*Nineteen-year-old British Virgin Islands native Melanie Amaro beat Chris Rene and Josh Krajcik to become the first winner of the US version of “X Factor” Thursday, earning herself a $5 million recording contract with Sony Music.
“I’ve seen this massive progression with you both as a person and as a singer,” said mentor and head judge Simon Cowell following Amaro’s rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” a holiday song made famous by her idol Mariah Carey.
It capped off an emotional journey for the college student, who was initially eliminated during the judges’ house rounds only to be asked back by her mentor Cowell who believed he had made a mistake.
Ballads were her signature and season highlights included her version of “Hero,” Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” and, of course, her audition and finale number “Listen,” by Beyonce.
The results capped off a star-studded finale that featured performances by 50 Cent (with X Factor finalist Astro), Leona Lewis, Pitbull and Ne-Yo (performing with Marcus Canty) and Justin Bieber, who was joined by soul legend Stevie Wonder and finalist Drew. The top two performed a duet as well, singing David Bowie’s classic “Heroes.”
In related news, tragedy nearly struck before the 50 Cent/Astro set as a stair riser came unhinged and hit two stagehands in the head and another in the elbow.
The paramedics were on scene within minutes at stage 36 of CBS Television City, where X Factor and American Idol are both filmed, and treated the injured just off stage feet away from where the judges were watching the rapper perform for a studio audience of 700 and a TV viewing audience of millions.
One of the crew members, who was knocked over by the giant set piece and held a bag of ice to his head, was heard telling his supervisor, “I’m fine!” and marveling, “on the f–king last night of the show!”
All three were rushed to nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Below, highlights from Thursday’s season finale, including the crowning of Melanie Amaro.