American Idol

Iam Tongi: American Idol’s undisputed front-runner

Iam Tongi poses for a photo; he's a fan favorite on American Idol. (ABC Photo)

Iam Tongi poses for a photo; he’s a fan favorite on American Idol. (ABC Photo)


Anyone who has watched American Idol has heard the incredible crowd reaction whenever Iam Tongi performs.

And most folks know his brilliant audition performance of “Monsters” went viral, attracting 15 million views on YouTube alone.

But there’s another reason the 19-year-old from Hawaii should be considered the front-runner heading into the American Idol Season 21 semifinals Sunday night.

Every single one of his performances has been the show’s most popular of that given round on YouTube.

And when you compare his YouTube views to the other four singers who made the semifinals, it isn’t even close.

In each case, hundreds of thousands of views separate Iam from his nearest competitor — most often Wé Ani, who made the finals on The Voice back in the fall of 2016 as Wé McDonald.

What’s more, six of Iam’s performances since his audition have attracted more than 1 million views on YouTube.

None of the other members of the Top 5 have accomplished that feat since the audition round.

Here’s how the YouTube views break down by round. The numbers were recorded just before midnight Wednesday.

I haven’t listed the Hollywood Week performances because not every member of the Top 5 was showcased in every round.

But as of late Wednesday night, fans had viewed Iam’s opening Hollywood performance of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” 2.9 million times and his “Save Your Tears” duet with Oliver Steele 3.2 million times.

Top 8 solos

Iam Tongi, “Guardian” — 693,000
Wé Ani, “Uninvited” — 200.000
Colin Stough, “Hand in My Pocket” — 140,000
Megan Danielle, “Head Over Feet” — 128,000
Zachariah Smith, “Ironic” — 109,000

Top 8 duets

Iam Tongi, “Photograph” with Oliver Steele — 491,000
Megan Danielle, “Dive” with Colin Stough — 208,000
Colin Stough, “Dive” with Megan Danielle — 208,000
Wé Ani, “Perfect” with Warren Peay — 183,000
Zachariah Smith, “Thinking Out Loud” with Haven Madison– 136,000

Top 10

Iam Tongi, “What a Wonderful World” — 871,000
Wé Ani, “I Have Nothing” — 552,000
Megan Danielle, “Go Rest High on That Mountain” — 241,000
Colin Stough, “It’s Been Awhile — 186,000
Zachariah Smith, “Wanted Dead or Alive” — 141,000

Top 12

Iam Tongi, “Bring It On Home to Me” — 997,000
Wé Ani, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” — 268.000
Megan Danielle, “Angel from Montgomery” — 243,000
Zachariah Smith, “Don’t Bring Me Down” — 133,000
Colin Stough, “Midnight Rider” — 114,000

Iam Tongi with Ryan Seacrest, listening to feedback from the judges on American Idol. (ABC Photo)

Iam Tongi with Ryan Seacrest, listening to feedback from the judges on American Idol. (ABC Photo)

Top 12 reveal show

Iam Tongi, “Stuck on You” — 1.2 million
Colin Stough, “Dancing on My Own” — 581,000
Wé Ani, “This is Me” — 472,000
Megan Danielle, “Thank God I Do” — 219,000
Zachariah Smith, “Hold the Line” — 145,000

Top 20

Iam Tongi, “The Winner Takes It All” — 1.2 million
Wé Ani, “Skyfall” — 420,000
Zachariah Smith, “I Want to Know What Love Is” — 181,000
Colin Stough, “Pretty Heart” — 161,000
Megan Danielle, “Holy Water” — 161,000

Top 40

Iam Tongi, “Don’t Let Go” — 2 million
Wé Ani, “Edge of Midnight” — 525,000
Zachariah Smith, “Lucille” — 345,000
Colin Stough, “Midnight Train to Memphis” — 318,000
Megan Danielle, “The Chain” — 226,000


Iam Tongi, “The Sound of Silence” — 4.5 million
Wé Ani, ‘Ain’t No Way” — 896,000
Colin Stough, “Cold” — 493,000
Zachariah Smith, “Don’t Stop Me Now” — 354,0000
Megan Danielle (sing-off with Paige Anne) — 265,000


Iam Tongi, “Monsters” — 15 million
Wé Ani, “Anyone” — 2.6 million
Colin Stough, “Simple Man” — 2 million
Megan Danielle, “You Say” — 1.2 million
Zachariah Smith, “Hurts So Good” — 999,000

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  1. Wilford May 13, 2023 at 1:03 pm -  Reply

    Thank you so much for this great article.
    GO TEAM IAM❤❤❤.

  2. Margaret Ruiz May 13, 2023 at 7:08 pm -  Reply

    Iam such an amazing singer for his age and I’m so proud of how he represent Hawaii.thanks to his mom n dad who raised him and he is our American idol hero we love you.I’m from kahaluu,hawaii

  3. Chris Reid May 14, 2023 at 4:42 pm -  Reply

    I just can’t get enough of Iam Tongi. His singing is so so good. He will win this year. Get ready Buttercup, you have this one in your pocket

  4. Christine depryor May 14, 2023 at 6:38 pm -  Reply

    Lo. Love your singing

  5. P M Li May 18, 2023 at 1:52 pm -  Reply

    Hope Iam wins because he has a voice that touches our very soul and a sweet, humble and loving spirit
    But if he doesn’t win, he still has a great future ahead.

    May God bless him and his loving family.

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