In 2017, Sam Black entered The X-Factor after his girlfriend of five years, Emma, applied for him. The 27-year-old plasterer from the Isle of Man stormed through the audition stage, getting four yeses for his rendition of “Runaround Sue”. This song was a US Billboard Number 1 hit for Dion in 1961, reflecting Black’s love of classic rock ‘n’ roll. Simon Cowell wasn’t a fan of the “old-fashioned” song choice but liked Black’s vocal performance.
Cowell was critical of Black’s song choice, saying, “I would not have advised you to sing that song.” He gave Black a chance to sing it again, this time slower and A Capella so that he showcase his vocal talent. Black obliged, and Cowell thanked him for this. After a consultation between the judges, they delivered their verdict. While acknowledging Black’s popularity with the audience, Cowell told him, “We are going to have to say no.”
To the judges’ surprise, Black then made a request. “Is there something I can do before I go?” he asked. When Cowell gave his approval, Black called his girlfriend, Emma, onto the stage. With the crowd screaming with delight as they realised what was happening, Black got down on one knee and asked, “Do you reckon I could get a yes off you?” Emma, thankfully, accepted, and the two hugged. Cowell gave his congratulations and said, “This is probably better than a yes from us.”
Though overjoyed by his engagement and the chance to spend more time with his eight-month-old son, Black was disappointed not to make it to the Judges’ House stage. However, in a further twist, Louis Walsh then invited him back after Anthony Russell pulled out of the competition.
He was eventually eliminated after a performance of Little Mix’s “Oops”. Once again, Cowell was critical of the song choice, and only Black’s mentor Walsh felt he should stay in the competition.
But for family man Black, the highlight of the series came with his public engagement. As he reflected after that round, “I got one yes today. That’ll do me fine.” If you would like to see more from Sam Black, you can follow him on Facebook.