Season 12 will go down in American Idol history as the year the top 5 was comprised of an all-female group, and Janelle Arthur said she is honored to share the moment with the girls she now calls her “good friends".
“This group of girls in particular are not out to get each other,” the 23-year-old Tennessean said on a conference call with reporters. “We are really laid back. I think we were more laid back than some of the guys. I think we all really love each other…We don’t think of it as a competition."
Of course, eliminated contestant Lazaro Arbos sees it as a competition, and was quoted in an interview as saying there was “no way five guys could have left in a row."
Arthur, who is somewhat of an authority on the history of the Fox program both as a 12-year viewer and as a three-time auditioner, offered a different opinion when asked about Arbos’ comments.
“It is what it is, and I think that maybe the American people thought a top five female group would be just awesome because it never happened before,” she said. “Maybe people were just really rooting for that."
Arthur said she is one of those people, graciously advocating for her remaining friends in the top four.
“I’ve been wanting a female Idol for a long time,” she said. “It’s time for a female to win."
Arthur said that with the remaining singers, “America can’t go wrong." As early as Hollywood Week, Arthur noticed that the female talent was “unbelievable,” and said that she had an epiphany the minute Angela Miller performed her original song, “Set Me Free."
“It really hit me,” she said. “This is a big year for girls. I was so happy to be a part of it."
When asked which of the remaining singers--Miller, Candice Glover, Amber Holcomb, and Kree Harrison--has the best strategy in the remaining weeks with regard to theme, Arthur had an interesting response.
“It’s not about song choice,” she said. “It’s what you do with the song that you choose."
Take, for instance, Arthur’s arrangement of Dolly Parton’s, “Dumb Blonde.” While some may have questioned the decision to perform one of Parton’s more obscure compositions, Arthur said she wasn’t afraid to try something fresh for the judges and the live audience.
“That was the only song of Dolly’s that I had this current arrangement in my head [from] a year and a half ago, so it made sense for me to come and show my artistry again even though they didn’t really talk about it,” she said. “I think this is just such an awesome opportunity to bring ideas to life."
Of course, some of those decisions lead to conflicting ideological differences with the judges, particularly Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj, who disagreed over the country cutie’s decision to bust out her guitar.
“It was definitely confusing and I think that's kind of the point. I mean, I think that's really just how it all works whenever you have people who have strong opinions,” she said.
Backstage, the judges were kinder.
“Keith just told me that he fought for me. And then Randy [Jackson] told me that he loved me from the beginning in Season 10. And then Mariah [Carey] just told me, you know, that she just didn't have a single worry about me. She was like, 'I'll be seeing you! You have the biggest career ahead of you,'" she recalled. "And Nicki just told me that she really meant what she said when she thought that I was going to have a great career. And so all those things were just really great things to leave with for sure”
That said, she was still “hurt” that the judges did not choose to use the save on her Thursday night. “Well I've heard that [Thursday night] was the last night that they could use [the save]. So I didn't even know that. I didn't even know it until afterwards or I might've been a little more hurt that they didn't save me. But I just thought that they were using it for another girl, but actually, that was their only chance and they decided not to even use it."
As for her future beyond the tour, she is up for all of it: recording a country album that is a cross between Parton, Jewel, and Patsy Cline; acting, and songwriting sessions with the Nashville elite.
Arthur said she is already working on music, as are all the Idols, to get the ball rolling on projects after the tour, and even got encouragement from season 10 winner, Scotty McCreery.
“He told me, ‘I remember you from season 10 [and I’m] hearing good stuff about you in Nashville',” she said. “It was good to hear."