As the Top 5 of “American Idol,” Season 13, faced their fate, host Ryan Seacrest promised a shocking twist. How shocking would it turn out to be?
- First was the “round table recap,” a video package showing the Top 5 talking and breaking down the previous night’s performances. They thought that America had chosen good songs for them. At Jena Irene’s prompting, Caleb Johnson demonstrated his rocker high note. Scott Woolf admitted how embarrassed he was that he’d tripped while returning to the couches after meeting his celebrity crush, Ariana Grande. Jena predicted the results would end up being really close, because they’d all done so well.
- In the Ford commercial of the week, the Top 5 drove around picking up interesting props for a party that involved a DJ table, a shark costume, tons of balloons, and a boat! Caleb Johnson, of course, was the one who ended up in the boat, standing up in it in the pool.
- Fellow judges Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. introduced Keith Urban, who performed his single, “Good Thing,” a rollicking country number from his album, “Fuse.” Hopefully, the Top 5 was paying attention, because he demonstrated some great performance skills while singing a catchy song that could very well become a cross-over hit.
- Then, it was time for the recap of the previous night. Mentor Randy Jackson shared his thoughts on Jena Irene: “She had an amazing night. She killed it.” Randy was very proud of Alex Preston, saying, “I was in it from jump to the end.” He thought Jessica Meuse has an amazing, strong voice but, performance-wise, she didn’t have the best night. Sam Woolf, Randy said, had an “interesting night,” starting shaky but then “getting going.” About Caleb Johnson, he said, “He really turned the place upside down” and “tore the roof off.”
- Then the twist: Ryan told the Top 5 they’d get a choice. They could vote to preserve the viewer vote and let someone go home tonight; or they could vote for no one to go home but for two people to be cut next week. He handed them ballot cards to make their selections, telling them the decision would have to be unanimous.
- After a commercial break, Ryan revealed the results of the vote: 3 voted to wait until next week to send home two, but 2 voted to eliminate someone tonight. So then it was time for the result: Sam Woolf was the one going home. For his swan song, he sang “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons.
- Since the episode aired, the breakdown of results was revealed to reporters, with Caleb, Jessica and Sam telling them that they vote to keep the group together, and Alex and Jena therefore being the ones who voted to preserve the vote. Since then, a lot of fans have weighed in on the twist, with some Sam fans expressing displeasure with Alex and Jena for their votes. However, even Sam wasn’t having it, tweeting to fans that they should cool down, because nobody knew the result when they were voting. And if you think about it, the vote has periodically resulted in surprise eliminations of popular contestants, so sticking with the results could have been dangerous to any of them.
- That said, why was it Sam’s time to go home? Let’s not forget that he was the beneficiary of the save a few weeks ago, and most of those who receive the save only last a few more weeks. Only Jessica Sanchez, two seasons ago, received the save and went on to compete in the finals. So it was not really a surprise that Sam ended up at the bottom again, despite the producers attempting to manipulate a “feel good” result that would have spared this season’s teen idol for another week. Little has changed since the first time Sam landed on the bottom: despite a beautiful tone (reminding me of a young Neil Diamond) and boy-next-door good looks, he simply doesn’t have the performance chops or the range to compete with the rest of the Top 5. Don’t write him off just yet, though. The summer tour should give him a chance to brush up his performance skills, and years from now, a more mature Sam Woolf may find that America finally votes for him, through album sales.