You can’t blame Pia Toscano for being angry. The “American Idol” season 10 finalist was shockingly bumped from the competition in ninth place, though many viewers and experts suspected it was not the last time they would see — or hear from — the raven-haired singer.
After Toscano scored a major-label deal with Interscope Records — making her the first ninth-place eliminee in “Idol” history to pull off such a feat — the 22-year-old New Yorker made it clear on her first single, “This Time,” that she’s determined to do things her way.
“The song could pertain to ‘American Idol’ and my journey on the show,” Toscano told MTV News about the double meaning some fans and critics have found in the empowerment anthem’s lyrics about shaking off a guy (or a voting bloc) who did her wrong. “It’s a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, and it’s not just a breakup song.”
The tune, with a heavy R&B beat and a twinge of twang that might not be out of place in a Carrie Underwood foot-stomper, was written by Ester Dean, who has made similarly smart anthems for Rihanna (“S&M,” “Rude Boy”) and Nicki Minaj (“Superbass”).
Though she said no specific breakup in her past inspired the tune, Toscano — who is reportedly dating “Dancing With the Stars” pro Mark Ballas — said she felt like it suited her well and might just reflect on some things that have happened to her in the past. “I can 100 percent relate to it whether it’s about a relationship or my journey on ‘Idol,’ ” Toscano said as she navigated her way through an airport on her way to an Idols Live! Tour date in Oklahoma City.
What’s ironic about the song is that Underwood-esque country twang mixed with an R&B backbeat, which gives it a sound like the kind of contemporary pop/country tunes you might expect from “Idol” runner-up Lauren Alaina. In it, she sings that she’s “mad as hell, ain’t gonna take it no more” and that she’s “gonna free herself.”
“This time, I’m gonna do it my way/ This time, I’m finding out the hard way,” Toscano sings on the chorus.
The former makeup artist said that’s just a preview of the range of sounds you can expect to hear on her yet-untitled debut, due in the fall. “It’s not just one thing, not pop or R&B,” she said, promising that “This Time” is an anomaly and she won’t be encroaching on Alaina’s or winner Scotty McCreery’s country airspace.
“It will be pop with an R&B influence, with an edge,” she said of the album. “It will be soulful and powerful.”
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