Janelle Arthur performs on 'American Idol.' (Michael Becker/FOX )
Regardless of which singer went home Thursday on "American Idol," we knew we'd be sad to see her go. And while Janelle Arthur was as ripe for departure as any of the women in this season's Top 5, and perhaps a bit more than some, I'll surely miss her upbeat attitude, her glow, her unfailing smile, her twang and her boots.
Arthur, who has been uneven of late, had stumbled on her song choices this week, especially in the diva round, when other contenders really hit their strides. As Jimmy Iovine pointed out in his assessment Thursday night, Dolly Parton was the right diva for the diminutive country singer to tackle, but she'd picked the wrong Parton song. "Dumb Blonde," Iovine said, just didn't have enough meat for Arthur to sink her teeth into.
Whatever, Dolly loved Arthur's performance. She wrote in to say so.
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Also, Paula Abdul reappeared to congratulate Candice Glover on her version of "Straight Up" and took her place -- albeit briefly -- at the judging table. And past "Idol" contestant Clay Aiken and winner Fantasia performed, the latter quite movingly, with a mesmerizingly trembling lip and her "Idol" pal LaToya London in the audience rooting her on.
But back to the eliminations. Once we got to them on Thursday night, they came fast and furious. Glover was safe. Angie Miller was safe. Amber Holcomb was safe. Together they were this week's top three.
That meant Arthur and Kree Harrison – who in my view ought to be duking it out with Glover for No. 1 – were this week's bottom two. Iovine had predicted that Harrison could be in some trouble. "There are five great girls left on this show," Iovine said, and they would "live or die on their song choices." Harrison, he said, "didn't make the right choices" on Wednesday.
It came as a relief that Harrison was not the singer vying for the judges' save, though one imagines they'd have been more likely to use it for her. As it turned out, after Arthur sang "You Keep Me Hanging On" for the save, the judges, who appeared, for the first time this season, to be seriously discussing using it, did not have good news for her.
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The vote was "two for and two not for," Randy Jackson said. "Not unanimous … we're not gonna use it."
"We love you," he added, apologetically.
As Arthur's "Idol" highlight reel rolled, she stood, surrounded by supportive friends, the newly minted Top 4. Tears slid down her cheeks, but even so, Arthur was still smiling.
Do you think the judges should have used their save for her?
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