The No. 5 contestant from American Idol season 12, Janelle Arthur, had her final press conference on Friday afternoon. Here is what she had to say:
What kind of album would you like to make?
“More on the traditional side of country. I think there’s room for some more rootsy country music to come back into play. A lot of the females right now are doing more of the pop country thing. I definitely want to see what makes sense for me and my life. Something more traditional country–but at the same time finding that balance of making it current and radio worthy, if you will.”
What was running through your mind when you first sang for the big audience?
“I was performing in front of big audience, so it was actually really exciting. I felt more at home when I was performing in front of the big audience.”
How do you feel about Idol having a female winner for the first time in 6 years?
“I’ve been wanting there t be a female idol for a long time. Even though I’ve loved all the guys who have won. I definitely know that it’s time for a female to win. The best part about it is I’m such good friends with every single one of these girls. America can’t go wrong with any of them.”
What was your reaction to Dolly Parton’s kind words on the show?
“Very thankful–The fact that she reached out to me, that she took time to do that. Very honored to do
her song. The fact that she wanted to say something to me about that really meant the world.”
How are you able to remain such good friends with the girls despite the fact that it’s such an intense competition?
“I think somehow this group of girls in particular–were just not out to get each other. All of us are really laid back. It’s crazy. The girls and I were talking–I think we were more laid back than some of the guys. They had a little more energy than some of us, I think. It was so funny. We all just really love each other and we’ve gotten to know each other so well throughout this whole thing. We don’t think of it as a competition. We know that it is, but at the same time, we still want the best for each other. ”
What did you think about the dynamics among the judges?
“I actually really loved this panel from the beginning. They make me feel so comfortable. I didn’t feel intimidated by them at the beginning and that really meant a lot to me. Especially doing this two years in a row–coming back for my 3rd year–it felt really nice just to walk in there and feel at home and not intimidated.”
Will you keep in touch with Keith Urban after the show, as a mentor maybe?
“I really hope that he would want to be a part of that. That would really mean a lot. Like I told
last night, I feel like I was his biggest fan there at the show. I really looked up to him. I would definitely hope to keep in touch with him, if not work with him in the future.”
Are there specific country artists that come to mind that you would like to model herself after?
“It’s so hard, because it’s kind of a mixture. You have to find that balance of what’s old school, and what works for today. I think if you could mix Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Jewel all together, I think that would kinda be what I’m going for.”
Is there a side of you that America didn’t get to see?
“I think I got to show every side I wanted to, luckily. I really got to show my softer side with “I Will.” I got to show my guitar with “Keep Me Hangin’ On” and my ability to work the stage with a lot of my faster songs. I feel like everybody saw almost every side of me other than my ability to write songs. I didn’t do an original song on the show. Other than that, I feel great. I really showcased myself.”
Did you ever get your boots back from Nicki?
“Yes I did get my boots back from Nicki. But I think they had to chase her down and take them off her
Despite wanting to sing old-school country can you see herself doing a collaboration with a pop country star like Taylor Swift?
“I would love to collaborate with all kinds of artists, not just country artists on the traditional side. I know for my main album, that’s what I definitely want to do for myself.”
Who is your dream collaboration?
“I would love to collaborate with Vince Gill. He’s number one on my list. And I love Shania Twain. Of course Dolly. Dolly’s just kind of a no brainer for me.”
You helped Candice pick her song. Who do you think left in the competition is going to make the most strategically perfect decisions. Who has a good strategy?
“Oh goodness. They all kind of have their own thing going. I think it really depends on what the judges
think. In so many ways, I believe truly that it’s not about song choice. They say always song choice, song choice, song choice. I believe it’s not the song you choose, it’s what you do with the song that you choose. It depends on what the girls do with it and what the judges think–ultimately, of course, what
Was “Dumb Blonde” a little too obscure for the Idol audience?
“That was the only song of Dolly’s that I had a current arrangement in my head–that I had come up with about a year and a half ago. It made sense for me to show my artistry again, even though they didn’t really talk about it. That was one thing I just knew I wanted to do. I think this is such an awesome opportunity to bring ideas to life. Why not bring the idea to life when it was my turn to do a Dolly Parton song? ”
What was the best piece of advice you received from the judges?
“I think maybe when Mariah said for me not to let anybody get me down. That’s how I was able to come back for 3 years is because I didn’t let it get me down. It’s just so true. You have to continue to not let people get you down. Just do your thing.”
What would you like to say to your fans?
“Y’all did not let me down in one bit. You all got me here. It’s the top 5, when I didn’t even think it was going to be possible for me to make it past group day. It’s really been an incredible journey. I just really hope to continue to make great music. I’m very excited about all the new ideas [I have]. And also with the new connections I’ve made with the different writers in Nashville. I can’t wait to get some good music out there for all my fans.”
Was there anything about the Idol production that surprised you?
The biggest thing that surprised me was how much you just go go go once you make the top 10. That’s
what surprised me the most. It’s non-stop. You really have so many things to do every day. You don’t even realize it, even after doing it three years, I just didn’t even know what to expect. But it was all absolutely–even when I was exhausted–I was having the time of my life.”
Did you get a chance to speak with Scotty McCreery when he was on the show? Did he give you any advice?
“I actually did get to talk to him. I saw him as I was leaving the building. He told me, ‘I remember you
from season 10. I’m hearing some good stuff about you in Nashville.’ That made me feel really really good.”
At what moment did you realize there were so many good female singers this year?
“I think I realized it back in Hollywood week. I knew–because I did it season 10 and 11. I was able to see so early on that the female talent was just out the roof. Just so unbelievable. Whenever I heard Angie–Angela Miller was in my group in Hollywood. After I heard her perform her original song on the piano, it really hit me. I just thought, wow, this is just the year for girls. I was so happy to be a part of it, I’ll tell you that!”
Did you meet Dolly Parton when you portrayed her as a kid?
“She was really good friends with the man who produced the show. Of course, it was at Dollywood.
When it first opened, she came around and I got to meet her and got my picture taken with her. But that was pretty much it…it’s just so full circle and crazy.”
Were you surprised to be eliminated?
“I really did kind of feel it from the past few weeks. Just a vibe…I kind of knew it was me. I still was
so thankful to make the Top 5. I didn’t think that was possible. It’s very bittersweet.”
Talk about the conflicting criticism you got
from Keith and Nicki on her Vince Gill song.
“It was confusing. I think that’s the point. That’s how it all works whenever you have people who have
strong opinions. It makes America make up their own mind when it’s confusing like that.”
Do you think the criticism impacted the voting a little bit?
“Of course, it was about the voting, because ultimately, that’s what matters. Sometimes whenever they’re
harder on you, people think they need to vote harder for you. But there was still some good points made in there. So I think that people may have…they didn’t know if they needed to vote harder or not.”
Do you know who the two judges were that voted to use the save?
“Keith told me it was him and Mariah. But Randy came up to me afterwards and [said] ‘I’ve been loving you
from the beginning, from season 10.’ It’s so confusing, you just don’t know. It’s weird. I’m guessing it was Keith and Mariah who were pulling for me, but I know that Randy is too. It’s just weird. I don’t know. I don’t even know what to think…Mariah has been so sweet to me. And so complimentary. I was happy about that. I love her so much.”
Do you have any projects lined up after the Summer Tour?
“I don’t have anything lined up right now, but I have plans in my head of what I’m definitely going to go after. And that’s going to be writing a lot in Nashville and hopefully getting in the studio. Even as much as doing some acting and stuff. I’m up for anything like that. I just love to entertain.”
If you could relieve a moment in the competition, what would it be and why?
“Oh shoot! There’s so many good moments! Maybe the night that I did “I Will”, Beatles night. Because I got
to close the show. It was one of those times that I think people thought I wasn’t going to be able to pull off, maybe like a Beatles song, and I ended up doing my own thing with it. It just really felt good. It was a good night.”
What was it like living in a house full of girls for one week?
“Oh my word. It was crazy. We had actually been staying in villas. We’ve had roommates. It’s been nice. My
roommate was Amber. We just got along really well. I just love her.”
Were you surprised the judges didn’t save you?
“Well, I’ve heard that was the last night that they could use it. So, I didn’t even know that until afterwards. Or I might have been a little more hurt that they didn’t save me! I thought they were just using it for another girl. But actually, that was their only chance, and they decided not to even use it (laughs).”
Do you think country music has become more mainstream?
“Oh, absolutely! The way country music is moving–the more pop country is becoming more well known.”
Lazaro said in the press that he didn’t believe that all the guys went down in succession. What do you think about that?
“He said that? Oh. I don’t know. You kind of have to know that it is what it is. I think that, just maybe
the American people kinda thought….all 5 females would be just awesome because it’s never happened before. Maybe people were just really rooting for that.”
Can you confirm the songwriting rumors? Will you be singing an original on the Summer Tour?
“Oh. Actually I don’t think—I haven’t known anything about singing an original on tour at all. Maybe
the rumor might have gotten started, maybe because we’ve been talking to a lot of songwriters. We’ve been meeting with writers. That’s just mainly to kind of…to get things circulated for the future. I think that’s really cool.”
What is it you are most looking forward to on Summer Tour?
“I am most looking forward to meeting all the fans. That’s going to be my favorite part. And also playing in
the large stadiums. That’s going to be awesome.”
What will you miss the most about your time on Idol?
“Whenever you feel like you’re really doing exactly what you’re supposed to do. There’s no better
feeling than that. Just feeling like you’re in the right place at the right time. I’ll definitely miss feeling that rush. We got to work every day with some of the best, most talented people. I will definitely miss those things.”
What did the judges say to your immediatel following your elimination?
“Keith told me he fought for me. Randy told me that he loved me from the beginning. Mariah told me that
she didn’t have a single w0rry about me. ‘I’ll be seeing you,’ she said, ‘Cause you have the biggest career ahead of you.’ Nicki told me that she really meant what she said when she thought that I was going to have a great career. All those things [are] great things to leave with, for sure.”
Who are you rooting for to win? Who do you think will win?
“What’s crazy, if you had asked me that, when I was in the Top 60 or Top 40, I would have been able to
answer that. But right now, all of the girls are my friends. It’s so hard for me to choose one. Because I’m equally close to all of them. I have my own predictions in my head of who I think is gonna take it all, but at the same time I don’t want to put that out there because I love all these girls and I think no matter who wins, America will make the right choice, because all of these girls are amazing.”
Do you have any regrets about the show?
“The best thing is that I do not feel I made any bad choices with my songs. And I’m so happy that I didn’t second guess that. I could see myself–I’m really hard on myself. I’m so thankful that I was able to really make the best song choices for myself every week. And sometimes I think–not about the song choice, it’s about what you do with the song that you choose. I felt great about everything. The craziest thing is I think I left with the best feeling after this past Wednesday night.”
Janelle’s final remarks:
“I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who supported me when I was on the show. It’s been the
most incredible journey. I just hope that my fans–the people who have looked up to me–I hope that they can know from my journey, that if you don’t give up you can do it and it really can happen if you don’t get bitter. Don’t let it take you down. You just keep going. [If] you really keep that fire about you–I hope that people can know that you can do it and it can happen. I just want to thank all my fans for believing in me. I can’t thank you all enough.”