‘American Idol’ Alum Stefano Langone Says Nicki Minaj Earned Her Place on the Judges’ Panel

JHud Talks 'Idol'
The singer and actress feels the show should go out on top.
It has been two years since Stefano Langone, 23, got a golden ticket at American Idol’s San Francisco auditions after singing his heart out in front of another buzzed about, big-named panel. On its 10th season, the then floundering FOX show shook things up when veteran judge, Randy Jackson, was joined by Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.

“I feel like all of these shows have become more gimmicky, and the lead being much more about the stars judging it, then the actual talent or voices that make up the show,” Langone tells Celebuzz.

What does he think about this year’s similar star-studded, shakeup, with the addition of Keith Urban, 45, Mariah Carey, 42, and Nicki Minaj, 30, on the judges’ table?

“I think networks know a singing show with star judges gets news and ratings right away,” he says. “Good or bad. It’s an easy way to get people to watch.”

From a contestant’s standpoint, that’s not always a good thing. “Problem is the general public loses sight of what the show is truly about: giving someone the opportunity to make a dream come true,” he vents. “Enough with the gimmicks already!”

Lucky for him, the gimmick worked in his favor when Lopez took a liking to Langone and saved him during the Wildcard round. He ultimately finished in seventh place after a successful run of soulful ballads made him a fast fan favorite.

While he hasn’t picked a side in the ongoing Nicki vs. Mariah feud, he does have an opinion on critics who say the relatively new rapper isn’t qualified for the judge’s table.

“Nicki is a performer and a musician. She has sold enough, and made a name for herself in the entertainment industry to do and be on any show she wants,” Langone, who released his new single, “Yes To Love,” last week, says.

Of course, the singer is glad he did the show, though he notes that life as a contestant on the popular competition show was stressful.

“Oh man, being judged is pretty heavy stuff. Throw 20 million viewers in there and you have a whole other set of issues,” he remembers. “Being judged by the world is the hardest part. If I could go back in time, I’d only worry about what I needed to worry about. The song, my voice, and making it through to the next week.”

He notes that it isn’t difficult for contestants to be distracted by the show’s popularity and the Idol machine. “It’s so easy to get mixed up in all the glimmer and the high life; people taking care of you, relationships, everything!”

As for advice for this season’s batch of Hollywood-bound hopefuls: “You’ve got to keep in mind what you’re there for. And also realize what you want to do. Work hard!”

Now that he’s done with the TV spotlight, he’s pursuing his singing career with a new album due out this spring. “It’s full of R&B, pop records that hit your soul,” he says. “So many great collaborations for this project!”

While the show was a launching pad, he admits that life after Idol has been challenging too. “I’ve learned how difficult it is to make it in this business,” he admits.

“So many great things for me after the show: being signed to a major record label, performing a Carnegie Hall, my first major music video, and traveling the US performing my music. It’s been a dream, but it was hard work to get here.”

American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM on FOX.

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