Iam Tongi wowed the crowd during his performance on the latest episode of American Idol, April 23. The 18-year-old contestant took the stage to belt out a stripped-down version of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All,” leaving the audience and judges amazed.
As soon as he finished his performance, the audience erupted into cheers while giving the Hawaiian native a standing ovation.
“I had a lot to say, ” Lionel Richie said. “But, they actually said it for me.”
“I guess this is called the Iam Tongi Show now,” Katy Perry quipped in the wrap-up. “Can you believe what you’ve 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.”
Tongi has been honoring his late father, who he has previously said was his music mentor, by dedicating each of his performances to him. Ahead of his ABBA cover, Tongi expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming support he has received from viewers who are going through similar experiences.
“I not only help them, but they help me because I’m still grieving,” Tongi said. “It’s hard for me to express myself and I can’t really explain things well, but when I sing it is so easy to express myself.”
Needless to say, Tongi earned his spot in the Top 20 for his performance. He will be competing for his spot in Top 12 next.