Susan Boyle, "Perfect Day"
On his often-recontextualized 1972 gem "Perfect Day," singer/songwriter Lou Reed undercut a story of escapism with a bittersweet piano melody and wistful strings. In Susan Boyle's hands, the song becomes an epic paean to a higher power, at turns both exuberant and menacing, and with nary a trace of irony. A trembling orchestral introduction sets the tone, while a chorus swells around Boyle's voice for the song's most hallowed refrain, "You just keep me hanging on." The same chorus booms even louder as Boyle delivers the song's final warning: "You're going to reap, just what you sow." Like Boyle's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" on last year's massive "I Dreamed a Dream," "Perfect Day" turns a model of classic rock restraint into the embodiment of dramatic excess that her audience (and her starmaker, Simon Cowell) demands.