Full-Circle Collaboration: Iam Tongi Joins James Blunt for New Version Of Duet After ‘American Idol’ Win

The singer shared that this song “means so much to me.”


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

August 22, 2023


9:40 am

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James Blunt, Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy Twitter

American Idol champ Iam Tongi has teamed up with English singer/ songwriter, James Blunt to record a duet version of Blunt’s “Monsters.”

Although Tongi is still in the early stages of his career, “Monsters” is a song that has been with him through his journey as an artist because of the heart-wrenching storyline that relates closely to his own life. During his American Idol audition, viewers learned that Tongi’s father, who taught him everything he knows about music, had passed away a few months prior to kidney failure. After losing his father, Tongi felt connected to the heart-wrenching lyrics that were penned by Blunt in the wake of his own father’s kidney disease diagnosis.  

Iam Tongi started out by covering “Monsters” on TikTok, then delivered a powerful rendition of the tune that earned him a golden ticket to the singing competition show. During the Idol finale, Tongi once again captured the hearts of America and judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan when he performed “Monsters” alongside Blunt himself. 

New Studio Version Of Duet

IAM TONGI, JAMES BLUNT; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
IAM TONGI, JAMES BLUNT; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

Now, the pair of artists took their duet from the stage to the studio and recorded a new version of the touching song which is set to drop on August 25. 

Sharing the news via social media, the Hawaii native wrote, “From covering it on tiktok 3 years ago, to singing it in my audition on  @americanidol , to performing it at the Idol finale with  @jamesblunt , “Monsters” means so much to me. I’m so excited to announce that James & I will be releasing an official duet of “Monsters” on 08.25 🤙🏾”

Full-Circle Moment

This will follow a slew of releases from Tongi including “Trust Me,” “The Winner Takes It All,” “Gone,” “Efiafi,” and his debut single, “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Solely penned by Season 18 Idol alum Francisco Martin, “I’ll Be Seeing You” serves as a tribute to a loved one who passed away. Once again, Tongi finds himself relating to this powerful ballad through his own experiences with loss.

“Where do I go from here / Know I’m lonely, but have no fear / ‘Cause I’ll be seeing you / Seeing you / Wherever I go / And I’ll be / Be with you / Be with you / Wherever I’ll go,” he delivers on the chorus. 

“I’ll Be Seeing You”

YouTube video

Iam Tongi is currently in the midst of his first-ever tour, but he took the time out of his busy schedule to appear on Good Morning America in lieu of the devastating wildfires that recently took on the island of Maui. 

As the first Hawaiian and Pacific Islander to win Idol, Tongi has been using his platform to urge his fans to help those who have been impacted. He continued the call for help during his TV appearance on the morning of Thursday, August 17, before delivering a cover of “Starting All Over Again” by the cousin duo Mel & Tim.

“The way I’m motiving my supporters is asking them to do some research on the right organizations to donate to and also to say prayers for Maui,” Tongi shared ahead of his performance. 

As he strummed his guitar and sang the delicate lyrics, images of viewers from across the country appeared on the screen, as they held up signs encouraging Maui to “stay strong.”

GMA Performance

YouTube video

Earlier this week, Tongi took to social media to express his sorrowful emotions surrounding this difficult time for Maui. The singer was born and raised in Kahuku, located near Honolulu, but he and his family have been living in Washington State since 2020. Even though he is no longer a Hawaii resident, the singer-songwriter still holds great pride in his island roots. 

“I just wanted to come on here because these past three days I’ve been wondering what I should do and what I can do to help with Maui, and I just wanted to encourage everyone to just go out there and whatever you can do to help Maui, just go and help out the best you think you can,” Tongi stated in the clip. 

He went on to say that hearing the news of all the destruction and lives lost in Maui “hits harder” than he can express.  

Calls For Assistance In Maui

Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

“I have thought and rethought about ways I could help the people of Maui because I feel incapable seeing people donating so much money that I don’t have and talking with family members and watching videos of people helping each other has made me realize that there’s so much more ways to help,” he began.

The budding artist decided that one way he could lend a helping hand is by using his musical gift to hopefully provide some brightness in this dark time. So he sang 1972’s “Starting All Over Again” and dedicated the acoustic performance to “everyone who lost their homes and family members” as a way to show his “aloha” and his deepest condolences to Maui.

“I love you Maui and you’re always in my prayers,” he wrote in conclusion.

“Starting all over again is gonna be rough, so rough / But we’re gonna make it (oh yeah) / Starting all over as friends is gonna be tough, on us / But we gotta face it / We lost what we had, that’s what hurt us so bad (oh yeah) / It set us back a thousand years / But we’re gonna make it up, though I know it’s gonna be rough / To erase all the hurt and tears / Starting all over again is gonna be hard / But I pray that the love will help us make it (yeah) / Starting all over again is gonna be slow / But we, we both know that we can make it,” Tongi sings. 

In the days since the fast-moving fire destroyed the historic coastal town of Lahaina, CNN revealed that the death toll in Hawaii continues to rise. As of Thursday, August 17, at least 111 deaths have been confirmed, however, officials are expecting this number to increase even more with the ongoing recovery search through hundreds of homes and burned-out vehicles.

CBS has reported this to be the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaii since it became a state in 1959. 

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Iam Tongi rose to fame on American Idol season 21 where he was crowned winner of the competition. Throughout his time on the show, Tongi stunned viewers and the judges alike with his emotional performances and incredible vocal talents. 

The 18-year-old kicked off his current headlining run on June 23 with an appearance at the first-ever BEACH IT! Festival in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Since then, he’s traveled to shows in Hawaii and Washington with more dates to come in California and New Zealand.

His next set of shows will take place in Sacramento, CA on September 9 and Auckland, NZ on October 7.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.