Bradenton student Sam Woolf has made it through another nerve-racking week of "American Idol."
"About to head to the show. Whatever happens, happens," Woolf tweeted Thursday about an hour before the latest episode of "American Idol." "This is the best experience I've ever had. I am having a blast. Enjoy the show!"
About halfway through the hour-long broadcast, and after glowing words from former judge and current mentor Randy Jackson, host Ryan Seacrest announced that Woolf, a senior at Braden River High School, had received enough of the more than 70 million votes to advance.
Fellow Floridian, Kristen O'Connor, 24, of Sebastian, was eliminated, reducing the field for next week to 12. Earlier this season on "American Idol," Woolf and O'Connor performed together on the Bruno Mars song "Treasure." It wasn't a great moment for either contestant.
“It didn’t really work that well,” Woolf told me Tuesday.
Wednesday marked the official debut of the Top 13 on Fox's iconic singing competition show. "This is Me" was the theme of that intense, two-hour episode. It found contestants revealing "five facts" about themselves in 20 seconds and then performing a song, of their choice, which, in the words of judge Jennifer Lopez, allowed the aspiring stars to "express themselves."
Woolf fans, aka the Woolfpack, had to watch 11 contestants perform and nearly the whole two hours before seeing the Bradenton singer-songwriter in the spotlight. But first, the five fun facts about 17-year-old Woolf that he revealed:
1. Afraid of spiders
2. Wears size 10 shoes
3. Once stepped on a sea urchin with one of those size tens
4. Broke ankle falling down the stairs
5. His middle name is Joseph
As for the performance,Woolf chose the Matchbox Twenty song "Unwell," which, as the title suggests, is about someone who is devastated after a busted relationship. "But I'm not crazy," the chorus goes. "I'm just a little unwell."
Woolf performed the song with pitch-perfect vocal skill and the judges praised him appropriately, especially Keith Urban, but the almost always spot-on Harry Connick Jr. commented that a song about being messed up should have an equally distraught vocal. Cheerleader Lopez also offered the rare piece of accurate advice, suggesting Woolf "come alive more."
When I talked to Woolf by phone Tuesday, he acknowledged that he needs to exude more charisma.
“I definitely agree and have taken what (Connick Jr. and others) said and have been practicing a lot more,” Woolf said. “Next performance, I think it’s really going to show.”
For Woolf to be the next "American Idol," and he has a real chance of winning the career-making contest, the Bradenton teen will need to continue working on his stage presence and emoting more. As for singing, and songwriting (check out his original "I Tried"), Woolf already has the chops. He's also sweet and charming. Here's to hoping voters from across the country continue to support Woolf and that the Sarasota-Bradenton area gets featured on next Wednesday's episode. Seacrest said the theme will be "home."
Check out our new Sam Woolf page filled with videos, exclusive photos, my exclusive interview with him, a link to voting for the singer-songwriter and more:
"American Idol" airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox.