Reality Rocks (New)

Pia Toscano Officially Parts Ways With Record Label

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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photo: Fox

Pia Toscano sure has had a rocky time of it during her long and winding "American Idol" journey. First of all, she had to audition five times before getting on the show, and then, when she finally made it through in Season 10, she was voted off in ninth place, in what many fans considered to be THE most shocking "Idol" elimination of all time. All was not lost for Pia when Jimmy Iovine signed her to Interscope anyway...but now, after releasing only one single, "This Time" (which shifted a measly 65,000 units and stalled at number 104 on the Billboard chart), and no studio album, the powerhouse singer has announced via The Hollywood Reporter that she has officially parted ways with Interscope Records and 19 Recordings.

Pia put a positive spin on the situation when speaking to THR, insisting that she will still release an "authentic album" eventually, citing a mere "difference of opinion" for the Interscope split, and saying, "It's been a little while, yes, but to be honest, I'm happy for this [album] delay because I don't think I was ready for it when this all started happening...When I did get my deal with Interscope, I was over the moon, [but I] never realized how difficult it would be. Coming from a show where you're singing other people's songs to becoming an artist...you have to work harder than ever." She also spoke diplomatically of her former "incredible mentor" Jimmy Iovine, stating, "He's so great at what he does. I am blessed to have that [experience] as part of my life."

To be honest, this does not come as much of a surprise. It wasn't looking too good for Pia when many of her Season 10 castmates (Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Haley Reinhart, James Durbin, and Casey Abrams) all released albums before she did, and that at "Idol's" Season 11 finale--only one year after she'd been "Idol's" belle of the ball and was preparing to perform her original single on the Idols Live Tour, which was an unheard-of opportunity at the time--she was reduced to red-carpet correspondent duties, instead of walking that red carpet herself.

So what went wrong for Pia? Why was she unable to ride that massive wave of momentum after her controversial elimination? Why was it taking so long for her to follow up "This Time"? Well, there are several theories. It can be argued--and it has been argued, by me--that "This Time," a pleasant but largely forgettable midtempo ballad, was hardly the knockout debut that Pia needed to make an impression, especially in a fickle marketplace that often snubs even the most talented "Idol" alums. It just wasn't that hot a song, no matter how well Pia sang it. So once that single failed to catch on, Interscope (and Iovine) might have started to doubt her. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that a major label turned its collective back on an "Idol" signing. It also wouldn't be the first time that a rush job and/or lack of killer material thwarted an otherwise promising Idol's chances.

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Or, it could have been a personality/popularity problem. Back in April 2011 immediately following Pia's outrageous elimination, "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe surprisingly told Yahoo!'s Reality Rocks that Pia "was never a frontrunner," adding: "The fact of the matter is, it appears that Pia didn't connect with the audience the way we maybe think she did." So perhaps the reasons why Pia only made it to ninth place are the same reasons why she failed to sell many copies of, or garner much radio play for, "This Time"--and the same reasons why the Interscope/19 powers-that-be started to doubt her longevity and commercial viability.

However,  Pia--typical of a fighter willing to wait in line to audition for "Idol" five times--is undeterred and soldiering on. The day this news broke, she optimistically tweeted: "A special thank you to my Sweet P's, Fans & followers who have stuck by me & have remained patient through out this Journey. #underdogs." And along with her continuing recording plans, she is rumored to be in talks with "Glee," and she just shot a feature film, Grace Unplugged, loosely based on her "Idol" experience.

In light of today's news, it will be interesting to see if Grace Unplugged will have to be rewritten to have a very different ending.

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