American Idol has crowned its 2023 winner – and it’s the incredibly smooth-singing Iam Tongi!
The grand finale of the singing competition proved an emotional watch on Sunday evening, with the judges – mainly Katy Perry – moved to tears by the victor’s beautiful performance.
In the end, Ryan Seacrest revealed that Iam, 18, had won the nationwide vote for season 21, beating his fellow finalists Colin Stough – who finished in third place – and Megan Danielle – who was the runner-up.
During the final, all three of the finalists had to perform songs by country artist and former judge Keith Urban @KeithUrban, who returned to the TV show as a mentor to the trio.
After Iam sang Making Memories of Us, explaining the soulful song’s connection to his late father, he later sang Cool Down by Hawaiian reggae pop musical group for his second performance of the night, as his hometown dedication song.
Finally – after Colin had been eliminated, landing in third place – Iam sang an original track called I’ll Be Seeing You, his winner’s song.
The final also saw Iam take to the stage with James Blunt, to sing a powerful duet of the British musician’s 2019 song Monsters.
Iam wiped away tears during the performance, with James comforting him with a soothing hand on his shoulder as he continued singing into the microphone, before giving him a big hug at the end.
American Idol viewers have been showering Iam with congratulations over his win, with one commenting on YouTube about how much his journey has meant to them to witness.
‘I haven’t watched — or cared about — American Idol in 15 years, but Iam’s emotional story and beautiful music have completely captivated me. Congratulations!’ they wrote.
After watching Iam’s rendition his original song, another commented: ‘There are no words that can be said or even compare to the emotions coming from this song. Even if someone else sang this song it wouldn’t compare. We wanted Iam to win idol, he did. Now run for president.’
Someone else said: ‘Such a great coronation song!! It perfectly tells his story on this show and what this win means to him.’
American Idol judge Luke Bryan wrote on Instagram: ‘Congratulations to @wtongi! He’s our 2023 @americanidol. It was an incredible season. Thanks to everyone who helped put on the show. That’s a wrap!’
Iam, who currently has more than 500,000 followers on Instagram, thanked his fans for their support as he penned in his own post: ‘Thank you everyone for voting! love all you guys! Thank you so much, yessah blessa never stressa! #idol #idolwinner.’
American Idol airs on ABC in the US.
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First appear at Iam Tongi is crowned winner of American Idol 2023 after moving judge Katy Perry @katyperry #KATYPERRYPLAY #shoesdaytuesday to tears with poignant performance