William Hung is famously known for singing ‘She Bangs’ on American Idol. His terrible performance catapulted him into reality television fame.
The reality show American Idol has offered a plethora of gifted and talented singers during its 19 seasons. However, it has also showcased cringeworthy auditions from aspiring singers who were completely sure of themselves. Perhaps, one of the earliest and most memorable contestants would be William Hung. In 2004, 21-year-old William proudly stood in front of Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Randy Jackson and belted a Ricky Martin rendition of “She Bangs.” The performance was extremely off putting but it was his kindness and positive spirit that warmed the hearts of fans. William’s banging performance failed to detonate but little did he know it would lead his career to skyrocket.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
William Hung was born in Hong Kong, China, and moved to California at age 11. He was an engineer student at University of California Berkeley when he auditioned in season 3 of American Idol. In his audition video, he told host Ryan Seacrest that his major and music may not have anything in common, but he wanted to make a living pursuing music. William chose to sing the Ricky Martin song simply because it was a great song. While William’s Idol career was cut short on the day of auditions, he eluded confidence and perseverance the entire time. Once William started singing, the judges began to laugh and Simon shook his head in despair. William was stopped mid-song by Simon before being asked, “You can’t sing, you can’t dance, what do you want me to do?” But, not even Simon’s cutthroat criticism affected William. He left with his head held high. While his audition may have been humorous, viewers admired his perseverance and his popularity grew overnight.
After his stint on American Idol, William became increasingly popular and decided to fully pursue music. Despite all odds, William landed a record deal and recorded three albums. There were no original songs on William’s first album called “Inspiration,” but it sold 200,000 units. However, he was able to perform during halftime at a Golden State Warriors game and sing “She Bangs” on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and was featured on numerous other late night talk shows. He even created a Christmas album called, “Hung For The Holidays.” William also had a whirlwind of fan clubs and starred in commercials for major brands like Jack ‘n’ The Box. The spirited singer also appeared on shows like Arrested Development and Mad TV. William’s album sales continued to drop with each album release and critics slammed his music. His last album on sold 7,000. By 2011, William retired from music and disappeared from the spotlight.
William’s rendition of ‘She Bangs’ spearheaded what it means to “go viral.” He was one of the earliest reality stars to be humiliated on national TV but was able to capitalize off of his newfound fame. In the growing age of reality tv, William proved that failure and humiliation could be turned into success. Once William’s short-lived fame fizzled out, the 38-year-old decided to change the direction of his career to help others outside of entertainment.
William is now married and became a technical crime analyst for the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department after retiring from music in 2011. In 2017, he became a motivational and keynote speaker for TEDx. According to his LinkedIn, William has spoken in Los Angeles, Singapore, and Canada. He was also able to perform a long overdue duet with Ricky Martin in Las Vegas in 2018. William was able to sing “She Bangs” one last time during the American Idol series finale on Fox in 2016. While some critics may feel William’s career was made out of a mockery, William is sure that people gravitated towards him because of his attitude, charisma, and his message to not give up on your dreams. Today, William still has no regrets about his performance on American Idol. In an interview with Variety, he said, “It’s all about continuing to reinvent yourself, and figure out what makes you happy.” After 17 years, it’s good to see William continue to be positive and grateful for his unprecedented fame.
Next: American Idol: Judge Katy Perry’s Biggest Scandals & Dramas Explained
Every Week 9 Epic & Legendary Quest in Fortnite Season 6