The journey is over for one "American Idol" hopeful, and it may have been the most heartbreaking elimination yet. Bubbly country singer Janelle Arthur was given her walking papers during the Top 5 results show, after crooning Vince Gill and Dolly Parton songs on the show's double-themed week.
Top 5 week signaled the return of one of the show's most popular themes: The Year They Were Born. But it was coupled with the debut of a new Divas category. For the first theme, that meant a whole lot of '90s music, and as for the second theme, well, is it cool to call an "Idol" judge a diva? (A few contestants thought so!)
But the Diva theme didn't faze Janelle Arthur at all. She stayed away from predictable pop and went with the lesser-known Dolly Parton tune "Dumb Blonde," a move that in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine deemed dumb. (OK, he said it was the "wrong song" for the 23-year-old Tennessee native.)
After the show, the ousted idol told Entertainment Weekly, "They were saying it was such an obscure Dolly song, but I chose it because it was the only way I could show my originality. If I did another Dolly Parton song, then I would be doing one that I would have had to do just like her. And this one was old enough to where I could just make it current and do a completely different spin on it."
Janelle also declared, "I wanna stay with my roots. There's enough pop country out there."
Who doesn't like an "Idol" contestant that knows what she wants to do? (Brings back fond memories of feisty James Durbin from Season 10, who flat out told Jimmy, "This is what I'm doing. I know what's best for myself as an artist," when the famed record producer advised him not to perform Sammy Hagar's bland movie song "Heavy Metal.")
Still -- on the last night they were eligible to use it -- would it have hurt the judges to use their one and only "Save" of the season on Janelle Arthur? That's right, the coveted Judges' Save expired last night, making this elim a real punch in the gut.
While using the Save may have only prolonged Janelle's ousting for one week, history shows it has saved some finale-worthy contestants.
Since it was instituted back in Season 8, the Save has been used four times, so this season goes down as the first time in history that the judges forfeited it. Clearly, these judges mean business: As Janelle was singing a beautifully arranged version of the Supremes classic "You Keep Me Hanging On," it appeared that Nicki Minaj wasn't being swayed no matter what.
In the past, contestants Matt Giraud (Season 8), Michael Lynche (Season 9), Casey Abrams (Season 10), and Jessica Sanchez (Season 11) were all spared an early demise via the Save. Sanchez went on to compete against Phillip Phillips in the Season 11 finale, proving that America really did get it wrong -- or simply spaced out on Top 7 vote night -- when they forgot to vote for the 16-year-old singer early in the season.
As for Janelle Arthur, she was clearly emotional when she realized the judges weren't going to save her. Head judge Randy Jackson delivered the dire news: "Two for and two not for, and we are not going to use it," he announced.
So which two judges were the "two for"? Check out these after-show tweets, and you be the judge!
Nicki Minaj tweeted, "I've loved Janelle and won't stop now. All the best marshmallow ;)"
Mariah Carey tweeted, "Janelle, I love your personality and your spirit. You're truly a good person at heart. Keep singing & don't ever be discouraged. God bless." Carey also dubbed Arthur, "Future country star!"
"American Idol" Season 12 airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on FOX.
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