Luke Bryan And Jelly Roll Brought To Tears During Iam Tongi and James Blunt’s Emotional ‘Idol’ Duet

It was incredibly moving performance.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

May 21, 2023


11:17 pm

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Luke Bryan, Jelly Roll, Iam Tongi; Photos Courtesy ABC, American Idol

Iam Tongi and James Blunt brought Luke Bryan, Jelly Roll, Katy Perry and many viewers to tears with their emotional performance of “Monsters” during the American Idol finale.

On Sunday (May 21), the 18-year-old American Idol winner and chart-topping hitmaker joined forces to perform the heart-wrenching track that Blunt wrote as a tribute to his father, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Disease.

Tongi resonated with the song as he too lost his father to a kidney illness. 

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

The pair traded verses throughout their time on stage together. As lights shined down on them from above they effortelssly belted out the lyrics. 

In the middle of the performance, Iam Tongi was overcome with emotions. Tears began to stream down his face. At one point, he had to wipe the tears from his eyes and attempt to compose himself. 

As they performed, Jelly Roll could be seen comforting Iam Tongi’s mother from the crowd. Katy Perry was shown wiping tears from her eyes with a tissue, and Luke Bryan could be seen watching on with tears filling his eyes. 

Their performance was without a doubt a highlight of the American Idol finale.   

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Tongi also auditioned with “Monsters,” which served as a tribute to his late father, Rodney. 

“My dad passed away a couple months ago,” Tongi emotionally shared with the Idol judges at the time of his Idol audition. As his emotions continued to overcome him, the contestant shared that his Idol audition is in honor of his late father.

Strumming an acoustic guitar, Tongi belted out the lyrics to the Blunt tune and all three of the Idol judges became visibly moved by his heartfelt performance. Bryan was even seen wiping away tears from his eyes with a tissue during Tongi’s audition. 

Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC, American Idol
Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC, American Idol

“I’m not your son, you’re not my father / We’re just two grown men saying goodbye / No need to forgive, no need to forget / I know your mistakes and you know mine / And while you’re sleeping I’ll try to make you proud / So, daddy, won’t you just close your eyes? / Don’t be afraid, it’s my turn / To chase the monsters away,” Tongi sang on the tune’s chorus.

At the conclusion of his tearful audition, all three of the Idol judges gave Tongi a standing ovation. 

Lionel Richie then assured him “it’s alright man, it’s alright” before saying, “I was not worried about whether you were going to make it through the song, I was worried about whether we were going to make it through the song. Your daddy’s very proud.”

Katy Perry praised Tongi’s song choice and his performance of the tune. 

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“I mean, what a fantastic song to pick [and] I feel like you could’ve written this song, Perry said. “I mean, you sang it, you delivered it, and you’re making these grown men cry. You hit a nerve and that’s what great storytellers do. That’s what great artists do and your voice is just so magnificent.”

The “Country On” singer connected to his performance as he took in his nephew, Til Cheshire, who also lost a father.

“I cannot handle your heartbreaking about your Dad because my nephew lost his dad and he came to live with me and to see you missing your dad just sucks,” Bryan said as tears streamed down his cheek. ”And gosh man, you got a great voice, you got a great voice. You just did everything perfect and I love ya, and I just want to see you have fun in this whole thing man. It’s just awesome. Awesome that you just did to me and your 18 years old.”

Richie then added, “Let me just tell you something. The story is one thing, your delivery of your story was phenomenal. Young man, you take this into the world and you’re going to fracture some souls. Your dad is very proud.”

“This one’s for Rodney,” Perry exclaimed, honoring Tongi’s late father. 

Iam Tongi - I'll Be Seeing You
Iam Tongi – I’ll Be Seeing You

Additionally, Iam Tongi recently released 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. For Tongi, that person is his father, who died just months before his Idol audition.

The lyrics find Tongi confessing that he’ll never forget “all your wits” and “all of the laughs.” While he admits he’s “lonely,” he has “no fear” because he finds comfort in the fact that he’ll see him again one day.

“’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,” Tongi sings on the chorus.

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The song is a beacon of hope for anyone who’s lost a loved one.

“Gone, but your love / Is all I have left / I’ll stand tall / You’ll stay in my arms / Won’t stay in the dark / ‘Cause you’ll look for me,” Tongi sang on the third verse.

The tune, which was released on Friday (May 19), was produced by Oak for the Orphanage, Feenom & Roland Kiss.

Re-live his American Idol journey HERE.

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.