American Idol 2023: Performances that brought the judges to tears

Watch American Idol on Sunday at 8/7c on ABC and streams the next day on Hulu.

ByBob Monek OTRC logo
Monday, February 20, 2023
Iam Tongi's emotional Idol audition brings the judges to tears
Watch American Idol Sunday nights on ABC!

NEW YORK -- One of the saddest moments ever on American Idol came at the end of the Season 21 premiere.

Kya Monee returned to the Idol stage to audition for a second time. Kya appeared on 'American Idol' in 2021 and sang a memorable duet with that season's runner-up Willie Spence.

They remained close friends until he was killed in a car crash last October.

"I want to thank you so much for pairing me with him. He was actually supposed to be here today for my audition. It's very hard not to have that support any more," Kya told the judges, holding back tears. "I know that he would want me to be here."

They even picked out her audition song together - "I'm Here" from The Color Purple.

The audition had Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan in tears.

Another emotional moment came from Iam Tongi, who lost his dad just a few months ago. His father taught him music and always wanted Iam to try out for Idol.

Iam dedicated his performance to his dad, Rodney.

A small town kid from Mississippi drew raves for his performance of "Simple Man." Colin Stough said his mom signed him up for the Idol audition.

"That is what 'American Idol' is all about, right there," Bryan said after his performance.

"You got the magic in you, 100 percent," Perry added.

And the first Platinum Ticket of the season went to 17-year-old Tyson Venegas, who covered "New York State Of Mind."

After the performance, his mom said one of Tyson's first concerts was Lionel Richie.

"He was inspired by you (Lionel) and that's where he learned how to sing from his heart," she said.

Richie said the judges were inspired by him this time around.

"That performance was spot on professional," Richie said.

The Platinum Ticket means Tyson gets to skip the first round during Hollywood Week.

You can see more of the 'American Idol' premiere performances now on Hulu.

See who else gets a ticket to Hollywood next Sunday at 8/7c on ABC and stream on Hulu.

Complete List of previous American Idol winners

2002 - Kelly Clarkson

2003 - Ruben Studdard

2004 - Fantasia Barino

2005 - Carrie Underwood

2006 - Taylor Hicks

2007 - Jordin Sparks

2008 - David Cook

2009 - Kris Allen

2010 - Lee DeWyze

2011 - Scotty McCreery

2012 - Phillip Phillips

2013 - Candice Glover

2014 - Caleb Johnson

2015 - Nick Fradiani

2016 - Trent Harmon

2018 - Maddie Poppe

2019 - Laine Hardy

2020 - Just Sam

2021 - Chayce Beckham

2022 - Noah Thompson