American Idol 2023 winner Iam Tongi returns for season 22! (Find out why and when)

The champ will be performing in his home state, Hawaii, when this season's Top 24 also take the stage for our votes.
(ABC/Eric McCandless)
(ABC/Eric McCandless) /

Armed with a guitar and a sweet singing voice, American Idol 2023 winner Iam Tongi captured our hearts from day one. The talent may not necessarily have the most powerful voice compared to others, but his soulful croon, personality, and the emotion he brought to each performance is what made him such a fan-favorite and a wonderful performer. I wasn't surprised at all that he became the season 21 champ!

And now, the winner is making his way back to Idol! Iam Tongi will be returning to American Idol on Sunday, April 7, 2024 for the "Top 24 at Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii" episode. That night, the first 12 of the contestants will be taking the stage, with voting beginning for the first time. You can tune in starting at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, and stream on Hulu the next day.

The Idol champ is joining American Idol 2024 to put on a performance for us, which is so exciting! Perhaps he'll sing one of his original songs. There's some great ones he can choose from as he's recorded great hits like "I'll Be Seeing You," a cover of "The Winner Takes It All" by ABBA, and "Why Kiki?" It's very fitting that the competition series has Tongi back to perform in Hawai'i, as the artist is originally from Kahuku on the island of Oahu. Elsewhere in the episode, Tori Kelly will mentor, perform, and join the judges on the panel.

Iam Tongi's journey on American Idol

Tongi had us in tears singing "Monsters" by James Blunt, as well as judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, during his audition. The former contestant's audition video actually went viral on American Idol's YouTube, becoming the most watched video on the show's page. It still holds that title, currently at 23 million views. To put that into perspective, so far the highest viewed audition videos from American Idol season 22 are Platinum Ticket recipient Abi Carter's cover of "What Was I Made For?" by Billie Eilish and Emmy Russell's original song "Skinny," both at 2.7 million views.

(ABC/Eric McCandless) /

During the Duets round at Hollywood Week, Tongi faced a challenge. Throughout the whole season, he carried the memory of his father, Rodney, with him. He's the one who got him into music and gifted Tongi with the guitar we saw him use almost every performance during the season. At the Duets, the then 18-year-old's guitar broke right before he was set to go up on stage with Oliver Steele to sing "Save Your Tears." It was a difficult moment for him, but he got through it and of course crushed the rest of the rounds!

He brought out the emotions and was great about choosing those emotional songs that tugged on our heartstrings. Joining him in the Top 3 were runner-up Megan Danielle and Colin Stough. He was able to earn our votes performing "Making Memories of Us," "Cool Down," and his original "I'll Be Seeing You." I certainly can't wait to see Tongi on an American Idol stage once again, and back on our screens. You won't want to miss his performance either!

Catch Iam Tongi on American Idol season 22 Sunday, April 7, 2024 on ABC. Stream episodes the next day on Hulu.

Next. A full list of American Idol winners: Where are they now?. A full list of American Idol winners: Where are they now?. dark