Lazaro Arbos may have a difficult time communicating well because of his severe stutter, but his beautiful voice speaks for itself, helping him survive during eliminations during Hollywood Week at “American Idol.”
This year, Hollywood Week began a bit differently than seasons past, with males and females competing separately. The guys – who will be whittled down to 20 contestants – took to the stage Wednesday first in solo acapella elimination rounds. Then, in an “American Idol” first, the males were assigned to groups for a second round of eliminations (contestants are usually allowed to select their team mates).
Arbos, 21, did have a tough time explaining his decision to sing Robbie Williams’ “Angels” during the solo round but once he began, judge Nicki Minaj made it clear that he was headed straight through to the group round.
And that’s when the real trouble began. Arbos was assigned to sing with Josh Stephens, 19, Scott Fleenor, 21 and Christian Lopez, 17, and the group hit some roadblocks when it came to choosing a song.
“We were having trouble at first deciding what would be a good one for Lazaro to learn super fast since he kind of has a problem with our type of music because he didn’t grow up in America,” said Fleenor.
It’s a stinging comment for Arbos, who emigrated from Cuba at 10 years old. He admitted that he had never heard of the Beach Boys and patiently endured cruel comments from band mate Stephens.
“He’s kind of holding us back,” said Stephens.
“Sometimes I feel I can’t communicate well, sometimes people take that as not being smart,” said the Naples, Florida resident when asked about his difficulties practicing with the group.
But once Super 55 took to the stage, it was clear that Arbos was the competition to beat. The moment he began his solo, judges Urban and Randy Jackson beamed ear to ear – a reaction decidedly much different from the lukewarm reception team mates Stephens and Fleenor received during the group performance of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”
Arbos and Lopez were selected to move on, while the remaining group mates were sent home. An effusive Arbos thanked the judges, crying as Lopez gave his teammate a hug.
In this case, it looks like he who laughs last, laughs longest — an attitude that may very well take Arbos far in “American Idol.”
And don’t underestimate the Latino presence by the guys at Hollywood Week: Matheus Fernandes also made it through the night’s solo and group rounds, proving that Hispanic talent is making the 12th season of the FOX hit show its best ever.