During this week’s Motown Throwdown on American Idol, it was Janelle Arthur who stood out from the rest of the Top 8 Idols. One would be quick to assume that a country singer would be at a disadvantage against the more R&B, soul, and pop-leaning contestants, but she pulled a fast one by drawing the artistry card. In a performance that was reminiscent of Brooke White’s moody and introspective take on “Love Is a Battlefield” in Season 7, Janelle brought out her guitar and delivered a cool and intense rendition of The Supremes’ upbeat uptempo, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On“. The angst-ridden, stripped down arrangement was a Janelle original (she crafted it when she was only 14!) and filled a void of freshness and originality that’s been lacking from the competition. This shining moment has me longing to keep hangin’ on to Janelle’s every word – I just can’t help but love girls with guitars! It was definitely my favourite performance of the week, and one of my Top 5 performances of the season. Though Janelle has been flying under the radar, she is truly fighting for her place with fearlessness and creativity and has been presenting a strong case for herself as a serious contender. Watch out, American Idol – the dark horse has emerged!
For my full set of thoughts on the Top 8 Performance Show, read my Tumblr blog!