ing Hot

One of the great paradoxes of the Internet age is that sometimes web-based fame doesn’t translate into real world sales figures. Just ask any label exec who’s watched a debut album by a MySpace phenom tank. And then there’s Susan Boyle.

Boyle became an Internet sensation in April via a YouTube clip of her debut performance on “Britain’s Got Talent.” The frumpy Scottish singer’s jaw-dropping take on the “Les Misérables” ballad “I Dreamed a Dream” was viewed more than 100 million times.

But her decidedly uneven behavior after she took her first bow, including a stint at a private clinic for “exhaustion” after she lost “BGT,” left some wondering if she would be able to follow through on the promise of that initial golden moment.

Photo: Greg Allen /
NBC "Today" Show, New York City

Cut to last week, when Boyle’s album I Dreamed a Dream – which had already smashed records for pre-orders on Amazon – moved an astounding 701,000 copies in the U.S. according to Neilsen SoundScan figures.

Those numbers mean the unassuming singer now holds the No. 1 spot for a debut by a female artist and the No. 2 spot for overall first-week sales for a debut album. The top spot on that list belongs to Snoop Dogg’s 1993 debut Doggystyle, which sold 803,000 copies in its first week.

Even more amazing is the fact that in an age when an increasing number of buyers sit down at a computer and download their music purchases, the majority of Boyle’s sales are physical CDs.

Naturally, the singer is doing just as well in her native U.K., where she earned the top spot for greatest first-day sales of 2009 with 130,00 copies sold and easily captured the title of best-selling debut in U.K. chart history, moving 410,000 albums in one week.

Boyle will get the chance to talk about all of this success, as well as her rapid rise from spinster to international superstar, later this month when “I Dreamed a Dream – The Susan Boyle Story” debuts on Britain’s ITV network.

According to the BBC, the hour-long Christmas special “will feature special guest stars and the singer performing some of her new material,” as well as interviews with Boyle and her family.