Menifee teen makes comeback on American Idol

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Menifee’s Olivia Ximines.

When Menifee’s Olivia Ximines competed on last season’s American Idol television show, she made the top 20 but was not able to advance into the top 10. For Season 19, the producers are giving some of the contestants a second chance by having a first-ever comeback show. Airing on April 19, Ximines, now 17, was vying to be the singer that rounds out the Top 10 when the winner is revealed on May 2.

Menifee’s Olivia Ximines

American Idol executive producer and showrunner Trish Kinane explained the decision to offer a comeback opportunity in an interview with Newsweek magazine.

“They did so well with the remote production… with their mums and dads helping them and their brothers and sisters holding iPhones and ring lights, but they never had the proper Idol experience,” she said. “Some people really come alive on that big stage. We thought they deserved to have that experience.”

Host Ryan Seacrest said that when the pandemic shut down the studio at this time last year, the producers quickly pivoted to “Idol at Home” but those finalists never got the true experience of the big stage, lights, cameras, hair, makeup, wardrobe and a live band backing them up.  

Judge Luke Bryan said the singers didn’t get their big moment in front of a live studio audience and judge Katy Perry said that felt kind of unfair, so the comeback show was created to give 10 contestants an opportunity to perform on the Idol stage. Judge Lionel Ritchie said, “We’re giving them the stage but it’s up to America to decide who stays and who goes.”

Singing “Say Yes” by Michelle Williams featuring Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland, Ximines had the judges on their feet with a dance break she added to her performance. The show’s mentor, Bobby Bones, pointed out that Ximines is multi-talented from choosing her own dress and doing her own choreography to being her school’s valedictorian.

Ximines is president of her high school’s Orange Vista Dance Team and said it was very important for her to showcase her two passions on the big stage.

Judges’ comments after her performance were very positive with Ritchie saying, “What I love about you is that you have the ability to smile at an audience and make the audience smile back; your performance was amazing.”

Perry’s comments referred to Ximines’ 2020 performance filmed at her Menifee home, “You weren’t meant to stay in the living room; you need to be on this stage. You gave us real show business, so I thought it was a whole complete package. I think you were just meant for the stage, so I hope that’s what America thinks as well.”

Bryan said, “You really make us feel comfortable in your world. You’ve got show business and entertainment dialed in and that’s a big thing.”

Ximines said she wanted to return to American Idol to have the chance to show America her full potential.

“I felt out of place singing at home; I’m more of a stage person,” she said. “I do think it’s going to be hard to get that spot in the top 10 but I’m glad I got this opportunity.”

You can vote for Ximines online at www.americanidol.com, with text messages (C9 to 21523) or through the American Idol app. Only 30 votes can be cast per contestant – ten votes per voting method – and voters must be at least 13 years old. Voting closes at 9 a.m. April 26.