by Cherszy (@cherszy)
Ashthon Jones was the first wildcard pick to leave the Idol stage after she failed to impress the crowd with her performance of Diana Ross’s “When You Tell Me That You Love Me”. The 25-year-old Georgia native had to say her goodbyes as early as the Top 13 week. Sad to say, her second chance did not get her far into the competition.
Our African-American princess of dance and energy Naima Adedapo whose performance of Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Streets” got us groovin’ and shakin’ followed in the footsteps of Ashthon three weeks later. Together with fellow Top 11 contestant Thia Megia, Naima sang her swan song after America made their decision to send her home. Her rendition of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” the night before eliminations that week apparently did not get voters’ choice. While this Wisconsin girl constantly brought color, flame, and raw talent to the stage, America was probably not yet ready to embrace her style as an artist. Hence, her exit from the show during the Top 11 (Again) week.
With two of the wildcards out, it was all up to Stefano Langone to make their group proud and show that a second chance can get one to the top. But, alas, last night marked the end of his journey on Idol as he bid us goodbye with “Lately”, which was originally sung by his idol, Stevie Wonder.
We first met the Washington heartthrob during the San Francisco auditions where he sang “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” beautifully and quickly impressed the judges (and me). He melted our hearts further with the story of his survival of a life-threatening accident. Through Hollywood week and on to the Top 24, Stefano clearly showed that he’s got what it takes to be in this competition – talent and passion.
As he was given the wildcard spot by this year’s judges to be part of Season 10’s Top 13, the 22-year-old proved that he deserved it with each performance of his. Week after week, Stefano comes out a strong contender as he usually (and arguably) bags the best performance of the night. In my opinion, I do not remember a performance where he faltered. I guess except for the fact that he closes his eyes when he belts out the high notes as a habit and where he fails to connect with the audience, Stefano has been consistently great on that stage. He always nailed it right there – right in our hearts. Don’t you just love how he sang “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”? I thought that was a lovely piece!
Due to his lack of connection as he sings, the judges gave him constructive criticism on how he should keep his eyes open and look into the viewers’ eyes when he delivers those beautiful vocals. And Stefano took their advice and he grew as an artist from there. He started to connect and was able to channel the emotions from the song to the audience.
However, despite Stefano’s talent and passion for music, he clearly wasn’t the crowd favorite as he constantly landed on the bottom 3 throughout the season. He was always thisclose to going home, but he managed to get through – although not always celebrated by the crowd as he got the boo’s from the audience when he stood next to America’s favorite balladeer Pia Toscano who got eliminated before him.
After surviving eliminations a couple of times, Stefano’s fans no longer managed to save him last night, sadly. While Stefano may not have appeared too sad to leave (unlike his brother on the show James Durbin who shed tears upon the announcement of last night’s results), it was heartbreaking to see such a talent leave because the crowd did not like him as much as the others. He gave us all a good time with his performances, and I am proud of how far he has gone in this journey. He always sings with a heart as if he is singing from something deep within him (listen to his rendition of “When A Man Loves A Woman” below). He has always been a delight to watch, and as much as I am sad to see him go, I can only wish the best in his career as a musician. I know he’ll be great someday. Like I always say: it is only the beginning.
The Idol stage lost another good one last night, but Stefano has made every fan proud. He has moved us. He has captured us. But, more importantly, he has stood tall after everything.
He is truly a survivor.
Now, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell everyone that while Stefano may have the looks to kill, it is not for this sole purpose that his fans vote for him. You gotta admit that this kid’s got a voice that can own any song he wishes to take on. It’s just unfair for Stefano, in my humble opinion, that some people keep on saying that the reason why his fans vote for him is because he’s cute. He wouldn’t be in this competition if he didn’t have the talent in the first place, right? We all have our favorites, but let’s not hate on those we don’t root for like that. They’ve all worked their asses off to give a good performance each week for every viewer’s entertainment, so all we can do is just appreciate that. Don’t go hating; just support who you like.
We’re down to our Top 6, and the competition’s tighter. It’s even more heated. Who’s going to be your Top 5? Who will stand as the best among the best this season? Tune in next week to find out where your idols tackle Carole King.
Catch Stefano Langone and the rest of the Top 11 on their summer tour!