Sam Woolf has been through a lot during his journey on American Idol. Not only was he saved by the judges following his first elimination, but he’s faced criticism over many of his performances. Then there was that surprise twist during the Top 5 results show that could have saved him yet again but didn’t.

Sam talked with reporters, including BuddyTV, about that twist and if he thought it was unnecessary, why he decided to audition, the judges using their one Save of the season on him, the new themes, who he’d like to collaborate with and his plans for the future.

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Auditioning for American Idol

Let’s take a trip all the way back to the season 13 auditions. Sam revealed that he originally wasn’t going to audition. “I was at Berklee College of Music for their summer program and I heard that there were auditions,” he said. “And somehow there was a way that if you auditioned at Berklee and you sent in a video to them, you could get past the line in the regular stadium. So I did that and ended up making the cattle call round and just kept going from there.”

Being Saved by the Judges

Back during Top 8 week, he went up against Malaya Watson and C.J. Harris in the Bottom 3, but it was Sam who received the fewest number of votes. The judges ended up using their one Save of the season on him, despite many people online disagreeing with the decision. “I had no idea if they were going to save me,” he admitted. “I just remember my name being called [and] that I had to sing. Yes, I was nervous, but happy to be saved.”

When faced with elimination and given a lifeline to continue on in the competition, that second chance “definitely pumped me up, and I realized that I had to just give it my all and go for it.”

But he went the next week of the show feeling “a little scared because I didn’t want to get saved and then go home the following week.” Fortunately for him, he not only survived that round, but made it all the way to the Top 5. 

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The Surprise Twist

Why did American Idol add in that surprise twist during the Top 5 results show? Was it because the episode was going up against the iHeartRadio Music Awards? Was it because there’s no buzz surrounding this season and they wanted to create some drama? Either way, it backfired in the producers’ faces when two contestants voted ‘no’ to let the results play out as they normally would, resulting in Sam’s elimination.

Sam wasn’t a fan of the twist, saying, “I think we should have just stuck to the original [plan of] having one person leave a week. I don’t know why they suddenly changed it. … I thought it was too much drama, that’s just my opinion. I don’t think we really had to have it.” Idol fans and viewers everywhere agree.

The contestants talked with reporters following the results show, and we found out that Alex and Jena were the two who voted no. Sam doesn’t want them to receive any hateful messages on social media. Why? “Because they didn’t know, they didn’t know. Anybody could’ve went home.”

That means that Sam voted yes to keep the group together, but he also sided with having someone go home. “I did vote yes, but after I voted yes, I knew that the other people were voting no, so I was agreeing with them but I couldn’t change my answer,” he said. “I was just like, let’s just keep it as the original and have one person go home.”

But was there any discussion between the contestants during the commercial break over how everyone should vote? “Yes, we kind of talked for like a minute. And at first, we were like yes, we should go for it and go another week and have two people be eliminated. But then we realized two people in one week, that would be so much. … So we just picked whatever we felt was right because we had no idea who was going home.”

Even though he said multiple times during the interview that they weren’t sure who was going home when making that decision, he did have a feeling it would be him, “because my performance that previous night, I wasn’t too confident about it.” 

American Idol Season 13: Top 5 Performance Rankings >>>

Overcoming Challenges

Sam has received his fair share of critiques over the last several weeks, including hits on his stage presence and looking nervous while performing. But he admits that while he started out that way, he believes he has shown some growth in these areas. “For me, I feel like each week, it became easier and easier to perform and I was more comfortable on stage. But yes, I had trouble; it was hard for me to connect and get loose on stage. I felt like I grew from the beginning.”

“I’m definitely lacking life experience,” he went on to say, “but I’ve been trying to just connect more and try to look more comfortable on stage. But I think each time I do it, I get more comfortable.”

Competitors’ Pick and America’s Request

Season 13 has introduced some brand-new themes to American Idol, many of them allowing the singers broad reign over what songs they can choose. But some recent themes stand out for how unique the concepts were: Competitors’ Pick and America’s Request.

For the former, where the finalists picked songs for each other, Sam enjoyed this theme, saying, “Because I got good song choices. Before when I first heard the theme, I was really scared for it because I didn’t know what they were going to pick.” Jessica’s choice for him, “Sail Away,” worked for him and his voice was really strong during this performance.

And Sam chose “Gunpowder and Lead” for Jessica. I asked him about this, and he went with that tune because “I know how much she likes Miranda Lambert, and I thought she would kill that song so I picked it for her.”

Then this past week, the songs were chosen by America using the hashtag #IdolRequest on Twitter. Even though Sam admits that he “had trouble” pulling off his two songs, “Sing” and “How to Save a Life,” he still remains positive, saying, “They were good song choices for me.” 

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Plans for the Future: Graduation, College and Music

Looking forward, he not only has the tour to think about, but also a whole host of events and milestones, including graduation, attending college and recording an album.

Before heading off to college, a little something called graduation is in order. While he’s not able to make his prom because of scheduling commitments with Idol, he hopes he can walk with his class at the ceremony.

While he’s not sure if he’ll be heading back to Braden River High School (aside from graduation), “My plan is to go to Berklee in the fall, but if something comes up, then that might change.” Not only is that the plan, but he has already been accepted to the performing arts college.

For his future album, Sam said, “I feel like the kind of music David Gray makes is the kind that I want to make, so he’s definitely a big influence and I think he impacts my song writing.” Sam performed some David Gray songs while on Idol: “Babylon” and Sail Away.” He also wants his first album to be “organic and kind of John Mayer-y, like acoustic rock.”

He would love to do a collaboration with Ed Sheeran, whose songs he also covered on the show. “He’s [also] one of my biggest influences.” 


American Idol airs Wednesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.