August 02, 2004 03:00 PM

If at first you don’t succeed, cash in. William Hung, who obliterated Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” in his attempt to compete on American Idol last season – and then released his own album full of butchered tracks – has international stardom within his grasp.

The 21-year-old engineering student, who was born in Hong Kong but moved with his family to Southern California as a child, is recording a Christmas album due to be released in time for the holidays and is starring in a Cantonese film, reports Reuters.

“Singing and entertainment are now my first priority,” Hung told reporters in Macau.

Hung’s audition performance, you might recall, was summed up by Judge Simon Cowell as follows: “You can’t sing, you can’t dance, so what do you want me to say?”

Meanwhile, Hung appears to be having the last word – and laugh. Since his Idol launching pad, he has released music videos and an album (a curiosity called “Inspiration,” which came out in April and includes “She Bangs” as well as Elton John’s “Rocket Man”), but nothing so mainstream as a Christmas album.

As for his screen career, Hung says his movie is about a mother who was “crazy about her son” and costars veteran Hong Kong actress Nancy Sit Ka-yin Sit.

At a weekend press conference, Hung was greeted by about 100 fans, who cheered him, and by dozens of journalists from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China, who described him as garishly dressed.

“He has kept his silly style,” said one young woman, who identified herself only as Iris.

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