William Hung

From Academic Kids

William Hung on American Idol (courtesy Fox Broadcasting)
William Hung on American Idol (courtesy Fox Broadcasting)

William Hung (Traditional Chinese: 孔慶翔, Simplified Chinese: 孔庆翔) (born January 13, 1983) is a Chinese American college student who gained fame and notoriety in early 2004 as a result of his audition performance of Ricky Martin's hit song "She Bangs" on the television series American Idol.

Born in 1983 in Hong Kong and originally from the Sha Tin area, Hung moved to Southern California in 1993. He entered the University of California, Berkeley, in 2001. While a civil engineering student at the university, Hung was inspired to audition for the third season of the reality talent search program in San Francisco during September 2003 after winning a talent contest at his dormitory. Producers never told him that his audition would be broadcast, and he only found out about it when it aired four months later. His audition was the final one on the January 27, 2004 installation, the coup de grce of an hour-long episode that showcased other would-be pop stars, mostly lacking in talent.

As judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul tried to hold back their laughter, judge Simon Cowell dismissed Hung's performance outright: "You can't sing, you can't dance, so what do you want me to say?" Hung defended himself, stating "I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all." Jackson and Abdul lauded his positive response, and Abdul said, "That's the best attitude yet." Hung's response to Cowell's criticism was in stark contrast to earlier contestants' often angry, confrontational rejoinders. Hung also remarked, "I have no professional training," eliciting a response of mock surprise from Simon Cowell. Hung was not admitted to the next round of auditions.

Missing image
This picture is featured on a magnet and is one of the many Hung products available today.

Nevertheless, Hung rapidly gained a cult following around the world. A William Hung fan site ([1] (http://www.williamhung.net)), set up by realtor Don Chin and his wife Laura, recorded over four million hits within its first week. Hung subsequently appeared as a guest on a number of television programs including On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Entertainment Tonight, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dateline NBC, and CBS's The Early Show. He was also featured in numerous magazines and newspapers nationwide and parodied on Saturday Night Live. He was reportedly invited to perform at the MTV Asia Awards held in mid-February. Remixes of his performance topped song request lists at a few radio stations. An online petition to get Hung back on the show claimed 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, which aired March 1, 2004. The special documented what it was like to go through the audition process and, in Hung's case, emerge as an inadvertent celebrity. There is a degree of irony in the situation, as Hung has become more prominent in the public eye and modern culture than most other previous American Idol contestants.

At a February 18 volleyball game at UC Berkeley, Hung again performed his rendition of "She Bangs", and was offered a surprise $25,000 check from the Fuse music channel and a record deal from Koch Entertainment. On March 8, Koch Entertainment announced that Hung had decided to sign the record deal he was offered in February. Hung's first single, a cover of The Village People's "YMCA," debuted on March 19. Hung's debut album, Inspiration, recorded over the weekend of March 6, was released on April 6 and includes covers of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" and "Shake Your Bon Bon" and Elton John's "Rocket Man," as well as a 40-minute DVD documenting the making of the album called A Day In The Life of William Hung.

To promote his album, Hung performed before nearly 20,000 fans during half-time at a Golden State Warriors game on April 6. Several of his songs reached the top 10 on Apple's iTunes charts, and his album reached #3 on Amazon.com's sales rankings. With the release of his album, Fuse also aired a half-hour special called Idol Worship: The William Hung Story, featuring Hung in his first music video, another rendition of "She Bangs".

Rumours circulated around the Internet in mid-2004 that Hung had died of a heroin overdose. Started by a satirical article on Broken Newz, the rumour spread far enough that a Singaporean newspaper printed an article confirming that he was not dead and would fulfill his tour schedule in that country.

In his free time, Hung is a fan of the anime Pokmon, and is an avid player and online strategy writer for the trading card game based on the series. Hung released a Christmas album, Hung For The Holidays, on October 19, 2004.

His first film, a HK$10 million (US$2 million) Hong Kong period comedy called Where is Mama's Boy?, was released in January 2005. Hung played a good-natured village kid who sells Chinese pancakes to pay his mother's medical bills and gets discovered as a singer and helps a woman protect her business from a jealous and scheming older sister. In this film Hung played opposite to veteran Hong Kong actress Nancy Sit and parodied his own American Idol performance with the song Shao Bing (Chinese Pancake).

Hung, as of April 2005, appears in commercials for the search engine Ask Jeeves and mobile phone service provider Cingular Wireless.

See also

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