According to Forbes, these are the most successful American Idol alumni in terms of units sold:
1. Carrie Underwood – 14.7 million albums sold
2. Kelly Clarkson – 12.9 million albums sold
3. Chris Daughtry – 6.8 million albums sold
4. Clay Aiken – 5 million albums sold
5. Fantasia Barrino – 3.1 million albums sold
Pretty good. Although I can’t say I’ve ever purchased any music from them or any other American Idol musician. But if I did, I would support the most successful American Idol contestant ever: Mr. William Hung.
Why is he the most successful?
This guy was able to get the greatest return on the smallest amount of talent. You could say his talent was so small, it didn’t exist.
William Hung burst into your living rooms early in the 2004 season singing a truly horrible version of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs!”
Now this song is confusing. Here are some of the lyrics:
Well if Lady Luck gets on my side
We’re gonna rock this town alive
I’ll let her rough me up
Till she knocks me out
She walks like she talks,
And she talks like she walks
She walks like she talks? She talks like she walks? What if she walks like a truck driver but has a baby voice: “If its not too much trouble, can I have a beer, pwease?” Or what if she walks kind of shy and hesitant, but slams the bar with her fist and yells, “I NEED A BEER, HERE!”
Anyway, back to Hung. Of course, Simon interrupted him by holding up his hand. “Thank you. Thank you!” he said.
Hung said “I have no professional training!” That’s like Lindsay Lohan saying she’s never had successful alcohol abuse counseling.
He didn’t get passed on — didn’t get to Hollywood.
What did he get?
He got a three record deal, played shows all over the world in front of crowds as large as 25,000 people and his career lasted 7 years. That’s 6 years, 364 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes longer than most people on the show. He made more out of his American Idol appearance than a hunter gets out of a deer. “I use everything,” one hunter said. “I even used the antlers as a drying rack for beaver pelts.”
Heck, many successful rock bands last less than 5 years. Except the Rolling Stones. They’ve been going for decades and look like they will go another 10 years after they are dead. For all we know, they are dead now and are being kept alive by animatronics and medical marijuana.
He appeared on top talk and interview shows, was interviewed in magazines, and 100,000 fans wrote a petition to get him back on the show.
His first album, “Inspiration,” got lousy reviews so it sold poorly right?
Not really — it sold 200,000 copies and reached the top spot of the Billboard Independent Album chart.
He came out with two more albums that did not do near as well:
Inspiration (2004) — Ranked at number 34 — 200,000 units sold
Hung for the Holidays (2004) — Did not place on charts — 35,000 units sold
Miracle: Happy Summer from William Hung (2005) — Did not place on charts — 7,000 units sold
He had some smart people helping him when he was red hot. His father demanded $20,000 as a minimum for a personal appearance, and he showed up everywhere. He was even named the Artichoke King of Castroville, California. This came after he turned down offers from other towns to be the Duke of Dates, the Earl of Olives and Prince of Dried Prunes.
You know he’s got all that cash saved up. This is not MC Hammer. William Hung does not have an entourage. Well, maybe if you count his dad.
Was William Hung the worst ever on the show? Well, contenders for that title include the girl who sang using the voice of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz (“If I were the king of the forest, Not queen, not duke, not prince.”); the guy who came up with “Pants on the Ground” (“Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, looking like a FOOL with your pants on the ground!”); and the guy who whisper/yelled his own song (“Psssss psssss psssss psssss pssss, YEAH YEAH YEAH, DO YOU FEEL ME!!??/Pssss, Pssssss, Pssssss, Psssss, Psssss, Psssss, Psssss.”)
Anyway, you look at it, William Hung made some serious bank with a lousy singing voice that made Rebecca Black seem like Pavarotti, questionable dental care, and a dancing style that resembled a guy raking leaves while fighting off a swarm of African killer bees.
By 2011, he decided to get out of the game. He got a job working as an administrative assistant for LA County and got married in 2014.
The best thing about this guy was his attitude. There seems to be an inverse relationship on American Idol between lack of talent and how mad people get when told they are terrible.
What do most of them do? They get angry. “Who do these judges think they are?” they yell while wagging their finger at the camera, strutting out of the venue with security behind them. “You watch, I’m going to TOP THE CHARTS! I don’t need this little karaoke show!”
What did William Hung do? He said, “I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all.” I’ve said the exact same thing when a disappointed girl starts yelling at me when I last less than 2 minutes. Which is most of the time.