William Hung expected to debut in the top 30 -- The ''Idol'' reject's newly released album is expected to sell 30,000 to 40,000 copies its first week

By Gary Susman
Updated April 13, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: William Hung: Nancy Kaszerman/Zuma Press/Newscom

Take that, Simon. William Hung, the much-ridiculed ”American Idol” reject, is expected to have the last laugh when Wednesday’s Billboard album chart is released. Industry sources have told MTV and the Los Angeles Times that Hung’s ”Inspiration,” released last week, has sold between 30,000 and 40,000 copies already, enough to debut in the chart’s top 30. That’s about in line with what more established stars like Courtney Love and Hoobastank are selling this week. Not bad for a guy who, by all accounts, can’t sing.

How to explain the 21-year-old college student’s strong sales? (Aside, of course, from his ubiquitous media appearances.) ”It’s been mostly,’I can’t believe this guy has an album out,’ and they pick it up and buy it,” Sharon Vitro, operations manager of Tower Records’ flagship Hollywood store, told MTV. ”I can’t really see people playing it more than once.” Fred Fox, a marketing VP at record chain conglomerate Trans World Entertainment, said CD buyers appreciated Hung’s underdog appeal, saying: ”Compared to some of the other crap on the radio, it’s no better or no worse, and they like what he stands for. It really comes down to people cheering on the little guy. There’s no doubt this is someone who’s doing it for the love of music, unencumbered by expectation.”

Billboard chart director Geoff Mayfield pointed to Hung’s cheerful personality. ”He’s not the first horrible-sounding person we’ve heard during the early weeks of ‘American Idol,’ he’s just the first that really connected,” Mayfield said. ”And the fact that his name is Hung probably helped.”