It was a $5 million night for one lucky singer—and we're not talking Justin Bieber's appearance fee!
The first season of The X Factor on these shores came to a close Thursday with the usual two-hour, star-studded extravaganza, made a little bit cozier and au courant than usual by all the Christmas music.
As you might expect, Melanie Amaro channeled Mariah Carey on "All I Want for Christmas Is You," Josh Krajcik took everyone to church with "Please Come Home for Christmas" and—unexpectedly—Chris Rene left the hip-hop behind and went full crooner on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
Judy Garland would have been proud, sure, but the aspiring star who's going to be having the merriest Christmas ever this weekend...
Was there any doubt?
Melanie Amaro—and, by association, her mentor Simon Cowell—was named the winner of the U.S.' first season of The X Factor.
"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!" was all the 20-year-old from Sunrise, Fla., who was originally cut from the competition could say at first.
"I know, it's extraordinary!" host Steve Jones agreed, acknowledging her shock and awe.
"This is an amazing moment for me," Simon said as Melanie calmed down in preparation for one more song on The X Factor stage. She went with "Listen," the song that brought it all home for her last night.
"I feel amazing," runner-up Josh said amiably. "Melanie deserves it, she has a wonderful voice."
Chris finished in third place—the inevitable outcome for somebody, but as the tuxedoed Steve pointed out: "This feels weird."
"I feel amazing that I got to do this, that I'm here, that God has blessed me with so many opportunities," said Chris, who marked eight months of sobriety this week and is the very definition of a life turned around. "I got to touch a lot of people's hearts out there, and I just gotta say thank you."
Before Melanie won the $5 million Sony recording contract and the Pepsi commercial, Justin Bieber took the stage for "The Christmas Song" and then was joined by Stevie Wonder—and a beaming Drew!—for "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"
"She is a very special girl and she will go far," Bieber said of the crystal-voiced 14-year-old, who received a supportive tweet from the YouTube-born teen idol after her emotional elimination.
Leona Lewis, who won the third season of The X Factor in the U.K., and Pitbull—joined, as always these days, by Ne-Yo— also performed.
(Originally published Dec, 22, 2011, at 7:06 p.m. PT)