Bradenton’s Sam Woolf finishes 'American Idol' run in fifth place

May 1, 2014 

Sam Woolf of Bradenton gave all his fans a great ride.

It just ended a few weeks sooner than everyone had hoped.

Woolf’s astounding run on “American Idol” came to an end Thursday. The 18-year-old Braden River High School senior finishes in fifth place.

He was one of about 75,000 singers who auditioned this season.

Woolf had had some close calls in previous weeks. Once he was voted off but the three judges – Jennifer Lopez, Harry Commicj Jr. and Keith Urban – unanimously voted to overturn the vote.

Last week, he seemed to be on an upswing, with performance all judges agreed was his best so far.

But this week, on Wednesdays live performance show, Woolf had to perform songs chosen for him by viewers.

The first, “Sing” by Ed Sheeran, was not the kind of song Woolf usually chooses, and his attempt at funk singing received only lukewarm, reaction from the judges.

They liked his second song of the evening, a version of the Fray’s “How to Save a Life,” much better. But all other remaining finalists – Caleb Johnson, Jessica Meuse, Jena Irene and Alex -- also had at least one great performance that night. Thursday’s half-hour results show introduced a new twist for “American Idol.” All five contestants cast secret ballots. If they all voted “yes,” that meant no contestant would go home this week, but two would go home next week.

If even one voted “no,” then one finalist would go home this week, and another one next week.

The votes were revealed, anonymously. Two contestants had voted no.

That meant one person would go home. Seconds later, “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest revealed Woolf was gone.

Woolf immediately stepped on stage and reprised his performance of “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons. His last performance of the song impressed judges a few weeks back, and he offered another fine performance this time. He looked confident and relaxed, despite the bad news he had just been given.

It’s not the end of the “Idol” road for Woolf. He and the other top 10 finalists will tour America in the annual “American Idol Live!” tour. It makes a stop July 17 at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow

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