Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan praised Iam Tongi’s “timeless” vocals following his show-stopping performance on American Idol.
Prior to taking the stage for a memorable performance on Sunday evening (April 23), it was revealed that the 18-year-old high school student from Kahuku, Hawaii earned a spot in the Top 20.
“My life has changed a lot. I’m just a kid from a small town in Hawaii and to have people recognize me is mind-blowing, but I don’t know I still feel normal,” Iam Tongi admitted of his newfound fame ahead of his performance.
His Story Is Resonating With Millions Of Idol Viewers
Tongi went on to explain that he is so glad to hear that his story is resonating with American Idol viewers.
“To have like people from all around the world message me… It means the world to me,” Tongi admitted. “When people reach out and open up, a lot of people have said to me ‘I have never really grieved my father, but your audition really made me cry.’ It feels good to help people out. I not only help them, but they help me because I’m still grieving, even til today I still grieve. It’s hard for me to express myself and I can’t really say things well, but when I sing I think it’s so easy to express myself. To have people feel what I’m feeling, I’m just glad that I’m not alone.”
Donning a button-up shirt and blue jeans, Tongi strummed his acoustic guitar while belting out the lyrics to ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All.”
“I don’t wanna talk / About things we’ve gone through / Though it’s hurting me, now it’s history / I’ve played all my cards / And that’s what you’ve done, too / Nothing more to say, no more ace to play,” he sang on the tune’s first verse before exploding into a soaring chorus.
“The winner takes it all / The loser’s standing small / Beside the victory / That’s her destiny,” Tongi sang on the tune’s chorus.
Watch Iam Tongi’s Performance Of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” Below
READ: Who Is Iam Tongi? 10 Fun Facts About The ‘American Idol’ Contestant
Earned A Standing Ovation
Iam Tongi earned a lengthy standing ovation from the Idol audience and Idol judge Lionel Richie.
“I had a lot to stay, but they actually said it for me,” Richie admitted, motioning towards the screaming crowd.
Katy Perry then gushed that his performance was so good that the show might as well rebrand to The Iam Tongi Show.
“I guess this is called the Iam Tongi Show now,” Katy Perry joked, “I mean, can you believe what you have done? You’re 18, your voice is timeless, what you’re giving us is transcending everything and hitting everyone in a certain spot. It doesn’t matter how old or young they are. Watching you become a star feels like I’m watching a Disney movie.”
“I’m shaking right now,” Tongi admitted as he became overcome with emotion.
Luke Bryan praised Tongi’s talents, saying “ “God gave you the magic buddy. God gave you the magic, and enjoy it!”
“So Much Heart In Your Performance”
Ryan Seacrest then told Tongi, “You have so much emotion and so much heart in your performance, but you’re also having fun. You’re telling jokes, I mean, you’re enjoying this aren’t you?”
“I tell jokes just to not think about it,” Tongi admitted.
“Take your mind off of the competition, haha good job,” Seacrest added.
Iam Tongi auditioned for Idol with James Blunt’s “Monsters,” which brought Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie to tears. His audition went on to become one of the most-viewed audition of season 21 of American Idol.
Throughout the competition Iam Tongi has also covered Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence,” Spawnbreezie’s “Don’t Let Go,” and more.
How Can Fans Vote For Iam Tongi On American Idol?
Viewers can vote for Iam Tongi by visiting AmericanIdol.com/Vote, via the American Idol app or by texting 13 to 21523.
Voting remains open till 9 AM EST on Monday, April 24.
American Idol airs every Sunday and Monday at 8/7c via ABC.