I Dreamed a Dream is Susan Boyle's debut studio album which was released on November 23, 2009 by Syco Music in the United Kingdom and Columbia Records in the United States a day later.
The album quickly became the world's biggest-selling album of 2009, selling almost 14 million copies worldwide.
In August of 2008, Susan Boyle applied for an audition for the third series of "Britain's Got Talent" (as contestant number 43212) and was accepted after a preliminary audition in Glasgow. When Boyle first appeared on the show at the city's Clyde Auditorium, she said that she aspired to become a professional singer "as successful as Elaine Paige."
Boyle sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Misérables" in the first round of the third series of "Britain's Got Talent", which was watched by over 10 million viewers when it aired on April 11, 2009.
Programme judge Amanda Holden remarked upon the audience's initially cynical attitude, and the subsequent "biggest wake-up call ever" upon hearing her performance; this performance was widely reported and tens of millions of people viewed the video on YouTube.
Boyle was "absolutely gobsmacked" by the strength of this reaction. After the appearance, Paige expressed interest in singing a duet with Boyle, calling her "a role model for everyone who has a dream."
Despite being the clear favourite to win the final, Boyle ended up in second place to Diversity; the UK TV audience was a record of 17.3 million viewers. However, she was quickly signed to Simon Cowell's record label and began the production of the album soon after the show.
Cowell compiled a list of around 150 songs that had in part been accumulated from "various A&R guys" who sent them to him. He then whittled these down to 50 and presented the list to producer Steve Mac, so that he could try out the songs with Boyle to see which worked for her and which she wanted to record. They then recorded 20 songs for the album, with 12 eventually making the final cut.
In an interview with HitQuarters, Mac talked about working with the singer: "Susan had a big say in what she wanted to record. She’s an extraordinary artist – she’s an old school artist in that she can only sing what she feels in her heart. She’s not one of those singers that can make anything sound good, it’s only if she feels the passion of it and understands the lyric. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with an artist that could do that."
- Wild Horses 4:55
- I Dreamed A Dream 3:11
- Cry Me A River 2:43
- How Great Thou Art 3:13
- You'll See 4:43
- Daydream Believer 3:20
- Up To The Mountain 3:32
- Amazing Grace 3:35
- Who I Was Born To Be 4:10
- Proud 3:22
- The End Of The World 3:16
- Silent Night 3:00
"I Dreamed a Dream" sold approximately 134,000 copies in the United Kingdom on its first day of release alone, and approximately 300,000 copies by Friday, November 27th. Sales of 411,820 copies made it the largest first week sales of any debut album in UK chart history.
The album also debuted at No. 1 in Australia, selling 164,973 in the first week of release and has been certified 9x Platinum (630,000 units shipped). In New Zealand, the album was certified 3x Platinum for shipping over 45,000 copies after just one week of release while debuting at number 1; the album was certified 8x Platinum (120,000 units shipped) three weeks after its release. It has also become the highest-selling debut album in New Zealand history.
The Japanese market regarded it as a classical music album and it debuted at No. 5 on the Oricon weekly comprehensive charts with around 36,000 copies, climbing to No. 3 the next week.
In the United States, "I Dreamed a Dream" debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with approximate sales of 701,000 units, becoming the best sales week for an album in the United States for 2009, breaking the record for the highest debut by a new solo female artist in the SoundScan era (post 1991).
It also became the biggest opening sales week of 2009 in the U.S., beating out Eminem's album, "Relapse" which sold 608,000. It stayed at number one for five consecutive weeks, selling in excess of half a million copies each week, bringing her total U.S. sales over to 2.9 million copies. It is the fastest-selling debut album to reach two million in sales and was 2009's second biggest-selling album.
In just 6 weeks, "I Dreamed a Dream" sold 3.1 million sold according to SoundScan; behind Taylor Swift's album, "Fearless" which sold 3.21 million since being released one year prior on November 11, 2008. The album moved 3,974,000 copies in the United States to date.
The album sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide in its first three weeks of release, and has sold almost 9 million to date. It received a Grammy Award nomination for "Best Pop Vocal Album", but lost to Lady Gaga's album, "The Fame Monster."
Entertainment Weekly gave the album a "B-", writing: "For fans of Boyle’s original Britain’s Got Talent clip, the result might be a bit of a letdown, especially in snoozily competent versions of ”Daydream Believer” and Madonna’s ”You’ll See,” which offer none of her jarred-lightning charm. Still, the lady’s ”Cry Me a River” does pack a strangely sensual punch — the weird thrill of hearing SuBo get low."
Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine calling the album "a willful antonym of inspiring" and that Boyle "never digs into the intent of the lyrics", but "sings beautifully throughout."
The New York Times wrote: "On an album without humor or melodrama, a devotional spirit reigns."
The Los Angeles Times wrote: "Boyle is perfectly comfortable singing actual hymns like 'Amazing Grace,' though her take on them is pretty much on a level with any local church's choir star. She's at her worst when she pushes harder; she doesn't know how to build drama, and her throat seems to constrict as she reaches for bigger notes."
Slant Magazine wrote: "Because the songs are so riddled with cliches and are largely too familiar, and because the music is so tepid and tasteful to a fault, the album simply isn't able to overcome that lack of depth."