American Idol William Hung
January 16, 2012 by staff
American Idol William Hung, William James Hung Hing Cheong (born January 13, 1983), commonly known as William Hung, is an American singer who gained fame in early 2004 as a result of his off-key audition performance of Ricky Martin’s hit song “She Bangs” on the third season of the television series American Idol.
Originally from Sha Tin, Hong Kong, Hung moved to Camden, New Jersey in 1993 and graduated from the John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles. He was a student at University of California, Berkeley, and later dropped out to pursue his music career.
While studying civil engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, Hung auditioned for the third season of American Idol in San Francisco in September 2003. He was the final auditioner on the January 15, 2004, installment, the coup de grâce of an hour-long episode that showcased other would-be pop stars, mostly lacking in talent.
“I want to make music my living,” said Hung, before he started singing and dancing to Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs”. As judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul tried to restrain their laughter, judge Simon Cowell dismissed Hung’s performance, remarking “You can’t sing, you can’t dance, so what do you want me to say?”, to which Hung replied, “Um, I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all.” Jackson and Abdul applauded his positive attitude, with Abdul remarking, “That’s the best attitude yet.” Hung’s response to Cowell’s criticism starkly contrasts with the often confrontational rejoinders of other contestants. Hung added, “…you know, I have no professional training of singing and dancing,” eliciting mock surprise from Cowell, who replied, “No? Well this is the surprise of the century.” Hung was not admitted through to the next round.
Hung rapidly gained a cult following. A William Hung fan site, set up by realtor Don Chin and his wife Laura, recorded over four million hits within its first week. Hung subsequently appeared on several television programs including Jimmy Kimmel Live!, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Entertainment Tonight, The George Lopez Show, The Late Show With David Letterman, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, The Howard Stern Radio Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dateline NBC, Arrested Development and CBS’s The Early Show. Hung was featured in several national magazines and newspapers; he was parodied on Saturday Night Live and appeared on Celebrity Deathmatch. He was reportedly invited to perform at MTV’s Asia Awards held in mid-February.
Remixes of Hung’s audition performance topped song request lists at a number of radio stations. An online petition to get Hung back to American Idol included more than 100,000 signatures by late February. Hung was brought back to American Idol as part of a mid-season special titled Uncut, Uncensored and Untalented, airing March 1, 2004. The special documented what it was like to experience the audition process and, in Hung’s case, emerge as an inadvertent celebrity. Hung was crowned the Artichoke King of 2006 in Castroville, California’s Artichoke Festival; an honor previously bestowed on Marilyn Monroe
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