LOS ANGELES (AP) — The "American Idol" judges didn't stutter: Jessica Sanchez "ain't going home."
The 16-year-old high school student from San Diego who powered through the Jazmine Sullivan ballad "Stuttering" on Wednesday, was revealed to have received the fewest viewer votes on Thursday, but the "Idol" judges unanimously decided to save Sanchez before she could even finish her last-chance performance of Deborah Cox's "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here."
"Give me that mic," interrupted Jennifer Lopez. "This is crazy! Yes, we're using the save. You ain't going home."
Sanchez, sometimes known as her sassy alter ego "Bebe Chez," had been deemed one of this season's front-runners, consistently impressing the panel with savvy-beyond-her-years takes on such tunes as Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" and Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams."
Elise Testone, the rockin' 28-year-old teacher from Charleston, S.C., who sizzled with Lady Gaga's "You and I," and 20-year-old student Joshua Ledet, of Westlake, La., who earned a standing ovation from the panel for Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby," joined Sanchez as the bottom three vote-getters. It was the first time at the bottom for Sanchez.
"This is a ridiculous bottom three, America," said Randy Jackson.
Thursday's results surprised even longtime "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. Earlier in the day, Seacrest tweeted: "There is a result tonight on 'American Idol' that some would say is very shocking." Lythgoe later reiterated the sentiment, posting on Twitter: "I am truly shocked by tonight's 'American Idol' result! I don't understand!"
Three seasons ago, "Idol" producers introduced the ability for the show's judges to overturn viewers' votes one time before the top five finalists are selected. Rescuing the technically impressive singer this week means two contestants will be booted next week.
"I want people to know I've been working hard my whole life," said Sanchez after her bailout.
Before the results were revealed, the top seven finalists performed Pink's "Raise Your Glass," 10th season finalist James Durbin delivered his original tune "Higher Than Heaven" and third season finalist Jennifer Hudson dueted with Ne-Yo on "Think Like a Man."
The other singers remaining in the competition are Hollie Cavanagh, 18, of McKinney, Texas; Colton Dixon, 20, of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Skylar Laine, 18, of Brandon, Miss.; and Phillip Phillips, 21 of Leesburg, Ga.
The seven finalists will return to the stage Wednesday and face elimination again Thursday.
Fox is a unit of News Corp.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A lone note, hand written, faded on the scarred tree is all that is left of the accident site where Jane Modlesky died after crashing her car in Glastonbury.
When it comes to drinking and driving, the two just don't mix. Nationwide, drunk driving continues to be a problem.
A Connecticut man's portrait of Nelson Mandela hangs at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Disturbing images from two middle school students on social media has sparked an investigation by police in Redding.
As the anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy approaches, the Sandy Ground project is nearing its goal of building one new playground for each of the 26 victims.
The brand new head of the FBI was in Connecticut on Friday. James Comey visited the FBI branch in New Haven to discuss some of his biggest concerns.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — The Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport has sold a massive bronze statue for $300,000 to finance a major upgrade to its science education program for schoolchildren.
The Federal Railroad Administration has mandated that all Metro-North lines use new safeguards to control train speed, in order to alert engineers that a train is entering a dangerous section of track.
Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London has taken away the medical benefits of anyone on strike, News 8 has learned.
Gov. Dannel Malloy says the recent release of the 911 recordings from the Newtown school shooting has likely made things more difficult for the families, but he also says he expected they'd be released all along. He just wishes it had …