Top 20 ‘Idol’ Contestants of All Time – 6: William Hung
There have been far worse singers to audition for “American Idol,” but for some reason Season 3 contestant William Hung is remembered among the masses as the most futile contestant in series history.
Here’s why they’re wrong.
For starters, no one who’s ever been rejected after an initial “Idol” audition has been recalled as often, or perhaps as fondly, as Hung. And although his accent on Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” was as prominent as his notes were clipped, he actually sang on key. (Seriously! Ignore the windshield-wiper arm choreography and listen to it again. The notes were right; the delivery was just… not as right.)
I’d like to think what endears Hung to the audience to this day is his positivity; so often in the “Idol” audition process, we’re confronted with jerks who confront the judges with violent words or motions after a horrendous audition. Without irony, Hung admitted he had “no professional training.” While some critics cried exploitation — and they have their points — it seemed like everyone in the country the next morning was talking about William Hung and attempting his dance moves.
To this day, people who have never seen an episode “American Idol” know who William Hung is, except, evidently, Todd Packer on “The Office.” Other than maybe Kelly Clarkson and Sanjaya Malakar, I’d bet more non-“Idol” fans know William Hung than any other “Idol” contestant.
Now, I’m not sure to what degree Hung is in on the joke these days — I sincerely hope he is — but at one point he laughed all the way to the bank. It’s likely no one in the history of the show’s earned more cash for his/her audition footage alone. He reportedly claimed a $25,000 check from the music video channel Fuse and sold more than 200,000 copies of his album “Inspiration.” Hung also told People he’d earned $1 million since his first “Idol” appearance. I know a lot of professionally trained singers who haven’t made that much money.
There’s only one William Hung. And no matter what you think of him, the money he’s made or the way he’s been treated, I think everyone can agree that that’s a very good thing.
– Top 20 ‘Idol’ Contestants of All Time – Epilogue
–No. 1: Kelly Clarkson
–No. 2: Carrie Underwood
–No. 3: Chris Daughtry
–No. 4: Jennifer Hudson
–No. 5: Sanjaya Malakar
–No. 7: Clay Aiken
–No. 8: Fantasia Barrino
–No. 9: Blake Lewis
–No. 10: Tamyra Gray
–No. 11: Jordin Sparks
–No. 12: Melinda Doolittle
–No. 13: Bo Bice
–No. 14: Elliott Yamin
–No. 15: Ruben Studdard
–No. 16: Katharine McPhee
–No. 17: Taylor Hicks
–No. 18: Diana DeGarmo
–No. 19: Frenchie Davis
–No. 20: Lisa Leuschner
–Top 20 intro and criteria/Honorable Mentions (Nos. 21-31)
(Photo courtesy of People/Jennifer Graylock/AP/FOX.)