Idol's Janelle Arthur on Her Song-Reinvention Process, Group-Round Insanity and the Judges' Tough Feedback on Her Duet With Kree

Janelle Arthur American Idol Idology interviewJanelle Arthur is not interested in being “a carbon copy” of any other singer — and that’s one reason she tried to put her own stamp on tunes from artists as varied as the Supremes, the Beatles and Dolly Parton during her American Idol Season 12 run.

The fifth-place finisher stopped by TVLine HQ to talk about the thought process that helped her flip “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” into a plaintive ballad (at the tender age of 14), her frustration that the Idol judges didn’t credit her for amping up the rock volume on “Dumb Blonde” and the original ditty that she was hoping to break out during Top 4 Week.

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Janelle also dished her near-disastrous Hollywood Week experience (alongside Angie Miller, Kez Ban and Breanna Steer); her ability to predict that she’d get harsh critiques from the judges for her duet with Kree Harrison; her handling of the infamous “Who’s in Your Top 3?” incident during Top 7 results; and the decision to break out some uptempo numbers in the midst of a ballad-heavy season.

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So press play below for the full Idology interview, and for all my Idol-related news, interviews, recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Taylor says:

    It’s here! It’s here! And there was much rejoicing in the land…

    • Willa says:

      Janelle is great. She should have been in the top 3. I think she will do better than any of them.
      She has the great personallity and just lovely.

  2. Mafs95 says:

    Finally!!!! Janelle is so cute… I hope she has a nice career. Even if she doesn’t become a huge country star, I’m sure that at least she will make a living doing what she’s passionate about: music.

    • Danny says:

      @Mafs- yea, exactly. And a person doesn’t have to be a huge star to do well. I saw a list awhile back of all the former Idols who were making over $1 million/year. The list had a lot more people on it than I would have thought.

    • MB says:

      Didn’t she look beautiful too.

      • Mafs95 says:

        She looked gorgeous in this interview! I love her smile and she has such a nice posture while being interviewed. I felt that at a certain point she was about to cry, though. I don’t know if I’m the only one who felt it or noticed it but when she talked about nobody putting her in their Top 3, she was a bit sad. She must have felt defeated at certain points of the competition, specially when most people were saying she was clearly below the other girls in terms of talent…

  3. rwfblog says:

    Smart. Genuine. Funny. Talented.
    I think she’s destined to be a chart topper again and again.

  4. jalahyacinth says:

    Love it. Definitely one of my favorites of those you’ve interviewed this season. I look forward to following her career and maybe getting a CD down the road :)

    • Joey Simison says:

      she is the best interview by far. I like her on idol but, I’m not really into country, I found all of her songs entertaining. I hope she is picked up by a country label, she deserves a chance. She sounds smart and engaged and aware of who she is as an artist. I like her.

  5. Maury says:

    I have such a new appreciation for Janelle after watching this. Also OMG her song on YouTube is phenomenal, I am SO sad she didn’t last the extra week because it would have brought the house down

  6. Jill says:

    OMGaaaaa I have never seen that Kez Ban footage before and I just nearly peed myself laughing!!!

  7. Thanks for finally posting this!. I totally forgot that Janelle and angie were in a group with Kezbon. I think ooking forward to seeing her again on the fianle next week.

  8. Jill says:

    ….Also…That original “Young & Reckless” is killer. Can’t for her to record it!

  9. Amy says:

    Oh Jan-ayelle. She is just delightfully, adorable. And just like country peeps like their stars…down-to-earth, as they come. Besides that going for her, sure does seem to know a lot about making music…from “what she hear’s in her head” and otherwise…a natural. I like her a lot, and I like country music, so I’ll be lookin’ out for her and what she does next. I wish her the best. Thanks for the interview, MS…worth the wait!

  10. Amy says:

    oops, obviously.. “hears in her head”…no apostrophe.

  11. Amy says:

    One side note…when she quoted Angie saying “I just CAN’T go home!, (during group rounds in response to Janelle saying “we’re going home”), I got that “Angie’s gonna win” vibe again. That girl is as hungry for it, focused and ambitious as it gets. (That said, just personally because they are my top 2, I’m still hoping for a Kree/Candice surprise face-off, with Candice winning her rightful title. But, I will understand an Angie win…and not just because of the ambition and talent, but for “pop-star” qualities she has that appeal to much of AI’s voting audience.)

  12. Danny says:

    She was my favorite this year. I had her and Candice as my 2 picks at the beginning, in part because I already knew who they were. I’m not a huge country fan, but I really like Janelle. She may not be the absolute best singer, though she is real good, but her personality shines big time.

  13. LeahKittyS says:

    Man, why didn’t they save Janelle?! I so could have used another week of her on camera, instead of that stupid fake-out week! Her voice gives me good vibes, and according to the other girls she is as sweet as she comes off here (she’s their “bunny”). If Nashville is smart somebody will pick her up before the end of this year.

  14. Stacy says:

    the fact that they didn’t use the save on her is a travesty considering that her original is amazing

  15. Mari says:

    I wish she was on the top 3 instead of Kree.

  16. MB says:

    Finally. I’ve been looking forward to Janelle’s interview. I miss her personality on the show. Other than Angie she was the only one tht showed one spark. I hope she does well in country music.

    • HTGR says:

      I loved her Beatles song and of course Keep Me Hanging On (where I think she actually did better than anyone that week). I’m not all that into country so some of the other stuff wasn’t quite my thing but yeah she was one of the few who did show some life and fire.

  17. Tahoe Mike says:

    I’ve been waiting for this! Janelle should be in the top three, in Kree’s place. This was a great interview, and I am charmed anew. Candice and Janelle are the only two from this season that I’d make the effort to go see live.

  18. AlyB says:

    She’s such a sweetie and certainly no dumb blonde. I hope she finds success in country music.

    • HTGR says:

      It is interesting how so many of them come across so much different than the show presents them as.
      Once again why I say all any judging anything about their personalities and so on is just ridiculous and yet so many hate on them for supposedly being dumb or a mean girl or fake or this or that.

  19. Spycigal says:

    I’ve been waiting for this interview! Janelle is such a sweetheart and I like her even more after this interview! I’m still mad they didn’t use the save on Janelle – she deserved to be at least Top 4 or 3! She has such artistry, which was overlooked by the judges but hopefully we’ll get to see more of because I’m sure she’ll get signed!

  20. SG says:

    I am not country, like at all, but I love this girl and I think she has ton of talent and a really beautiful voice and originality enough to make me listen to anything she sings and enjoy it. Good luck to her. Wish her lots of success.

  21. dj says:

    Great interview. ‘Love Janelle, love her attitude, loved her version of Keep Me Hangin’ On. I’ll definitely be watching for her music.

  22. Singing_gal says:

    Definitely NOT a “dumb blonde”. Love her!

  23. Bill says:

    Janelle Was The Reason I Watched American Idol :) Her Light And Love Were A Glowing Candle That Shined Each Week. Her Creative Talent Made Every Song She Sang A Joy To Listen To. That Is Why I Voted For Her Each Week Because I Wanted To Hear More And See Her Smiling Face. God Has Blessed Her With The Charm And Grace To Be A Beloved Superstar For Years To Come. From GODSGOODNEWS4U. Billy. 5-9-2013

  24. Ana says:

    Thank you yet again for showing us another extremely likeable contestant that Idol turned into a stereotype to fit a category. Janelle was this season’s “country bumpkin,” following in the footsteps of Kellie Pickler and Lauren Alaina, but there’s so much more to her that we didn’t get to see.

    • HTGR says:

      Yeah seemed like they used Janelle as the country bumpkin blonde (when she sure as heck showed anything but in this interview).
      Angie the fake princess and them some decided to read into that for some reason who was mean to you in school (when people say she was somewhat of the outside crowd if anything and super kind and helpful).
      Burnell seemed world’s different in his interview here than on the show, so much more to him.
      S10 yeah:
      Lauren was the meek little safe silly thing (when outside of the show she had a wicked sense of humor and she was pretty fierce (in a good way) but I guess they feared it would drive off the voting block).
      Haley well no need to go into that again the difference between how the show tarished her to a large chunk of the viewership and what everyone in her home town said.
      The way they (from what I read) made Scotty seem shocked and horrified by Gaga when he actually wasn’t at all (so he wouldn’t risk scaring off his future fan base supposedly)
      But hey that’s reality TV. I’ve heard directly from people on other stuff and yeah so much is scripted up and edited weirdly and faked up on those shows they make almost anyone seem like almost anything if they want.

  25. Voice says:

    If Kristy Lee Cook and Kelly Pickler could got record deals, she better get one too.

  26. Carmen says:

    Nice Interview. Janelle will find success in the field for the same reason that Kellie Pickler found success: Good enough talent + a great personality.

  27. Emma says:

    Janelle was the reason I watches idol and she inspires me to never give up no matter what happens. She’s forever and always my Janelley bean!

  28. Steve says:


  29. Evan says:

    Lovely interview. She really seems to know what she’s doing musically. I hope someone comes knocking on her door, as I would love to hear what kind of album she’d put out.

  30. JoMarch says:

    What a sweetie, and talented too. Would have like to see her go farther than Amber, but it wasn’t to be. I’m guessing she’ll have a successful career.

  31. Mash Mouth says:

    What a wonderful role model for all young women to emulate. She’s strong, honest, and humble. In the end, it does not matter what the Idol judges think, nor the public. She believes in herself and that translates into her music, which will connect with listeners.

  32. nhf7170 says:

    I love this girl. I always got a rootsy alt-country vibe from her. She reminds me more of Dolly, Loretta, Patsy et al than of Martina and Miranda, etc., and that’s a good thing.

  33. Meghan says:

    This was a great interview! I checked out her original song on Youtube and it is amazing! Doubt that TPTB would have let her perform it live on Idol however.

  34. American Idol Sucks says:

    Janelle is great!