"Whatever Happened to William Hung?" Our Life Logs Finds the Answer

This true-life story is a repost from our sister site, Our Life Logs®



Whatever Happened to

William Hung?

To most of the world, I’m known as the “She Bangs” Guy, the man whose American Idol audition had news outlets dubbing him the “worst singer ever.” But to my friends, I’m just William Hung, the man who never gives up on his dream.


I’ve always been known for exuding positivity. But to know how I got that way, you need to know my background. I was born an only child in Hong Kong in 1982. My father worked as a jewelry model maker. The best way to describe it is that he would bring people’s drawn ideas to life. His developing career brought us to Hershey, Pennsylvania, in the United States when I was in the 4th grade. Unfortunately, that job only lasted six months before he was laid off. After that, we moved to Los Angeles, California, where I spent the rest of my upbringing. When I think back on my childhood, I think of my mom’s exuberance, my father’s determination, and our karaoke nights. None of us were very good, but we always had a blast!

My parents were kind-hearted and supportive of me, especially my mom. She cared less about good grades and more about if I was happy. She was bubbly and fun and was never afraid to express her feelings with honesty. Positivity radiated from her pores, and I wanted to be just like her. With a warm smile and a hand on my shoulder, she used to tell me, “It’s okay to fail as long as you tried your best.” That always resonated with me. As I grew up and went off to college, it became my life philosophy.


I attended the University of California, Berkeley where I majored in Civil Engineering. One day, when I was walking across campus, I stumbled across a flyer for the school’s talent show. I thought it would be fun to enter and sing my favorite Ricky Martin song, “She Bangs.” Karaoke nights growing up were always so much fun. With my mom’s positive words rattling in my mind, I entered the show. And, can you believe it? I won! My prize? A DVD player. I know, super exciting. But truly, I won something bigger that night; the confidence to audition for American Idol in fall 2003. I’d had no professional training, but singing was something I loved to do, so I went for it.

It’s important to note that I didn’t tell anyone about my plans to audition. While my parents wanted me to be happy, like most parents, they also wanted me to become an engineer or a doctor. Entertainer didn’t fall on that list, so I kept it a secret. Plus, if they knew I was skipping two days of school for the audition, they’d think I was crazy!

And so, without telling a soul, I traveled about an hour to San Francisco to audition. As I stared around at the 3000 other people waiting for their shot at fame, I wondered if I even had a chance. As time ticked by and I heard people say they were only given 15 seconds to sing for the producers before they were sent away, I got a little nervous. But after three hours, it was my turn, and they let me sing for a whole minute! To get to what’s seen on TV, you go through a couple rounds so they can condense who goes before the judges. I was let through that first day, then the second by the executive producers, to audition for the legendary judges (Simon, Randy, and Paula) on the third.

At American Idol audition, 2003.


When I was motioned to go in, I went in a little nervous, but mostly excited to perform. I wanted to try my hand at making music for a living, and I knew this was my chance. I came in with a smile on my face and when asked why I wanted to be the next American Idol, I said, “I may not be the best singer in the world, but I sing from my heart, and I put all my energy into it.”