American Idol XIII Top 31 Contestant #19


I’ll be posting several American Idol Top 31 contestants previews every day in the run up to the American Idol XIII premiere on January 15.

Click for the FULL list of the American Idol XIII Top 31

Seventeen year old Sam Woolf hails from Bradenton, Florida and auditioned for Idol in Boston.  In fact, you’ll get to see his audition in the January 15 premier, which features the Boston and Austin auditions.  The backstory: Sam’s grandparents are raising him, after his mother left him at 13, and his father was unable to take care of him due to problems with depression. In the video package, the grandparents are every bit the doting guardians, 100% supportive of Sam’s journey. Grandpa refers to himself as Sam’s agent.  He’s adorable.

Guitar in hand, he impressed the judges with a performance of “Lego House” by Ed Sheeran, even if his nerves resulted in a speeded up tempo. Keith calls his pitch “incredible,” even if the fast tempo made it sound like an “auction song.” Jennifer noted his nerves, but said the song eventually “opened up, revealing itself like a flower.”

“Really beautiful. I enjoyed hearing that,” she added.

“He sounds fricking great,” says Harry after Sam left the room, “My daughters are going to go crazy for him.” Indeed, Sam is a sweet-faced young man with an angel voice. He’ll potentially have that teen/granny contingent sewn right up.

I can’t post video from a screener, which is how I saw his audition, but here’s the next best thing. A cover of Ed Sheeran’s “A Team” from Sam’s Youtube Channel.  Also, check out Sam’s Facebook and Twitter.

According to his Facebook bio, Sam counts Daughtry, Maroon 5, Lifehouse, David Gray, Ed Sheeran, James Taylor, and Mumford and Sons among his musical influences. He also writes his own songs.

A Team by Ed Sheeran

The Same – Original Song

VERY Ed Sheeran-ish

I Tried – Original Song

And another original. Ditto above.


Road to Hollywood

This is Real

Hollywood Week – Waiting on the World to Change

Final Judgement – I Try

Rush Week – Babylon by David Gray

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  • macfae

    WOW – even if you’ve heard Hey Jude 100x too many
    Listen to at least a bit of his a capella version ..this young man has a great voice.

  • Niall

    At first glance, he ticks off all the boxes necessary for a successful idol run. He’s a cute young male, a singer-songwriter type, he’s from a southern state, and he has a sympathetic backstory. This one could be a big time contender.

  • No Thanks

    I would choose him over that 15 year old Bob Dylan kid.

  • Anny_nanny

    MJ, did you have the schedule of the season?

  • Sicola789

    Love him! He is one of my favorites so far. I think he could see success like Scotty McCreery or Phillip Phillips if he wins. He already seems to have a decent sized online fan base so far.

    And you said Boston/Austin auditions are combined? Will they combine all the audition cities? That would be great because it would mean shorter time until Hollywood.

  • Anny_nanny

    “Hey Jude” should have a little bit wistful tenderness – to add and mix, and you will be happy. It should not be just a SONG, it must be a cordial conversation. But I agree with No Thanks, this guy has a good voice and it annoying my ears less than others.
    It is interesting that the season will have a lot of WGWG (I looked blog Rickey and laugh very much – his eyes are dazzled, and he counted five or six “winners”). This may be very interesting, if we do not get clear leader initially, I think we have a chance to get another S10 – WGWG will leave us at the beginning of the race. But I have not decided who will be my favorite. I tried not to check spoilers too zealously, to did not not to get frustrated as last season.

  • Anny_nanny

    I agree about the auditions, I would like to finish this in one or two weeks.

  • maymay

    On this picture, Sam has Phillip`s vibe with his looking at the guitar. His voice is unique enough to stand out. I like his Hey Jude version. The problem is how he escapes from Ed Sheeran`s shadow.

    And a folk singer`s success depends on a great single. I hope Jimmy Lovine gives him a single like Home. Otherwise he himself should write a great single. But anyway, the folk album is enough to attract Idol viewers to buy it during the shopping season if the winner is the right person.

    I guess Sam auditioned for Berklee College of Music so he auditioned for Idol in Boston at the same time. If he wins this season, he could not go to Berklee College of Music.

  • Incipit

    Shoe Gazer? The whole Mumfordian Vibe continues and continues to annoy. But his voice has possibilities, if he gets over the nerves, because he is mostly on key (when he’s not rushing too much to hit some of the notes squarely) – and he knows what a melody is. If he gave it just a little more breath support, I think I hear the possibility of a very nice tone there. That could be nerves too, making some of the top notes sound thin.

    Idol may or may not be in a ‘stay in your lane’ mood this year – impossible to tell, though I would like to hear what else he can do besides be all Mumfordy. He sings in a genre I wouldn’t ever buy – so there is still that problem.

  • kansasfemale

    Winner. Last time I felt like I was watching something magical like this, was Adam’s auditions. If this guy makes it far enough for me to vote, the least I can do is support. T.A.L.E.N.T

  • Blirel

    He might just be the best wgwg this year and maybe one of the best they have had i really like him.

  • justmefornow

    This kid has WGWG winner written all over him. Still, for me he sings a genre not my favorite, but he has a really nice voice. And he seems humble, a little shy, sweet, cute…… yeah you can see where this is going.

  • oskwaa

    This guy has been the one that’s impressed me the most. He sings effortlessly in tune and with a really nice phrasing.

  • Mateja Praznik

    Are we listening to the same videos? Because this guy is terrible. So basic. Weak voice, weak original songs.

    Oh and Ed Sheeran doesn’t need a replacement. He will be releasing his sophomore album this year.

  • helo23

    Just from the preview and vids above this is what I got from him:

    1. Sweet natured, humble, nice personality…Check.
    2. Sob Story….Check.
    3. Down home parent/relatives/Grandparents/Family so the audience can go awww….Check.
    4. The flannel, casual wgwg attire….Check.
    5. Southern…Florida is close enough….Check.
    6.Mixed of Scotty/PP looks wise…Check

    Yep. This is your WGWG winner, America. The grannys, housewives and tweens will go crazy for him. He has a better singing voice than Lee, Scotty and PP. So, there’s that.

  • iani

    I’m pretty impressed this year by the very young-contestants; from the
    videos they seem talented, mature individuals(thinking of Eben as comparison) , ready to face the competition’s pressure… hopefully. I’m not an Ed Sheeran-music lover but I like Sam’s fresh and crisp sound, his original songs are pretty nice.

  • ladymctech

    I just wonder why AI cannot get away from the WGWG thing. XFactor did in seasons 1 and 3, and a WGWG has yet to win The Voice. It’s fine, if indeed this young man or another WGWG is the best there is this season, but if he isn’t, may the best contestant win.

  • Blirel

    This dude makes me wanna make top 20 predictions for now with 10 boys and 10 girls even though we have not seen everyone imma try by looking at videos of each contestant we haven’t seen so imma assume heres what it will be and also i will review each contestant
    1) Jena Irene Asciutto- just let u know ppl have found videos and she has a nice vibrant kind of rock style voice and is also very good
    2) Marialle Sellars- she is overhyped but has the look and has great potential
    3) Emily Piriz- I think she is a top contender with musician skills and my favorite wrecking ball cover
    4) Bria Anai Johnson- she has powerhouse vocals and is supposedly hip hop artist so she is interesting
    5) Brandy Neelly- Best country voice and shoulda made it last year
    6) M.K. Nobilette- one of the more interesting contestants
    7) Jess Meuse- she is the most interesting contestant and we have never had anything like her
    8) Jillian Jensen- she is just simply good and shoulda made it further on the x factor
    9) Austin Wolfe- kinda a rocker and i like her original songs
    10) Briana Oakley- good country singer and even better soul singer

    1) Caleb Johnson- ordinary idol rocker
    2) Malcolm Allen- one of my fav contestants love his instrument sounds in audition preview
    3) Neco Starr- most commercial contestant great bruno mars style voice
    4) more to come soon

  • LA944

    He’s has a good voice. I don’t think it’s very distinctive though. Happy to see he appreciates somebody like James Taylor who IMO is one of the most talented Folk/rock singer-songwriters ever. Still waiting for a contestant who has the distinctive sound and guitar playing style/chops of a James Taylor. Sam’s original songs are ok–not great, not bad. He has potential.

    As others have said, I think he will probably go far in the competition. Look forward to hearing more

  • Sicola789

    Alex from Alex & Sierra is a WGWG and The Voice always casts a lot of WGWG.

  • Anny_nanny

    AI get away from the WGWG thing in the past season. This was approximately like S1 of the XFUS…Check
    I have nothing against other kind of winners, but need not do so strained.

  • Trina

    I seem to recall the same exact thing being said about our last WGWG winner. You know that that awful off pitch singer who was supposedly so bad he would destroy the AI franchise..the one who went on to be a multi-platinum artist.

  • Blirel

    Im back with top 20 predicts
    Boys 1-3 listed below and girls 1-10
    4) George Lovett- great soulful voice
    5) CJ Harris- great combo of soul and country
    6) Sam Woolf- best wgwg we have seen in a long time and has a great voice
    7) Alex Preston- also wgwg he is 2nd best wgwg
    8) Emmanuel Zidor- good soulful voice but not the best
    9) Jordan Brisbane- not very good but has potential (as boys are not as strong as girls)
    10) Casey Thrashers- rumors that he is great but we have no idea about him so im guessing

  • Trina

    Because they know the WGWG formula is what viewers like no matter how much some may complain. Last year the big complaint was they NEEDED a female winner to keep the franchise from looking like an embarrassment. Didnt exactly work out so well for them.

  • Mateja Praznik

    He is still awful.

  • Blirel

    That would be the end of my predicts of top 20

  • Blirel

    could u look at my top 20 predicts i only had 11 getting cut so it would be easier cuz girls r much more hard to decide then boys

  • Blirel

    to me he is good but not my fav i like malcolm allen and emily piriz

  • Blirel

    check my predicts out above

  • Sicola789

    Something that would set him apart from other WGWG is I’m pretty sure he is Jewish. There are pics of him at his cousin’s bar mitzvah. He is also originally from Michigan and moved to Florida not too long ago.

  • Mateja Praznik

    I’m sorry, from what I’ve seen so far this year’s crop looks pretty dull. Malcolm Allen seems okay, though.

  • mjsbigblog

    I don’t think he sounds that Mumfordy. His sound isn’t that rootsy. He’s very influenced by Ed Sheeran and other singer songwriters.

  • Tinawina

    Agreed. Smooth voice, very Sheeranesque.

  • Incipit

    “He’s very influenced by Ed Sheeran.”

    OK. I ought not blame everything on the Mumford Sound – Sheeran can have his share – I don’t really listen to either one; acoustic is a subset of Singer/Songwriters I generally have no interest in. He’s not my cuppa, unless he gets a style of his own when he’s full grown. I’ll listen, anyway.

  • jan

    A guy or girl who plays an instrument – be it guitar or piano or other – is often a musician who also writes his/her own music. They are creative in ways that appeal to people. There is nothing wrong with AI recognizing that this is where their strength lies.

    Edited because I just listened to this guy – very Ed Sheeran – I like a lot. He’s young too – could bring in a young audience.

  • Kaylo17

    Definitely has a much better voice than Lee and PP. Not too sure about Scotty though. Time will tell

  • andy190

    i wouldn’t describe his voice as unique or “Angelic” but its a nice voice and though aside from his creepy eyes he is good looking and his originals aren’t bad so I can see why TIP and idol fans on there see him as the winner.
    I dont understand how people can tell he has a nice personality but either way i think he has more potential than others we’ll see.

  • ladymctech

    While this guy is cute, he is younger than any of the other WGWGs who have won. He may not be such a magnet for some of the viewers who have liked David, Kris, Lee, and/or Phillip. (I left out Scotty, as he was still a high school student and a 100% country WGWG). We shall see what happens.

  • Amy Beth

    When I heard his name, I thought he might be related to the kids who had the “Naked Brothers Band” show on Nickelodeon. But they spell their last name Wolff, so not them!

  • iani

    Last year the big complaint was they NEEDED a female winner to keep the franchise from looking like an embarrassment.

    I think the producers in the last 4-5 years were the real embarrassment for the show’s franchise, using some kind of tricks, expensive or not(Ellen for example), manipulating the show’s contestant-selections early on(thinking of the producers’ selections before the judge-auditions part) ignoring sometimes the “quality” in order to have “variety” no matter what(Lazaro, Scott MacIntyre)… I would not care if there would be 12 strong, good, charismatic contestants selected on their talents and not on produces’ agendas having in their minds 2-3 contestants as potential winners and the rest fillers. The WGWG issue might be also the result of the “weak selections-blatant, in your eyes year-agendas” combination and the viewers voting for more neutral talents. Even the format in the last years I don’t think it helped the contestants to develop themselves on the show or start getting early fan-bases.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    Last year the big complaint was they NEEDED a female winner to keep the franchise from looking like an embarrassment.

    They did. The problem is, TPTB of that era ran amok in simultaneously openly manipulating for the female winner they wanted (who was not the one they got) and refusing to deal with the other weaknesses of the show. The result, just looking at it as “good TV,” put the “cluster” in… you know.

    Those particular TPTB combined lack of faith in the musical intelligence of the viewer with a bizarre passion for dated and overdone music. If they’d had the beginnings of common sense, they would have cast S8 and S9 differently and prevented the entire WGWG pattern while still serving up compelling competition.

  • Prime_Minister

    With some awesome stalker skills, I found an unlisted video of Sam singing his audition song, “Lego House.”

    I checked out the rest of the spoilers list, and though there are many talented girls, Sam’s the best WGWG this year — I predict he’ll make it far, if not win.

  • mitchellvii


  • jazzontherocks

    Sam has a new music video out for his original tune “The Same”.

  • mtthew

    the top male from what i’ve seen so far. most likely to be in the final. i’m in to the mumford/ed shereen sound, so i’m not mad!

  • Madilo

    This is cool, he has a nice voice.

  • kelly

    He’s the best WGWG of the bunch :)