Stefano Langone: I never really wanted to win 'American Idol'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/22/2011
Stefano Langone's American Idol journey ended when he was eliminated during Thursday night's live results show which determined the competition's Top 6 finalists.
The 21-year-old from Kent, WA became the seventh finalist sent home from American Idol's tenth season after he received the fewest home viewer votes following Wednesday night's performance show -- becoming the second-straight male finalist eliminated after the finals began with five female finalists being ousted.
During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Reality TV World asked Stefano if he was actually upset to be eliminated, whether he feels recent reports of his 2010 DUI arrest cost him viewer votes and contributed to his subsequent bottom-three finishes, and what he thinks about Idol's reputed "girls won't vote for girls" problem and the show's plans to consider voting changes to help address the issue.
Reality TV World: You seemed to take the news of your elimination really well last night, to the point where some viewers are wondering if you were actually upset to be eliminated. Was that the case or was it similar to Paul McDonald, where he told the press last week he considered his elimination to be somewhat of a positive and it was kind of a good point to leave the competition?
Stefano Langone: Yeah, no. I was completely at peace and at ease. I've been in that rodeo before, so I knew what it was. It's not worth stressing out about when you're up there.
When I was up there, I was like, "Yeah, okay. If I get through, I gotta start preparing for next week. if I don't, I want to kill it tonight. I want to kill this song and make sure that America really hears me sing it and kill it one more time."
That's what I did and it was the perfect time to go out, really. If I got through, then I would have really wanted to make it through to number five and with the contestants in there and I just thought it was a hard task. So, I feel like it was better to go out here than get to six and not get to number five.
So, perfect way to go out, and I'm so happy that it was seven and I'm so happy that I got to do what I needed to do and execute what I came here to do. That was to get a foot in the door to the music industry.
Reality TV World: It seemed like your bottom-three finishes seemed to start right after the news reports of your DUI arrest came out. Looking back at it, do you feel like that might have cost you some votes and contributed to your bottom-three finishes or do you think it was just a coincidence?
Stefano Langone: Probably just a coincidence. I mean, everybody goes through struggles in their lives. Everything that happened to me led me to this point -- led me to this moment -- there's no regrets there and there's nothing to hide.
It is what it is and I did everything that I needed to do, and it's not even actually a DUI. So, everything worked out and I'm just so blessed to be here and I'm so happy that everything happened the way it did, because I wouldn't be sitting here in this beautiful moment on the phone with you guys right now.
Reality TV World: There's been a lot of talk lately about the theory that the guys have an advantage in the finals because a lot of the voters are girls or young women that are kind of crushing on you guys. Both Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick have come out recently and admitted they considered changing the voting system after this season. Are you a believer in that theory and do you think it should be changed? If so, any ideas on your end?
Stefano Langone: You know what, I do and I don't. At one point, one part of me says I do believe in that whole girls theory about -- I mean it's kind of obvious that there's more girls watching the show than men. The other thing is that a lot of the girls are not going to vote for the girls.
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But the other thing that kind of sways me away from that is knowing what niches are working right now. Everybody had their own sound niche and that's what is interesting. We don't know the vote scale.
We don't know who's winning each week. We don't know what people want to really hear. So, it's really tough to say, but I have no idea how they would change the voting up. Best of luck to them on that one.
Also in the call, Paul discussed the rest of his American Idol experience with reporters -- including how he never really wanted to win American Idol, how he believes he intentionally didn't always perform the song that would have given him the best chance to advance, why he believes he'll be more successful than Idol's prior seventh-place finishers, why he's not jealous that fellow finalist Casey Abrams got to kiss judge Jennifer Lopez, and which finalist has asked him to be the best man at his upcoming wedding.
What went through your mind before and after Pia Toscano was voted off when you were in the bottom three alongside her? You looked shocked.
Stefano Langone: Well me and Pia, we really had a close bond, and I was really pulling for her and I know how bad she really wanted it. I had never really -- when I came out forAmerican Idol, I was never really wanting to be the American Idol -- it was getting that foot into the music industry and taking a step forward in that way.
I knew how bad Pia wanted to be theAmerican Idol, and I almost wanted it for her more than me. But when everything was said and done, it worked out for the best for her. I'm proud of her. She's going to do work, but it was very shocking. It was a shocking moment for the whole world.
How has music impacted your life since both your father and grandfather were musicians?
Stefano Langone: It's hard to really show your chops on the show. [Casey Abrams] really got to show his musicianship. One thing that I wanted to save and keep close to myself was my original music and my piano playing. That's something that I really want to bring out and show the world, and I think it will be very, very special.
But music has been everything. I grew up playing instruments all my life and then I found out I could sing in band, ironically. It really just spun off from there. I love music. I live and breathe it. I write so much, and I cannot wait to start getting some collaborations down and really working.
I've gotten a lot of great feedback from the people in the industry and they have a market for me that's wide open. So, I'm very excited and I know that I will be doing very well after this.
Were you surprised when you were eliminated since you had been in the bottom three numerous times beforehand but still managed to survive each week?
Stefano Langone: You know, for me, I had been through that process so many times that I didn't think about it like that at all. What I was thinking was, "Okay, well if I go through, I have to worry about next week. If I don't, I need to be ready to sing my song, keep my composure and really kill it -- give it that last great performance" -- and that's exactly what I did.
You know what? I got to seven -- lucky number seven -- and it doesn't really reflect on who I am as a musician or performer at all. It's a show, and that's one thing that you've got to remember during this process.
It's a show and now it's time for me to really move forward and become that mark -- that mark, that footprint -- that I know I can put on this industry. Like I said earlier, there's a wide open crowd and market out there right now and I'm ready to pounce on it. So, it'll be good.
What did you think when James Durbin jumped on you after you finished your song following your ouster?
Stefano Langone: James is a little cry baby, (laughs) but James is my brother, man. We've been roommates since we were in Hollywood. He's a brother to me. I'm going to be the best man at his wedding.
I love him dearly and he loves me and you know, he lost it last night. He was a wreck, but I just told him, "Man, stay focused. Don't even worry about me. I'm going to be fine, and just keep on being focused and do what you gotta do."
Did James jumping on you all of a sudden scare you?
Stefano Langone: I was a little caught off guard, but I knew it was James right when he hit me. So, it was cool.
James started crying when you got eliminated so what did you say to him afterwards to calm him down?
Stefano Langone: Well, I was just telling him not to worry about me. I did everything that I set out to do on this show -- every single thing I set out -- and it's going to pay off. I'm going to do great, and I just told him, "Keep on focusing -- keep on focusing on the show and what you gotta do -- keep on succeeding and I'll be back. I'll be back in a couple weeks."
He calmed down a little bit but he was a wreck. He's a little cry baby and I love him. He's a brother to me and like I said, I'm going to be the best man at his wedding and we're brothers for life. So, I love the guy dearly.
What did you learn about yourself from the show?
Stefano Langone: As far as learning who I am and who I am as a performer and as a person, I think I came into this knowing exactly who I am and I stayed true to that this whole time. As far as a musician goes, as far as a performer, I've learned so much from [Jimmy Iovine].
I've learned so much from the judges, the panel, everybody who has helped me get to this point. I've learned so much as a performer and I'm ready to take it to the next step and use that in the big picture, in the big world, and can't wait, man.
Why do you think you'll be a Top 7 success when most of Idol's previous Top 10 contestants have struggled to make it in the music industry?
Stefano Langone: Well the first thing is timing. Everything is timing in this world and there's a market for what I do and what I can do, and the producers know it, my management knows it, and I know it. It's cool to get that acknowledgement.
The judges came up to me and said the same thing, and it's time. I'm ready to pounce on it. I'm ready to attack, and the cool thing is that I haven't -- I didn't get the opportunity to really show who I was on the show -- the show is the show.
As far as a musician and as a performer, I wasn't really able to showcase everything that I had, partially because I chose to do it that way and partially because when go up there and sing covers for a minute and 30 [seconds], it's kind of hard to show what you got.
But I have taken in everything, I realize that it is a show and it hasn't hurt me or affected me as far as what I can do in this industry. That's number one.
I'm going in a different direction than any [former] American Idol [contestant] really has -- doing collaborations with rappers and getting in the game quick and fast -- having a swagger will get me further.I have the resilience and I have the will power and the fight that will get me far in this industry. I'm ready to go right now, man.
Who do you think your fans will be in relation to the market you hope to move forward into?
Stefano Langone: Well, I think the fan base -- when I started doing my music -- fans of music. I mean, if you really appreciate -- it's hard because I haven't gone and done my original stuff.
I haven't gotten behind the piano and really show what I have vocally -- what I'm capable of -- especially behind the piano. I did a lot of my performances standing up and getting down or whatever.
But I can also perform behind a piano and really show my voice in a different tone, and that John Legend, Stevie Wonder, kind of thing. It's cool because like there's that Bruno Mars thing that's going around right now, but also lyrically, the Bruno Mars thing.
But that sound, there's not really like a high Stevie Wonder or John Legends thing right now or the Justin Timberlake kind of feel. No one's really tapping into that game right now. So, that's one thing that I'm really going to try and get into and really make a mark.
Why did you choose "I Need You Now" to sing during your Wild Card round and what was that moment like when your fate was in the hands of the judges and you only had one shot to try and make it into the Top 13?
Stefano Langone: That's exactly why I picked that song. I am a spiritual man and at that moment in time, I needed everything. I needed to shine. I needed to let him shine through me with everything that I had and he had.
It was really a moment where I was pleading, "I need him now." It was a really special moment for me. It was a really special moment for the people watching. It reflected that I got to number seven and I'm so blessed for that.
What kind of advice did the judges give you after your elimination? Did you all talk about anything?
Stefano Langone: Yeah, again, just having acknowledgement from them, knowing that, "Hey, look. If you keep on working, like you're working here and getting better and better, you're going to do something."
Having that acknowledgement from them, having that acknowledgement from the producers and Interscope [Records] and knowing that I have the support from the industry, from people in the industry that actually know the business, that's something special.
Jennifer [Lopez] and what she had to say to me, I'm really close with her. And I'm really close with [her husband] Mark [Anthony]. I respect both of them as people and as musicians, and they've guided me so well through this experience and Randy [Jackson] and Steven [Tyler].
It's just been great and they really helped me and acknowledged the fact, "Look, you can do this. Go get them."
When are you coming home, what are you plans for the very near future, and what would you want to say to your fans in Washington?
Stefano Langone: Okay, let's start with number one. What am I doing in a couple days? (Laughs) I am going to do press, press, press, New York press, shows, press, pretty crazy -- pretty crazy schedule until next Thursday.
I am staying in Los Angeles. I'm going to be working, I'm going to be getting all of my stuff right here, and I'm not going to be coming home for awhile. I'm going to be busting my butt until we have the finale, and I'm really happy that I could get this time.
I've got five weeks where I can network, I can hustle. That's really a great time for me before I have to go on tour. I got to focus on that. I've got a lot of stuff lined up, and I'm really, really excited.
It's going to be some good stuff. For the people at home, "Thank you so much for the support. You know how much I've been repping Seattle. You know how much I've been repping Washington, the Northwest. I rep it everyday, every single day. I know where I come from." So, yeah.
Did you come across any disappointments throughout your Idol journey?
Stefano Langone: I mean, this is the thing about this industry, and if you're going to be in this industry, you can't be ignorant. The one thing you have to understand is that it's cut-throat. It's very this way or that way, and knowing that coming in, I don't think I was surprised or taken back at all.
I'm too positive of a person to really get affected by anything like that and I've been -- just like this -- people have been like, "Why are you so happy about all of this?" You know what, everything that has happened to me -- that has brought me to this moment -- everything that's going to happen after this is because I'm going to be busting my butt and working and hustling to do what I gotta do to get to that next level.
There's nothing that is going to get in my way. It is what it is.
You said you didn't decide to play your piano on the show, but after seeing Casey's success with playing instruments, did it occur to you it could have actually helped you and took you further into the competition? Why did you choose not to play?
Stefano Langone: Because I think, you see, a lot of my decision making was based on what I want to do after this. A lot of the songs that I picked were songs that I want. They weren't necessarily songs that were for the show, and what's best for the show, but were songs showing the people who I'm going to end up working with after this -- who I am as a musician -- who I am as a singer.
When I get on that piano, I don't want to be remembered for getting on the piano and having 20-million plus people see me on the piano doing a cover. I want people to see me sitting on a piano singing my songs, singing my heartfelt real songs that came from my soul.
When I do that, when I do bring that out, it's going to be that much more taken in and really, "Wow. That was something special."
I want to save that moment for myself, and there's so much scrutiny and so much judgment on what we do -- everything, every song, everything -- and I didn't want to have everything to do with that part of my musicianship.
I didn't want to have to deal with it, and you gotta just remember it's a show. When I'm off this show, which I am now, I'm going to really show the world not just what I can do on American Idol, but in the music industry, what impact I can make.
Do you think Jimmy Iovine would make a good judge someday?
Stefano Langone: Um, possibly, yeah. Do I think Jimmy would do that? No... That's not how Jimmy roles. Jimmy's the man. He knows what he's doing in his business. He's in the record label, he's the man in that world, and that's what he does. He works with the artists one-on-one.
He's not, in my opinion, I don't think he's the one that would get in front of a million people. I'm not saying that it's like fake or anything, I'm just saying that Jimmy's real, I mean, you've seen the videos. He'll get on you and I don't think that's the best for what the show's looking for.
What exactly will your style and genre of music be when you become an artist?
Stefano Langone: Well, it's like this. I'm saying that the things I can do, how versatile I am, I can do -- just because I'm working with rappers -- you have John Legend who's worked with OutKast and Kanye [West] and other things. That's really the soul. That's where I'm going to go. I have the reigns of Stevie Wonder, so that's why I threw his name in there.
I have that range and I have that soul, especially when I get on the piano that people have seen yet. It's that John Legend feel, and being able to work with rappers and having the swag to write -- I used to do that in the ghetto. I used to write choruses and hooks for rappers -- stuff like that. I have a lot of stuff in the bag that I haven't really shown yet and that's the market that I'm at.
Do you think that being a judges' Wild Card pick as opposed to being initially voted into the Top 10 by home viewers was a disadvantage for you in the competition?
Stefano Langone: Possibly it did. But at the same time, it went from 24 to 13. You can't really dodge yourself for that. That's the biggest cut ever on the show at that point. So, it was hard for the American public to see what you had to just make the Top 10 that fast. So, to get that opportunity was unbelievable. I made the best of it, and that's why I made it this far. It all worked out.
Did you feel yourself growing and improving as the competition went on?
Stefano Langone: Oh yeah. Yeah. That was one thing I think the producers also saw and Interscope. I suck in everything that they say and I listen and I execute. That's really my main thing and that's what you have to do. You have to get better and better. That's one thing that I felt like I really did in the show that I can get better.
I didn't peak, and you know, I didn't reach that point where I wasn't going to show anything that I didn't have, you know? That was cool man and Jimmy knows it. Jimmy knows that I soak up everything that he says and I love the advice. I take everything that they say to me to heart and I work on it to make myself better.
Have you had any discussions with Interscope about a recording contract?
Was there anything in the competition that you would have done differently, like a certain song choice or something?
Stefano Langone: Yeah, yeah. I wouldn't have changed anything. Maybe on one week when I did, "Hello." Picking the song -- I had no idea -- I had never heard the song before, and I was kind of pushed to do it. I did it and I did it, in my opinion, vocally, at a very high level.
It was that performance aspect, and I think I was so into making it right with remembering the words and remembering the notes than really performing it and that's where I really lost there.
But you know what? Other than that, I did everything, I planned everything the way that I wanted it to turn out. I did all the songs based on what I wanted to do after this competition and what kind of sound I wanted, so it's been a great journey, man.
How long will it be before you think you will win a Grammy?
You got a lot of support from your fans. Is there anything you want to tell them?
Stefano Langone: The main thing that I want to let my fans know is just to be happy for me and to really soak in this moment like I am and really enjoy this. I had the absolute most amazing time and I did everything that I came out here to do, and I just want them to know that -- not to feel upset and not to listen to everybody -- everybody has an opinion.
Don't feed into the negative stuff. It's not even worth it. There's more positive than negative -- much more positive than negative -- so just take everything with a grain of salt and know that I am happy. So, they should be happy too.