Somehow, some way, American Idol is going to have to figure out what to do about the fact that there are four weeks left in Season 12, but only enough singers left to fill out three of them.
Janelle Arthur received the fewest amount of votes this week, which is believed to be the last week that the Judges’ Save was an option. According to Randy Jackson, there were two votes in favor of using the Save on Janelle and two against, which means that she was out of luck. The country girl from Oliver Springs, Tenn. is the first female finalist to leave Season 12, and finishes in fifth place.
The other woman who appeals to a country demographic, Kree Harrison, joined Janelle in the bottom two. This might mean that Kree stands to benefit with her closest competition now gone, or, since she was in the top two last week, it may just mean that the voting has been close every week. Candice Glover and Angie Miller are now the only two finalists who have never been in the bottom two, so they have to be regarded as the favorites to get to the finale.
Janelle chose to revisit her Detroit Week performance of “You Keep Me Hanging On” as she sang for the Save, but she didn’t have the advantage of the lighting, staging, and acoustic guitar she had the first time she did the song. Her performance was good, but in the minds of the judges, not quite enough to rate a second chance – especially since all their commentary these last two weeks made it clear that the panel saw her as being not quite as good as the other four.
Janelle first auditioned and got to Hollywood two seasons ago, and was cut in the Las Vegas round last season. The new panel, now including an actual country artist in Keith Urban, took to her right away, and by the time of Hollywood, she was usually considered to be among the co-favorites to win the Season 12 title – the country favorite to go along with Candice (r&b) and Angie (Christian pop). But a few lackluster efforts derailed her momentum, and she never totally got it back, even though she attracted new attention with interesting song choices such as “You Keep Me Hanging On” and “I Will” by the Beatles.
It was fitting that Janelle was paired up with Kree in the bottom two, because more than anything, it was the rise of a country rival who the judges liked more that spelled the beginning of the end for Janelle. But she had several weeks to show what she could do, she got kudos from Dolly Parton herself, she has an infectious personality and performing style, and she is actually closer to being a stereotypical country “babe” than Kree is. So as Nicki Minaj told her on Wednesday, she has nothing to worry about as far as a future recording career is concerned.
Other news and notes from the results show:
The highlight of the evening was the return of Paula Abdul, a judge for the first eight seasons of Idol. She was brought out to surprise Candice, who had sung her “Straight Up” on Wednesday. Even those who don’t really miss her loopiness and inarticulate ways on Idol might have still gotten a tiny thrill when she was invited to take a seat at the judges’ table, for old time’s sake. Bonus: when Nicki stood up to make room for Paula, she gave America a peek at her thong:
The “Ford Fiesta Missions” are getting more and more pointless by the week. The assignment this time: a scavenger hunt that had a meet-up with Glee star Matthew Morrison as its ultimate goal. I haven’t seen young women less excited to bump into a guy unexpectedly since my last blind date.
We sort of knew what Jimmy Iovine would say this week because he said quite a bit of it on Wednesday night, but it was nice to hear him come close to admitting that he had been wrong about Candice’s strategy, since she followed “Straight Up” with the diva song he had demanded. He also suggested Kree’s song choices might put her in trouble, though it’s never clear to me how much he knows about the vote when he tapes these segments.
With its present being sort of crappy, Idol has been doing a lot of looking back on the results shows this season. We got a performance from Clay Aiken, who updated viewers on his various charitable endeavors, as well as showing us that he’s now rocking your eccentric aunt’s eyebrows:
It’s always amusing to be reminded of how non-showbiz Clay looked when he first auditioned, over ten years ago. His reprise of one of his Idol standards, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” no doubt thrilled cat ladies all over America.
With Season 12 making news for its girl power, it was deemed time to reminisce about the “three divas” of Season 3. Latoya London, a terrific singer who unfortunately couldn’t find a commercial niche after landing in fourth place that season, talked a little about what she’s been up to; and then it was time for a performance from Season 3’s winner, the force of nature known as Fantasia. Her new single “Lose to Win” is still identifiably in her style, but all in all this was probably the least insane we’ve ever seen her on the Idol stage. I don’t know how I feel about this! But seriously, for all the mistakes she’s made, Fantasia is still my favorite Idol contestant ever, and I cut her miles of slack.
This week’s medley was performed to the hits of Donna Summer, and even though things looked and sounded less amateurish this week with Lazaro outta there, we still had to suffer through Janelle and Kree trying to sing a verse on “Heaven Knows.” Both redeemed themselves a bit with “She Works Hard for the Money,” so maybe Kree can survive a disco theme after all.
Jordin Sparks and boyfriend Jason De Rulo (yes, the virginal Season 6 champ and the kid who once had a hit single where he daydreamed about overpowering a girl who was “screaming no”) were in the audience, as were the members of Fall Out Boy. I wasn’t looking forward to a new CD from them, but on the bright side, keeping them busy in the studio will mean Pete Wentz won’t have the spare time to become an Idol judge. I’ve been terrified that might happen for years.
The big question for next week regards what I alluded to up top: will they extend the possibility of the Save one more week? It seems whoever would be voted out next week – and Amber is going to be the most endangered, since she won’t get to close the show again – would qualify, since the judges have at one time or another endorsed all four of them as possible winners. They’re going to have to leave it a mystery, because drumming up interest in a two-hour show whose result won’t count will be impossible.
Will you miss Janelle? And were you scandalized by Nicki’s visible thongage?
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