I had heard of William Hung before, but he'd pretty much passed me by. That was until the other week when, bored and flicking through the hundreds of TV channels we now have access to (thanks to Sky), I came across one of those terrible 'worlds worst auditions' compilations - you know the thing, a cheap repackage of some of the audition stages from those loathsome search for a star programmes, fronted by a blonde TV bimbo-in-limbo whose career has been reduced to presenting QVC at 3am - and I was reintroduced to his 'charms'.
For those who don't know, William Hung auditioned for the third season of American Idol, the US version of Pop Idol, in 2003. He belted out a screamingly awful version of the Ricky Martin song She Bangs, panned by Simon Cowell with the words "You can't sing, you can't dance, so what do you want me to say?", to which Hung replied "I have no professional training of singing and dancing." Cowell's scornful retort: "No? Well that is the surprise of the century" dismissed Hung and he should never have been heard of again. But truth is often stranger than fiction: a William Hung fan site recorded over four million hits in its first week; Hung was asked to appear on several television programs and he was featured in several national magazines and newspapers; he was parodied on both Saturday Night Live and Celebrity Deathmatch and, to cap it all, the tuneless wonder was offered a $25,000 advance on a record deal, releasing three albums in 2004 and 2005.
Oh, those albums. Each is sprinkled with a few of William's own 'inspirational thoughts' - a few seconds of the lisping idiot telling his fanbase that if they believe in themselves then anything is possible. It's audio vomit of the highest order, and almost worth the price of purchase alone.
It feels a bit unkind, laughing at someone as deeply untalented (and clearly a sandwich or two short of a picnic) as William Hung, it's almost like kicking a cripple. But I guess I shouldn't worry; the boy has clearly made a few bucks for himself (certainly enough to drop out of school) from his karaoke crooning and appears to all intents to be having a great time. Good for him.
Here, for your delectation, is William Hung strangling (for my money, improving) I Believe I Can Fly.