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American Idol's Katy Perry breaks down in tears during emotional moment as Iam Tongi is crowned winner

The American Idol alum was visibly moved


American Idol's Katy Perry breaks down in tears during emotional moment as Iam Tongi is crowned winner
Faye James
Senior Editor
May 22, 2023
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Katy Perry was deeply moved during the American Idol finale, shedding tears over the exceptional finale performance by contestant and season 21 winner Iam Tongi.

Hailing from Hawaii, Tongi graced the stage with a soulful rendition of Keith Urban's song "Making Memories of Us". 

Ahead of his captivating performance, Tongi shared some candid moments with Keith Urban discussing his song choice, recalling how his late father used to play one of Urban's songs during his childhood. 

Katy on stage in a white and pink mini dress, smiling and holding a mic out to the crowd© Getty Images
Katy performing in Las Vegas in 2021

The country crooner recognized Tongi's profound emotional connection to the song, reinforcing its appropriateness for his final performance.

With his guitar in tow and donning casual flip-flops, Tongi's emotionally-charged performance stirred the judges deeply which led to him taking home the crown. An overwhelmed Katy was seen visibly crying, while Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan managed to conceal their emotional reactions.

MORE: American Idol's biggest stars' net worths compared: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, and more

Katy sat a a judging table with Lionel and Luke on either side, a contestant is stood on the stage in front of them© Getty Images
Katy starring on her first season of American Idol in 2018

Upon the conclusion of Tongi's poignant performance, an emotional Katy commented: “Can I just say one thing? In between you and Megan [Danielle] I had to grab a little tissue and fold it into a triangle because every time you come on and you sing the vibration that comes out of your mouth, it goes through the weeds of people’s hearts and it just gets to them." She commended Tongi's moving performances, stating, "It moves us so much. So when you sing, I am ready to feel, baby.”

Both Lionel and Luke confessed to having been on the brink of tears during Tongi's performance. Katy, along with Luke, became emotional yet again as Tongi returned to the stage.

In the lead-up to the American Idol finale, a touching teaser was shared on the show's Instagram, capturing Tongi's heartwarming homecoming performance. 

The singer smiling with her fellow Idol judges Lionel and Luke stood behind her© Getty Images
The singer with her fellow Idol judges Lionel and Luke

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The video clip depicted the rising star strumming his guitar, wearing a lei - the traditional Hawaiian symbol of welcome or farewell, which prompted fans to express their own emotions.

The caption read: "Flower power and all the aloha. Hawaii welcomed back hometown hero @wtongi!" This elicited a flurry of emotional responses from fans, commending Tongi's representation of Hawaii's unique culture and their shared excitement for his successful journey.

A fan commented:  "This is why Hawaii is so unique and special. When one represents our home and culture, you have the entire Hawaiian Islands behind you." 

Others lauded the large turnout at Tongi's homecoming concert and parade, asserting their pride in his accomplishments regardless of the competition's outcome.

Their comments were brimming with sentiments of the "aloha spirit", reflecting their belief in Tongi's potential to heal the world through his voice. As one commentator encapsulated it: "The world came together to bring Iam home."

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