‘American Idol’ Champ Iam Tongi Reacts To His ‘Amazing’ Win & Hopes To ‘One Day’ Release An Album (Exclusive)

'American Idol' has crowned its new winner in Iam Tongi. The 18-year-old reflects on his tearful finale performance and hints at what's next for him.

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American Idol season 21 came to a close with Iam Tongi taking home the big win. The 18-year-old captured the hearts of Americans all across the country, and now he’s taking his well-deserved place in Idol history. “It’s crazy. It’s amazing. It just feels amazing,” he told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY after his win.

Iam Tongi
Iam Tongi after winning ‘American Idol.’ (ABC)

During the May 21 grand finale, Iam performed “Monsters” with James Blunt, the same song he sang in his audition. Iam began to cry during the performance, which was a beautiful and touching tribute to his late father. “When we were about to sing it, I was telling myself I wasn’t going to cry because I cry a lot on the Idol stage. I was trying not to, but right when James started singing the first words I just started crying because I just love his voice. It sounds like heartache, and he’s an amazing person,” Iam said.

The Hawaii native added that it was “so amazing” to be able to honor his father during the show. “When I sing that song, I feel close to him again,” Iam admitted.

Iam’s American Idol win is still fresh, as is his high school graduation. As for what’s next for the champion, including a possible album, Iam revealed, “One day I’ll have an album in the works. I’m going to start recutting my originals, just work on them, and hopefully one day there will be an album.” He plans to “just have fun and do some live shows and write with my friends and stuff.”

Iam’s win marks the first time a Hawaiian-born Pacific Islander has won the show. “Honestly, I just want to be the one that inspires all my talented Polynesians to action,” Iam told HollywoodLife about how he hopes to inspire his people. “I know that they’re scared to do things. They’re scared they’re going to be embarrassed or whatever, but we’ve got a lot of talent in the Polynesian community.”

Iam Tongi
Iam Tongi performing during the ‘American Idol’ finale. (ABC)

The 18-year-old became an instant sensation from the very moment he auditioned. He revealed his best advice to future Idol hopefuls about going after their dreams. “People should just take that chance because you never know. I didn’t expect to win. I didn’t expect to make it to the audition in front of the judges, and now that I’m here it’s crazy,” he said. American Idol will return for season 22 in 2024.