And the X Factor winner is… Melanie Amaro. Wow, what a shocker!
I mean seriously, did anyone out there really have any doubt that the hands down strongest singer in this year’s competition was going to scoop that $5 million record deal?  You think Simon Cowell was going to let The Stereo Hogzz or Leroy walk away with that prize?

Looking back, it’s been pretty obvious from day one that Simon had his sights set on crowning Melanie his first X Factor USA champ. I lost count of how many times Amaro ended a show in the prized ‘pimp’ slot. And then there was that patently ridiculous last minute switcheroo, in which Cowell pretended to eliminate Melanie at the Judges’ Homes stage of the contest, only to bring her back at the last minute as an extra contestant. Are we seriously meant to believe that Simon let Melanie go for the likes of Simone Battle? Come on!

Now to be fair, regardless of the X Factor’s scripted shenanigans, Amaro is a worthy winner. Her voice is terrific and her finale rendition of Beyonce’s Listen was undoubtedly one of the best performances of the series (up there with Drew’s ‘It Must Have Been Love’, Josh’s ‘Wild Horses’ and Rachel’s ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’).

The question now becomes of course – can she sell records?

Here’s where it gets murky. My main concern with Melanie all along is that while she has a great voice I’m worried that she doesn’t have the personality of a star. In an industry full of Beyonce ‘Sasha Fierce-ness’, Lady Gaga kookiness and Rihanna sexiness – is Amaro going to come across as a goody two shows church lady? From the start Melanie has reminded me of Leona Lewis, the UK X Factor winner who scored massive success with her first album and single and has since largely fizzled our. Is Amaro Leona Lewis v2.0?

Music competition shows ultimately need winners (and finalists) who can sell records. It’s what set Idol apart in its early years – the show legitimately discovered stars. A lot of people were crowing about The Voice earlier in the year – rightly pointing out that the NBC talent show beat The X Factor in the ratings – but have you seen the record sales of the The Voice’s final 2 contestants? Winner Javier Colon peaked at number 134 with his post-Voice album, Come Through For You, while runner up Dia Frampton’s album, Red, didn’t even chart. Hmm, the makers of The Voice have stayed pretty quiet on those sales haven’t they!

So ultimately we won’t know Melanie’s real worth to The X Factor franchise for a while yet. In the meantime though Simon Cowell has plenty of work to do his end to get his house into order ahead of Season 2. Calling a taxi for Steve Jones and Nicole Scherzinger…!