American Idol's Stefano Langone may no longer be in the competition, but thanks to his smooth voice and his irresistible charm, the 22-year-old singer won't soon be forgotten.
During an April 25 visit to Us Weekly's New York City offices, the Washington native dished on his flirty reputation, his dream collaboration and his biggest Idol regret.
Us Weekly: You'd been in the bottom three several times throughout the season. Before you were eliminated, did you think you had a shot of making it through?
Stefano Langone: It was more like if I get through, I've got to worry about next week. If I don't, let me kill it on my last song. Each and every week I went in growing. As a performer on the show, as a musician inside, I worked my butt off each and every week to get better. I did that. I reached all the goals that I set out to do, and it was what it was. I'm very happy with how everything turned out.
US: Still, the judges were praising your performance from the night before. Were you bummed to see the audience disagree?
SL: You know what? It's a show. I'm blessed to have gotten this far, from the fans to getting the mentor and the critique that I got from Jimmy Iovine and the judges, I will continue to work on what I have to do to make that next step into the music industry. Jennifer Hudson went out at No. 7, so I ain't mad at it. Lucky No. 7!
US: Do you have any regrets from your time on Idol?
SL: You go in there and hope for no regrets. At first I felt like, 'No, I don't regret anything.' Now being out of it, I've thought about some stuff. I probably would have done the Motown song a little bit differently. I didn't know the song prior to the week, so I was singing it to myself and not to the people and the viewers.
US: What was it like having icons like Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler as judges?
SL: They're the real American idols, man. They're amazing people and amazing judges, and the critique that they gave every week was spot-on, and I'm so thankful for that. One of the things they told me after I got eliminated was to acknowledge that I have what it takes to make it in the industry. 'If you keep on working as hard as you're working here, if you keep on getting better and better, there is no way you're not going to make moves, and there is no way you're not going to do what you want to do.'
US: What's the biggest lesson you learned from your time on the show?
SL: How to connect on not only a live show level, but also being on the TV screen, how to connect and touch everybody. That's where being good and great, that's where that separation lies. I felt like I just started coming over that hump, and I felt like I graduated. I've got all the tools, the lessons have been given, and now it's about executing that.
US: Tell Us about your journey from auditions to where you're at today.
SL: Being in a wheelchair almost two years ago -- May 28 it will be two years -- and growing from that, and growing from other things that happened after that, and never thinking that I'd ever try out for the show, was crazy. There were so many times I would say, 'I would never ever try out!' And then I did and it was just a whirlwind after that. Look at me now, look at where I'm at now -- it's an unbelievable process. Now it's time to use this as that stepping stone that I always thought it could be and take it to the next level.
US: You've got a reputation as the biggest flirt among this season's contestants.
SL: A little bit. The charm is on my side. I've been known for my charm ever since I was a little kid. I don't think it's a bad thing to be known for. Is that going to be my focus? No. My focus from here on out is the music and everything that comes with it. I think being a romantic and being a little bit of a flirt, that helps me with my music. I write a lot about love. It is what it is and that's who I am.
US: Are you still keeping in touch with any of the girls from Idol?
SL: I keep in touch with everybody, actually. Everybody's really close and created really great relationships with everybody.
US: Any idea as to what songs you'll be performing on tour?
SL: This tour is going to be epic! There's never going to be another tour like this one. The iTunes songs that I've made are amazing. Everything has been such a great experience. I couldn't be happier to have auditioned for this year, the best year ever of American Idol.
US: So when you come out with your album, what kind of sound will you be going for?
SL: The sound that I'm going for is that real soulful, pop sound. It's going to be very catchy, kind of Bruno Mars-esque with that John Legend, Stevie Wonder soul, and a little bit of that Justin Timberlake swag. Even Bruno Mars, vocally, that's what I'm going to go for. There's a market right now for that and I'm ready to hit on that.
US: Would you ever collaborate with Bruno Mars?
SL: I would love to write with the guy, for sure. There are so many people that I want to work with -- rappers, songwriters, singers. I want to collaborate with everybody that I can. I want to pick everybody's brains in the industry. That's what it's about. It's about learning, growing as an artist and a person. I can't wait for the doors to open up -- they already have started -- and it's about those collaborations and how you work with them, and how you promote yourself. I'm excited for it.
US: With just a handful of people left, who are you rooting for?
SL: It's anybody's game -- and I'll leave it at that!