Sunday, April 06, 2014

American Idol Top 8 Part I Results

Who should have received the least votes(based on the week's performances): Alex Preston
Who I predicted would received the least votes: C.J. Harris
Who received the least votes but was saved: Sam Woolf

So, the Idol save is now officially off the table, as former front-runner Sam, who turns 18 later this month, was given a reprieve from elimination by American Idol. There sure did not seem to be much discussion among the judges about this move, including when Sam sang a decent but somewhat shaky version of "Babylon"  on Thursday night. The move to save him must certainly have been pre-ordained.

Sam's "save me" performance was perhaps not at the vocal level of when he sang it during "Rush Week" and it was probably even more awkward for him to have to do without his guitar. None of that mattered though, as the show wanted him to stick around. The other contestants seemed to be delighted that Sam was sticking around (perhaps they no longer fear he could win) and they mobbed him as celebratory music played and confetti reigned down. A confetti shower for someone who received the least amount of votes is sort of odd, but maybe there was a subtle attempt to influence future voters with that.

Next week, the Final 8 will sing '80s songs. I like that theme. Why do I assume that Jena Irene is going to do Pat Benatar? I hope that Caleb Johnson picks a strong Hair Metal Power Ballad. It was not mentioned on air thus far if two singers or one will go home this coming week, now that the save has been used. They seem to be a week ahead of schedule from where they were last year, but maybe Fox just wants to get this low-rated season of Idol over with. It will be interesting to see if Sam's fans can rally to prevent him from being at the bottom again this week. Things certainly do not look good for my early season prediction of an easy win for him, but it is possible that the save could generate some momentum for his candidacy, at least in the short-term. A couple years back, Jessica Sanchez was given the save and went on to become the Runner-Up in the Finale.

Sam remains in the competition though, despite having received continuous criticism about his inability to "connect." I sort of like the way he has been reluctant to be overly cheesy and engage the "Swaybots" in the crowd but he does come across as pretty stiff and uncomfortable at times. It also could be that his style of music is just not the kind of thing that can polarize a lot of voters. I had thought that his status as a "Teen Idol" type and allusions to the story of how his mother moved away from him several years back to be the sort of thing that would generate a lot of votes. What exactly is the story with the mother? For whatever reason, the show is not delving deep into it. Perhaps that is a good thing for Sam, who has probably not exactly had the easiest of lives, despite his wholesome appearance. It has been said elsewhere that he may have a lot bottled up inside of him as a way to cope with what he has experienced. Had he gone on this show when he was in his early 20s, instead of just 17, might have produced stronger performances and a much different narrative for him.

Anyways, the entire voting system of Idol this year is producing results that may never have been seen before. People can no longer vote without limits and the number of people watching is incredibly down since Idol's heyday. Younger voters seem to have bought into Alex Preston (somewhat to my surprise) the way that they did recent winners Phillip Phillips and Lee DeWyze. Older Idol voters are apparently taken with Caleb Johnson (who I think has been the most consistently strong contestant this year) in a way that many took to the entertainment skills (over current marketability) of Taylor Hicks several years back.

The overall crown for the season is still up in the air, but I think an older vs. younger voter split could be the key demographic factor this year (as Idol tried to break down those numbers during the Wednesday night broadcast.) Whomever is voting this season is certainly not anywhere near the gung-ho levels among the ardent supporters of David Cook, David Archuleta, Kris Allen, and Adam Lambert during those highly competitive seasons.