Why 'American Idol's Iam Tongi Is 'Scared' About Tonight's Top 8 Performance
Tonight, on American Idol, judges Lionel Richie and Katy Perry will be absent as they are performing at Windsor Castle as part of the celebration for the coronation of King Charles III, which leaves Luke Bryan as the sole judge.
But no worries, he won’t be sitting at the judges’ table alone. He is being joined by music greats Ed Sheerhan and Alanis Morissette. The latter will also mentor the Top 8 who will be performing one of her songs tonight, and then they will be paired in duets on an Ed Sheerhan song.
Iam Tongi, who is the front runner at this point in time to win American Idol, is excited to meet the new guest judges, but he’s also concerned about finding an Alanis song that will work with his specific style of music, which reflects his home state of Hawaii.
“I love Ed Sheeran and Alanis Morissette, I’m excited,” the 18-year-old told Parade. “Obviously I’m excited, but I’m concerned and scared because a lot of their songs I don’t know because I never really grew up listening to them and I never sang them before. I’m scared that I might not know the lyrics.”
Related: Who Went Home and Who Made It Through to the Top 8 Tonight on American Idol
To date, Iam has performed "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong, "Stuck on You" by Lionel Richie, "The Sound Of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt, “Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie, and “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA, and he auditioned with “Monsters” by James Blunt, and he has managed to make them all his and to win over the judges and the audience.
“It’s kind of crazy because these guys always say, ‘Oh, you’re going to win,’” Iam says. “Obviously, I believe my brothers and stuff. When you hear someone high up say that you’re going to win American Idol, honestly, it’s kind of scary, you know what I mean? Because you’ve got so much to live up to because all the winners before are crazy, their vocals and stuff.”
Related: Lionel Richie on His 'Secret' Performance for King Charles' Coronation
According to Iam’s best friend on the show and his Hollywood Week duet partner, Oliver Steele, Iam really is oblivious to the reaction he gets from fans, so he isn’t just being modest.
“I’ve said from day one that I think Iam’s going to win, that doesn’t bother me one bit,” says Oliver. “That’s my little brother, and if he takes it all home then I’m happy. That does not bother me a single bit.”
Then he adds, “What he’s blind to is the way that people react to him, and I see it on a daily basis. We can’t go to In-N-Out without someone behind the counter dapping him up. We can’t even walk Hollywood Boulevard without someone stopping. People love him. They love him when he's on the stage, they love him when he sings, and he's blind to that because he's in his own head and can’t see how everybody else is looking at him. But I see it. I see it.”
It was Iam’s father who was his music teacher, and the two played together constantly. So, when his father passed away a couple of months ago, initially, Iam no longer wanted to sing. But eventually, he decided to audition for American Idol as a way of honoring his father. And as he continues his successful journey on the singing competition, he is definitely doing that.
After the Top 8 perform tonight and America votes, host Ryan Seacrest will reveal the Top 5. American Idol will air coast-to-coast live again tonight at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC so all of America can vote.
Next, Make Your Vote Count! How to Vote Online or By Text on American Idol 2023