William Hung

It was perfect -- while killing time in Dallas I noticed a Tower Records up the street. I ambled in, flipped through the magazines, checked out the vinyl and nearly puked on some blue-light-special Limp Bizkit toys. Suddenly my peripheral vision drew my attention to what was not, in a welcome change, an out-of-my-league woman rolling her eyes at me. No, this time it led me to the shark-toothed smile of William Hung, American Idol's most beloved reject. There he was, making a "black power" fist on the cover of his aptly titled album, Inspiration, begging me to come check it out. I could hear him whispering in my ear, "Come on, Brian. Buy me. What it hurt?"

"Not so fast, William," I muttered, possibly aloud. "Let me look at this thing first." Anyhoo, I stopped arguing with the voices in my head long enough to read some of the songs Mr. Hung performs on his debut. "She Bangs" -- of course. "Bailamos" -- chortle. "I Believe I Can Fly" -- hilarious. "Rocket Man" -- classic. "Hotel California" -- genius! Taken together, it was enough to make the next voice I'd hear say, "That will be $16.70. Have a nice day."

Before you even start with your "that's quite a bit of money to spend on a joke" spiel, let's get this out of the way. Sure -- Inspiration is a joke, but it is also more. It's a great conversation starter. It's a mood elevator. It's something you will play for every new person that steps into your home or car. And, as its title suggests, it's an inspiration. William Hung could take a piss on Dr. Phil's entire library, and his album runs circles around Tony Robbins's Get the Edge, which, by the way, would set you back four payments of $49.99. Now $16.70 doesn't seem that bad, does it?

And beyond all those things, Inspiration is more. Hung's magical versions of "Circle of Life," "Shake Your Bon Bon" and the gay man-love anthem "Y.M.C.A." are a new kind of comic therapy, as powerful as any unleashed upon this tired, tortured world. Hearing Hung croon, "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leeeeeaaaaave," just might have saved Spalding Gray's life.

And if you're still not convinced that listening to this goofy kid sing out of tune through his accent is enough to drive you from the doldrums, then take a gander at the fold-out poster signed, with love, from America's Asian idol. Still not sold? Try the limited-edition DVD on for size, featuring William playing in a Pokémon tournament and using his newly found fame to chat up the ladies. Still not on board? Well, then go listen to your Clay Aiken record.

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Brian McManus
Contact: Brian McManus