'American Idol' finalist Jessica Sanchez on her almost-elimination

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jessica-sanchez-idol-judges-save.jpg Jessica Sanchez wasn't shocked when Ryan Seacrest announced that she had received the lowest amount of votes of the Top 7 "American Idol" finalists -- she wasn't sure she was going home, either, but she certainly wasn't blindsided by the news.

"I didn't expect it, but I wasn't surprised," Sanchez tells Zap2it in her one of her first post-save interviews. " I sang a song that nobody knew ["Stuttering" by Jazmine Sullivan], and I guess people thought I was okay with the past performances. I heard people telling me and tweeting me that they didn't vote for me because they thought I was safe. So that's probably why [I wound up in the bottom] too."

Even after Steven Tyler announced mid-show that he and his fellow judges were going to save someone that night, the 16-year-old says she wasn't sure they would actually go through with it. So when she picked up the mic to sing her "Save me!" song, she had no idea what would happen.

"I really thought I was going to go home, and I was content with it," she says "I was okay because I made it that far. It's just been a crazy experience and I just love it so much."

That's not to say she wanted to go home, either. She has a renewed sense of competitive spirit thanks to her brush with elimination. "I have a second chance and a second opportunity to show who I am. I really have to get into the competition. It's not just all about 'Oh yeah, I want to do this song because I like the song.' I have to show everybody what my talent is and what I have."

Sanchez maintains that she has no regrets about how things went down during (the first) Top 7 week. "I, like, literally love Jazmine Sullivan. She's one of my all-time favorite artists, and I don't think she gets enough credit for what she does. I have no regrets for what I sang. If I went home, then I went home doing what I chose to do."

For Now and Then night, though, were finalists tackle one recent Billboard #1 and one soul song, Sanchez says she's concentrating on showing a little more emotion in addition to her spot-on technique. "J. Lo said that she wants me to take her on a journey, so I took that into consideration and I'm really, really working on it, and I think that'll come out this week."

Although she can't spill any details on her song choice, Sanchez promises, "I'm going to show more of my gritty, rough side. Yeah!"

And don't forget: "America, please vote! Please!"
Photo/Video credit: FOX