Iam Tongi is already a fan-favorite on this 21st season of ABC’s American Idol. After delivering another grade-A performance, as he did with a haunting cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence” on Monday night (April 10), the youngster is firming as a potential champion.
The high schooler has overcome the loss of his dad, and some major technical issues, to glide into Idol’s Hollywood Week.
Tongi’s vocals are both robust and sweet, with layers and angles few of us are gifted with. And when he’s at the mic, the spirit of Tongi’s father is never far.
Music and song was a force that connected the pair. “When Iam’s dad passed away,” the contestant’s mom says in a package, “he didn’t wanna sing anymore. He kept saying that every time he sings, he could hear his dad backing up. After talking to him… it’s a beautiful thing that he could hear his dad.”
On Monday’s episode, the teenage hopeful gave us another earful of his talents, this time with a reinterpretation of the Graduate classic.
The performance had Katy Perry reaching for the tissues. Later, during a sit down with all three judges, Perry told Tongi his “showstopping song” was a “brilliant pick. It made the room go silent. It gave more depth, more color, more layers to who you are.”
Flanked by Matt Wilson and Colin Stough, Tongi was reminded there’s only one more spot in the top 24. And he got it.
Plot twist. Perry had the honors of telling Matt Wilson and Colin Stough that Idol’s producers have blown up the 24-finalist format, and switched it to a contest for 26. And they’re both in.
The top 26 head through to Tongi’s homeland, for sessions with celebrity mentors and a concert at Hawaii’s Aulani Resort.