NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 19, 2013 – American Idol finalist Janelle Arthur saw her singing competition career come to a screeching halt on Thursday (April 18) when she was the lowest vote getter, and the judges decided not to use their one save on her. During her stint on the show, the guitar-toting musician provided a fresh perspective on many of the season’s tired themes and classic songs. Coming in fifth place, the promising Country superstar wanted the show to be about “making things original” again.
“My strategy was to not ever try to out-sing anybody,” she tells USA Today of her approach to the competition. “It was mainly to show my strengths, which are the subtleties. I love dynamics…then making things original.”
She adds, “Sometimes I think it’s not about the song choice, it’s about what you do with the song you choose.”
“Also, I remained country throughout the whole thing. I never wanted to leave country music. I never wanted to say, I can do this, too. I just wanted to say this is me, and I’m going to make everything work for what I do.”
In regards to song selection, during her last week of performances, Arthur took on Dolly Parton‘s first massive hit “Dumb Blonde.” However, the singer reveals that she originally had another Parton tune in mind, citing an offering that was more well-known to the general public. “I thought of ‘Jolene,’ but I would have Jolene just like she did it,” Arthur explains. “I had an arrangement of Dumb Blonde in my head, from like a year ago.”
“I think Dumb Blonde was done so long ago that it was the only one that would let me show my creative side and change it all up and make it something that could be played on the radio today,” she continues. “That’s what I wanted to do.”
As the first female to exit the competition, Arthur isn’t surprised the panel didn’t opt to use their only save on her. “I knew if I went home, they weren’t using the save,” the 23-year-old songstress says. “I just thought, I hoped that maybe my fans voted hard enough to get me there. I thought if any of the other girls went, they would definitely get the save.”
However, she does admit that she’s rather shocked the save hasn’t been used yet, sparking internet debate about the season wrapping up a week earlier than the schedule May 15-16 finale. “We thought the week of Lazaro (Arbos’ elimination) was the last week to use it,” she notes. “Then they told us they had to use it before the end of the year, but they didn’t really tell us when the cut-off was.”
With Arthur out of the race, only one other Country-inspired singer remains, velvety voiced 22-year-old Kree Harrison. During the course of the show, Harrison and Arthur found themselves in a rather awkward position being two Country solo females. “In the years past, I don’t remember people having to deal with that sort of thing,” she interjects. “Even Scotty (McCreery) and Lauren (Alaina), you know, they were both country, but it was a boy and a girl. It’s so different when it’s two females.”
“Then to feel like you’re being downplayed, it really wasn’t too fun,” she laments. “It also was uncomfortable for Kree, too, because we’re friends. I’m friends with all of the girls, but it was definitely strange for us, because we don’t feel that way. we feel there’s room for both of us.”
“There was room for Patsy and Dolly,” Arthur says, hopeful for the future. “There’s room for Janelle and Kree!”
Her impressive journey might be over, but the potential star says she’s thankful for being able to take her cowboy boots as a consolation prize. “I love being able to take the cowboy boots home,” she quips to Hollywire, immediately following the Wednesday night (April 16) performance show. “I had one pair of cowboy boots when I came here this season.” Now, she has eight.
After her performance of Parton’s “Dumb Blonde,” the judges — comprised of Keith Urban, Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey — criticized the singer for her lack of vocal prowess. “It’s funny because they said it didn’t show as much of the vocal ability…that’s kind of the point,” she says. “I was trying to show my fun side. The previous song [her cover of Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name”] was for my vocals.”
Adding, she says, “I just wanted to show I’m a well-rounded artist.”
If she had to choose her favorite moment on the show, Arthur cites her cover of The Supremes‘ “Keep Me Hanging On” as a definite highlight. “The fact that I got to play my guitar for the first time, you know, with a full live band, that was my highlight,” she smiles.
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