LOS ANGELES – Petite powerhouse Jessica Sanchez came thisclose to getting the boot from “American Idol” on Thursday night.
Despite earning raves from the judges for her consistently strong, soulful performances, “American Idol” fans weren’t moved to vote for Sanchez after watching her version of Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering” on Wednesday night.
As a result, the 16-year-old earned the least amount of votes from “American Idol” viewers.
“Dude, I mean, eleven seasons of doing this show, I’ve never seen this happen,” a stunned judge Randy Jackson told host Ryan Seacrest. “This is a ridiculous bottom three. America–I’ve never said this–they got it wrong tonight, baby. They got it so wrong.”
Joshua Ledet–who earned Wednesday night’s only standing ovation from the judges for his performance of Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby”–and Elise Testone, who also impressed the judges with her rendition of Lady Gaga’s “You and I,” joined Sanchez in the bottom three.
Seacrest then announced that both Ledet and Testone were safe and Sanchez was “at risk of leaving us,” which left both the judges and the audience outraged.
“Unbelievable reaction in the studio,” observed Seacrest, as judge Jennifer Lopez gasped with her mouth open and the audience cried in disbelief.
Naturally, Sanchez had to “sing for her life” to convince the judges to use their once-a-season “save” to keep her in the competition, but thanks to judge Steven Tyler, there was little suspense as to whether she would ultimately go home.
“We’re going to use our card tonight–especially with an outcome like this,” Tyler unwittingly informed Seacrest before Sanchez was announced as the bottom vote-getter.
Despite likely knowing that she would remain in the competition, a somewhat dazed-looking Sanchez started to perform “Stuttering” in a bid to get her “save” from the judges.
Before Sanchez reached the third verse, Lopez, who stormed the stage along with other judges, marched up to the tiny teen and ordered, “Gimme that mic–this is crazy! Yes, we’re using the save–you aren’t going home. Go sit down.”
Teetering on the same $1595 Christian Louboutin asteroid spike-toe pumps that she wore the night before, Sanchez was given a less-than-gentle shove by Lopez and quickly tottered over to join her fellow contestants on the couch.
“We are saving Jessica without any doubt,” announced Jackson. “Let me just say this; for myself, Steven and Jennifer: This girl is one of the best singers in America.”
Before the credits rolled, Jackson made one final plea to “American Idol” fans, “Please, everybody, please vote for the best. It’s about finding the best. I mean, come on.”
For her part, the slight San Diegan remained humble.
“I don’t expect anything,” shrugged Sanchez. “I just do what I do, and whatever happens happens.”
Up next: The final seven compete–again.