American Idol Top 8 Elimination: Save the fails

The good-looking ones always get saved.

The good-looking ones always get saved.

Let’s talk about the save.

It’s a good idea on paper. Love the idea of it. It’s a perfect fail-safe because as we’ve seen on American Idol past, America is prone to fucking up.

But like in baseball, the save is overrated. It’s an unnecessary tool and should only be used when it has to be.

Tonight, Sam Woolf didn’t have to be saved.

I don’t think the judges understand how the save works. It shouldn’t be looked at more as a tool than something that’s needed. Sam Woolf didn’t need the save.

The save should only be used if a singer who has a legitimate chance of winning American Idol gets wronged by America, a la Chris Daughtry. Based on what the judges have said all season long, Sam Woolf wasn’t one of the elite contestants and that means he deserved to win Idol as much as you or I do.

Chances are if you need the save, it’s because you’re not good. Since being introduced in Season 8, the save has been used properly three times: in Season 9, Top 9 when Michael Lynche was forced to single Beatles’ tunes (not exactly his wheelhouse) but then advanced to the Top 4; in Season 11 when Jessica Sanchez picked a seriously unpopular song during “Songs from 2010 Week” in a week where everyone else nailed selection and performance; and last season when they didn’t use it at all.

The other choices? Matt Giraud, the Justin Timberlake wannabe, was saved in Week 7 and cut two weeks later; and Casey Abrams, saved mid-save performance so heroically by Randy Jackson, in the Top 11. Two weeks later Pia Toscano, arguably the best voice of the whole season who sang powerful ballad to perfection every week, was eliminated, leaving the judges gasping with their thumbs up their asses because they blew the save on a guy who finished sixth.

I have a feeling we’re going to get the same thing with Sam this year. Someone talented is going to go home because the judges wanted to pull the trigger on the save.

Before the results show, the judges should be writing down who should be in the Top 5. It’s an easy list to compile – Alex Preston, Caleb Johnson, Jessica Meuse, Jena Irene and Malaya Watson. They are the five best (you can argue CJ Harris in over Malaya) and those are the only people that should get the save.

They don’t do this. It’s clear they don’t think about who they could use the save on until they find out who gets evicted. They’re thinking short-term and not what’s good for the show and that is inherently bad for everybody.

If I’m Malaya or CJ, I’m furious. Those two had two of the stronger performances of the week (miles behind Geena Gina Jena Irene, but everybody was) and it’s clear they’re stuck in America’s crosshairs and one, if not both, are going home next week.

And that’s going to be a shame.

So when Malaya gets unfairly booted next week along with Sam Woolf (provided there’s a double eviction), Keith Urban is going to express his shock, Harry Connick is going to play devil’s advocate and Jennifer Lopez is going to cry about how America got it wrong.

She’ll be wrong.

The judges did.