Both the third- and second-place winners of the first season of The X Factor were in fine spirits backstage after the show’s Thursday night finale. In contrast to their postshow interviews after Wednesday’s performance show, they were both far more relaxed and optimistic about their futures after the show. They spoke with reporters about their thoughts on the winner, and that charming duet of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Since this introduction has been all kinds of tortured so as to keep it spoiler-free, let’s just get to the Q&As, shall we, where the night’s results can and will be promptly spoiled for all:
THIRD PLACE WINNER,
What is the next step for you?
The next step is going to come from, I’m sure, the higher-ups. There’s some decisions to make, and God willing — we’ll see what happens.
It was nice to see Josh and Melanie do that duet at the end. Had you prepared a duet had you made it to that stage?
Oh yeah. Every one of us, every way, we rehearsed that. So it was me and Josh. It was me and Melanie. It was Josh and Melanie. It was the exact same song. [sings] “Like dolphins can swim.” It’s so beautiful. Lovely.
Did you have a favorite moment for the whole series?
Talking to Stevie Wonder on the phone, and being able to perform my original songs, “Where Do We Go From Here” and “Young Homie.” Boom. Beauteous.
What was going through your head when you were waiting to hear who came in third?
I’m like, “Wait, what’s going on? What’s happening? Whoever they call first, they go?” Because I’m not really paying attention to that. I’m just there to perform. I was just floating away.
What did L.A. Reid say to you after you got the results?
“Straight to the top.”
Anything you would have done differently?
No sir. Definitely no.
What was it like for you to see your kid on the screen? Did you know that was coming?
I had no clue that was coming. It was very emotional. I couldn’t hold those tears back.
What’s your advice for Melanie going forward.
I would just say, “Enjoy it.” And she’s going to. She’s going to have fun. C’mon, man. Everybody wishes they could have that in them, and she’s so blessed to have it. She knows that. She’s going to do great things. That’s all there is to it.
SECOND PLACE WINNER,
How are you feeling?
I feel like the future’s bright. Everything that’s gone on in my life has led to tonight. It’s a turning point in my life, and now it starts. I’m going to get to work.
What’s the journey starting tomorrow?
The first thing I’m doing tomorrow is probably talk to more press. But I think Saturday I’ll go home. I’m going to decompress for about a week. Come back out and get to work.
How did you feel when you heard Melanie won?
It was relief that it was over. It was pride for her. It was pride for myself. She deserves the win. She’s wonderful. America decided. And she’s got such an amazing voice. She’s such a great girl. I couldn’t be happier for her.
What did you tell Melanie after she’d won?
I told Melanie she deserves it. And I gave her a kiss on the cheek. And I said, “Good job.”
You could not stop giggling right before the results came through. What was going through your head?
[Laughs] I was joyous. So much joy. Because I knew, either way, I was going to be happy. It was some weird, nervous, maniacal laughter that I couldn’t control.
Talk about your duet with Melanie — what was that like?
It was fun. I said to her, “Let’s have some fun,” and she said, “That’s right!” Man, we’ve just gotten to know each other so well, the chemistry was there for that duet, and we just had fun with it.
How’s your daughter tonight?
She’s excited. She asked me to get some autographs, which I was happy to oblige. This is the second time she’s been out here. I got her out here earlier during the previous holiday, during Thanksgiving. And I got her out here for this one.
Does she have Bieber fever?
She’s not a big Bieber [fan]. She’s different. She’s a different child. She likes different kind of music than Justin’s.
Were you surprised when Chris got third place?
I thought it was going to be me. I was ready for me to be third. So I was a little surprised.
Why did you feel that way?
I don’t know. I just made myself ready for that possibility. But I was happy [when I learned I was in the final 2], because it was like, “Whoa, I really can win.” I mean, I always believed I could win, but it was that much closer. I was very calm until I heard Chris’ name get called for third place.
Has anyone talked with you about the future — contracts, working with L.A. Reid, or Simon?
Well, that’s the exciting part. That’s all upcoming. It’s been all X Factor up until this point. So now we see. I don’t know. There’s meetings to take, hands to shake. That’s the exciting part.
What’s up with the lei you’re wearing?
This is from Nicole. Nicole has family in Hawaii, she’s from Hawaii originally. So she gave me a lei and a bottle of Patrón.
You’ll stay in touch with Nicole?
Of course. We’ve become good friends through this. Yeah, I can’t wait to hang out with her when we don’t have deadlines and work to do, you know?
What advice would you give someone auditioning for the show next year?
I would say practice getting not much sleep, and be ready to work hard. This was not an easy thing to do. It’s fun, but you’ve got to have it. The amount of talent we saw, especially towards the end, I think really the final 12 — I’ve never seen anything like it on any other show. I would say to the Americans out there who want to be the next X Factor winner, get ready to bring your A game. You’re going to need it.
Any way to make life easier for the contestants?
I don’t think you want to make life easier for contestants. You need to prepare people for working hard. In this industry, if you don’t work hard — I mean, you can’t just start playing Call of Duty all of a sudden. You’ve got to be ready to work and get a little amount of sleep. I imagine Rihanna and Beyoncé barely sleep. They just bust their ass. That’s what you’ve got to be ready to do. Other contestants said to me at boot camp, why don’t they let us sing. Why won’t they give us more time to learn this song. The cream rises to the top when you have a very difficult challenge. It’s the only way to get the very best talent, and the show did exactly that.