With “American Idol,” The College of Saint Rose senior Julia Gargano has looked fear in the face and said, “I don’t care.”
At least she did during a recent performance on the ABC show when she sang Pink’s “Glitter in the Air.” While filming of “American Idol” has halted because of COVID-19, earlier this week, fans finally got to see Gargano’s soulful performance in Hawaii.
“If you listen to the lyrics, it’s all about letting go and living in the moment and there’s one line that says ‘Have you ever looked fear in the face and said I just don’t care?’ After Hollywood Week, it was such a scary intense week and I just really was hoping to let go and just be free in my next performance do what I love to do and only concentrate on that,” Gargano said during a recent interview.
Throughout her time on the show, the 22-year-old Staten Island native has maintained her popularity with the judges, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. This week, she made it into the top 20 contestants.
Getting there wasn’t exactly easy for the singer-songwriter.
“Hollywood Week for me was very difficult. I don’t think I really understood how much mental and physical power went [into] getting through that week. . . By the third round, I was getting a little slap-happy. I forgot the name of my own original song on stage like a ding-dong,” Gargano said.
“I was just in a whirlwind but once it was over, it was the most rewarding feeling in the world to say you got through it and to advance onto the next round was a really special day when I found that out.”
Following that stressful week, the show took her to Hawaii, where she performed a moving version of “Glitter in the Air.”
“It was just such a fulfilling performance. I had so much fun. Katy Perry stood, which was unreal. So I was like ‘If I go home . . . It’s a good way to go home. I feel like I did what I came to do,’” Gargano said.
The judges had no intention of sending her home and instead told her that she still had what it takes to make it to the top contestants.
“We still feel like you can go a long, long way, maybe all the way,” Bryan said.
“I’ve loved seeing you blossom,” Perry said.
However, since that episode was filmed back in January, the spread of COVID-19 has changed everything, including how the show proceeds.
“Once it started to get dangerous to be around other people ‘American Idol’ did a good and swift job of keeping all the contestants safe. We’ve just been home, doing a lot of work from home. It was a bummer but ultimately health is way more important. So we’re all just back in our hometowns staying safe with our families,” Gargano said.
Two upcoming episodes of “Idol” will focus on the backstories of each contestant. After that, the network will have to decide how to move the show forward.
“They’re probably going to make an announcement soon. They’re trying to figure out an awesome way to keep it going, [they want] people to enjoy the show when they have to be stuck inside. It’s pretty awesome. I’m excited to see what they do with it,” Gargano said.
It’s also impacted her final semester at The College of Saint Rose. All of her classes have moved online through Zoom and other services.
“I love the College of Saint Rose but it is hard to concentrate. I’m a little distracted. My professors are awesome; everyone’s really on board. They know the workload I have. They’re really accommodating but I’ve been getting all the classwork done. I’m trying to graduate on time since it’s my last year,” Gargano said.
Since coming home a few weeks ago, Gargano has been able to focus on songwriting and figuring out what her next steps are.
“My dream was always to sing my own songs but I was totally ready to just write for other people and work in publishing, do something a little more behind the scenes,” Gargano said, “Then this whole show [happened] and hearing what they say, it’s like ‘Oh man. I’m going to push it all the way and try to have my own career.’”
Since being on “American Idol,” Gargano has learned that taking risks and trying new things despite the fear of failure is worth it.
“I really just stuck myself in a certain spot in life and got really comfortable. This show really showed me how important it is to get outside of that box and to not be afraid of hearing the word ‘no’ or failing,” Gargano said.