After a dramatic season full of unexpected dropouts, Katy Perry–bashing and a royal visit from King Charles III and Queen Camilla, American Idol has finally crowned their Season 21 winner. During Sunday night’s (May 21) three-hour finale, Iam Tongi officially took home the title as the next American Idol.
The 18-year-old Hawaii native — who is the first from his state to win the hit singing competition show — performed his original song “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which he dedicated to his late father.
After host Ryan Seacrest announced his victory, Tongi sang Spawnbreezie’s “Don’t Let Go” as confetti poured on the room and his fellow competitors joined him on the stage, including Megan Danielle and Colin Stough, who came in second and third place, respectively.
Elsewhere in the finale, Tongi emotionally held back tears as he performed James Blunt’s “Monsters” alongside Blunt himself — a full-circle moment considering he auditioned for the show with the same ballad earlier this year.
During his audition, Tongi credited his father — who died only months earlier — for getting him into music. After dedicating Blunt’s song, which is about fathers and sons, to his dad, Tongi took a minute to collect himself before he began — and ultimately blew the judges away.
“I was not worried about whether you were going to make it through the song, I was worried about whether we were going to make it through the song. Your daddy is very proud,” judge Lionel Richie said, while Perry added, “What a fantastic song to pick. You’re making these grown men cry.”
Luke Bryan continued, “I cannot handle your heart breaking about your dad because my nephew lost his dad and he came to live with me, and just seeing you missing your dad sucks. Gosh man, you’ve got a great voice. You did everything perfectly and I love you and want to see you have fun.”
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