Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle was dealt an unexpected blow Saturday when she lost out to a group of young street dancers in the final of the British talent show that made her a global star.
The 48-year-old looked surprised when the result was announced but graciously accepted the runners-up place saying the "best people won" and wishing the group "all the best."
Boyle enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame over the past two months after video footage of her audition piece for the show, "I Dreamed A Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables," was posted on video-sharing website YouTube.
It has had around 100 million hits, brought her celebrity fans including actress Demi Moore and rock star Jon Bon Jovi and seen her feted in the media from the US to China, Japan and Australia.
The bookmakers made her the favourite to win, although after an unconvincing performance in the semi-final there were fears that the pressure for the church volunteer, who lives alone with her cat outside Edinburgh, was becoming too much.
But in a live performance in the "Britain's Got Talent" final on Saturday, Boyle proved the critics wrong and repeated her audition piece with gusto.
Judge Piers Morgan said it was the "greatest performance I've seen on the history of Britain's Got Talent -- you should win the competition, I loved it."
Boyle was up against nine other acts to win the competition, which brings with it a cheque for 100,000 pounds (115,000 euros, 160,000 dollars) and the chance to perform for Queen Elizabeth II.
All the acts performed before a public vote, in which millions of people called in to cast their ballots. Boyle lost out to the group of ten dancers, named Diversity, while saxophonist Julian Smith came in third place.
After singing earlier in the evening, Boyle, wearing a grey-blue, long sequinned dress, thanked all her fans.
"I want to thank people for all the support they've given me," she said.
Asked if it was worth all the media pressure, she replied emphatically: "Well worth it!... I really feel at home on stage, I'm among friends."
Boyle put in a shaky performance of "Memory" in the show's semi-finals last weekend, singing occasionally out of tune and out of time, and some fans on YouTube had questioned whether she could handle the weight of expectations on her.
The British media had also reported some erratic behaviour over the past week, including how she had lost her temper in the foyer of the London hotel where she was staying prompting police to intervene.
Morgan said that such was the pressure that she even considered quitting, describing her in his blog as a "frightened rabbit in headlights."
But his fellow judge Amanda Holden said after Saturday's performance: "I have never heard such powerful confident vocals."
In a Daily Mail interview Saturday, Boyle said she had used singing as a way of "boosting my confidence" and insisted she was still enjoying the experience.
"I've found the whole thing quite amazing and overwhelming. The attention's odd and it takes some getting used to, but it's nice," she said.
Hoards of fans had gathered in her hometown of Blackburn near Edinburgh to watch the final and support Boyle, on what she described in a television interview as "the most important night of my life."
After the result was announced, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond praised the singer, saying that despite her defeat she had given some "outstanding performances" and could "hold her head up high."
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