It's hard to believe that I've been watching American Idol since Kelly Clarkson took home the crown more than ten years ago! It's always been a show that I would sit around and watch with my family before obsessively voting for the next two hours for my favorite contestants of the season. Every January I still look forward to following the emotional journeys of a fresh group of contestants for the next few months, anticipating their blossoming from small town (or big city) unknowns to stars just waiting to dominate the radio charts and our T.V. screens.
This season's shock elimination went to New Yorker Pia Toscano, who dropped by the office last week while passing through on the American Idols Live! tour. A front runner from the start with pipes comparable to Kelly Clarkson, myself along with a good majority of America was shocked to see her knocked off as early in the competition as the top nine week. Still, her vocals and star potential were enough to get her a label deal. Her debut single, "This Time" premiered July 11, one of the earliest singles to ever drop from an Idol contestant. Gearing up for her debut album release in the fall, J-14 had a blast doing a photo shoot with her last week and talking to her about her experience on American Idol, the rest of the contestants she's sharing the summer with on the road, and her excitement for the future.
On Saturday, I continued my tradition (since season five!) and attended the American Idols! Live tour in Atlantic City, NJ. This year the concert ditched their usual format, counting down the contestants in the order they were eliminated, and reverted back to their ways similar to season six's tour, the Idols performing a mixture of solo numbers, duets, and group medleys. Thia Megia, Naima Adedapo, Haley Reinhart, and Pia opened the nearly sold out concert with Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" which had the crowd cheering on their feet. The room was full of energy for a good portion of the night. Energy and surprises! After singing a powerful cover of Bruno Mars' "Grenade", heartthrob Stefano Langone shocked everyone when he took off his shirt and bared his abs while dancing around to Usher's "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love".
Click "Read More" to check out the rest of my American Idols Live review and photos!
Still, my favorite moment of the night happened toward the end of the night, when the jumbo screens showed the final moments from each season, the moment that changed so many lives in the past ten years. It was the perfect video montage to build anticipation before winner Scotty McCreery finally graced the stage. He sang some of his most memorable songs from Idol including Josh Turner's "Your Man" and Thomson Square's "Are You Going to Kiss Me Or Not" before singing his new single, "I Love You This Big". Though runner-up Lauren Alaina was sick and on vocal rest, she sounded great when she sang her own single "Like My Mother Does" and "When You Say Nothing at All" by Keith Whitley, in an emotional duet with Scotty.
The night came to an end after one last energetic number, a mash-up of Journey's "Any Way You Want It" and "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" which had everyone singing along and on their feet dancing. It was the end of another great season of American Idol for me but just the beginning for these Idols. Though the show has went through huge changes in the past years, with two new judges and the loss of honest Simon Cowell, at the end of the day it's simply about finding stars and making dreams come true.
Can't wait until next year,
Nicole, J-14 Photo Assistant
Photos: Courtesy of Nicole Mazza/J-14 Magazine