Jessica Sanchez transcended “American Idol” last night and virtually assured she’ll have a major singing career whether she wins or loses the competition. Her performance of “How Will I Know?” was that good.

Sanchez picked the Whitney Houston song for the themed ’80s night and sang it with such poise and maturity it belied the fact that she is only 16 years old.

The judges were their normally effusive selves, but this time it was justified. “Your vocals just make everything go away for me, can’t believe they’re coming out of that little body,” said judge Jennifer Lopez.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you sing where I can judge you. Your vocals are just fantastic,” added judge Steven Tyler.

Her performance followed another stellar outing last week. She totally revised Beyonce’s song “Sweet Dreams,” slowed it down to a ballad and in a rare move actually sounded better than the original. Lopez caught the difference.

“If I was Beyonce and I was home and I heard that, I’d be like, “I got to do that in my next concert, slow that one down,” she said.

Sanchez leaped to the front of the pack last month when she sang a picture-perfect rendition of Houston’s classic “I Will Always Love You,” from her motion picture “The Bodyguard.”

Sanchez is clearly the front-runner among the 10 Idol finalists, so her chances of actually winning the competition are strong. But they are far from guaranteed.

For tonight’s performance, she said she would introduce her crazy “alter ego” BB Chez. Nothing would be too surprising from this talented lady.

Check out her song below: