Jessica Sanchez may have had the lowest number of votes on American Idol last week, but she earned the judges' save in a moment even more dramatically befuddling than last season's save of Casey Abrams.
Before Jessica could even sing a full verse of her "save me" song, the Idol judges stormed the stage. Jennifer Lopez yanked the mic from her hand and said, "This is crazy! Yes, we're using the save. You ain't going home. Go sit down; go sit down." Randy Jackson then admonished the audience, "This girl is one of the best singers in America! Ever! ... Please vote for the best."
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It was a heartening vote of confidence on the part of the judges, but was it enough? Here's five reasons why Jessica still won't be crowned the next American Idol:
1. Jessica is a girl. America has voted through four male winners in the past four years. And with such appealing contenders as the skunky-haired Colton Dixon and growly Phil Phillips leading the pack, that trend doesn't look like it's going to end soon. The most popular female singer this season appears to be Skylar Laine, who has a stranglehold on the devoted country vote.
2. Jessica is Asian. Idol's track record doesn't favor winners of the Asian persuasion, although previously Jasmine Trias, Thia Megia and Ramiele Malubay performed adequately in the Top 12. This season's Heejun Han wasn't nearly as skilled as Jessica, but lasted as long as he could on the strength of his charismatic quirkiness.
3. Talent isn't enough. The night before eliminations, Jessica, Joshua Ledet and Elise Testone delivered what were arguably the strongest performances, and yet all fell into the Bottom 3. The viewers may recognize talent, but aren't necessarily swayed to pick up a phone for talent alone.
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4. Jessica's personality isn't accessible. The teenager's performances are a little too polished, her interviews a little too upbeat. We don't doubt that she feels deeply, but thus far she's chosen to showcase her skill, not her humanity. The first time we saw any real vulnerability was during her "save me" song, when she couldn't hide the quaver in her voice.
5. Viewers know their own minds. The Idol judges might have given Jessica a reprieve, but that doesn't mean the audience at home will listen. In fact, strong and vocal judges' support could create a backlash among voters who feel they're being force-fed certain contestants. The reasons for Jessica being marked for elimination haven't been erased just because of a save.
Do you think Jessica has a chance at winning? Will the rallying Filipino support make a difference?
American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.