OK, all of us -- including Stefano Langone -- thought that Stefano Langone would be leaving "American Idol" soon. He took everything, including a huge hug from James Durbin, in stride.
The real surprise may be just how deeply music is embedded into Langone's life. He talks about things viewers never saw -- original music, piano, more; he talks with contagious enthusiasm. Here's the story I sent to papers, after a group interview this afternoon:
By MIKE HUGHES
Many “American Idol” contestants
look stunned when they're cut from the show.
For Stefano Langone – ousted this
week – the surprise came two weeks earlier, when he was NOT
dropped. “It shocked me,” he said. “I think it shocked
That's when he stood alongside Pia
Toscano, who had drawn cascades of praise from the judges.
“We really have a close bond,”
Langone said. “I was really pulling for her …. I knew how badly
Pia wanted to be THE American idol.”
That doesn't mean he's less ambitious.
“Music has been everything to me,” he said.
His grandfather, Don Langone, owned a
music store in San Diego; his father, Ernie Langone, learned the
trumpet, guitar and bass, giving his first public performance at 10.
His dad has a desk job (career
counselor at the Art Institute of Seattle), but has kept with the
“I grew up playing instruments,”
Stefano Langone said. “I learned I could sing in band, ironically.”
He figures he barely tapped his
potential on the show. “I haven't done my original music. I haven't
got behind the piano …. When you're up there singing covers for a
minute, 30 (seconds), it's hard to show what you've got.”
There have been setbacks in his life.
Two years ago, a drunken driver crossed the center line and hit his
car; with two broken arms and a fractured pelvis, Langone was in a
wheelchair and had to re-learn to walk. A year after that, he was
arrested for driving under the influence; jail time was dropped,
under the condition he take a class and have a clean record for two
“Everyone goes through some things in
life,” he said. “Everything has lead me to this point.”
It's a point he seemed to enjoy.
Langone joked about what happened to his fellow contestants Thursday:
– Casey Abrams, in mid-song, snuck a
kiss on Jennifer Lopez's cheek. “That's cool for Casey …. It's
probably the first kiss he's had in a long time.”
– James Durbin wept when Langone was
eliminated. “He was a wreck. He's a big crybaby, but I love him
dearly. I'm going to be the best man at his wedding.”
Durbin is one of several front-runners
(alongside Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina) who have avoided being
in the bottom three. Langone, by comparison, counts four previous
times. Before that, he didn't reach the viewers' top 10, but got one
of the three extra spots when his “I Need You Now” impressed
judges. “At that moment in time, I needed everything.”
He's had more close calls, but seemed
unfazed. “I'm too positive a person to be affected by this or