Simon Cowell vs. William Hung
The one thing most responsible for American Idol's cultural ubiquity in the early 2000s was judge Simon Cowell's ruthless, callous critiques of the show's contestants. (It helped that the show's producers regularly ushered out deliberately awful singers simply to see how Cowell and his fellow judges would respond.) In one of the show's most famous auditions, Season Three contestant William Hung performed a one-of-a-kind rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs," to which Cowell responded in typically withering fashion: "You can't sing. You can't dance. So what do you want me to say?" When Hung explained that he had no professional training, Cowell mockingly replied, "Well, there's the surprise of the century!"