Melanie Amaro, the first winner of “The X Factor” U.S., is trying to get a Billboard Hot 100 hit with her single “Don’t Fail Me Now,” which Amaro announced on Twitter is being released in the U.S. on iTunes.* “Don’t Fail Me Now” could apply to how this single is being promoted, since “Don’t Fail Me Now” is getting such a low-key release that there has hardly been any Internet buzz about it, compared to the buzz for former “X Factor” U.K. finalist Cher Lloyd, who is also on Epic Records.
As of July 29, 2012 at approximately 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time (when this article was posted on the Internet), there is no mention of Amaro’s “Don’t Fail Me Now” single on any of these official Twitter accounts in the past 20 days:
- Epic Records (U.S.), which is releasing the single.
- Antonio “L.A.” Reid, chairman/CEO of Epic Records. Reid (who is a judge on “The X Factor” U.S.) is also an executive producer of Amaro’s debut album, whose title and release date is to be announced. (On July 21 2012, Reid tweeted: “Listening to @ItsMelanieAmaro new music all evening. You sound great Mel. #BeEpic.” However, there is no specific mention of the “Don’t Fail Me Now” single or its release date.)
- Simon Cowell, “The X Factor” executive producer who was Amaro’s “X Factor” mentor. As part of her “X Factor” grand prize, Amaro won $5 million and a record deal with Syco Music, the record company that is co-owned by Cowell and Sony Music. Syco has partnered with Epic (another Sony label) to release and promote Amaro’s music. Cowell hasn’t mentioned Amaro on his Twitter account since February 2012. But that’s not too surprising since Cowell admitted in a Saturday Night Online interview that Chris Rene, not Amaro, was his favorite “X Factor” U.S. finalist from 2011.
And it’s not a case of Epic ignoring “X Factor” contestants because Epic’s Twitter feed is filled with messages promoting Lloyd. (Lloyd is also signed to Syco Music, which has partnered with Epic to release and promote Lloyd’s music in the U.S.)
How embarrassing for Amaro.
Of course, now that I’ve pointed out these glaring snubs of Amaro, I’m sure there will be a flurry of “Melanie Amaro hype” tweets on these accounts after this article is seen by certain people. It may be too little, too late, because a few Twitter posts here and there are not enough to make any song the type of hit that is expected of an “X Factor” winner.
To Amaro’s credit, she has been promoting the “Don’t Fail Me Now” single on her official Twitter account, but that is to be expected. Good for her for promoting herself, but the sad reality is that Twitter messages are just a snapshot indication of much larger issues and priorities (or lack of priorities, if the case may be). The real issue is: Does Amaro have enough fans who will help make her music a hit, regardless of how many times someone like Reid or Cowell tweets about it?
When it comes to “The X Factor,” these facts are clear: The winner and finalists from the first season of “The X Factor” U.S. are flopping on the most important singles chart in the U.S.: Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. All of these former “X Factor” U.S. contestants who have released singles in the U.S. so far (Amaro, Rene and Marcus Canty) have failed to have a song on that chart so far.
By contrast, consider the successes of three former “X Factor” U.K. finalists whose debut music was released in the U.S. in 2012:
- One Direction has become the biggest global act to emerge from “The X Factor.” One Direction has had No. 1 hits and sold-out tours in several countries, including the United States. The group’s first album, “Up All Night,” is one of the biggest-selling albums of 2012 so far in the United States and many other countries. The album’s first single, “What’s Makes You Beautiful,” was a No. 4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the song has sold more than 3 million copies in the U.S. so far.
- Cher Lloyd’s first U.S. single, “Want U Back,” has become a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., where the single has reached gold certification. Her debut album, “Sticks + Stones,” is set for a U.S. release on September 18, 2012, and it is also expected to be a Top 40 hit.
- Rebecca Ferguson’s first album, “Heaven,” debuted at No. 23 on the Billboard 200 chart.
All three of these artists were finalists on “The X Factor” U.K. in 2010: One Direction came in third place, Lloyd came in fourth place, and Ferguson came in second place. All of them are signed to Syco Music. Just like Amaro, they had the benefit of millions of people seeing them on “The X Factor,” either on TV or the Internet. So clearly, “The X Factor” U.K. isn’t the weak common denominator here. One Direction, Lloyd and Ferguson didn’t get to where they are just by tweeting self-promoting messages. These artists had a great platform for exposure as “X Factor” contestants, and they connected enough with an “X Factor” audience that their fan bases grew to have a lot of support from thousands of people who are buying their music.
Amaro’s first post-“X Factor” song “Respect” (a cover version of the Aretha Franklin classic) bombed in sales when it was released in February 2012, even though Amaro performed the song in a high-profile Pepsi commercial. The song didn’t even make onto the iTunes (U.S.) Top 100 Songs chart.
As a minor consolation, Amaro’s “Respect” was a No. 3 hit on Billboard’s Dance Club/Airplay chart, but that is a niche chart that does not equal a big crossover hit.
Unfortunately, for some of Amaro’s fans who do not seem to understand how the music business works, posting a lot of tantrum-throwing, ranting messages at people who report these facts will not boost Amaro’s dismal music sales. I am always amused by fans who waste their time bitterly complaining to and about the wrong people when their favorite artists don’t have the kind of sales that they want them to have. It’s misplaced anger that is pathetic.
Journalists who don’t work for a record company or a fan club shouldn’t act like they work for a record company or a fan club because it would be borderline unethical in many cases for a journalist to do that. It’s not a journalist’s job to fund an artist’s tour, promote music to radio stations or be part of a record-company street team, which are all elements of making a hit single that are the responsibility of a record company. And even when a record company pours a lot of money into these efforts, it still does not guarantee a hit if the artist does not have enough fans who are actually buying the music.
There will always be a certain segment of fanatical followers of entertainers who hate it if anyone reports any bad news about their favorite entertainers. However, this “X Factor” blog is not here to cater to people who live in this kind of denial. Move along if you can’t handle the truth.
It doesn’t look like Amaro’s fan base is large enough for her to have a major hit on the Billboard Hot 100 at this point. So if that’s the case, how many of these complaining fans are willing to put their money where their mouth is and buy 10 or 20 copies of her latest single? It’s going to take a whole lot of that and more to prove that Amaro isn’t a $5 million flop.
*July 30, 2012 update: Although Amaro tweeted countdowns (“four more days”) on when “Don’t Fail Me Now” would be available on iTunes, one of Amaro’s publicists at Epic Records is now correcting those tweets by saying that there is no release date for the single yet. The publicist told me: “We have not launched Melanie’s single as of yet. She has been simply teasing it online to her fans.”
Someone should tell Amaro to stop misleading the public with these countdowns that she tweeted.
And although the publicist says that Amaro “is a huge priority for Epic and Syco,” it’s obvious from looking at the numerous daily tweets on Epic’s U.S. Twitter account throughout the past few months that Amaro has not been a “huge priority.” Lloyd is the “huge priority” at Epic right now, and any effort to keep Amaro’s name in people’s minds was weak at best.
There’s also no real excuse to made for why “X Factor” executive producer Cowell (Amaro’s “X Factor” mentor who signed her to Syco Music) hadn’t even bothered to mention Amaro on Twitter since February 2012, before Amaro’s version of “Respect” turned out to be such a flop. Cowell’s Twitter snub of Amaro for all of these months is just plain embarrassing for Amaro, considering she won the biggest prize in reality TV history and Cowell keeps saying that he wants the winners of “The X Factor” U.S. to become superstars. Instead, Cowell’s Twitter messages over the last five months have included promoting and praising other artists, some of whom aren’t even on his record label.
I know that publicists are in the “spin business” and they try to do damage control when embarrassing facts like these are reported, because that is a publicist’s job to do damage control. But people in the general public who notice the things that I pointed out aren’t stupid, and they can see what is a priority and what is not. Cowell built his business on masterful promotion, so if he really considers an artist on his record label a “huge priority,” then he’s not going fail to mention that artist on Twitter for five consecutive months.
Of course, now that I’ve pointed all of this out, I’m sure the “damage control” will continue with a concerted effort to hype Amaro more on the Twitter accounts that I mentioned. But as I also pointed out in this article, it won’t really matter who is tweeting and who is not tweeting to promote Amaro’s music if not enough people are buying the music to make it a hit.
Amaro’s Pepsi commercial that featured her performance of “Respect” debuted on TV during Super Bowl XLVI, which had 111 million viewers (according to Nielsen Media Research), which broke the record for the largest U.S. telecast in TV history. And yet sales for Amaro’s “Respect” single still bombed, even with such an incredibly massive audience and prime Super Bowl commercial exposure that most artists on major labels never get.
So for Amaro’s music to flop, even with all the TV exposure that she’s gotten, it shows that she’s got a real problem: Millions of people see her on TV and not enough people respond favorably to her to make her songs big hits. Considering that most “X Factor” winners have No. 1 hits in their native countries with the first song of theirs that is released after winning “The X Factor,” Amaro’s flop music sales make her $5 million prize look like a costly joke.
August 1, 2012 update: The entire “Don’t Fail Me Now” song (an upbeat dance tune) has premiered exclusively on Us Weekly’s website. However, unauthorized postings of the song have been appearing on several other websites. Epic Records/Sony Music has been removing as many of these unauthorized postings as possible. An authorized stream of the song can be found on Soundcloud. The iTunes on-sale date for “Don’t Fail Me Now” is to be announced.
Epic Records also issued a press release stating that Amaro’s debut album will be released sometime this fall. (The album’s title and release date are to be announced.) As previously reported, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins are among the producers of the album. Jerkins produced “Don’t Fail Me Now.”
So far, “Don’t Fail Me Now” has gotten mixed reactions from people on the Internet who have heard it.
Here is a sampling of comments that were made on Us Weekly’s website:
“HMMMMM, Not quite Melanies style.”
“Leona Lewis 2.0 …Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”
“Not what I expected to come out as her first single. I wanted an R&B version of Adele and this is an overproduced song I’d never notice or remember. Disappointed. Fingers crossed Josh didn’t let the same thing happen to him.”
“A little too overproduced and popish for me. However I know she will do well.”
“Garbage…and people for the first winner of The Voice flopped. This will be worse (considering she received a 5 mill contract)!”
“She actually doesn’t get a 5million contact… I think it was 4million and 1million was an extra prize or something and It works on an album base, she is most likely on a contract on 5-6 albums… that’s the 4million contract. (get a advance for each album) So she’ll only ever see the 4million if she released all those albums. But if she flops and her first album doesn’t do that good, they can drop her from the record label and she could never see any of that money.”
“Wow, talk about auto tune! Melanie can sing, she doesn’t need to be autotuned, producers!”
“The song itself is awful.”
“Auto-tuned? do you know anything about music, because nothing was auto-tuned.”
“Sound Leona Lewissssh. I’m not sure about it. At least Mariah’s new single comes out tomorrow.”
“A little too auto tuned but it’s okay, I can see it on the charts.”
“She is SO talented & has such a fantastic voice. She doesn’t need all this over-production. GO MELANIE!”
“Great job Melanie! You’re such a talent.”
“Amazing, Melanie! we follow from Spain.”
“Love love love love love love it!!!! Melanie is doing amazing!”
“LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“Really great song ! Love it.”
“Love this song, the tempo, beat, lyrics, and this amazing voice!! This is put very well!!!”
“I’m not sure yet I like it, but I think it’s the type of sound that’s popular these days and will probably get played on the radio and get on the charts.”
“My question, though, is where on earth is the evidence of a “makeover”?? The way she looks in the video is millions of miles away from how she looks in the album cover.”
“Love it. Very current and fresh. She’s got a great voice. Darkchild might have a hit with this one.”
“Love the song, can’t wait to buy it, and anxiously awaiting her album!”
“Wow…I love this song! What a voice this girl has! Love Melanie Amaro.”
“I kinda expected this from her first single. the ;girl has a powerful voice and hopefully there is more to come.”
“Good good good! Love it!”
“I was up till 1:30am waitting for it on Itunes and is still not there :-( when would it be there?”
“Amazing song and singer. She will go far in the industry. Mom and Dad you should be very proud of your baby girl.”
“Very good song and very catchy.”
“LOVE IT ! Sounds Great !!!”
“Where and when can we PLEASE buy this great great song?????”
“When can we buy this on itunes??????????”
Here is a sampling of comments that were made on YouTube:
“I like it but why did they have to auto tune her voice?”
“Beautiful Voice! Go Melanie!”
“It’s good. NOT GREAT. Melanie deserves GREAT.”
“I love any song she sings!!!!”
“Love melanie and I live literally 5 miles from her family…but Im not a fan of this song.”
“Sounds GREAT! I love the final chorus.”
“I kinda like it. It’s something I can see being on the billboards.”