MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Filipino-Mexican-American contestant Jessica Sanchez on Thursday (Friday morning in Manila) survived mixed reviews from the "American Idol" judges to join this season's Top 4.
It was a tense results night after host Ryan Seacrest called Sanchez and judges' favorite, country singer Skylar Laine to find out who would join Hollie Cavanagh in the bottom 2.
Seacrest then said Sanchez was safe while Laine was told that she was going home after receiving the lowest votes from Idol viewers.
The two male contestants -- Joshua Ledet, who earned another standing ovation from the judges on performance night, and Phillip Phillips -- were declared safe earlier in the one-hour show, which featured two performances from British band Coldplay and a song from former "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood.
Mentor Jimmy Iovine, a record producer, said he loved Sanchez's version of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful" but hated her version of Ike and Tina Turner's classic "Proud Mary," which he criticized as too sexy.
Surprisingly, Iovine also was not that impressed with Laine despite the lavish praise from the judges. Randy Jackson noted that Laine seemed to be peaking at the right time and continues to impress.
It was a surprising elimination for Laine, who has emerged to become a favorite to win the 11th season of the popular US talent search. Going into Wednesday's elimination, popular magazine Entertainment Weekly selected the young country warbler as its pick to take home the top prize at the "Idol" finale later this month.
"UGH. Wow," the magazine said of the results.
However, Laine has been in the bottom three several times during the season, along with Cavanagh.
Laine was also picked as the "worst" of the Top 5 in an online poll by entertainment website Digital Spy, which was topped by Sanchez.
Despite this, followers of the show expressed shock with Laine's elimination.
"I am sorry, but there is no way Skylar should be in the bottom, and Phillip safe. And the judges are of no help at all, with a complete lack of critical appraisal performance after performance," blogger Rickey of rickey.org said.
Phillips caught the ire of live blogging "Idol" netizens when his falsetto cracked during his performance of The Zombies' "Time of the Season" but was not called out by the judges.
Phillips has not been in the bottom three so far.
"Wow at this point it's anyone's game," a fan commented on Entertainment Weekly's website." I did enjoy Skylar -- she was growing on me. I thought Phillip would have gone based on of his performance last night, especially The Zombies song. Oh well here is to the Top 4."