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Simpson sister finds success

Becca Saunders | Thursday, September 16, 2004

What is the secret to a successful first album? Apparently an MTV reality show, a famous older sister and some hair dye – Ashlee Simpson’s recipe for greatness. Add a solid, heavily promoted debut album hitting platinum after only weeks and shooting to number one, and the story of Ashlee Simpson’s summer is complete. One of the most-hyped albums of the summer, “Autobiography,” Ashlee’s debut, has taken the focus off older sister Jessica and blazed a path for the younger Simpson in the music industry. Just months ago, Ashlee Simpson was nothing more than a guest star making appearances on “Newlyweds,” her sister Jessica Simpson’s reality show. She also had a role on WB’s “Seventh Heaven,” but was not known for much more than her last name. A lot has changed. Following the success of “The Ashlee Simpson Show” on MTV, “Autobiography” became destined for number one. More than hair color differentiates Ashlee from Jessica, and “Autobiography” shows that fact explicitly. One would find it difficult to draw comparisons between Jessica and Ashlee’s albums as they are so different from one another. “Autobiography” is meant to be a rock album. While it does not quite reach that standard, it definitely falls in between rock and pop. Similar to Avril Lavigne’s sound, but not quite as dark in the subject matter, the album showcases a girl with talent and terrific songwriters. While Ashlee doesn’t have the strong ballad voice of her sister, her scratchy voice generally works in the pop-rock scene and fits with the songs she performs. The songs are generally upbeat — although there are a couple slower tracks – and all are composed of catchy melodies that any teenage girl would have in her head and on her lips for days. “Pieces of Me” was the first single off “Autobiography,” and at a tempo between fast and slow, with hints of both throughout the song. It was a perfect choice. The second single that is currently being pushed is “Shadow,” which is a slow song about Ashlee living in Jessica’s shadow throughout their childhood. Ashlee sings of the angst of growing up as the younger sister: “Living in the shadow/ of someone else’s dream / Trying to find a hand to hold, but every touch felt cold to me / Living in a nightmare, a never ending sleep / But now that I am wide awake my chains are finally free / Don’t feel sorry for me.” Fame has come to Ashlee Simpson and her album “Autobiography,” and the main question one cannot help asking is whether or not the album would have been strong enough to stand and rise on its own, independent of all the support it found. It is a good debut album, but number one is probably something that would have escaped the exact same album done by a girl without the last name Simpson. Overall, “Autobiography” is a fun, catchy album that is very likeable. While she does not quite hit her goal for Courtney Love rock, Ashlee stays far away from her sister’s sound and in doing so made a great debut album that has made her a name for her.