It’s The Perfect Time For An Ashlee Simpson Comeback

Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images.

It’s been 10 years since her last album

Last month, Popcast, the music podcast for The New York Times, posed the question: “Was Ashley Simpson Underappreciated?” I tweeted this in haste:

I stand by that! It's not even up for debate. Or maybe it is, because that's what host Jon Caramanica and his guests, pop music editors Caryn Ganz and Joe Coscarelli, did: They explored the singer’s music and defunct reality television show through two hour-long episodes of the podcast. Because though her career was short, there’s still a lot to digest about the youngest Simpson sister. One major aspect being: Did we cast her off too quickly or too harshly?

Ashlee was molded into the antithesis of every blonde, bubblegum pop, early ‘00s pop star—including her sister Jessica Simpson. She dyed her hair black, infused rock into her pop, and adopted a rebellious persona. Instead of singing about falling for a boy’s toxic kisses, she sang about living in the shadows of someone else’s dream. She fell in line with Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, and Avril Lavigne, who were all on the rise at the time. And the angst worked in her favor. In 2004, she helped usher in sad girl pop, and emo teens everywhere ate it up.

Her debut album, Autobiography, went triple platinum and became the highest selling debut from a female recording artist the year of its release. It would go on to sell five million copies worldwide. Her first single, “Pieces Of Me,” was a huge success as were her follow-ups “Shadow” and “La La.” Was she a great singer? Hardly, but she brought a sound that was reminiscent of Gwen Stefani, and millennials loved it. And even though she clearly borrowed from artists, she came off as authentic, less derivative than appreciative. That is, until the fateful night of October 23, 2004.

I’m talking, of course, about her historic SNL performance. Having just performed her single “Pieces of Me,” Ashlee returned to the stage to sing “Autobiography.” Instead, though, the vocal track for “Pieces” came on, leading many to believe that she hadn’t actually sung her first performance and had instead lip-synched. Realizing what happened, Ashlee stood around awkwardly and started doing a jig to distract from the mistake. But the damage had already been done.

Many cite her 2004 performance the beginning of the end. Kevin O’Keefe wrote for The Atlantic: “When the wrong track played on SNL, America saw the seams. And they didn’t like what they saw.” By the time Ashlee released her second album I Am Me, which did go platinum, her name was smeared. When it came time to put out her third and final album Bittersweet World—produced by Timbaland—everyone had already written her off. She even performed on SNL a year later as a sort of consolation. The performance went off without a hitch, but nobody cared. Ashlee was aboard a sinking ship, and no one was willing to throw her a life jacket.

I do believe, though, that if this same incident happened today, she would’ve at least been thrown a buoy of some kind. Don’t get me wrong, her name would be trending on Twitter quicker than she could walk off that stage. But, her reputation would’ve experienced a ding rather than a massive blow. Think about it: Lana Del Rey was heavily criticized six years ago for her shaky SNL performance and, well, look at Lana Del Rey’s career now. Mariah Carey—though she already has a very well-established career—is infamous for her lackluster performances, and we all still worship her. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 2004 is also the same year Janet Jackson was vilified for “showing” her breast on national television during the Super Bowl. Her career, like Simpson’s, never properly bounced back either. Nowadays, you can apologize, own up to your actions, and still be okay (just look at Katy Perry!). One bad performance won’t be your downfall (just look at Rihanna!), and it definitely won’t be the end of your career. Ashlee, it seems, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Funnily enough, Ashlee, now 33, married into music royalty. She hasn’t put out music since 2012 (when she released a very forgettable single “Bat for a Heart”), but it’s rumored she and her beau, Evan Ross (yes, son of Diana), are planning to do so soon. Is the world ready for an Ashlee comeback? Judging from the responses to the question we started with—“Was Ashlee Simpson Underappreciated?”—we think the answer is absolutely.  

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Which one, though?

Kim Kardashian is suing fast fashion retailer Missguided, claiming that the brand uses her image to spark interest in and sell its clothing. This lawsuit comes a few days after a theory, that she may be selling her own vintage clothing designs to fast fashion brands so that they can rip them off, made its rounds on the internet.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kardashian's attorney Michael Kump writes that "Missguided systematically uses the names and images of Kardashian and other celebrities to advertise and spark interest in its website and clothing." Other celebrities that the brand has tagged on its Instagram include Cardi B and Dua Lipa, along with the other members of the Kardashian-Jenner family.

Kump uses the example of the Yeezy dress that Kim posted to Instagram, which was ripped off by the brand within a couple of hours. "Recently, for example, after Kardashian posted a photo on Instagram of a dress that was made for her... Missguided quickly responded with its own Instagram post... boasting that it would be ripping off the design within 'a few days,'" Kump continues. "Missguided purposefully inserted Kardashian's Instagram username (@KimKardashian) into its post to capitalize on her celebrity status and social media following in promoting the sale of its upcoming product."

Kump also draws attention to the fact that the brand uses Kardashian's name so much that it may lead others to believe that she works with the brand, which, he wants to make clear, she does not: "Missguided's U.S. website has included entire pages that are devoted solely to the sale of clothing inspired by Kardashian, and on which Kardashian's name and likeness are prominently used without her permission to promote the products."

Some are noting that it's suspicious that Kardashian is not suing Fashion Nova, as well, since the brand most recently ripped off a vintage Mugler gown that Kardashian wore. Though it may be harder for Kardashian to make any claims since timestamps have revealed that the dress was made before Kardashian premiered the dress.



Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

He previously claimed to be a victim of a hate crime

According to reports, actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested by the Chicago Police Department. As CNN outlines, he's facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report. If found guilty, he could face up to three years in prison.

The Empire star previously claimed that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime on January 29. He alleged that two masked men attacked him, tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and yelled, "This is MAGA country!" Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were eventually arrested and brought in for questioning, during which news broke that one appeared on Empire and the other worked as Smollett's personal trainer. Now, according to both men and reports, it's being said that Smollett paid them to "orchestrate" the attack.

Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, have issued a statement regarding their client's defense. "Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," they told Deadline. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

If this is all true, this unfortunate turn of events should in no way take away from the fact that there is an abundant number of racially and sexually motivated attacks happening all of the time. They also still remain vastly underreported, so it's essential to listen to alleged victims, always.