*Whatever happened to Melanie Amaro?
The winner of Simon Cowell’s singing competition “The X Factor,” who received a $5 million contract from Epic Records, has released two singles so far since the show wrapped in December 2011.
Her cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” released digitally in conjunction with her Super Bowl Pepsi ad (part of the “X Factor” prize), reached No. 3 in dance and club play but never charted elsewhere and news of a forthcoming album has been surprisingly quiet. In contrast, “American Idol” winners, like season 10’s Scotty McCreery whose debut sold more than 1 million copies after its October 2011 release, usually have albums out within five months of the show’s finale.
So where in the world is Amaro? According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 19-year-old British Virgin Islands native has been ordered to undergo a sort of pop star boot camp that involves a strict regiment of exercise and monitored nutrition.
“L.A. Reid is adamant that Melanie get thinner so he’s hired a trainer for her, has her on a strict diet and checks in personally every day to see how much weight she’s lost,” says an insider, who says Amaro is also seeing an etiquette coach (an Epic representative denies the claim). “When she comes back, it will be a whole new Melanie Amaro.”
Indeed, Amaro has been tweeting about her progress both in the gym and at the studio, where she’s had sessions with the likes of Kuk Harrell (Rihanna, Justin Bieber) supervised by Epic’s A&R president Tricky Stewart, and in early March, told Billboard.com that she’s recorded four or five songs for her debut, a mixture of ballads and upbeat pop songs.
“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.