Who Won ‘American Idol:’ Iam Tongi, Megan Danielle, Or Colin Stough?

The winner of Season 21 of ‘American Idol’ has been announced.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

May 21, 2023


10:07 pm

Share on:

Iam Tongi, Megan Danielle, Colin Stough; Photo Courtesy American Idol

Iam Tongi has been crowned the season 21 winner of American Idol

On Sunday (May 21), the Hawaii native earned the title of American Idol champion at the conclusion of the star-studded finale. 

Joined by the entire Top 12, Iam Tongi took to the Idol stage to perform Spawnbreezie’s “Don’t Let Go” to celebrate his big win.

As confetti showered the audience, Tongi was all smiles as he belted out the lyrics to the fan-favorite cover. 

Prior to being named the Idol winner, Tongi performed his debut single “I’ll Be Seeing You” and he also joined forces with James Blunt for a performance of “Monsters.” 

Earlier in the show, he was mentored by Keith Urban and performed the heart-wrenching track, “Making Memories Of Us.” 

Keith Urban, Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Keith Urban, Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

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.

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

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. 

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

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.     

YouTube video

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.” 

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

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. 

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

Following another memorable performance from the Hawaii native, Perry told him, Iam stands for “I AM the next American Idol.” 

Ahead of the finale, Iam Tongi released his debut single, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” The song is an emotional tribute to his late father and is available on streaming platforms now

YouTube video
Share on:

Lauren Jo Black

Written by

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.