‘American Idol’ Winner Iam Tongi, James Blunt Deliver Tearful “Monsters” Duet

Before Iam Tongi was crowned the winner of American Idol, he delivered an emotional performance of “Monsters” alongside James Blunt. 

Videos by American Songwriter

There was not a dry eye in sight, as the 18-year-old sang the track dedicated to his late father, Rodney. “Monsters” was penned by Blunt, Amy Wadge, and Jimmy Hogarth. It was released in 2019 when Blunt’s father was battling stage four chronic kidney disease.  

The heart-wrenching narrative is about their father-son relationship. It served as a brave farewell letter to his father, giving him the green light to pass on. The Hawaii native resonated with the poignant message, as he lost his father just months before taking the Idol stage. Not only did Tongi bring the prestigious panel to tears with “Monsters” during his first audition, but he displayed his storytelling soul. 

“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,” said Lionel Richie at the start of Season 21.

“What a fantastic song to pick. You’re making these grown men cry,” added Katy Perry.

The fast-rising star tackled the powerful song once again during the finale, but barely made it through. Within 45 seconds into the televised performance, which aired live on Sunday (May 21), Tongi can be seen wiping his tears.

Blunt and Tongi alternated verses until emotions got the best of the budding vocalist. Tongi managed to get through the touching lyrics with a frog in his throat. 

I’m not your son | You’re not my father | We’re just two grown men saying goodbye | No need to forgive | No need to forget | I know your mistakes and you know mine, sings Tongi, before Blunt stepped in. And while you’re sleeping | I’ll try to make you proud | So, daddy, won’t you just close your eyes? | Don’t be afraid, it’s my turn | To chase the monsters away

Although Tongi is a young performer, his professionalism shined through as he persevered forward. Following the performance that left Perry and special guest Jelly Roll in their feelings, Blunt gave Tongi a warm embrace acknowledging his strength.  

Tongi previously told the hit competition show that his father was the one who encouraged him to get into music. 

“All my life, my dad told me that singing was the only thing that was meant for me,” he declared. “That’s how me and my dad bonded. But ever since he passed away, It’s been hard…people thought I cry because I miss him, but it’s because I hear him singing. I can hear his harmony. He always wanted me to come to American Idol to sing. So, I’m trying to make him proud of me.” 

After winning Season 21, the artist shared his first official single, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” The acoustic-soaked melody is another ballad in honor of his father. The Franciso Martin VI-penned track touches upon loss and grief. 

“I just want people to understand where I’m coming from and to hopefully love the music,” he said on social media

Photo Credit: ABC/Eric McCandless

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