'American Idol has been a cultural phenomenon for much of the past decade, racking up some of TV's highest ratings for eight years straight and launching several multiplatinum careers.

But at what cost to classic rock? And what of terrible classic rock covers?

Year after year, thousands of amateur hopefuls line up for miles in order to belt out – and often beat to death – some piece of musical history, usually reducing timeless standards to glorified karaoke numbers, devoid of passion and usurped by pop-music arrangements -- all for the benefit of 'American Idol'’s typically undiscerning audience.

Perhaps no other contestant to emerge out of the show’s bottomless pit of aspiring stars drew as much scorn and sympathy as William Hung -- a young man whose glaring lack of talent was compensated by his naive but indomitable positivity. Naturally, he proved irresistible to millions of 'American Idol' viewers.

Before most people even knew what "viral" meant (in the Internet sense, at least), Hung had become a cult figure online, in the press and on TV talk shows. Though he never even made it past 'American Idol'’s first-round auditions that season, Hung was soon rewarded with a record contract and proceeded to release three albums in 2004 and 2005. (Who can forget his perennial Christmas classic ‘Hung for the Holidays’?)

The first of these LPs was rather hopelessly named ‘Inspiration’ and showcased the singer's tuneless renditions of songs as varied as Ricky Martin’s ‘She Bangs,’ Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ and the Village People’s ‘YMCA.’ But none of these proved quite as painful to the ears as his nuclear-powered devastation of the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California.’

In Hung’s limp and sweaty hands, the Eagles’ haunting, guitar-driven allegory about 1970s Los Angeles is transformed into a meaningless mess of tunelessly warbled non sequiturs, backed by what sounds like a Fischer Price electric piano performed by the Holiday Inn lounge band of your worst nightmares.

You can bet your bottom dollar that, when classic rockers go to hell, this will probably be the eternal soundtrack they’ll be subjected to. But at least that charming scamp who captivated and assaulted 'Idol' fans' ears for a brief period will be there to cheer things up a bit.

Listen to the Eagles' 'Hotel California'

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