Iam Tongi was crowned the winner of season 21 of American Idol on Sunday’s three-hour star-studded live finale on ABC.
‘You did it. You’re the idol,’ host Ryan Seacrest, 48, told Iam after revealing he was the winner after the result of nationwide voting.
The 18-year-old high school student from Kahuku, Hawaii, then performed Don’t Let Go by Spawnbreezie while his family in the audience waved their hands in the air.
The crowd cheered for him as confetti fell from the ceiling. The other top 12 contestants ran to the stage to hug him and join him in the song.
The three-hour show opened with an energetic performance by Pitbull joined by the Idol top 12 contestants. Ryan even joined Pitbull on stage during part of the song.
Season finale: Iam Tongi was crowned the winner of season 21 of American Idol on Sunday’s three-hour star-studded finale on ABC
Judges Katy Perry, 38, wearing a long red sequined dress, and Lionel Richie, 73, wearing black suit while Luke Bryan, 46, wore a leopard printed jacket for the finale.
The show also featured star studded performances from REO Speedwagon, Kylie Minogue, TLC, MLainey Wilson, Jelly Roll, James Blunt, Lauren Daigle, Jazmine Sullivan, Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard and Keith Urban.
When the show started the top three contestants Iam, Colin Stough, 18, a HVAC technician from Armory, Mississippi; and Megan Danielle, 19, from Douglasville, Georgia, each had to be ready to perform two songs for the crowd.
Keith Urban, 55, served as the mentor to the top three and met with each of them individually. They each sang one of Keith’s songs. Megan Danielle went first and picked God Whispered Your Name because she connected with the message of the song. Megan got emotional just talking to Keith about her insecurities.
‘I really just need to be me and turn off all the negative things in my head and just have fun,’ Megan said to the camera.
Megan took the stage wearing a sequined mini dress and matching boots and when she finished singing the crowd cheered for her.
‘I think you really like this new version of you,’ Katy said. ‘It’s a version that’s always been inside of you and it’s so comfortable and proud of how far you have come.’
‘I have not heard you make one bad vocal decision all year,’ Luke said. ‘I have not heard you miss a note. And through all that you have done it stylistically in your own way.’
Luke said it has been inspiring to watch her this season.
Talented teenager: The 18-year-old high school student from Kahuku, Hawaii, was cheered on by his fellow contestants as confetti rained down from the ceiling
The judges: Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie were introduced by host Ryan Seacrest at the start of the finale
Finale mentor: Keith Urban, 55, served as the mentor to the top three and met with each of them individually
Sparkling dress: Megan took the stage wearing a sequined mini dress and matching boots and when she finished singing the crowd cheered for her
Iam met Keith and picked his hit song Making Memories of Us because it was one of his parents favorite songs. Iam said his parents would dance to the song in the kitchen. Iam said his father used to play Keith’s songs all the time. Keith thanked Iam and his mother.
Iam took the stage playing his guitar and performed the song for the live studio audience. When he was finished the crown chanted his name and the judges gave him a standing ovation.
‘I don’t think it matters what I say,’ Katie said.
‘Man you just have a natural gift from God to create the emotion to tell the story,’ Luke said. ‘I love that song by Keith. I looked at Katy and was like this is a bad a** song he’s fixing to sing. What’s crazy about that was it was one of my favorite performances of the year from you. It was just beautiful. Perfection.’
‘You are an incredible story teller,’ Lionel said. ‘And like Katy, I hate to say it, why am I sitting here tearing up on a song I already know but you have a great delivery.’
The crowd continued to chant his name. Iam told Ryan that the song had deep meaning for him from watching his parents dance and kiss to it.
Colin picked Keith’s song Stupid Boy to sing. Keith thought the song fit him perfectly. Colin told Keith that playing for him made him nervous.
Colin took the stage wearing his cowboy hat and played his guitar for the audience. The crowd cheered for him when he finished.
Family song: Iam met Keith and picked his hit song Making Memories of Us because it was one of his parents favorite songs
Perfect choice: Colin picked Keith’s song Stupid Boy to sing and Keith thought the song fit him perfectly
‘You’ve just come so far from the kid that just walked into auditions,’ Luke said. ‘Kudos to you buddy.’
‘Enjoy the ride, we are very proud of you,’ Lionel said.
‘Well that was tender-oni pepperoni,’ Katy said.
Katy said they watched him go from 10% to 70 % percent.
‘When you hit 100 % out there in the real world, watch out buddy it’s going to be hot and you are going to need your own air conditioning,’ Katy said.
The show then showed the contestants taking trips and dedicating songs back to their hometowns. Megan went first showing everyone where she came from Douglasville, Georgia. The town held. Parade in her honor. Megan flew in on a private jet and was chauffeured around. She stopped by the restaurants where she worked as a waitress and was told she was jokingly told she was fired. The town cheered for her when she rode through in a convertible. She also visited her Paw-Paw’s grave.
‘I hope you know that I’ll always love you,’ Megan said, laying flowers at his grave.
Megan, wearing a one-shoulder rainbow colored sequined dress, then performed Faithfully by Journey for the live studio audience. The judges gave her a standing ovation. Katy and Luke both cried.
Journey song: Megan, wearing a one-shoulder rainbow colored sequined dress, then performed Faithfully by Journey for the live studio audience
‘Isn’t it wonderful you start out your life with your plan and you end up with God’s plan,’ Lionel said. ‘Congratulations.’
‘You aced this class,’ Katy said. ‘What you gave us at the end, stay there, use that out in the world. You are exactly where you are meant to be.’
‘I love this show because I cry all the time,’ Luke said. ‘I know people at home are being affected by this too. So many people out there have dealt with the loss and the fact that you talk about it, you help people, it makes people feel so many emotions.’
Luke told her that her song was beautiful.
Iam went back to Kahuku, Hawaii, and crowds gathered to meet him.
He went back to his high school and the football team rushed out to congratulate him.
The principal gave him an honorary diploma and Iam got emotional. More than 14,000 people gathered to hear Iam sing.
Iam then performed Cool Down by Kolohe Kai for the judges and the audience. The judges gave him a standing ovation and the crowd chanted his name.
Killed it: Iam performed Cool Down by Kolohe Kai for the judges and the audience
‘Iam you are the culture,’ Katy said. ‘You bring the culture to American Idol. ‘And when we first met you said you don’t live in Hawaii anymore because I was priced out of paradise, welcome to paradise my friend.’
‘Katy and I have determined that we cannot look at each other because we start crying,’ Luke said.
‘You have taken your natural god given gift and you are going to spread it around the world my friend,’ Lionel said. ‘Watching the village that raised you celebrate you was absolutely amazing.’
Colin then showed his trip back to Amory, Mississippi. He took a private jet and said ‘I can get used to this.’
He got a police escort back from the airport and was happy to see his family dog. He got on a motorcycle with his grandfather Paw Paw. He rode a tour bus through his town and pulled up to his former high school and the crowd screamed. He was about to perform before a crowd and was talking about being a huge Lynyrd Skynyrd fan when Rickey Medlocke from Lynyrd Skynyrd came up behind him.
Colin was shocked.
‘You touched me in the heart and I am proud of you and I just had to be here to do this with you,’ Rickey said.
Colin and Rickey took the stage and sang Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hit song Simple Man.
For the judges, Colin performed Either Way by Chris Stapleton starting off the song by saying ‘I love you momma.’
Country singer: For the judges, Colin performed Either Way by Chris Stapleton starting off the song by saying ‘I love you momma’
The judges were on their feet when he finished.
‘What I love about you is that you were so much better than I originally thought you were,’ Luke said. ‘Just love seeing you grow, buddy. Great performance.’
‘Congratulations that’s just a great job,’ Lionel said.
‘I love what you just gave us,’ Katy said. ‘I think that is your sweet spot when you can bring everybody in and sing to them like they are the only people in the room. You just play by you play and give them that grit that you know how to do.’
TLC, T-Boz and Chili, then took the stage with Idol contestant Lucy Love and sang Scrubs. That was followed by Zachariah Smith joining REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin singing Heard it From a Friend.
Ryan then announced that the top two contestants moving on would be Iam and Megan.
‘It the end of the road for Colin Stough,’ Ryan said.
Colin hugged Ryan and the other contestants and walked off the stage.
Classic rock: Zachariah Smith joined REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin to sing Heard it From a Friend
Top two: Ryan then announced that the top two contestants moving on would be Iam and Megan
Jelly Roll then performed his song Save Me with Lainey Wilson. Oliver Steele joined them during the song.
Kylie Minogue then took the stage with Nutsa and performed her new song Padam Padam off her upcoming album. Kylie, wearing a black dress and over the knee black boots, surrounded by a group of male dancers.
Lionel, playing a grand piano sang Sail On by his former group the Commodores. The other top 12 contestants joined him on stage. Keith Urban then performed his hit Wild Hearts.
Iam joined James Blunt on stage to sing the song Monsters. Iam had sung the song during his audition dedicating it to his late father Rodney. Iam started crying during his emotional performance wiping tears away from his eyes. Katy held a tissue to her face to wipe away her tears.
Other top 12 contestants then took the stage and sang songs. Tyson Venegas sang Burn with Ellie Goulding.
Iam’s mother Lillie said it was emotional hearing Iam sing.
‘This is what Rodney dreamed about,’ Lillie said. ‘He wanted everyone to hear what Iam had, and I feel like this is where he was meant to be.’
Lauren Daigle invited Megan to the stage to sing with her These Are the Days. Luke then took the stage and performed his country hit But I Got A Beer In My Hand.
Getting emotional: Iam joined James Blunt on stage to sing the song Monsters and Iam started crying during his emotional performance wiping tears away from his eyes
Music legend: Lionel performed Sail On during the finale
Good times: Luke Bryan had fun singing his song But I Got A Beer In My Hand
Pop star: Katy joined Haven Madison for a duet
Colin then joined Luke on stage to sing Slow Hand by Conway Twitty. We Ani joined Jazmine Sullivan to sing her hit Bust Your Windows.
Lainey Wilson sang Heart Like A Truck with Marybeth Byrd, 22, and Warren Peay, 24.
Katy Perry sang with 17-year-old Haven Madison the song By the Grace of God on a stage lit by candles.
Ruben Studdard performed The Impossible Dream from the Man of La Mancha with Clay Aiken. Iam and Megan joined them at the end.
Ryan asked Clay what he remembers about his final night on Idol.
Together again: Ruben Studdard performed The Impossible Dream from the Man of La Mancha with Clay Aiken after finishing in the top two on American Idol 20 years ago
‘Besides losing? Yeah, just that,’ Clay said. ‘Just exhausted and ready to get to work.’
The top three contestants also met with producers at Sound Factory to record their first singles.
Megan then sang her new single Dream Girl for the live audience. The crowd and judges cheered for her when she finished.
Iam then sang his single I’ll Be Seeing You while playing the guitar before voting closed and Ryan revealed he was the champion.