'American Idol' Judges Call Competition 'A Toss-Up'

In the wake of Jessica Sanchez's near-exit, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler say season 11 is anyone's to win.

After "American Idol" voters tried their hardest to send presumptive front-runner Jessica Sanchez packing on Thursday night's shocking results show — only to have their plan foiled by the judges, who promptly used their save to keep her in the competition — the deck has been re-shuffled, and it appears that this season really is anyone's to win.

Following Sanchez's near-exit, two of those "Idol" judges spoke to MTV News, and they weren't shy about letting their opinions be known. Simply put, they were as surprised as everyone to hear Sanchez's name called.

"I think [America] thought she was safe," Randy Jackson said of Sanchez. "I think they thought she was safe ... and I think they thought [fellow bottom-three dweller] Joshua [Ledet] was safe, because those two alone ... have been the most consistent. So, you know, yeah, I think they just forgot."

"There's just so many different singers out there. That's why it's hard for me now," Steven Tyler added. "I like to let America judge. Tonight they were wrong."

More than likely, they were. But the inclusion of Sanchez in the bottom three raises a larger question about the show: Is it possible for anyone other than a guy to actually win anymore? The previous four champions — David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze and Scotty McCreery — have all been proud possessors of the Y chromosome, and a male contestant has won in five of the previous six seasons. (Jordin Sparks was the last female to be crowned champion, way back in 2007.)

And now, with Thursday night's shake-up — and the rise of Colton Dixon and Phillip Phillips — it appears that history may repeat itself once again. Not surprisingly, though, neither Jackson nor Tyler seems to see it that way.

"I don't know, it's a toss-up right now," Jackson said. "I think it'll be a person."

"You gotta wait and see," Tyler added.

Of course, Jackson was also quick to admit that both Dixon and Phillips are strong contenders for the season 11 crown (which is probably why "Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine spent so much time this week trying to pit them against each other), and he saved a particular bit of praise for Phillips and his, uh, unique approach to the competition.

"He's his own guy, that's what I love about him. He's an individual, Steven's an individual; that's what a real artist is made of," Jackson said. "An artist is not usually a follower; you want to be your own person. So I love that about him. I don't know if it's going to hurt him, but somebody's gotta go every week now. It's gonna be rough."

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