‘American Idol’ Crowns Winner of Season 21

It’s official, millions of votes have been cast and there’s a new winner of American Idol, the moving Hawaiian singer, Iam Tongi.

Videos by American Songwriter

To begin the show on Sunday (May 21), Tongi was one of three finalists, along with Megan Danielle and Colin Stough. Halfway through the show, the top two were announced and it was Tongi and Danielle with Stough voted out.

As fireworks explode, Tongi accepted the honor. He then played the song “Don’t Let Go” as his family and friends celebrated—confetti raining from the sky.

Earlier in the evening, the top three finalists performed, as did judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan. Tongi performed his newest single, an emotional hit about his late father, “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Country star Keith Urban was on hand to help mentor the final three Idol contestants. He also performed for the fans, singing “Wild Hearts.” Past contestants from this season also performed, including Lucy Love who sang a medley of songs with the hit group TLC. Former Idol contestants and top finishers Clay Aiken and Reuben Studdard also came by to perform a duet of the song “The Impossible Dream.” Jelly Roll, Oliver Steele, and Lainey Wilson also performed.

But in the end, it was Tongi who stole the show. The win is no real surprise for fans who have followed the 2023 season, Tongi has been a fan favorite and a favorite of the judges.

During last week’s Disney theme, Perry predicted Tongi’s win, saying “I believe it’s written in the stars. I don’t believe in coincidences. I know that you are Iam, but when I see your name I see ‘I am …the next American Idol.'”

Richie agreed, saying to Tongi, “There’s a moment in time in your life when magic happens and my friend this is magical for you. This is a time when all the stars align. It’s really happening.”

For more on the 18-year-old Tongi, read American Songwriter’s coverage of the budding star HERE, and HERE. (Even Jack Johnson is a fan.)

Photo via ABC/Eric McCandless

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