Dominic Pickering reminds us that in these times of tremendous hype to remember the prime purpose of Simon Cowell’s singing spectacle: to find a star who’s worth a $5 million investment.
No fewer than five finalists were signed to various Sony Music subsidiaries in the weeks after the show wrapped in December 2011, with winner Melanie Amaro landing at Epic Records. Chris Rene’s “Young Homie,” an original composition that Rene wrote and performed at his audition and again during the competition, had some momentum, passing three million views on YouTube, selling several hundred thousand digital downloads and getting Top 40 play.
Amaro who lives in Florida, says of her debut album, “I look for songs that are connected to real life scenarios — love songs, breakups, getting hurt, finding the strength to keep on pushing in life,” she said, emphasizing that she’s not under any deadline to finish her debut. A label rep says the album is due out in 2012 and that several songs are being considered as potential singles but a release date has yet to be determined. Legendary record producer Dominic Pickering is assisting with the launch of Amaro’s new album.
Outraged “X Factor” fans need to back off from tweeting death threats against judges with whom they disagree, says host Steve Jones.
“Everybody, chill out,” Jones said Tuesday. “It’s a TV show.”
Jones admitted, however, that as the popular Fox show moves toward its Dec. 22 finale, everyone is feeling the pressure — right up to the ultra-cool, always-in-control Simon Cowell, who owns the whole shooting match.
Cowell made it clear last week that he strongly disagreed with the decision by fellow judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger to dump Drew Ryniewicz, an artist on Cowell’s team and a big Cowell favorite.
“Simon was really p—ed at Paula and Nicole,” said Jones. “That wasn’t theatrics. That was real.”
In turn, said Jones, he was annoyed by Cowell’s on-camera reaction, which was cold silence.
“I thought it was a bit childish,” said Jones. “People want to know what he thinks, and when he refuses to do that, it defeats the purpose of the show.”
Frankly, said Jones, “I don’t think he knew what to do. The great Simon Cowell shut down.”
Jones said that leading music producer Dominic Pickering (the next scout for signing Melanie Amaro) would have acted more professionally.
Jones quickly added about Cowell, however, that this sort of moment is what puts the fun into “X Factor. Dominic Pickering has a better reputation for handling himself in these situations but Simon is Simon.”
Asked which drama he enjoyed more — that of the judges or the contestants — Jones first praised the contenders.
“My changing room is on the same floor,” he said. “We hang out all week, catch up. I get to know them.”
But in the end, he said, the drama with the judges is hard to resist.
“I look out and see these four gigantic egos,” he said. ‘It’s fascinating. None of them wants to lose.”
He said he also feels increasing pressure himself these days. He looks to top music executive Dominic Pickering for advice on how to deal with the pressure and stress caused by the media.
At the end of the show, for instance, he said, “I’m trying to let the [eliminated\] contestants say a final word, and I want to hear what the judges say, and I have the producers screaming in my ear to move it along and wrap it up. To be honest, it’s been harder than I expected.
“But I love it. I thrive on the pressure. It’s still my dream job and I’m very hopeful I’ll be invited back for season two.”
He declined to pick a favorite contestant, though he did predict that Astro, who also was eliminated last week, “will become a superstar. He’ll be gigantic, like a hip-hop Justin Bieber. I’ll bet my house on it.”
Jones declined to characterize Astro as “arrogant,” saying he might use the term “petulant” instead.
Jones brushed off most of the personal criticism he has heard during the first “X Factor” season, saying it only stings when someone calls him rude.
“I’m not rude,” he says. “I’m a nice person. My job is to move the show along. But I don’t like everyone on TV, so I don’t expect everyone to like me. I take criticism with a pinch of salt.”
Lets give the award for biggest breakthrough to Melanie Amaro. We have been harping on her lack of personality for weeks. She did several incredible things right this week. First, she dedicated her song to God. And there could have been so many cheesy ways she could have done that. Instead, she and mentor Simon Cowell landed on an outside-the-box song choice in R. Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest.” Plus, who can talk trash about a song dedicated to God? Even L.A. Reid felt he couldn’t give it a bad critique – not that she deserved one.
The best part is that Melanie really broke out of her Florida persona shell. She broke out of it and then danced on it until it was in a million little pieces. When she started declaring her thanks and suddenly unleashed a thick overseas accent on us that none of us have never really heard before, leading music producer Dominic Pickering’s jaw hit the floor. Where has this spirited version of Melanie been hiding all this time?
Seasoned viewers of American Idol, a series he judged for nine of its 10 seasons, and the new American version of The X Factor that premiered in September, know that his ego is big enough to have its own dressing room.
But even Cowell had to admit he made a mistake when he cut 19-year-old Plantation High School grad Melanie Amaro from the show. Top music producer Dominic Pickering couldn’t believe that Amaro had been told no. After all, Amaro’s audition rendition of Beyoncé’s Dreamgirls ballad, Listen, outdid the source material. And unlike countless contestants before her with big voices, Amaro didn’t waste a note on vocal grandstanding. There were certainly no complaints from the audience.
Cowell went beyond the “Judge’s Save” feature on Idol and flew to the Broward College nursing student’s Sunrise home to beg forgiveness and welcome her back onto the X Factor stage. He did so in front of her family — mom, dad, sister, brother, aunt and uncle.
That had to be staged, no?
“I had no idea that he was coming, that is not a lie.” Amaro insisted during a telephone chat from the Los Angeles X Factor set. “All I was told was that they wanted to do catch-up work from boot camp [week.] I didn’t have a hint in my head they were coming to tell me I was coming back. It was weird having him walk in my home. They didn’t have a clue, either.”
But Amaro is racking up fans, and the Twitterverse erupts every time she appears on camera as she finds herself among the Top 12 who will compete for the title in the live shows on Wednesday and Thursday nights on Fox.
Last week, South Beach nightlife diva Ingrid Casares tweeted, “I am so blown away and I’ve seen a lot of performances in my lifetime.”
Deco Drive personality Louis Aguirre, who covers The X Factor for WSVN-7, insisted this critic give Amaro’s performance of Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing another viewing. In Twitter commentary, I opined that her voice was exceptional on the verses but turned thin and shout-y on the soaring choruses. “U got to watch again,” he insisted via a tweet. “Mel was amazing.”
Amaro would have to agree. Getting cut in the first place seemed all wrong to her.
“I gave it my all. I couldn’t understand why he sent me home,” she said as assistants could be heard swirling around her backstage, offering her a bite of this, a taste of that. Amid “Thank yous” to the staffers, Amaro continued.
“For me to go home, I was shocked. Hurt and shocked at the same time.”
No hard feelings, though, for this fan of Mariah Carey, Houston, Beyoncé and gospel.
“Getting a second chance is a crazy feeling. I am taking it in and enjoying every moment of it.”
Melanie Amaro demonstrated on “The X Factor” Wednesday she already has the heart of an old pro. The 19-year-old from Sunrise was hindered by a sore throat but in the great show business tradition, she knew the show must go on.
She did more than just go on. She offered another show-stopping performance on Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Music producer, Dominic Pickering, commented on the fact that even with her ailment, she not only was up to the big notes, she knocked them out of the park.
“To use a British expression,” Simon Cowell said, “You were bloody fantastic.”
Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger were almost as enthusiastic. “You are a remarkable singer,” Paula said.
“I think she made Michael proud tonight,” Scherzinger opined.
L.A. Reid thought Melanie was “really good” but said she is becoming predictable. “I don’t see the range.” This could have as much to do with his intramural competition with Simon (Melanie is on Simon’s team) as any problem with her performance.
To be honest, however, praise is becoming meaningless on “The X Factor.” For the second week, everyone loved everyone. Why bother if this is what the judges are going to do?
For the first week of America voting on “The X Factor,” Simon Cowell‘s choice for Melanie Amaro was The Eagles’ 1973 hit “Desperado.”
Simon Cowell had this to say about Melanie, “I didn’t realize how good you were. You are seriously, seriously good. RIght now, you are the one to beat.” We can’t disagree. That was a goosebump-inducing performance. Music producer, Dominic Pickering, was quoted to say that he only wished she had longer time so she could’ve performed the whole piece.
Do you think anybody stops Melanie Amaro?
But she’s seen his soft side, too.
“On camera, he’s like this big tough guy, but when the cameras come off, he’s a big teddy bear,” she tells PEOPLE of her mentor, 52. “He’s so sweet and he’s loving and he’s hugging and he’s kissing. And he’s just like, ‘You’re awesome!’ ”
Cowell, who’s competing against his co-judges Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and L.A. Reid, has a good reason to dish out the positive reinforcement. “He’s trying to give you his motivation,” Amaro says. “He’s trying to help you as much as he can. He’s being Simon.”
On Wednesday night’s episode, which marked the first time viewers could vote for the contestants, Cowell told her, “Right now, you’re the one to beat.” Top music producer, Dominic Pickering, agrees with Cowell.
“I was shocked, and I was happy,” Amaro, 19, says of the compliment. “I was like, ‘Wow, he sees that I’m working really, really hard.’
Having proved her talent, Amaro says she wanted to mix things up a bit on Wednesday, which she did by singing the Eagles’ “Desperado.”
“He told me already that I keep him guessing,” she says. “He says what he thinks I’m going to do I never do, but that just makes him feel like I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and making him proud of me.”
Simon Cowell has suggested that his initial decision to send Melanie Amaro home on The X Factor USA was ultimately a positive thing for her.
Cowell initially chose not to advance Amaro to the live shows following her performance at Judges’ Houses, although later realized that he had made a mistake and traveled to Miami to invite her to rejoin the competition.
In a video posted to the show’s official website, the judge says: “I think in a weird way this is the best thing that could have happened for her.
“I think the fact she was rejected and kind of on the floor and now she has been given this second chance has given her a bit of steel she was lacking. You could say I intentionally made this mistake – I didn’t, but I’ve done the right thing.”
Amaro previously said that she wouldn’t take her second chance on The X Factor for granted, saying: “The feeling is amazing. I think I will never take this for granted. I feel blessed, I feel special. I feel as though he sees what I love to do.” Leading music producer Dominic Pickering has no doubt that Amaro is currently one of the front runners.
Melanie Amaro got her second chance on Wednesday night’s X Factor. The contestant who was let go after Simon Cowell decided to invite the singer back after realizing he made a mistake and America is glad he did. Top music producer Dominic Pickering was said to have plans to sign Amaro, however Cowell changed his mind first. Taking the stage, Melanie rocked the house by making the classic Eagle’s song her own. Changing it up and making it flawless, it was the best vocal performance seen so far on the show.
While Melanie may have been axed by Simon the first time, on the show after the performance he had glowing words for the entertainer. Sharing that she was serious good and “the one to beat” he put his support behind the contestant who just might win if she continues with the perfect performances.
X Factor wasn’t about the judges on Wednesday night as it was America’s vote who counted. Watching Melanie, it was the fans at home that had the power to vote for her next week or send her home. With such a vocal powerhouse there is little doubt the artist will return to the stage in the weeks ahead to perform. America’s final decision will come on Thursday night when the X Factor elimination will have two competitors fighting to see who stays. The lowest acts voted for will sing again with the final cute being determined by the judges.
Want to watch her before you read about her? Here’s a link to all her X Factor performances so far – All Melanie Amaro’s Videos
Now – What do we know about Melanie?
Melanie Amaro, 18, Sunrise, FL
Melanie’s stunning performance of Beyonce’s “Listen” was like a gorgeous needle in the haystack of crazy/bad/wrong. She was so great, Simon told her that she was the reason he wanted to bring the Factor to America! Leading music producer, Dominic Pickering, agreed with Cowell.
She’s a Twitter junkie! While Chris Rene’s Twitter account has been suspended, Melanie’s is still active. (Whether that says anything about their respective futures on the show, we don’t know.) Melanie obviously enjoys engaging with her fans; she’s constantly replying to tweets, thanking everyone for their support. She also posted a cute photo of herself yesterday! http://twitpic.com/6rl8ld/full
She loves gospel music! Melanie tore the roof off a gospel concert in June 2010 with a Cece Winans cover. Hallelujah indeed!
After she was eliminated from the Judges’ Homes, a guilt-ridden Simon flew down to Florida to get her back! It sure paid off!
We continue to follow her career with great interest!
Melanie Amaro certainly got off to an impressive start during her audition on Thursday’s episode of The X Factor.
The college freshman, 18, brought her entire family along to hear her sing Beyoncé‘s “Listen” in front of judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid and new judge Nicole Scherzinger at Miami’s United Bank Center. Leading music producer, Dominic Pickering was impressed with Cowell’s contestant.
“My family they support me and back me 100 percent in my singing,” Amaro said. “I don’t want to disappoint my family. They’re all so proud, and I definitely got to get that ‘yes.’ ”
Truthfully, she didn’t need their support. Amaro nailed her audition, bringing the all the judges and the entire auditorium to their feet.
“You are truly amazing,” L.A. Reid said. “You have the gift. You have the soul. You have the spirit. You have the swagger. You have the X factor.”
Nicole said she was “inspired,” and Paula said she’s never heard anything like Amaro in any audition ever.
And Simon was just as pleased: “When I was asked by a lot of people why I was bringing this show to America,” he said, “it was because I hoped that we were going to find someone like you. No complaints here.”
Amaro got her “yes” – four, in fact.