Despite mixed reviews, Collier singer advances to Top 20 on 'American Idol'

Lazaro Arbos.

Lazaro Arbos.

Video from YouTube

Collier County resident Lazaro Arbos will continue singing his way to a possible “American Idol” crown.

The Gulf Coast High School grad was one of five singers selected by the show’s judges Thursday night to advance to the Top 20 in the competition. The judges eliminated half of the show’s semi-finalists over the last four episodes, known as the Las Vegas sudden-death rounds.

Arbos, 21, was in the final group of 10 men who took the stage Thursday night.

Judges took a majority rules vote after the solo performances and called each contestant one by one to tell them yes or no on the spot. Mariah Carey, who joined the show as a judge this season, passed on the good news to Arbos.

“It’s been tough but it’s been very good,” Carey said.

Just as she started to tell him he would be moving forward, fans drowned her out with cheers.

Earlier in the night, Arbos got mixed reviews from the judges for his performance of “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” a song co-written and made popular by “Idol” judge Keith Urban.

The audience gave him a long applause after his performance, interrupting Urban as he tried to offer critiques.

Urban thanked Arbos for doing the song but said it was not the best choice.

“Despite that, you’ve got that spirit that burns through ... and I felt it tonight,” Urban said.

Nicki Minaj, who had been one of the more critical judges of the night, complimented Arbos for remaining true to himself during the whole competition.

“You always give us Lazaro,” Minaj said.

Prompted by a question from host Ryan Seacrest, Arbos seemed to agree with Urban about the song choice.

“It wasn’t my best song, though, but I did the best I could,” said Arbos, who sported a bowtie, as he did during his Chicago audition.

Still, Carey — who Arbos has said is one of his music inspirations — said Arbos has a “purity” and a “simplicity” that comes from his struggle.

Arbos has gained national attention because of his talent and compelling personal story. Arbos, who was born in Cuba and moved to Southwest Florida when he was 10, stutters when he speaks but not when he sings.

After getting the nod from the judges, Arbos hugged each one and took his seat on one of the five stools reserved for those selected to move on in the competition.

“This is not easy, and I’m proud of you for getting through it,” Carey said.

Arbos and the four other contestants that the judges selected Thursday night complete the show’s Top 20.

Next week, “American Idol” will be back in California. Going forward, fans will decide which singers will advance.

The season’s first live show is Tuesday, March 5 at 8 p.m. on FOX. The two-night “American Idol” season finale will air Wednesday, May 15 and Thursday, May 16, also on FOX.

Video from YouTube

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