Murrieta’s West comes up just short on ‘American Idol’

Jonny West performs ‘Makin’ Love’ in the finale of Season 18 of ‘American Idol.’ West advanced to the top 5 of the competition before being eliminated in the competition for the top 2. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

Murrieta Valley High School alumn Jonny West, 23, was eliminated after advancing to the Top 5 on Season 18 of “American Idol” on ABC on Sunday, May 17. 

West was eliminated from the top 2 along with Francisco Martin and Dillon James, leaving Just Sam and Arthur Gunn to battle for the title, which Sam ultimately won. 

The road to the finale was long and winding for West, who was quarantined at home in Studio City with his girlfriend and former fellow contestant, Margie Mays.

The last three episodes of the competition featured performances broadcast from each contestant’s home due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Sunday, singing from his apartment, West performed his original song, “Makin’ Love” in his final performance at the American Idol 2020 Finale. 

“You know what’s cool about you is your already thinking about the future right now,” Perry said. “This is going to be released if you win ‘American Idol’ and it’s your original song, you’re the artist. And I am thinking to myself, man, if he wins ‘American Idol,’ I want like Mark Ronson to produce this song, it’s got soul, I want it to be so big.

“No matter what happens, you are on your way and I am a fan.”

Judge Luke Bryan agreed. 

“Yeah, buddy, that was radio-ready,” he said. “That was get the artwork done and get it to the people. Really, really looking down the road five years from now going, man, I remember when that guy walked into ‘American Idol’ and look at him now, so, congrats buddy.”

“You are a singer, songwriter, producer extraordinaire” judge Lionel Richie said. “I’m talking to you as a songwriter now, my friend. You have a talent that very few people possess. I’m afraid of you if you gain any more confidence, you might come after all of us. You are really quite gifted my friend. 

“Take this moment in time, enjoy the ride, we’re so happy for you, Jonny.”

West, in his usual low key demeanor, thanked all the judges. 

“That means a lot, appreciate that,” he said. “This whole thing has been more than I ever could have dreamed of and I hope to just make you guys proud and make you guys want to play a song of mine in your car or at a birthday party, so yeah.”

At one point in the competition, West was joined by two other local performers, 17-year-old Temecula singer Makayla Phillips and 16-year-old Olivia Ximines of Menifee. Phillips was eliminated in the Top 11 show and Ximines didn’t make it through in the Top 20 episode. 

West auditioned in Los Angeles, and he performed on piano one of his original songs, which garnered him a unanimous “yes” from the judges. 

In the Hollywood Week rounds, he first sang “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi, making it through to the next round. He later performed a duet with his girlfriend and fellow contestant, Margie, singing “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor and John Legend. According to the judges, the performance was lacking, but both made it through the next round. He sang another original song for his final solo performance and advanced. 

Jonny sang “You Found Me” by The Fray in the Hawaii round and advanced into the top 20, though his girlfriend, Margie, did not advance. 

The show then moved to performances from home where West performed an original rendition of “Faithfully” by Journey in the competition of the Top 20. 

After making it through to the next round, West performed his original version of “Amazing Grace” flanked by his mother on Mother’s Day. 

That performance sent him through to the show’s finale. 

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at