Berkeley Junior Shot Down in American Idol Tryout
Monday, February 2, 2004
William Hung never made it past the first round.
When Hung performed Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" in front of the three decidedly unimpressed American Idol judges, he was brutally rejected as they choked back laughter before he could even finish his audition.
But since the episode aired last week, a cult of fans has cropped up on campus and across the Internet, celebrating the UC Berkeley student's now-notorious performance and his way of taking defeat in stride.
"I already gave my best. I have no regrets at all," Hung said, after his routine was trashed by judges Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell.
Now, Hung says he has seen a Web site, www.williamhung.net, devoted to his audition.
In short, Hung has become UC Berkeley' newest celebrity.
"I was like, yeah! Berkeley pride right there," said UC Berkeley freshman JoJo Choi. "It wasn't the best show out there, but I was really proud of him for what he said afterward, about trying his best."
People now regularly approach Hung on campus, telling him they enjoyed his performance, although a few tell him that he can't sing.
"To an extent, they're right," Hung said. "I don't think I should have made it to Hollywood. I wasn't ready for the next level yet, but I wouldn't have known that until I did it."
Hung first thought about auditioning for American Idol when he won a talent competition held at Clark Kerr Campus with his rendition of "She Bangs."
Hung, who listens to Phil Collins and loves to perform Elton John's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," said he never expected to win.
"If I had made it through, I would have had to travel to Hollywood and audition, audition and audition some more, and miss weeks of my classes. I seriously hadn't planned for that," he said.
Despite the painful rejection, Hung said the experience of auditioning for American Idol was "fun in general," although he says watching the audition on television made him cringe a little.
"I feel the producers really exploited my lack of talent at this time," he said. "I looked like an idiot up there. I want to be good, not something that people will laugh at."
Hung filmed his audition last September, but was never told that his singing would be broadcast.
He was watching television alone last week when he saw himself appear on-screen.
"I was like, ‘Oh my god, that's me up there!'" he said.
His parents have yet to watch one of the many videos of his routine circulating on the Internet, Hung said, although all his friends have seen the audition.
Hung, who has sung karaoke for most of his life but never had professional training, said the audition inspired him to improve as a performer.
"My singing wasn't horrible, but my dancing really made it look silly," Hung said. "It's not like I'm a horrible singer that can't sing. But I don't have the consistency or the presentation skills that a good performer has."
Hung has begun performing and auditioning for various choirs on campus. He is also taking classes to learn how to read music and get rid of his singing accent.
Still, Hung, a civil engineering major, has no plans to quit school to pursue a life of singing and dancing.
"I was just trying out and having some fun," he said. "I don't think I'd want to pursue singing as a career; it's an on-the-side thing. It would be great if I could make a career out of it but if I can't, that's OK too."
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