December 23, 2011 2:47am PT by Jethro Nededog
'X Factor's' Simon Cowell on Cutting Melanie Amaro: 'I Royally Screwed Up' (Video)
When Simon Cowell met up with reporters on Thursday night, he was not only celebrating his team member Melanie Amaro’s win on Fox’s The X Factor, but also his own in a bet with fellow judge L.A. Reid. He could gloat now, but he says that there was some doubt in his mind that Melanie would win the singing competition.
“Yes, of course,” he says of contemplating Melanie’s possible loss at the moment host Steve Jones was about to announce the winner. “Everything that happened to this show throughout the year, I was expecting the unexpected. And at that point, you start to think, ‘What am I going to say to you if you lost?’ ”
Thankfully for him, he didn’t have to answer that question. The Florida native, whose singing ability has been compared to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, beat out Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene for the first season’s title and the $5 million recording contract. Yet, Simon, who owns half of the TV production and music publishing house, Syco, says that he’s definitely going to try and keep the other top contestants from the show in the family.
“You’re not going to let Astro go,” he says. “You’re not going let Chris go, Josh go. I mean that’s madness,” though he adds, “But, [Melanie] is the priority.”
Simon’s elimination of Melanie after the judges’ home auditions has become part of the wonder and narrative of her ultimate win. And while Melanie isn’t holding a grudge, Simon knows that it was a big mistake.
“All I can say is I royally screwed up,” he says of the decision. “But, I’ve done this before in the business. But this time, I at least had the chance to rectify it. Thank God I did.”
As Melanie’s mentor, Simon has given her plenty of advice over the weeks of the competition. But, he says he has yet to tell her what he really wants her to take to heart after the win.
“Remember it was the fans who got you here. Never forget the fans,” he says of the wisdom he also once gave to American Idol’s inaugural winner, Kelly Clarkson.
“I’ve seen people who’ve won these shows,” he continues. “One minute, they’re ‘Thank you for voting for me,’ next thing is they’re not signing autographs. I don’t buy that kind of behavior. You know, if they’ve made you, you have a debt with them and it’s long term. But, [Melanie is] that kind of girl.”
And while Melanie refused to describe what she’s planning for her upcoming album, Simon did give reporters an idea of what he wants to do with the project.
“She’s a different kind of singer, so you don’t want to be what everybody else is doing at the moment,” he explains. “It’s all about dance at the moment. A lot of people voted for her. They want a different kind of record. And we haven’t had a singer like her since Mariah and Whitney. We have to do her justice. Fortunately, a lot of good producers want to work with her now. All I can say is that it will be a good record.”
Watch the interview with Simon above.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro