It's safe to say that 2 years ago there ain't a chance in hell Queens native Pia Toscano would have believed she'd soon become the beloved good luck charm of the Los Angeles Kings. After all, despite growing up in NY Islander country, she wasn't really a hockey fan and had never even attended a hockey game before.
Plus, at that time she was the beautiful starlet competing on American Idol, and by all accounts considered a lock to make the Top 3. Hell, many thought she'd win the whole damn thing. Hockey? Please...she was on the fast track to pop superstardom, with gold records, Grammys, and all the trappings of A-list celebrity.
Well, it just goes to show you how truth really can be stranger than fiction.
Pia, as we all know only too well, was about to suffer from what's known as premature elimination. Instead of Top 3, Pia was sent packing in 9th place in the most stunning elimination in Idol history. Cheeseball douchebag Stefano Langone would advance instead of Pia, and the uproar was so loud that one wondered if they'd even be able to finish the season. I was so pissed off I boycotted the show the next week, and I think many others did, too.
Well, at least the wrong was righted by Interscope. They signed Pia in the summer of 2011 to a recording contract, and all was well with the world again.
Or was it?
Haley Reinhart stormed to the finish line with an extremely strong 3rd, and made such an impact Interscope would sign her, too. This made for a logjam of gorgeous Idol women with big voices, and would shuffle Pia back in the pack since she was left dormant for 6 weeks while Haley garnered huge Idol buzz with some of the most jaw-dropping performances the Idol stage has ever seen.
Now, we all know it didn't end well for either of them, as Interscope just couldn't figure out what the fuck to do and wound up blowing it with both girls.
In Pia's case, she would be handed a pleasant (if nondescript) mid-tempo pop single (This Time), and release a corresponding music video. However, Interscope didn't even release the song to radio for adds, and then permanently shelved her album. They effectively just hung her out to dry, rendering Pia unable to tour or perform the music she'd worked so hard on. All that was left was the waiting game.
It was during this lost period that Pia would begin her redemption in the most unlikely of places: An LA Kings game.
Attending the first hockey game of her life, she was immediately impressed with the exciting atmosphere. Having by now established a reputation for delivering fantastic national anthems, Pia told her manager she'd love to get the chance to do one at a Kings game sometime.
Well, sometime would soon happen, and the world as she knew it would never be the same again.
When the time to perform came, Pia delivered a lights-out SSB, the Kings won and the crowd loved her. She would definitely be invited back again.
And again, and again, and again, and again...
You see, not only did Pia slay the NA, the Kings also kept on winning every time she would sing it. Hockey is a VERY superstitious sport, so Pia by playoff time became considered the official good luck charm of the LA Kings. So, what happened next? Oh, she only sang them all the way to winning the Stanley Cup.
This year, she's doing it again. The Kings have won the first two rounds of the playoffs behind Pia's voice, and are set to begin the conference finals vs Chicago. Pia now has an immaculate 16-0 record on the season including playoffs.
Overall, she's an amazing 28-3-1 since her debut last season.
Now, I'm old enough to remember back when Kate Smith was the unbeatable force of the Philadelphia Flyers, who would summon her to guarantee victory back in the 70's. In fact, as a born and raised Buffalo fan, I was myself victimized by her rendition of God Bless America back in the '75 Stanley Cup finals. As much as I wanted my Sabres to get it done, I just knew when Kate was unleashed it was curtains for us.
Fast-forward about 40 years, and Pia Toscano is doing the same thing in LA with the Star Spangled Banner. The players and fans really believe in her, and opposing teams get that foreboding feeling when she strolls out onto the ice to belt out the Anthem.
Now, Pia is the toast of the town. Newspapers are writing about her, fans are chanting her name, blogs like mine are dedicating posts to her incredible run, celebrities like Tom Cruise and Mathew Perry are personally and publicly singing her praises...it's incredible to behold, and nobody is more deserving of the good fortune.
So, cheers to you, Pia. You're truly LA's favorite girl, and if there's a better way to get a new start on a music career than that I don't know what it is.
Below you can check out Pia Toscano's Game 7 winning Star Spangled Banner vs the San Jose Sharks. I recommend playing it when you really need something to go your way...hey, can't hurt!
Go Kings! Kenny Poo out.