Janelle Arthur charmed “American Idol” audiences with her down-home country flair, but that wasn’t enough to get the singer saved by the judges on Thursday’s elimination show.
It was the last chance for Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj to invoke the save, but Janelle didn’t know it at the time.
“I didn’t even know that until afterward, or I would have been a little more hurt that they didn’t save me,” Janelle told reporters.
“I thought that they were just using it for another girl but actually that was their only chance and they decided not to even use it.”
She did not know which judges voted to save her, only that it was not unanimous. “Keith told me it was him and Mariah for the save, but Randy came up to me afterward and said he’s been loving me since the beginning, from Season 10, so you just don’t know.”
Save or no, Janelle had a feeling it was her time to go. “I really did kind of feel it just from the past few weeks and just the vibe I was getting, I kind of knew it was me. But I still was so thankful to make the top five. I didn’t really think that was possible. It was bittersweet.”
Janelle received mixed reviews of Wednesday night’s two performances from the judges’ panel. “It was definitely confusing, and I think that is kind of the point,” she said. “That’s how it all works whenever you have people who have strong opinions, and it makes America make up their own mind.”
Her second song, Dolly Parton’s “Dumb Blonde,” seemed to get the most negative feedback, mostly for being too obscure a song choice. But Janelle stood by her choice.
“That was the only song of Dolly’s that I had this sort of current arrangement in my head that I came up with, so it made sense for me to kind of show my artistry, even though they did not really talk about it,” she said.
Song choice is, of course, a big deal on “American Idol,” but Janelle said not to give it so much power. “I believe that it’s not about the song you choose, it’s what you do with the song you choose.”
By doing a mix of songs and styles, including some of her own arrangements, Janelle felt she showed America all that she has to offer, other than her ability to write songs.
“I think I got to show every side I wanted to, luckily,” she said. “I did not get to do an original song on the show, but other than that I feel great about being able to showcase myself.”
She hopes to make a record that balances old school and modern country, she said. “If you could mix Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Jewel all together, I think that would kind of be what I’m going for.”
Janelle wouldn’t pick a favorite of the remaining contenders, saying that they are all close friends. But, she said she knew this was a season that women would dominate after she heard Angie Miller perform her original song in Hollywood.
“That’s probably when it really hit me,” she said. “I just thought ‘Wow, this is just the year for girls.’ I was so happy to be a part of it.”