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<i>American Idol</i>: Stefano’s Going to Be Just Fine, Thanks

In the weekly Idol conference call, it's common for the discussion to focus on how disappointing it is to the contestant to have been voted off. But last week's eliminee, Stefano Langone, seems to be thrilled to be out. Every answer he gave eventually came back around to how he left exactly when he wanted, he sang what he wanted and he was saving all of his best stuff for after the show. He took a break from networking to straighten us out about he's about to blow up in a big way. Boom goes the dynamite!

Were you upset to be eliminated, or was it similar to what Paul McDonald told the press last week, where you almost consider it a positive, and this was kind of a good point to leave the competition?
Stefano:
Yes, I was completely at peace and at ease. I'd been in that rodeo before, so I knew what it was. It was a perfect time to go out, really. If I got through, then I would have really wanted to make it through number five; and with the contestants in there, I just thought it was a harder task. So, I felt it was better to go out here than get to six and not get to number five. I'm so happy that I got to do what I needed to do and execute what I came in to do, and that's get a foot in the door in the music industry.

After being in the bottom so many times, did you think there was a chance you were going to survive again?
Stefano:
You know what? I got to seven, lucky number seven. It doesn't really reflect on who I am as a musician or a performer at all. It's a show. That's one thing you've got to remember during this process, is that it's a show. Now it's time for me to really move forward and become that market I know, that footprint that I know I can put on this industry. Like I said earlier, there's a wide-open crowd and market right now. I'm ready to pounce on it. So, it'll be good.

Two weeks ago, when Pia was voted off, you had this look of huge surprise on your face, like you were sure you were going to be voted off. What was going through your mind?
Stefano:
Well, me and Pia, we really had a close bond. I was really pulling for her. I know how bad she really wanted it. When I came out for American Idol, [I] never really wanted to be the American Idol. It was getting that foot in the door in the music industry and taking a step forward in that way. I knew how bad Pia wanted to be the American Idol. I almost wanted it more for her than for me. She's going to do work, but it was very shocking. It was a shocking moment for the whole world.

You say you didn't particularly want to be the American Idol, but music has just been your background forever. Can you talk a little bit about how music has just energized your life?
Stefano:
Really, it's hard to really show your chops on the show. Casey 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 really show the world. I think it'll be very, very special. I cannot wait to start getting some collaborations down and really working. I've gotten a lot of great feedback from people in the industry. They have a market for me that's wide open. So, I'm really excited. I know I will be doing very well after this.

You chose not to play your piano, but when you saw the kind of praise that Casey was getting from being a real artist and a real musician, did it ever occur to you, "Well, maybe I could get a little further and make a bigger impact if I did play the piano"? Why did you decide not to?
Stefano:
Because I think 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 were for the show, that were best for the show, but were also 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 as getting on the piano and having 20-million-plus people see me on a piano doing a cover. I want people to see me sitting on the 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.

Certainly, there have been a lot of Idol finishers who've done well. Chris Daughtry is among the ones who didn't win, but did well. But, there are just as many who we've never really heard from again. What do you think you have that will make you be one of those rare seventh-place finishers who's going to break out and do something big?
Stefano:
Well, the first thing is timing. Everything is timing in this world. Right now, there's a market for what I do and what I can do. The producers know it, my management knows it and I know it. It is cool to get that acknowledgment. The judges came up to me and they said the same thing. It's time. I'm ready to pounce on it. I'm ready to attack. The cool thing is I didn't get the opportunity to really show who I was on the show. The show is the show. As far as the musician and as a performer, I wasn't able to really showcase everything that I had, partially because I chose to do it that way and partially because when you're going up there singing covers for a minute thirty, it's kind of hard to show what you've 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 knowing what I could do in this industry. That's number one. I have the resilience and I have the willpower and the fight that will get me far in this industry. I'm ready to go right now, man.

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