American Idol” has crowned a new winner.
On Sunday night, during the three-hour finale, “Idol” declared Iam Tongi the Season 21 champion. Megan Danielle, a 20-year-old singer from Georgia, finished as the runner-up.
Here’s a look back at Tongi’s run on the show.
Iam Tongi ‘American Idol’ audition
Iam Tongi’s “American Idol” audition was the most viewed of the season — by a landslide. Posted three months ago, it has accrued 16 million views on YouTube. For his audition, 18-year-old Tongi, a high school senior who is from Hawaii, performed “Monsters” by James Blunt and dedicated the performance to his father, who died a couple of months before the audition.
With emotion, Tongi told the “Idol” judges that his father was the reason he got into music. He carried his emotion into his performance and had judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan crying with his rendition of the song.
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 choked up as he reached his last note — but he had already convinced the judges that he would be a strong contender in the “Idol” competition. And his rendition of “Monsters” led to the song rising to the top of the iTunes charts.
“You hit a nerve, and that’s what great storytellers do,” Katy Perry said. “That’s what great artists do, and your voice is just so magnificent.”
“I cannot handle your heart breaking about your dad,” Bryan added. “Just seeing you missing your dad just sucks. Gosh, man, you just got a great voice. … You just did everything perfect, and I love you.”
Iam Tongi opens up about his father
After his “Idol” audition, Tongi spoke with producers about how he and his dad bonded over music, and how his dad had long wanted him to audition for “American Idol.” In fact, Tongi has previously auditioned for “Idol.” In an interview with The Kent Reporter, Tongi laughed as he recalled his father’s reaction when he didn’t make it on the show.
“He was like, ‘Son. I need to talk to you. You need to work on your music,’” he said.
“My dad, he wasn’t a perfect dude,” he added. “He wasn’t like a saint, or whatever. But he was the best father that I know. And I want everyone to know that he’s a tough guy. He always told me the truth, (and) he always loved me. And I always loved him too.”
Tongi said he hadn’t initially planned on mentioning his father during the audition — he didn’t want to turn his “Idol” audition into a sob story. But when the judges asked about his family, he could’t help but get emotional as he thought of his father.
“People thought I cry because I miss him, but it’s ’cause I hear him singing — I can hear his harmony,” Tongi told “Idol” producers after the audition. “I know he’s with me. Through my music he’ll always be with me.”
During his time on “Idol,” Tongi, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has shared his faith on social media. In April, he cited the quote “the best is yet to come” from President Russell M. Nelson’s talk in general conference. A few weeks later, he shared a video with a few other “Idol” contestants in a hotel room, singing the Latter-day Saint hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour.”
Iam Tongi ‘American Idol’ performances
Throughout his time on “Idol,” Tongi performed a wide range of songs — including Cat Steven’s “Father and Son,” Sam Cooke’s “Bring it On Home to Me,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.”
Most recently, Tongi released his newest single, “I’ll Be Seeing You.”