Televised Talent: On Wasting the Save

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published:

Two guys performed on American Idol Thursday night.

Only one of them deserved the save. But he didn't get it, eight years ago.

The other clearly didn't deserve the save, but got it anyway.

Let's file this one under "Idol Irony."

But first ... a look back at the history of the save.

Viewers were shocked when Chris Daughtry was eliminated in Season 5 of American Idol. Many viewers vowed never to watch the show again since that dark day in 2006. People claimed the show was fixed.

Three years later, producers unveiled The Save, thereby introducing more conspiracy theories about the show being fixed.

Nobody who has been saved has ever won American Idol.

Matt Giraud, saved in Season 8, only lasted two weeks after his save. Michael "Big Mike" Lynche held on a few weeks after his save in Season 9, but eventually got eliminated too.

The following season, Casey Abrams was snatched back by the judges when he was part of the Top 11. Casey ultimately finished in sixth place and joined his fellow contestants on the summer tour, and his save meant the first time in Idol history that 11 singers became part of the tour.

Season 11's use of the save actually happened twice. In order to narrow down the Top 13, the judges choose between the male and female contestant with the lowest number of votes. The judges opted to save Elise Testone and send Jeremy Rosado packing. During the Top 7, Jessica Sanchez earned the second save, and went on to make it to the finale, squaring off against eventual winner Phillip Phillips.

Nobody was saved in Season 12, and because of that, the top 4 got another week to perform.

(Here's a quick quiz: Can you name a single song from any of these saved contestants? Yeah, me neither.)

Initially, two singers went home after the save, but producers seem to have dropped that rule, since a double elimination hasn't happened since Season 9.

In Thursday's abbreviated results show, He Who Should Have Been Saved gave a performance of "Waiting for Superman" that demonstrated his musical superhero prowess.

Were the judges now honor-bound to save whoever it was that ended up in the bottom?

The one facing elimination ended up being the fresh-faced Sam Woolf, the 17-year-old singer who had landed in the bottom three, not once, not twice, but three times. Judges had been consistently on his case to connect with the audience, and he didn't smile at a screaming girl once during his lackluster performance. But the audience chanted to "save him" anyway, and the judges, who looked eerily calm during their deliberation, obeyed.

"We are unanimous," Jennifer Lopez said. "We're gonna use the save."

Why Sam? Why now? Why waste the only save of the season?

Maybe they felt compelled to demonstrate the use of the save on the night that He Who Should Have Been Saved was the guest performer?

I don't know. But it's done. Nobody can be saved from here on out, and people can stop complaining that the show is fixed.

Of course, the judges fixed the show in the first place by not giving us a more talented Top 13, but I won't belabor this point any more.

If Caleb somehow ends up being eliminated too soon, judges can remember that they did this to themselves.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

Facebook: Diane Smith, Record-Courier

Twitter: @DianeSmith_RC

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