Re-Live Iam Tongi’s Unforgettable ‘American Idol’ Journey
Re-live Iam Tongi’s incredible run on ‘American Idol.’
From the moment American Idol viewers first met Season 21 contestant Iam Tongi, it was clear that he possessed something special.
His memorable audition, which served as a tribute to his late father, captivated viewers and even brought Idol Judge Luke Bryan to tears. Appearing in front of the judges with his guitar in hand, Tongi explained that his father taught him everything he knows about music.
“He’s the reason for all this?” Lionel Richie questioned at the time.
Tongi confirmed, “My dad passed away a couple of months ago.
He auditioned with James Blunt’s 2019 hit “Monsters,” and all three of the Idol judges became visibly moved by his heartfelt performance.
Following his tearful audition, Lionel Richie shared, “Young man, you take this into the world and you’re going to fracture some souls. Your dad is very proud.”
During the Hollywood Round, Tongi once again impressed with a performance of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. He also had to opportunity to share the stage with contestant Oliver Steele for a performance of “Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd. His solo performance of “The Sound Of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel officially earned him a spot in the Top 26.
The high school student had the opportunity to return to his native Hawaii for the Top 26 performance when he sang “Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie. Once again, Tongi prevailed and advanced to the next round of the competition.
As the season progressed, Tongi took the stage to deliver stand-out covers of “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA, “Stuck On You” by Lionel Richie, and “Bring It One Home To Me by Sam Cooke.”
Week after week, Tongi proved himself to be a front-runner. For his Top 10 performance, he sang “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. After this performance, Tongi was deemed a “phenomenon” and Katy Perry predicted that he could win the competition.
“When you win ‘American Idol’ will you please just sing ‘More Than Words’ for me,” she begged.
After advancing to the Top 8, Tongi had the chance to work with guest judge Alanis Morissette. He performed her song “Guardian” in honor of his mother.
Guest judge Ed Sheeran told him, “I just felt like you really connected with the song and that makes us as listeners connect with it. It was just really, really beautiful.”
During this round, he also joined forces with Oliver Steele to sing Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph.”
As the competition narrowed down, Tongi enjoyed his first visit to Disneyland and later performed “Lava” from the Disney musical short film of the same name.
“Listen Iam, a superhero mom once said ‘your identity is your most valuable possession’ and this is so true for you. You know exactly who you are and honey that is a superstar,” Katy Perry applauded.
He also performed “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Although it was Mother’s Day, Tongi paid tribute to his late father with his second performance.
Following another memorable performance from the Hawaii native, Perry told him, Iam stands for “I AM the next American Idol.”
Iam Tongi will face off against Megan Danielle and Colin Stough for the title of American Idol champion during the three-hour season finale of American Idol on Sunday, May 21 at 8 pm ET.
Live from Hollywood, the finale will feature performances by the judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, as well as guest performers Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard, Ellie Goulding, James Blunt, Jazmine Sullivan, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban (who is also mentoring Top 3), Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon, Kylie Minogue, Lainey Wilson, Lauren Daigle, Pitbull, and TLC.
Re-live Iam Tongi’s American Idol journey below.
Iam Tongi’s American Idol Audition
“Monsters” by James Blunt
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt
“Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd with Oliver Steele
“The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel
Top 26 Hawaii Round
“Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie
Top 20 Performance
“The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA
“Stuck on You” by Lionel Richie
“Bring It on Home to Me” by Sam Cooke
“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
“Guardian” by Alanis Morissette
Top 5 (Disney Night)
“Lava” from Disney’s Lava
“Father and Son” from Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
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 Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. 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.