Michael Lynche Saved by 'American Idol' Judges in Shocking Results Show
Michael Lynche sings for his life on "American Idol." Fox

Michael Lynche will live to sing on "American Idol" another week, thanks to Wednesday night's (Apr. 7) surprising results show that saw the 26-year-old New York native -- and one of the presumed favorites of the season -- saved from near-elimination.

"This is unanimous, Michael, if that's any comfort," said Simon Cowell on behalf of the judging panel. "We have decided we're going to see you next week," he added with a wink, as Lynche thumped his chest and the remaining top 8 contestants rushed to embrace him.

Video: Michael Lynche is saved by the "American Idol" judges

Lynche (also known as Big Mike) was saved by the "Idol" judges after receiving the lowest number of votes of the top 9 contestants, who on Tuesday performed songs from the John Lennon/Paul McCartney songbook. While the judges were predictably impressed with Lynche's version of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," America apparently disagreed, sending him to the bottom three along with Andrew Garcia and Aaron Kelly. Kelly was quickly sent back to safety, with Garcia following his lead soon after.

'American Idol' Recap: 'Jealous Guys, Bagpipes & Didgeridoos

"Two fathers, both trying to make a better life for their families," Seacrest said of Lynche and Garcia, before announcing that Lynche would have to sing for his life. Lynche proceeded to sing Maxwell's version of Kate Bush's '"This Woman's Work," his standout number of the season so far.

"The frustrating thing, Michael, is that we all wish you did something like that yesterday," Cowell told him after the performance. "This is why you're in the position you're in right now."

This is the second time in "American Idol" history that the judges have used the save, which was introduced last season and can only be exercised once, before the contestant pool is brought down to five. Last season's fifth place finisher, Matt Giraud, was saved during top 7 week.

In between the shocking results announcements, Rihanna performed her new single "Rockstar 101" - the follow-up to her No. 1 hit, "Rude Boy" -- while Jason Derulo performed "In My Head" and season 7 "Idol" runner-up David Archuleta returned to perform Lennon's "Imagine."

"American Idol" continues next Tuesday with season 8 alum Adam Lambert as the mentor. As a result of Lynche's save, two contestants will be voted off.