American Idol shocker: Why Jessica Sanchez faced elimination

American Idol contestants Elise Testone, Joshua Ledet, and Jessica Sanchez were in the Bottom Three this week. American Idol judges used their save on Jessica Sanchez. 

Michael Becker/Fox/AP
Jessica Sanchez performs on American Idol, in Los Angeles, Calif. Jessica, a long standing judges' favorite to win, found herself in the Bottom Three this week.

Injustice!  Outrage! Bewilderment! It was the kind of American Idol episode that everyone loves to hate.  The kind of episode that happens each season, when a long-standing favorite somehow doesn't find their way to safety. Remember the Pia Toscano fiasco?  

The drama began when Ryan Seacrest had Jessica Sanchez and Hollie Cavanagh take to opposite sides of the stage without indicating which was safe and which was in the Bottom Three. Immediately, the scent of rat filled the air.  It was too easy.  Everyone would logically assume that Jessica was the safe one and Hollie was in the Bottom three, since Jessica has always been a favorite whereas Hollie has become the judge's whipping post.  

When Ryan added Phillip Phillip to Hollie's side and Elise Testone to Jessica's, the real suspicions began to mount since the notion of Phillip being in the bottom three while Elise enjoyed safety was too ridiculous to even entertain.  Yet, could it be that our little Bebe Chez, having earned the unyielding admiration of the judges, producers, and mentors alike might be in the Bottom Three?

Of course she could be.  And here's why:

  1. At least 50 percent of the votes go to the cute guys, Phillip and Colton Dixon.
  2. Another solid chunk is reserved for Skylar Laine, this season's only country star.
  3. The American Idol audience is largely comprised of teenagers who instinctively do the exact opposite of what their elders order them to do.  "America, pick up the phone and vote for DeAndre!"  Yeah . . . not so much.
  4. Jessica sang an obscure song that had little emotional impact on the viewer.
  5. Last but not least, when the judges began skewering Hollie with a dismissive disinterest, clearly illustrating that, in their minds, Hollie was Dead Girl Singing, the audience fell silent for a moment.  That silence was equivalent to the Hunger Games' District 12 respect sign, while the audience voting for Hollie instead of Jessica was their uprising.

Unfortunately, the judges, in all their hubris Thursday night, failed to see the message that was being sent to them.  Instead, they scoffed at the decisions of the voters - behaving as though we all just got it wrong.  Never stopping to consider that their thinly veiled favoritism had begun to backfire and that America had started to unify behind Hollie, the long suffering underdog.

Steven Tyler, when asked about his thoughts on the Bottom Three, immediately responded that the judges would be using their save; A decidedly bold statement, since the individual at risk of going home had not yet been revealed.  Besides, could Steven honestly believe that all three judges would have agreed to save Elise if she were to find herself in the bottom three ? Not likely.

Eventually, Joshua Ledet was sent to safety and deservedly so, since he was but a victim of the numbers this week.  With almost 50 percent of the contestants landing in the bottom Three - being amongst them shouldn't come as a huge surprise to anyone.  But it was a huge surprise when Ryan announced that Elise could join Joshua, meaning that Jessica Sanchez was the contestant with the fewest votes.

It wasn't even a minute into Jessica singing for her life, before the judges rushed to stage, declaring that they would be exercising their right to essentially dismiss what America had decided. Jennifer Lopez shrieked into the microphone that, of course, they were saving her.  Randy Jackson scolded the viewers for their choices, reiterating that viewers should be voting for the best and stating that Jessica is one of the best in the country.  

If the judges really want Jessica to win, maybe they should cool it with the favoritism.  Making Jessica into their pet isn't going to earn her any fans amongst the contestants or the viewers. And if they continue to treat Hollie poorly, while shamelessly promoting Jessica, the next time they won't have a save left to correct the events they set in motion.

Amidst all the drama, there were two Idol Alum performances: one by Season 10's James Durbin, who was recently married and preparing to kick off his first tour and the other by Jennifer Hudson herself, who got voted off of Idol only to become a Grammy and Oscar winning actress/singer. Their presence should serve as a reminder to all of the contestants that the real competition for success begins after Idol.

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