As Jessica Simpson’s little sister, Ashlee Simpson had the bar set high when she set out to pursue a singing career. Many expected her to be a joke.
Though she couldn’t reach the high notes like her sister, a younger Ashlee developed her own style of music, one that made her easily distinguishable from other artists. Compared to Jessica, the 26-year-old sounded a bit raspy, though this played into her edgy, dark style. For the most part Ashlee sang pop songs that were set to a background of punk and rock.
Her first studio album, 2004’s Autobiography, is Ashlee Simpson’s biggest musical accomplishment to date. The hit tracks “Pieces of Me” and “La La” feature harsh-sounding acoustics and an almost angry-sounding Simpson. The whole album gave off a rebellious vibe, and it worked with the younger crowd… at least for a while.
It wouldn’t work for her next project, though.
In 2005, I Am Me was released and to much disappointment. The only song really worth listening to was “Boyfriend”, which happened to be catchy. The tune also had a story behind it, as Simpson’s perspective apparently held that Lindsay Lohan believed she had stolen her boyfriend at the time (Wilmer Valderrama). Still, it’d take a lot more than “Boyfriend” to get the album any stars.
A few years later, Jessica’s sister still wanted to prove that she had singing talent. After several date changes and push-backs, Ashlee Simpson released what she called an “80’s inspired” album in early 2008. Co-produced by Timbaland, Bittersweet World‘s first single of “Out of My Head” was another over-energized pop song with annoying vocals. Despite a few songs that resembled those from her first album, Ashlee’s third project had a different sound overall.
It’s obvious by now that the all-saving technology of the recording studio allowed Ashlee Simpson to have a singing career. Her voice alone sounds like something you might hear on “The Best of American Idol”, and that’s not in a good way. Like most artists, she has her own group of fans, those people who await new music and follow up on the latest happenings in her personal and professional life. However I think it’d be a stretch to say that there are people who love every song of hers. Looking at the music she’s released over the last 6 years, it seems Simpson has simply been struggling to find what works. IGN’s review of her third album closes with a statement echoing this notion. It reads: “Ashlee hasn’t carved out her own signature niche in the all-too-crowded femme fatale/post-teen sex symbol infatuated world of girl pop. She seems confused, awry, and decidedly astray in terms of discovering her own unique personality and sound.”
Unbeknownst to many music fans, the younger Simpson sister actually started her career in television and film. As a teenager, she starred on a popular television series for two consecutive seasons, and she also had a small part in a movie.
Ashlee Simpson’s longest running role to date was on the WB family drama “7th Heaven“, where she portrayed the blonde-haired Cecilia Smith from 2002-2004. In the former year she also had a cameo in The Hot Chick, a comedy film starring Rachel McAdams and Anna Faris. Judging from video clips, it’s fair to say that Ashlee should have pursued acting lessons before diving into music.
In 2005, the 26-year old starred in the independent film Undiscovered. Ironically, her character (Clea) is an aspiring young actress. Despite the effort, Ashlee’s supporting role wouldn’t impress many viewers, and critics were harsh in assessing her acting skills. About.com writer Rebecca Murray wrote: “If you thought Mariah Carey was horrible in Glitter, you might just have a little more compassion for Ms. Carey’s performance after seeing Simpson try to act. And I do mean try. It’s unnatural and uncomfortable to watch.” Indeed Ashlee’s part in Undiscovered might have been too much exposure taking into consideration her acting ability.
Though this independent film didn’t gain her much praise, Ashlee Simpson did manage to reprieve herself the following year. Surprisingly, she took a bold step in portraying the character of Roxie Hart in London’s West End production of Chicago. Referring to the 2006 show, MTV reported “reviews for that performance were quite good, and her debut at the Ambassador Theater in New York was also received warmly.”
In 2009, Ashlee was back in the news after being recruited to star on the CW’s revival of the 90’s “Melrose Place” series. Two months into playing Violet Foster, Simpson’s role was scrapped by execs in what they asserted was a planned departure for her character. Another male actor was axed from the script at this time as well.
Soon after exiting “Melrose” it was announced that Simpson-Wentz would reprise her role as Roxie Hart in the Broadway production of Chicago. She performed in New York City for six straight week starting on November 30, 2009. Though reviews of the show were mixed, Ashlee was not intensely criticized like she had been with her music. If anything, viewers seemed to be satisfied with the performance.
Ashlee Simpson-Wentz has made efforts to succeed in the areas of film, television, and music. Ultimately, she does not have what it takes to be a Hollywood star. This considered, she should focus all of her efforts on what’s most important: being a good mom. Seeing that her son Bronx is only 2, parenting will be a full-time job in itself.