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Catching Up With ‘American Idol’s’ Most Memorable Castoffs

(Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)American Idol season 11 starts tonite. (I know that’s what I said, 11 years of idol, no way….way!) So, as we prepare for the new batch of idiots and hope there’s a Carrie Underwood hidden among them, it’s time to look back.

For many “Idol” viewers, it is this early stage of the competition, when various unknown singers with wildly varying talent levels walk into that audition room for the very first time, that’s the best part of the season. Many of these auditioners don’t end up going the distance–unless that distance is the short post-rejection walk of shame back to their cars in the parking lot–but they make lasting impressions nonetheless. And some of them even manage to stretch their fame beyond the expected 15 minutes.

Which bring us to the question: What have some of the most memorable “Idol” rejects been up to since leaving the show? Let’s find out…

WILLIAM HUNG

photo: Fox
Of course, this article must begin with this patron saint of all rejected “Idol” auditioners. Back in 2004, even in the days before YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, William’s wacky Season 3 “She Bangs” audition went instantly viral, and he incredibly ended up with a major record deal. He even ended up selling more records than some legitimate singers from “Idol,” as his first album, Inspiration, actually shifted almost 200,000 units (please note that’s 50,000 more copies than Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze’s post-”Idol” album sold). William has since released two more albums, starred in commercials, and acted in two Hong Kong films, but what’s most interesting is the fact that he is now working for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department as a technical crime analyst. (“My passion has always been math. It just took a while to end up as my career,” he told the L.A. Weekly.) But while William may be giving up his musical crimes to focus on actual ones, his “Idol” legacy remains intact. In fact, the L.A. Weekly just put him at number one on its top 20 list of all-time musicians. (“He is the greatest musician of all time because he epitomizes our highs, our lows, and our struggles to make ourselves heard,” wrote journalist Ben Westhoff, insanely.) Hung apparently still bangs after all these years.

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