Pia Toscano: Casey deserved to be saved by 'American Idol' judges
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/08/2011
Pia Toscano's American Idol journey came to an end when she was shockingly eliminated during Thursday night's live tenth-season results show which determined the competition's Top 8 finalists.
Pia became the fifth finalist sent home from American Idol's tenth season after she received the fewest home viewer votes following Wednesday night's performance show. While this season's Idol finals rounds included the return of "The Judges' Save," which allowed the judges to prevent the elimination of one round's lowest vote-getter, the judges already unanimously opted to use the ability on finalist Casey Abrams two weeks ago -- rendering them powerless to stop Pia's ouster.
During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Reality TV World asked Pia about how she'd had "a feeling" she would be a member of the week's bottom three vote-getters and whether Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson -- who all panned her elimination after it was revealed Thursday night -- had expressed any newfound regret about their prior decision to use their save so early in the competition when they consoled her after the results show ended.
Reality TV World: You mentioned how all the judges came up to you afterward and said they felt your elimination was a mistake, but I guess the ironic thing there is that they would have had the chance to save you if they hadn't made the season's other shocking decision to use "The Judges' Save" only a couple weeks into the finals. So did any of them express any regrets to you about the fact they had already used the save?
Pia Toscano: No. I mean, they said, 'We wished we could have helped you out.' But it was my time, and [Casey Abrams] deserved that save because he wasn't ready to go and it wasn't his time to go.
He's such an incredible musician, an incredible singer and beautiful person. So, it is what it is and I'm happy to have made it as far as I did.
Reality TV World: You've said you felt that you had a feeling you were going to be in the bottom three and that you had "kind of expected it." Could you elaborate on that a little more?
Pia Toscano: Yeah, I just go a lot on feeling and what's in my gut and I just felt strange the night before. I can't really explain it. It happens a lot to me. I have like premonitions sometimes, (laughs) and usually when I feel something, it happens.
I don't know why I had that feeling, because I had a good time at my performance. I don't have any regrets, so I don't know why I felt that way, but it kind of prepared me, however, at that moment. I just was so emotional when it happened.
Reality TV World: So was it before you performed or after you performed?
Pia Toscano: Well, throughout that whole [results show] performance. When I saw the goodbyes...
Reality TV World: I'm sorry, I meant the premonitions. I thought you said [they] happened on Wednesday before the live results show.
Pia Toscano: Right. The night before. That was after my performance. I said, 'You know, there's something -- I feel something weird.' So that was after my performance on Wednesday.
Also in the call, Pia told reporters whether she felt her attempt at a new uptempo style of song played any role in her elimination, how she reacted to fans' claims that they will stop watching American Idol as a direct result of her ouster, what type of album she would love to eventually release, and why she believed she may not have received as many votes as she would have hoped or others expected.
Why don't you think the home-viewer voters showed up for you?
Pia Toscano: I got asked that question a lot today, and I really don't know. There's no exact formula. You really don't know. It's funny because the night before, I had like a weird feeling in my stomach. I felt good about my performance. I tried something different.
I had a blast doing it, and I said to my parents, 'I kind of feel like I'm going to be in the bottom three tomorrow.' And they said, 'No, no. Be confident. You're going to be fine. You're going to be fine.' And then when it happened, it's kind of like I don't know, I kind of like predicted it. It was weird.
Looking back, is there anything you might have done differently in these past few weeks?
Pia Toscano: Absolutely not. I feel like if you make a mistake, it's just helping you grow. You learn from those mistakes. I wouldn't have changed a thing. I really agree with everything that the judges said to me. All that constructive criticism. I've tried to work on my weaknesses and I will continue to do so.
The judges told you to do something different from your usual ballads and you chose to do an uptempo rock song this past week, so do you think their advice is overemphasized when you only get one song a week to sing?
Pia Toscano: You know, it's nobody's fault and the judges were absolutely right. I needed to change it up, and I was looking forward -- I was really excited about this performance -- and I have no regrets going into it.
It was definitely -- It wasn't even that much out of my comfort zone -- because back at home, I was doing a lot of uptempo songs more so than the ballads. So, it wasn't out of my comfort zone so much. I had so much fun. I know I have to just get more comfortable onstage. I am a little shy sometimes and I do get a little bit of stage fright.
You have celebrities from Tom Hanks to Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi devastated over your elimination. How has it been for you getting all this support from all different types of fans?
Pia Toscano: It's amazing. It just helps me in this situation, like last night -- it's not that I was shocked or anything like that -- I was upset to be leaving the contestants.
I was upset that next week I wasn't going to be able to perform again. I was just trying to stay positive and know that everything happens for a reason. But to have all the support of a lot of celebrities right now and my fans, it's amazing and it's the best feeling in the world.
What sort of music or album would you like to eventually put out and are there any certain people you'd like to work with?
Pia Toscano: Moving forward, I would definitely go in the Pop genre with an R&B influence. I definitely want to have those big power ballads as well. I enjoyed so much working with Rodney Jerkins. I worked with Harvey Mason Junior, Ron Fair and I would love to work with Ryan Tedder and CJ.
What was going through your mind when Idol host Ryan Seacrest said you were eliminated. You looked right at the judges and did you wish in the moment "The Judges' Save" was still around for you?
Pia Toscano: (Laughs) No, I mean I was just really just trying to stay composed I was really emotional. It's sad. It's scary being up there, like you lose years off your life.
I felt like I was -- It was terrifying -- I feel like everything happens for a reason and I looked at the judges because I don't really know. Your mind just goes blank. I was in such a blur at that moment and I was just emotional. So, it was a hard night for me.
Many people think you had the best voice in the competition but a common criticism is that you didn't project an exciting personality onstage. How does that make you feel when you hear that?
Pia Toscano: Well, what a lot of people don't know about me is that I've been performing for a long time, but I do get kind of shy and I get a little bit of stage fright before I go onstage, which is something I feel like everybody can relate to.
It's really intimidating to go out every week, so it's something I have to work on as a performer, but I'm going to do so, and I'm going to make sure for the tour I really own that stage.
Do you think the fact that there were so many good singers in the competition affected the amount of votes you received?
Pia Toscano: It could have been. I really don't know. I know that I gave my all the other night and I don't have any regrets. I had a good time performing.
What was it like for you when you were eliminated and you saw Jennifer Lopez with tears streaming down her face?
Pia Toscano: I mean, that was tough for me because Jennifer has helped me so much and she's someone that I admire. To see her so upset with the outcome of last night, it just blew my mind. I couldn't believe it. It's not that I was in shock, I just couldn't believe that my journey had ended on the show. It was nice to have their support. It was really nice.
You had the judges saying it was a mistake you were ousted, but [Stefano Langone] was onstage when all that happened. So what do you think was going through his mind and did you say anything to him afterwards?
Pia Toscano: Stefano is a very good friend of mine. He's an incredible person and I feel like, I mean, the whole time I was sitting down with him in the bottom three, he was just saying, 'You're not going anywhere' to me. He kept saying, 'I'm the one that's going.' I'm saying to him, 'No, you're not going.'
He was just so supportive of me and I feel like he was so upset last night with the outcome of the situation, and he deserves to be in the Top 8 right now. He's an incredible talent and everything happens the way it's supposed to happen.
What is your response to people saying that fans may have forgotten to vote for you because the judges were being so nice to everyone? There were no discriminative comments to anyone, putting everyone on an equal playing field.
Pia Toscano: I mean, you really don't know. You can't really say why I got voted off. It could have been because maybe people assumed I was safe, maybe they didn't. Maybe because there was lack of a connection. You don't know for sure why things happened, but it did and it was my time to go on the show. I'm excited to see what my future holds. I really am.
There's a question of whether a woman win Idol again. We haven't had a female winner since Jordin Sparks and we've had only two women in the finale the last four seasons. Do you think because of the nature of the voting public that it's a harder hill for female contestants on the show and do you think a woman can win again?
Pia Toscano: Definitely. It's anybody's game right now. I feel like every single one of the contestants are extremely strong. They all have their own unique qualities about them that make them special. So, I definitely really don't know.
I could never say for sure if a girl's going to win or if a guy's going to win, but I know each and every one of the contestants that are in it right now deserve to be there.
Some of the contestants on the show got special moments like James Durbin's Hulk Hogan experience. But you and the other female contestants haven't gotten any moments like that to help bond you to the audience. Do you think that hurt you on the show as well?
Pia Toscano: I don't really know. It's so hard to say. I really don't think so. I feel like we all have our moments on the show, and you know, it's really, really a hard call.
Last week, Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia both thought the voting public was mainly comprised of teenage girls who vote for boys. Do you think that's true? Do you think that's why the girls have not fared well so far?
Pia Toscano: You know, I'm sure. I guess there are a lot of young girls that watch the show and vote, but I really don't know. I don't have an answer for that question.
Since you were the presumptive frontrunner, do you wish you had more of an underdog reputation to get more people to make sure they voted for you?
Pia Toscano: I kind of feel like I flew under the radar a lot throughout the beginning of the show. You didn't really see me much during Hollywood week and my first audition wasn't shown and I was okay with that, because I knew my time was going to come. So, I feel like not that I was an underdog, but I feel like I flew under the radar.
Do you wish you had been more of an underdog?
Pia Toscano: No, I don't really wish anything different. I feel like I am happy with everything that happened the way that it did. You know?
Steven Tyler has said he thinks maybe one of the reasons you were voted off was because voters were jealous of you. What do you think about that?
Pia Toscano: Well that's very kind of him to say. He's an amazing person and to have him in your corner is really amazing. Especially in the situation that I'm in now, to have this support from the three judges, it's a great feeling. But you know, I really don't know. I can't really say.
A lot of people are asking me, 'Why do you think this happened?' And I really don't know, but I just know that it was my time to go and it happened for a reason and I feel like I'm going to have a bright future. So, I'm not upset. I'm positive right now.
Who do you think is going to win and who would you like to win?
Pia Toscano: I truly love every single one of the contestants. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I have a special bond with every single one of them, and it's so hard. You can't pick one because you truly just don't know, and I'm just rooting for all of them.
It looked like the medics walked you off the stage during the live results show. What happened?
Pia Toscano: Yeah. I was a little -- I wasn't feeling so good -- It was a tough moment for me. I was having -- while I was singing, it was very, very hard for me to get through that song -- I was just trying to take deep breaths and it just wasn't working out so well.
I was just getting very light-headed and I get a little nervous a lot, a lot of the time before I go out onstage. So, to be in the position that I was in last night, it was a bit much. It was a little overwhelming for me, and so I did have the medic walk me offstage and I had a little bit of a moment. But, they helped me out a lot and I'm fine now.
Can you see yourself doing movies or is there anything else you would like to do?
Pia Toscano: I definitely want to cover all grounds. I definitely want to do movies. I want to do commercials -- all that stuff -- musicals and everything.
Do you think you'll be able to watch the show from now on and be okay with it?
Pia Toscano: No, I'll be fine. I mean, I try to stay very positive about things and I love everybody. It's definitely a fun show to watch. When I'm backstage and I'm watching everybody perform, I'm like, 'This is a great show! This is awesome! I can't believe I'm a part of it.' So, I'm definitely going to be rooting for everyone when I'm at home.
What type of album would you like to record?
Pia Toscano: I definitely want to do Pop with an R&B influence -- definitely those big power ballads and those fun dance tracks as well.
What is your reaction and what would your message be to the viewers who have pledged they will no longer watch American Idol because you had been eliminated?
Pia Toscano: I mean, I thank everybody for the support. It is what it is and this show has opened so many doors for me. So, I can't really say anything negative about what happened last night, because I'm still a lot further than I was. So, I'm just looking at everything in a positive light.
But would you encourage people to continue watching the show?
Pia Toscano: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. The show is great. It happens. Everybody's going to get voted off. There's only one winner. So, you just have to be positive about the situation and move forward. So, I definitely think people should continue to watch.