'American Idol' eliminee Sam Woolf: I don't think the elimination twist should've happened
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/02/2014
American Idol's thirteenth season eliminated Sam Woolf, a 17-year-old from Bradenton, FL, and determined its Top 4 finalists during Thursday night's live results show on Fox.
Sam became the ninth finalist sent home from American Idol after he received the fewest home viewer votes cast following Wednesday night's Top 5 performance show, which featured each contestant singing two songs America had selected for them.
In an Idol twist, each finalist had to vote for whether he or she would like to see one contestant get eliminated this week, or instead, two contestants get eliminated the following week. The decision had to be unanimous in order to skip an elimination and keep everyone together for one more week, however, two singers ended up voting for an immediate elimination.
Reality TV World: America chose both songs that you sang Wednesday night and the judges kind of thought you struggled a little bit with both of them. How'd you feel about those song choices and is it frustrating at all that you got eliminated the week when you couldn't even choose your own songs?
Sam Woolf: Well, I mean, I thought they were good song choices for me. It was just, I had trouble pulling them off.
Reality TV World: There seem to be clear frontrunners at the end of every performance show and they tend to be the same contestants week after week. For example, Caleb Johnson has never even landed in the bottom of the pack based on votes and judges' comments.
Sam Woolf: Yeah.
Reality TV World: So when you were competing, did you feel strongly you could actually win the show, or did you kind of unfortunately feel like there was a predictable pecking order until the Top 2 or 3? Did you feel confident each week?
Sam Woolf: Well, I was just kind of focusing on each week. I wasn't really focused on winning. I mean, I was just trying to get by each week and just trying to make it as far as I could.
Reality TV World: The judges always complimented your vocal skills and it seemed like all the criticism centered around your performances quality and connecting with the audience. Could you talk about that a little bit? Are you just a shy person and had still been trying to get really comfortable onstage or was it just a matter of you lacking life experience like the judges had once suggested?
Sam Woolf: I think it's a little bit of both, yeah. I mean, I'm definitely lacking life experience. But yeah, I've been trying to connect more and try to look more comfortable onstage, but I think each time I do it, I get more comfortable.
Reality TV World: The judges obviously decided to use their one save of the season on you. Because you were so close to getting eliminated at that point, did it kind of light a fire under you?
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Sam Woolf: Yeah, definitely! It definitely pumped me up and I had to like -- I just realized I had to give it my all.
Reality TV World: So the week after you got saved, were you especially nervous about potentially going home? And then did it surprise you that you ended up surviving three more weeks?
Sam Woolf: Yeah, I was definitely a little scared because I didn't want to get saved and then go home the following week. But yeah, I'm glad I made it to the Top 5 and made it a few weeks at least because of the save.
Reality TV World: You seemed pretty thrilled to have met your celebrity crush Ariana Grande.
Sam Woolf: Oh yeah! (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Did Ariana say anything to you after the show?
Sam Woolf: Yeah, well, I didn't really get to talk to her that much after the show because I was mostly onstage, but yeah, she was really nice. She was really complimentary and really nice.
Also during the call, Sam talked to reporters about his thoughts on the shocking elimination twist and what the judges had to say after he got voted off the show.
What were your thoughts on the twist last night? Were you surprised that two people decided not to wait until next week?
Sam Woolf: No, I wasn't really surprised. I mean, I think that was the better idea because I think we should've just stuck to the original [format of] having one person leave a week. I don't know why they would want to change it.
How were you feeling onstage when Ryan Seacrest announced the twist? Were you all talking amongst each other at all before casting your votes?
Sam Woolf: Well, we just kind of huddled up as a group and we were deciding. And at first, we were like, "Yeah, we should. We should do the save thing to stay another week with each other." But when it came down to it, some of us were kind of like realizing that two people then have to go home that next week if we just picked whatever we felt was right. Because we had no idea who was going home.
It seemed like all the finalists really improved this week? You also appeared to be less shy than usual. Did you receive different mentoring this week or was it just that everybody seemed to finally get in that groove?
Sam Woolf: Yeah, I mean, I feel like all the performers -- each performer is getting more comfortable onstage and stuff. And yeah, I feel like Jason Mraz really helped us with that too.
You tweeted to your fans not to hate Alex Preston and Jena Irene for voting to eliminate someone last night. Why should they not hate them?
Sam Woolf: Well because they didn't know. They didn't know -- anybody could've went home. I mean, I think that twist, I didn't think it should've even happened. I mean, but it [did], so.
You did vote "yes," to keep the group together for another week, right?
Sam Woolf: I did vote "yes." But like after I voted "yes," I knew that the other people were voting "no," so I was like agreeing with them but I couldn't change my answer.
So you didn't vote "yes" because you thought you were going to be the one going home if America's vote counted this time?
Sam Woolf: Mhmm.
How did the support you received from home motivate you in the competition?
Sam Woolf: It's crazy guys, like, seriously, the support you've given me means so much to me. And yeah, I don't think I would've made it this far without you guys watching.
What are your future plans when it comes to school? You're going to Berklee in the fall, correct?
Sam Woolf: Yeah, my plan is to go to Berklee in the fall, but if something comes up, then I might change [course]. But yeah, I'm coming back to Florida today and then, I don't know, I'm flying out Sunday else so I don't know if I'm coming back to Bradenton yet.
A few weeks ago, the judges used their one save of the season on you. Take us back to that night. Did you have any idea they would save you, and once they did, what was going through your mind at the time?
Sam Woolf: Yeah, I had no idea that they were going to save me. I just remember my name being called that I had to sing, and yeah, I was so nervous but it was great to be saved.
A couple of weeks ago, the theme was "Competitors' Pick" in which you all got to select songs for each other. What was that like? You chose a song for Jessica Meuse and then she chose a song for you I believe.
Sam Woolf: Well, I liked that theme because I got good song choices, but yeah, I was definitely before -- when I heard about the theme -- I was really scared for it because I didn't know what they were going to pick.
Why did you choose "Gunpowder & Lead" for Jessica?
Sam Woolf: Just because I know how much she likes Miranda Lambert. I know how much she likes her and I thought she would kill that song, so I picked it for her.
Did you get any final advice from the judges last night? Keith seemed particularly disappointed when your name was called. He put his head down on the table, so I wondered if he spoke to you after the competition.
Sam Woolf: Yes, they all spoke to me, and they were really nice. They were just saying stuff like how much I've grown and that I have a good career ahead of me. Yeah, they were really supportive.
After going back home to Florida for a bit, will you return to California to watch the remainder of the competition?
Sam Woolf: Yeah, I go back earlier to rehearse for the finale. I'm going on Live with Kelly in New York [first].
How does it feel to have such a widespread fanbase already?
Sam Woolf: It's crazy. It doesn't seem real to me, I mean, having all this support. It's just weird when I hear there's other people supporting me in other countries.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for more from Sam's interview.