Bradenton student Sam Woolf performed first on tonight's episode of "American Idol," easily the most important episode of the season so far because the performances determine which of the 11 remaining contestants reach the Top 10. The Top 10 singers will spend the summer playing the nation's biggest venues as part of the "American Idols LIVE! Tour 2014." Last year, for instance, the tour stopped at the Amway Center in Orlando and previous "American Idols" shows have come to the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tonight's "American Idol" theme, "Songs from the Cinema," meant contestants could perform basically any song, as long as it has been used in a movie. Woolf told me Tuesday he would be going for an "upbeat song" from the 2007 movie "Across the Universe," which consists of wall-to-wall Beatles songs. Tonight, Woolf performed the Beatles rocker "Come Together," which borrows from Chuck Berry and has been covered, most famously, by Aerosmith.
Woolf has been pushed, by the judges, to come out of his sensitive strummer mode all season and this was to be his breakthrough moment. The 17-year-old senior at Braden River High didn't do anything to approach John Lennon's vocals or even Steven Tyler's but Woolf's performance did show another side of the teenage singer. He can rock. Or, as judge Jennifer Lopez put it, he's a "baby rock star."
About halfway through the show, though, things didn't look great for Woolf. He was fourth in the voting among males and females. Here's our Woolf website where you can vote, read my past interviews, watch more videos and check out photo galleries of the local sensation. Woolf's performance from tonight is posted below. Watch Fox at from 9-10 p.m. tomorrow to see if he makes the Top 10.