Whether you were ever an American Idol fan or not, in 2004, you knew the name William Hung. When he was still a civil engineering major at UC Berkley, William waltzed into the audition room and stood before Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson to belt out Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" horribly off-key — and it was amazing.
Shortly after Simon stopped his performance, the notorious judge said to William, "You can't sing, you can't dance. So, what do you want me to say?" The young student's response? "I already gave my best and I have no regrets at all." And with that comment, William won over the hearts of millions, and became a worldwide inspiration.
After his (very brief) stint on American Idol, the Hong Kong native became sort of a celebrity in the music world. Though his celebrity status wasn't appreciated by everyone (many felt his fans were promoting Asian stereotypes), William seemed to enjoy his popularity, and continued to make music. But the burning question is: What's William Hung up to now? Spoiler alert: He's living a very different life these days.
He stayed in the music scene for a while.
After William appeared on American Idol, he exploded, so to speak. From Jimmy Kimmel Live! to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the amateur singer appeared on almost every daytime and late-night talk show. He was even parodied on Saturday Night Live! In 2004, he was given a $25,000 advance for a record deal, and recorded three albums — Inspiration, Hung for the Holidays, and Happy Summer From William Hung — in 2004 and 2005.
He's appeared in commercials.
In addition to his recording career, William also appeared in a few commercials after he burst onto the reality TV scene. He had guest appearances in spots for Ask.com, Cingular, and the Game Show Network. All from a 30-second audition!
He's now retired from music.
In 2011, William hung up his musical hat and took a job as a technical crime analyst for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Since then, he doesn't appear to be making any music, but he still reflects on his overnight fame fondly. "I showed that even the Average Joe could succeed," he told LA Weekly. "Though I may not have won Idol, I somehow made it and that's something I'm very grateful for." William has since moved on from his career as a crime analyst and works as a motivational speaker.
But he did make a celebrated appearance recently.
In August of this year, William showed up to a karaoke bar for a friend's birthday and he — you guessed it — sang "She Bangs" once more. William sounded just as good (or bad) as we all remember. But more importantly, he remains just as happy and positive.