Just in case you've worn out your William Hung CD, the soundtrack to The WB's Superstar USA -- a topsy-turvy, borderline cruel reality show parody where the good singers are eliminated and the worst singer of all earns a recording deal and $100,000, along with the knowledge of how bad he or she truly is -- comes to the rescue with more painful singing. To the show's credit, the soundtrack showcases many kinds of terrible vocalists. Jamie, who sings Alicia Keys' "Fallin'," could have a decent voice, but she's "pitchy" (as American Idol would put it), and the sour notes she hits ruin her whole performance. Mario, on the other hand, starts out his version of "Don't Want to Miss a Thing" on the mediocre side and builds up to an spectacularly awful climax of tone-deaf shouting and squealing. Likewise, Tamara's "Unbreak My Heart" begins as a limp whimper and ends with tin-eared, diva-esque warbling. JoJo delivers "Crazy in Love" in an oddly fey, white-boy monotone and, adding insult to injury, runs out of breath halfway through the song. However, The WB's Superstar USA may have found its William Hung in Rosa, who sings "Bootylicious," "Wind Beneath My Wings," and "Genie in a Bottle." Her strange mix of yelping, breathy whispers, and quasi-operatic vocalizing takes the concept of awful singing to new, inspired depths. While the show and this album have some the "let's laugh at the unwitting, untalented people" amusement factor -- for whatever that's worth -- of the Hung phenomenon, there are a few crucial differences: the hopelessly bad singers on American Idol, Hung included, are an entertaining diversion from the show's main attraction. By making the untalented the focus of a show like The WB's Superstar USA, it tips the balance of the show from amusing to pathetic. Also, despite William Hung's woeful lack of vocal ability, his determination and belief in himself -- however deluded it was -- made him kind of charming and thus a winner of sorts. People responded to this, and it was possible to believe that you could laugh with and at Hung on his album Inspiration. There are a few people on The WB's Superstar USA that are similarly endearing, most notably Omar, who comes across as a bizarro version of Ruben Studdard; but whoever "wins" this contest wins nothing but public ridicule. The concept behind the singing, even more than the singing itself, make The WB's Superstar USA an intermittently funny, but mostly queasy, listening experience.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2