Stefano Langone talks American Idol Season 11
American Idol returns to FOX for an 11th season next week on January 18th. Stefano Langone is one of last season’s Top 13. He made it all the way to the Top 7 before being eliminated. Since his departure from Idol, he has been living in Los Angeles and got signed by Hollywood Records. He is working on his first album, a mix of the R&B sound people grew used to hearing from him on Idol as well as some new sounds he’s been putting together.
With American Idol’s new season about to premiere, Stefano talked a little bit about his own experience on the show and what’s up next for him.
SL: How you doin’?
AG: I’m good! How are you?
SL: I’m good, I’m good.
AG: Okay so I know American Idol is starting up their 11th season next week, and you were one of the lucky finalists that made it all the way to the top 7 last season, so can you tell me a little bit about what you’ve been up to since then?
SL: Well, first of all, it was a huge, huge opportunity for me, because I hadn’t really done anything that was taking me to where I wanted to go until American Idol. It landed me a deal, a record deal with Hollywood Records, and it’s been an incredible experience, an incredible ride, and it’s just about keeping it going, keeping my spirits up and singing, and just trying to make moves in the industry.
AG: Tell me about Hollywood Records. Are you working on an album right now?
SL: Oh yeah, we’re working on my first album, been in the studio for about a month. It’s about the music, trying to get the best sound possible and get it out on the radio. It’s the first step right now to what we want to do. We’re doing everything right now to make a radio hit and get some radio play.
AG: Is this first album going to include your signature R&B style? I know your audition song was “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” and you sang a lot of other R&B and soul-inspired music like Bruno Mars, Stevie Wonder, etc. Is that what your first album is going to sound like?
SL: Yeah definitely, definitely R&B/pop. I did a lot of slow jams on the show, because that’s what the show asked for, that’s what I did. So right now, I’m really excited to come out with some stuff not everyone has necessarily heard me do, and it’s a good feeling. I get to evolve and come out with something people haven’t heard.
AG: Going back to American Idol, I know the auditions are going to take place these next several weeks up until March. Can you tell me what your audition was like last year?
SL: The cattle-call, that one’s really a crap-shoot, you know, the whole thing is a crap-shoot. You never know what the judges are going to be looking for, you never know what exactly to do to make them notice you. I went to San Francisco, and I think 12 or 13,000 people were there and it’s just incredible seeing all these people there that are auditioning for the show. I went through there, and I sang, I think I sang “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” then, too, and they really liked my sound and liked my story, and wanted me from there and I ended up making, and it was great. I never had any expectations, so I went in there just being free and feeling the love and feeling just blessed to be able to show these people what I had. I think that’s how everything evolved from that.
AG: What are you looking forward to in this next season’s auditions?
SL: As far as like watching it on TV?
SL: I’m just excited to see the kids go through what I went through and kind of look at their experience. Again, it really created and started my career, and it’s all a matter of what it is now, what I’m going to do now, but the show is just an amazing platform, and it’s all about using the platform correctly to get you where you want to go. So it’s just going to be really cool to see these guys’ journey.
AG: So you said the judges really liked your sound, and they really liked your story. How important do you think it is on the show to not just be a singer but also to be someone the people are going to vote for?
SL: Yeah, it’s very, very important, and sometimes that’s not always best for the artist and for what they want to do. I mean, in my case, I didn’t necessarily want to tell everyone my story. I wanted people to know me by my voice instead of taking time everyday and talk about it. You know, I live my life today, and I don’t worry about what happened yesterday, but that’s huge for the producers, you know, it’s a show. Everyone’s wanting to be entertained, so definitely stories and backgrounds, they do give people something else to vote for and to like about somebody. It gives them that personal connection to the person, so that’s that as far as that aspect goes. There’s all sorts of things. I mean, sometimes when you lose you win, and when you win you actually lose, so you can look at it all like that.
AG: Last year, you were underneath a brand new panel of judges, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and as always, Randy Jackson. What was it like?
SL: It was really humbling to be in front of real American Idols. Sometimes it was a little nerve-wracking. We did meet the judges, but we didn’t get like time like everyone thought that we would, like hanging out with the judges or, you know, getting to know them really well. We kind of just saw them on the days that we sang where they critiqued us and stuff like that. It was really cool, though, to get in front of them and hear some feedback. For me, it was all about soaking everything in, taking what they gave me and working on it. Really, they created, in my opinion, they created a beast, I mean, every time I got on that stage after, you know, people remember. People remember what I did, and I give them a lot of credit for helping me and improving my performance.
AG: So what advice do you have for the contestants on this season?
SL: Just stay true to yourself, not get wrapped up in the TV part of it. Just keep true to yourself, sing from the heart and sing from your soul and just be proud, be happy, and feel blessed for the gift and the opportunity you’ve been given.
AG: That being said, what advice do you have for viewers? I know sometimes people get voted off that people really didn’t think would get voted off. There’s always that issue of people thinking, “Oh, you know, my contestant is safe, I don’t have to vote this week.” What do you have to say to the viewers about that?
SL: I mean, if they feel something, just really vote. Umm…yeah, the voting is really, it’s a weird thing for me, because I don’t know if Icompletely buy into the whole system, but I mean, for the people that are out there that really invest in the show, you know, don’t get discouraged if your favorite contestant does well one week or not. Just keep voting and keep supporting your favorite artist.
AG: All right, well do you have any last words, anything you think the readers need to know that I didn’t touch on or anything else you think I should mention?
SL: Other than the fact that they should keep their eyes open for me. I will be releasing an album and you will be hearing me on the radio, and I will be making moves in the industry. I’m excited about it.
AG: Awesome! Well good luck with that and thank you for spending some time talking to me.
SL: All right, thanks.