In our last entry, we left no doubt about how we felt about Pia Toscano's much-too-early exit from American Idol. It has been rightly ranked as one of the most shocking eliminations in Idol history, and we consider it to be at the top of that list. The other two biggies for us are Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson, who went out at number four and seven in their respective seasons. Pia's status as the presumptive frontrunner and her elimination in ninth place is the reason she ranks ahead of the others in shock value.
On the plus side, getting booted so soon has allowed Pia to get a recording contract immediately, according to Us Weekly. The deal reportedly is with Jimmy Iovine's Interscope records, and Jimmy's apparently "calling every top songwriter and producer in town to get an album together and rush release it."
One concern is the rush behind the project. It seems that Jimmy and Interscope are quickly trying to capitalize on Pia's sudden notoriety in order to boost record sales. While the profit motive is understandable, it would be a shame to rush out a substandard product for a some quick bucks at the cost of Pia's career. Managed properly, Pia seems to have the look and the voice to be a fixture on the music scene for a long time. A quick, slapped-together album will do her a great disservice. One bad project can derail a career, especially if it's an artist's first. Just ask Carly Smithson, nee Hennessy.
Hopefully these "top songwriters and producers" will do better for Pia than they did for Bo Bice, Diana DeGarmo, Katharine McPhee and Blake Lewis. Yes, all four of them were runners-up, but all four also were set to get the star treatment and first-rate projects with great writers and producers. All four albums were huge disappointments that left the respective artists looking for new labels afterward. Bo went from RCA to StratArt. Katharine went from RCA to Verve. Blake went from Arista to Tommy Boy. Diana went from RCA to nothing. Since its release in 2004, her only CD has sold less than 200,000 copies.
Pia is an anomaly because she had such a star quality that she was presumed to have an enormous following. Regardless of what Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe says, Pia was looked at by most of us who follow the show as the odds-on favorite to win. The big money in Vegas was mostly on Pia and Scotty McCreery. Fan forums across the Internet were loaded with Pia's minions, and her Facebook group was among the largest of this season's Idol finalists. It's possible that all of the assumptions were that she was so popular that she didn't need the extra support.
Nigel looked at the numbers and made the conclusion that because Pia wasn't getting the most votes that she wasn't a frontrunner. That conclusion is dead wrong. We believe that if she had survived the trip to the Bottom Two that she likely would have won because fans would have rallied to her in record numbers. Since her exit from Idol, her largest Facebook group has grown from about 15,000 fans to more than 28,000, and her overall Facebook following has increased about 57 percent.
It's hopefully a good thing for Pia that she'll get an album out well before the eventual winner of Season 10. It's a bit sad for fans of the show, because we'll be deprived of one of the best voices ever to grace the Idol stage.
Check back with us in the next two days as we'll have updated odds for the remaining finalists as well as predictions about what each should sing in Movie Week.