America must always have an Idol (save for that two-year period off the air before ABC picked up FOX’s musical megahit). Last night, the 21st Idol was chosen after having been ushered through auditions by Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, and capturing the hearts of America during the live shows. The finale came down to contestants Colin Stough, Megan Danielle, and Iam Tongi. And your latest American Idol is…
Iam Tongi! (A pause, please, for the crowd to go wild.) Country singers Danielle and Stough came in second and third place, respectively. But no one could beat Tongi’s vocal stylings nor his emotional narrative woven through the season. The 18-year-old Hawaiian native auditioned with the song “Monsters” by James Blunt, dedicated to the memory of his late father who had died just months before. The rendition brought judges Richie and Bryan to tears—and Tongi reprised the performance for the finale, duetting the song with Blunt himself and eliciting more tears from the judges.
Throughout the night, Tongi also performed guest mentor Keith Urban’s “Making Memories Of Us,” a hometown tribute “Cool Down” in honor of his native Hawaii, and his own single “I’ll Be Seeing You,” another tribute to his father. “Every time you come on and you sing, the vibration that comes out of your mouth, it goes through the weeds of people’s hearts,” Perry praised the teen earlier in the evening. After being named the ultimate winner, Tongi closed out the show with “Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie.
It’s been an interesting season for American Idol, in which multiple contestants decided for one reason or another the juice just wasn’t worth the squeeze and bowed out before America could vote them out. But the show must always go on and an Idol must always be crowned, and so Tongi and his touching tale prevailed. He joins the likes of Idols such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Jordin Sparks, and also the likes of Maddie Poppe, Laine Hardy, and Chayce Beckham. Congrats!