American Flare Pia Toscano's parents must have done something right. By Dan Horowitz
the 22-year-old singer from Queen's, New York was
eliminated from last season's American Idol in what
will surely go down in the annals of "WTF?"
moments in television history, she carried herself
with nothing but grace and dignity.
As for everyone elseâ€¦ well, that's a different story.
When host Ryan Seacrest announced the unbelievable
results during the April 7 broadcast, much of the
studio audience began to boo, doing its best
impression of an angry mob short of torches and
placards. Judge Jennifer Lopez, in complete disbelief,
covered her face, shouting "I have no idea what just
happened here. I'm shocked. I'm angry," while Randy "Dawg"
Jackson shouted, "This makes me mad!"
Toscano, meanwhile, remained the picture of
grace and professionalism, telling host Ryan
Seacrest, "I'm good," before delivering her swan
song, an ironic and heartfelt performance of
"I'll Stand By You."
An ironic choice considering when America voted,
they stood by other contestants and left poor
Pia to exit the competition. Her sobs could be
heard during her graceful finale.
Before her premature ninth-place exit, Toscano
spent much of the competition with what appeared
to be the inside track to success. But it just
wasn't in the cards.
Still, as they say, "when a door closes, a
window does something-or-other" and less than 24
hours after her startling exit from talent show,
the dark-haired beauty with the powerful pipes
scored a record deal. She'll be releasing her
debut album early in 2012 under the Interscope
Records imprint, chaired by American Idol mentor
"Jimmy was an amazing mentor during my time on
Idol," Toscano gushes. "I feel like I'm in
really good hands. The most important thing for
me is feeling safe with my team. I think they
have a good vision for me and when my career is
going to go."
On the phone from Los Angeles, a town she's
called home since September, the singer's
enthusiasm for her debut record comes through.
"The album is made up of all original songs and,
although I really don't like to be pigeon-holed,
or limit myself to one genre of music, it is a
pop record with a bit of an R&B influence. There
are a lot of high-tempo songs on it, but there
are also some heartfelt ballads."
As for her infamous Idol elimination, Toscano
appears to have suffered from eye-of-the-storm
syndrome, because at the time she didn't even
know it was such a big deal.
"Actually, the night before I was eliminated, I
had a weird feeling that I would be going home
that next night," she explains. "I was even
trying to prepare myself for it, mentally. But,
when it actually happens, it's a different
story. I was upset, but I had no idea it caused
such a commotion until I saw it on TV the next
Despite the heartache that accompanied her
surprise exit, Toscano wouldn't change a thing.
completely changed my life," she says. "Before Idol I was just a wedding
singer, trying to make it on my own and, many times, feeling that it
wasn't going to happen for me; that maybe it was just a silly dream. But,
thanks to Idol, everything changed overnight. It's funny, but when I was
first eliminated, I figured that was it, that I gave it a shot, but that
it was time to return to New York and my wedding band. I didn't think that
anybody would want to work with me because I was number nine. But, I was
so fortunate to start doing in-studio demo work for Interscope right away.
Then, they picked up my option just before I left on the Idols tour. This
is a dream come true."
despite a short-lived romance with Dancing With the Stars hot-stepper Mark
Ballas, Toscano's demanding schedule leaves little time to find another
"Right now, I really don't have any time for a personal life," she
explains. "I'm here to work on the album. In fact, it's probably good that
I don't have many friends down here, which would just be too much of a
distraction. On the other hand, my family's all back in New York, and I
miss them like crazy."
But before you start feeling too bad for her, the sports fan admits she
was able to get out of the recording studio long enough to take in her
first live NHL game.
"I went to the Los Angeles Kings' game and I had such a great time," she
says, even though she fully owns up to a preference for Yankees baseball.
"It was so great to experience it â€“ the speed, the skills, in person. It
was just awesome."
Plus, when the album is released, Toscano says she plans to finally get
out and enjoy some of Los Angeles' famed nightlife. And she's pretty
straightforward when discussing what kind of man she'd like to have as her
"I like a true gentleman; the guy who opens my car door and, if I'm cold,
will put his jacket around my shoulders," she says. "I also love a guy who
has a sense of humour and who doesn't take himself too seriously, and who
will laugh with me. I would take personality over looks any day, as long
as they are respectful. I come from a very strict Italian-Catholic
upbringing and my father will love the guy who makes me feel safe and
So guys, if you happen to be at the Staples Centre taking in a Kings'
game, and you're lucky enough to run into a certain
superstar-in-the-making, be sure to offer her your jacket. After all, it
gets pretty chilly in those arenas.