Gino DePinto, AOL
During our chat, the glamorous singer also explained how news of Simon Cowell's departure from 'Idol' encouraged her to try out one last time, named her closest 'Idol' contestant buddy and revealed why she is a "makeup artist's worst nightmare."
People were shocked when you were voted off 'Idol.' Now you have a record deal, your debut single is out, and the music video premiered the same week as the debut videos from 'Idol' winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina. How do you feel now that you're on your way, despite your early elimination?
When I was eliminated from 'American Idol' I didn't know really what was going to happen with my career. So many things were running through my mind, and I was scared. I was like, "I'm finishing ninth, and I don't know if anyone is going to want to work with me. Do I go back to my band?" I'm thinking all of this while I'm onstage in front of 700 people in the audience and tons of people watching. I was like, "What's happening right now?" My parents were watching, and I didn't realize how much support I had. We're kept in this bubble. I didn't know it was going to happen, but then the next day, I had, like, 30,000 more Twitter followers and so much support, and that helped me so much to get through that thing that happened that night.
Watch Highlights From Pia Toscano's Visit to AOL Music's New York Office
You know, I feel great. Everything happens for a reason, and I kept reminding myself of that, and it all worked out for the better. I knew that there was a different plan for me, and now I'm signed to my dream label, Interscope, and things couldn't be going any better. I'm living my dream. I just shot my first video. I'm nine songs in on my album right now, and things have completely been a dream come true.
You auditioned for 'Idol' five times. Was there ever a point where you said, "OK, if I don't make it this time, I give up?"
I think I said that I was going to give up after every time that I auditioned for 'American Idol!' And then I said to myself, "Wait, giving up is not an option. It's not an option. Just because you're told no once ..." You just go home, you work harder. I'm more for tough love. My dad has never just thrown out a compliment, and every time he does give me a compliment, it means so much to me, because I know that he really means it, and he just wants to help me grow.
Every time that I got eliminated from 'American Idol,' or I've been to a label and they told me "No, you're not ready," it's helped me, and it's shaped me into the performer I am now, the vocalist I am and the person I am. I never give up.
Gino DePinto, AOL
I did, actually. I wasn't going to audition again. I took Season 9 off, and my dad said, "OK, Aug. 3 are the auditions. I already took the day off. It's in New Jersey. You have nothing to lose. The panel has changed, Simon is gone and Jimmy Iovine is the mentor." And once I heard Jimmy Iovine was the mentor, I said, "OK, lets do this!" because I've been trying to get my music to him forever. You don't have anything to lose, and it can change your life if it goes well.
So when I was sitting in the arena that day, I was watching on the JumboTron all the winners, and I was getting choked up, because I felt my life was going to change. I started praying, and I said, "If I'm not going to make it to Hollywood, I don't want to make it past the first round." So once I made it past that first round, it was just a different feeling, and I felt like I was going to go all the way. My goal was to make it to the top 24, and then after the top 24, it was top 13, and then it was tour. So I'm so happy. This has all been a dream. I'm still pinching myself.
Was Simon your toughest critic during your previous auditions?
Yes! Simon Cowell was never a big fan of mine, which is all good. I loved him on the show. I like watching him, but I don't like being judged by him. The panel change was really cool this year. We had Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Randy [Jackson], who has pretty much watched me grow. I feel like the judges had a really good dynamic, and since they've been in our shoes before, and they know what it feels like to be rejected and go through that whole audition process, they helped us grow and critiqued us in a way that they knew what things we should improve on, instead of just saying, "That was terrible," and us not knowing which way to go from there.
Gino DePinto, AOL
The tour has been awesome; it's been so much fun! I don't even know what the date is today, because I'm constantly somewhere else. That's the crazy thing. We're having so much fun together, and we were competing with each other on the show, but the thing is, we were all always close on the show. Even though it was a competition, we supported each other, because we're all so unique. None of us really have the same sound. We just wanted the best for each other. Now that that's all gone, we're like a tight-knit family. We're a little dysfunctional at times, but it's so much fun, and just thinking about the tour coming to an end is sad to me, because I'm going to miss these guys so much.
Is there one contestant in particular you've bonded with on the road?
Me and Lauren Alaina, since the beginning of Hollywood Week, have been super close. She's like my baby sister. We know pretty much everything about each other. But my journey was cut short on the show, so I didn't get to know everybody, and now we're really like family. Me and Casey [Abrams] have gotten really close, me and Jacob [Lusk], so it's awesome.
You've performed on the popular morning talk shows, late night shows, 'Dancing With the Stars,' etc. It's almost as if you're getting the same media attention as an 'Idol' winner. Why do you think that is?
I like to think everything happens for a reason; everybody has their time. My dad used to say to me, "Season 10 is going to be your time." I don't know why this is happening, but I'm not going to fight it, because I'm so grateful, and I love everything that's happening. I've been working at this since I was 13, so I've definitely paid my dues. I love Scotty and Lauren, and I'm glad we get to all go through this together.
Gino DePinto, AOL
The advantage of being eliminated so early was that I started recording right away, and I really had to prove myself. People thought that I was signed overnight, but I wasn't. I had to prove myself. All people heard were ballads on the show, which isn't really what I'm all about. I love doing them, but I went with the themes [on 'American Idol'], and I did what would give me the best vocal performance.
You were a makeup artist before you got your record deal. Do you still do your own makeup now?
I've gotten really lazy. I'm getting spoiled getting my makeup done for me all the time now. Those are the perks! I'm very picky with how my makeup turns out, so I could be a makeup artist's worst nightmare!
Watch Pia Toscano's 'This Time' Video