There wasn't a dry eye in the room after a powerful performance from Iam Tongi on "American Idol" this week.
The high school student from Kahuku, Hawaii, belted out a breathtaking version of "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel, while gently strumming an acoustic guitar.
The moment after he sang the iconic opening line, "Hello, darkness, my old friend," the audience gave a burst of applause before falling entirely silent and looking captivated.
Since it was shared on April 10, video of the performance has received nearly 2 million views on YouTube, with one person commenting, "He's my winner."
Several other comments referred to the contestant's emotional backstory, which includes the passing of his father.
"He doesn’t sing lyrics, he feels them, he lives them, he goes to that place, with his dad, every time," a fan commented. "That is why his eyes are always closed."
"There are very few artists who can make you feel a song to your very core," someone else wrote. "Every time … every song. Just overwhelmed by the talent of this young man, his humility, his kindness and his honesty. What a beautiful human being with an amazing gift."
"He’s not as flashy as the others, no mischief, just a heart that sits idly by, and his father is right behind him, singing in harmony," another person wrote.
During the performance, "American Idol" aired a video of Tongi's mother saying that his dad became sick a couple of years ago and realized that "his days were limited."
"A few months before he passed away, we started recording a lot more videos, which is something Iam turns to a lot and plays while he sleeps," she said, as videos from late 2020 of Tongi singing with his father were shown.
As Tongi, 18, continued singing, judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan watched from their box seats. Perry and Richie appeared to get emotional, sharing tissues.
At one point, Perry turned to her co-judges and said, "This is what this show is all about."
After his performance, the teen received a standing ovation and grabbed the microphone one last time to say, "I love you, Mom!"
"When Iam's dad passed away, he didn't want to sing anymore. He kept saying that every time he sings, he can hear his dad back him up," Tongi's mom said. "After talking with him, (I shared) with him that it's a beautiful thing that he could hear his dad."
Perry was seen speaking to Tongi, who was sitting beside two other contestants, Colin Stough and Matt Wilson, telling him that his song choice was a "brilliant pick."
"It made the room go silent. It gave more depth, more color, more layers to who you are," she told him, before announcing that he had earned a spot in the Top 24 in the singing competition.
However, in a surprising turn of events, Perry then made an announcement that this season of "American Idol" will actually have a Top 26, and that Stough and Wilson have also made it to the next round.