Good news coming out of the "American Idol" Top 8 redux results show: Only one finalist was eliminated (straying from the norm of two that usually get shown the exit after a "Save" by the judges). The bad news, especially for the eliminated finalist? It wasn't quite a Top 8 do-over -- because Sam Woolf wasn't booted from the show, nor was he in the bottom. If there had been a bottom three, he might have been, but a switch-up by the producers only allowed for a bottom two this week. So the Top 7 didn't end up Sam-free as it would have had the judges not saved him last week.
Lyndsey Parker at Yahoo Music called the April 10 episode the "least surprising 'American Idol' results show in recent memory" and noted that the bottom two were not only the two worst performers from the performance night but also the worst duet as well. She also added that the only surprise was that there was a bottom two, and speculated: "Did 'Idol' producers not want to reveal that golden boy Sam Woolf, who'd been the controversial recipient of the Judges' Save last week, was already in the bottom three again, for the fourth time this season?"
Something to think about and most likely spot on, because Sam Woolf's strained "Time After Time" was certainly the weakest of the remaining six performers on the Top 8 redux performance show. Still, as usual occurs following an elimination-and-save results how, Sam got the sympathy bounce and wasn't eliminated.
Host Ryan Seacrest began the elimination process by calling down four finalists: Caleb Johnson, Jessica Meuse, Dexter Roberts, and Malaya Watson. One by one, the faces of those that were safe were shown on the big screen at the back of the stage and Caleb, Jessica, and Jena returned to the lounge. Malaya Watson, who had performed Chaka Kahn's "Through The Fire" rather abominably Wednesday night, was left sitting on one of the silver stools (of uncertainty).
The next four contestants were brought down to learn their fates. One by one, Jena Irene, Alex Preston, and Sam Woolf returned to the lounge as well, leaving C. J. Harris to join Malaya in the bottom two. As mentioned, it was fitting that the duo were in the bottom two, given their performances from the night before. Only Sam Woolf deserved to have a seat among them. But, alas, only two stools were filled in the Top 8 results redux.
And it wasn't much of a mental leap to imagine that Malaya Watson would be headed home... It was her third time in the bottom, her second straight week there. Of course, C. J. was on his third consecutive trip to the bottom, so there may have been a little doubt as to which would sing their closing tune.
One sad aspect -- some have even called it cruel -- about "American Idol" is that the contestants are asked to sing after they've received the awful news that they are no longer on the show. With the usually effervescent Malaya, it was heartbreaking to watch her struggle with her emotions and muscle her way through "I Am Changing" (Jennifer Holliday, from "Dreamgirls"). Only 16, Malaya had moments of brilliance during her run and shows promise. An early exit didn't stop finalists like Jennifer Hudson (who also sang "I Am Changing" in the movie adaptation of "Dreamgirls") and Mandisa (strong vocalists that were booted in seventh and ninth place, respectively, in Seasons 3 and 5, respectively), both of whom have gone on to successful careers.
So now it is down to seven... and next week could be a problem for the contestants. The theme is "Competitors' Choice" and songs are chose by one of the remaining finalists colleagues. Strategy could come into play here if the finalists challenge their fellows to sing songs outside their comfort zones -- which means that Sam and C. J. will likely find themselves perched once again on silver stools during the results show.
"American Idol" airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and Thursdays at 9 p.m. (EST) on Fox Television.