The New York songbird has been silenced. In an elimination greeted with howls of protest, Pia Toscano, 22, was told that for her, American Idol is over. The studio audience was stunned, then angry. Her fellow competitor in the bottom two, Stefano Langone, was so distraught he tried to turn away from the cameras to hide his tears. TV Guide Magazine talks to the woman many believed was going to win the whole competition.
TV Guide Magazine: You said you had a gut feeling that you'd be in the bottom three. Why?
Pia Toscano: I don't know what it was. I didn't feel bad about my performance Wednesday night, and I wouldn't change a thing, but you know when you have that feeling in your stomach? I actually said it to my parents and they were like, "Don't think like that, please don't think like that." But whenever I have a feeling like that, it usually happens. My instincts are very good. I wish they weren't so good sometimes.
TV Guide Magazine: Is what held you back that you were too contained on stage, that you didn't move?
Toscano: Yeah, it was, to be honest with you. And it's funny, because I've been dancing since I was two and a half, so I know how to move. But when I'm singing, I'm very technical, so I'm trying to give my best vocal performance and sometimes I'm too in my head. I can't get that freedom because I'm so worried about what my vocals sound like.
TV Guide Magazine: Why do you think the girls have been picked off, one by one?
Toscano: I really don't know what it is. You can never tell who's going to go. And I feel like no one truly deserves to go.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you think the judges are so nice that they may be doing a disservice to viewers in terms of how they should vote?
Toscano: I don't think they're being too nice at all because I truly feel that this year, everybody is so good. Like when I watch the show backstage, in the green room, I'm like, wow, these performances are amazing. So it's hard, because you can't really give anybody bad critiques when they're not giving bad performances. I haven't seen anything negative that I could say about anybody. I'm everybody's biggest fan.
TV Guide Magazine: Stefano was so upset when the vote was announced.
Toscano: I actually think that he took it worse than I did, to be honest with you. We've grown very close and he's been a good friend to me. He kept trying to keep me calm while I was in the bottom three with him. He said, "You're not going home, you're not going home. I know it's not you." And I said, "But it's not you, either." I'm happy, though, that we did share that moment together because I felt comfort from him.
TV Guide Magazine: The look on his face, he was so shocked.
Toscano: He was always my biggest support. We were that for each other. He was always so complimentary to me, always helped me out, always gave me good advice. So I think it was hard for him.
TV Guide Magazine: Did the judges say anything after the show that was particularly meaningful to you?
Toscano: Just that they believed in me so much and that they wanted me to grow and get better and better. They were so nurturing. But I have to say, last night was such a blur to me. I was just trying to make it through that song ["I'll Stand By You"] without falling apart. I was very, very overwhelmed at that moment, so it was hard to process what they were saying. But they were so encouraging, and I know I have their support.
TV Guide Magazine: And even [executive producer] Nigel Lythgoe came up on stage to talk to you.
Toscano: Nigel is amazing. So is [executive producer] Ken Warwick. They're like father figures. Honestly, I can't even remember what Nigel said, because I was going through a little something at that moment.
TV Guide Magazine: But you don't show your nerves on stage?
Toscano: I mask a lot of things. I try to smile through things. But it's absolutely terrifying to be out on that stage. I'm just like every other girl that has insecurities. But this is my dream, and I just want to go out there every week and put out my best performance. And it's intimidating. So I just do it with a smile and know that I have the strength to get through it.
TV Guide Magazine: What will you do to overcome that?
Toscano: I definitely think I can overcome it. I've been performing my whole life, and I do know I need that freedom. Now that I'm not being judged, I think the tour will bring that out in me.
TV Guide Magazine: What did your parents say?
Toscano: They're so proud. I'm making them very happy right now because not only is this my dream, it's their dream for me. I told them when I graduated from LaGuardia Arts High School that I didn't want to go to college, that I wanted to pursue my music career. And for a lot of parents, that's hard to swallow. They were right there behind me.
TV Guide Magazine: You're so pretty, so talented, but what does it feel like to be in your shoes?
Toscano: It's funny when I hear that, because when you're a girl, you don't necessarily believe all that. You have a lot of insecurities. And I'm just like everybody else. I appreciate that people feel that way, but it's scary. This is a very, very hard business. You have to have confidence in yourself, but it's a struggle.
TV Guide Magazine: If you were to talk to the voters out there, what would you say?
Toscano: Basically what Randy said last night: vote for who you love. And nobody is ever safe. Never assume that.