Monday, 25 October 2010


I had heard of William Hung before, but he'd pretty much passed me by. That was until the other week when, bored and flicking through the hundreds of TV channels we now have access to (thanks to Sky), I came across one of those terrible 'worlds worst auditions' compilations - you know the thing, a cheap repackage of some of the audition stages from those loathsome search for a star programmes, fronted by a blonde TV bimbo-in-limbo whose career has been reduced to presenting QVC at 3am - and I was reintroduced to his 'charms'.
For those who don't know, William Hung auditioned for the third season of American Idol, the US version of Pop Idol, in 2003. He belted out a screamingly awful version of the Ricky Martin song She Bangs, panned by Simon Cowell with the words "You can't sing, you can't dance, so what do you want me to say?", to which Hung replied "I have no professional training of singing and dancing." Cowell's scornful retort: "No? Well that is the surprise of the century" dismissed Hung and he should never have been heard of again. But truth is often stranger than fiction: a William Hung fan site recorded over four million hits in its first week; Hung was asked to appear on several television programs and he was featured in several national magazines and newspapers; he was parodied on both Saturday Night Live and Celebrity Deathmatch and, to cap it all, the tuneless wonder was offered a $25,000 advance on a record deal, releasing three albums in 2004 and 2005.
Oh, those albums. Each is sprinkled with a few of William's own 'inspirational thoughts' - a few seconds of the lisping idiot telling his fanbase that if they believe in themselves then anything is possible. It's audio vomit of the highest order, and almost worth the price of purchase alone.
It feels a bit unkind, laughing at someone as deeply untalented (and clearly a sandwich or two short of a picnic) as William Hung, it's almost like kicking a cripple. But I guess I shouldn't worry; the boy has clearly made a few bucks for himself (certainly enough to drop out of school) from his karaoke crooning and appears to all intents to be having a great time. Good for him.Here, for your delectation, is William Hung strangling (for my money, improving) I Believe I Can Fly.Enjoy!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Blood and Mud

Apologies for having spent the last month missing in action, but I'm back with a real belter for you, Elton Britt's missive to the blood transfusion service, Korean Mud. A real rarity, this 78 (originally backed with a track called The Unknown Soldier) is one of the scant few songs released about America's involvement in the Korean war - and one of a surprisingly small number to deal with the subject of donating blood.But Elton Britt, who he? James Elton Baker, to give the man his full name, was born in 1913 in Arkansas. A sickly child, Elton was plagued by illness all his life, so much so that his parents didn't bother to name him until he was a full year old, giving him the middle name of Elton after the doctor who had spent so much time keeping him alive. The Bakers were a musical family: young Elton started playing guitar at age ten and later, greatly impressed by the records of Jimmie Rodgers, he also taught himself how to yodel. His first chance at stardom came in 1930 when he joined the Beverly Hillbillies, a popular group (rather than the 60s TV show), acquiring his new surname on the way. An unlucky soul, his first wife, Margaret (who he married in 1934) died in an automobile accident less than a year into their marriage. The following year he wed Jeannie Russell, who died two days after the birth of their second child in 1937. Luckily his third and fourth wives seemed to have been made of stronger stuff and did not meet such unpleasant ends.

In 1937 Britt signed with RCA Victor, where he remained until 1956. During this time he cut something like 600 tracks and released more than 60 albums; he appeared in a couple of movies - The Last Dogie (1933) and Laramie (1949). In 1960 he retired from music to stand for the Democratic Party although Britt returned to the entertainment world shortly after. He died in 1972 after suffering a heart attack while driving.

Still, here's Elton at his very best - or worst - singing Korean Mud. Enjoy

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