Ashlee Nicole Simpson
(born October 3, 1984) is an American singer-songwriter and actress. The younger sister of Jessica Simpson, she rose to prominence as a participant in her sister's reality show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica
, and starred in the spin-off program The Ashlee Simpson Show
which portrayed her creating her debut album, Autobiography
. The album was released after the show's first season and went to the top of the album chart. Following a North American concert tour and a film appearance, Simpson released her second number-one album, I Am Me
(2005). Simpson assumed creative control over her less successful third album, Bittersweet World
Following the success of her sister Jessica's first album, Ashlee became one of her backup dancers. Simpson recorded a song titled "Christmas Past, Present and Future" in 2002 for the holiday album School's Out! Christmas
, which was later re-released on Radio Disney Jingle Jams
in 2004 and 2005. In the summer of 2003, she released a song called "Just Let Me Cry" for the soundtrack to the film Freaky Friday
. After her appearances on the School's Out! Christmas
and Freaky Friday
albums, Simpson signed a record deal with Geffen Records. Her first album, Autobiography
, debuted at number one in the United States in July 2004, with first-week sales of around 398,000 copies. The album was certified triple-platinum by the RIAA in September 2004. Simpson co-wrote all of the album's tracks, describing it as "very true to my emotions", however, critical reviews were mixed. Rolling Stone
magazine's Peter Relic characterised the album as a "mundane melange of Avril-ish brat pop and Sheryl Crow cod rock." The single which preceded the album, "Pieces of Me", was one of the biggest hits of the summer in the United States and was certified gold by the RIAA. The follow-up singles, "Shadow" and "La La", were less successful, although the latter became an RIAA-certified gold seller. At the Teen Choice Awards
on August 8, 2004, Simpson received the "Song of the Summer" Teen Choice Award for "Pieces of Me", as well as the "Fresh Face" Award. She also won the Billboard Award for New Female Artist of the Year in December, and in the same month, Entertainment Weekly
named her one of its Breakout Stars of 2004.Simpson's first North American tour ran from mid-February to late April 2005. The tour was described as "stripped down" without pyrotechnics. As well as material from Autobiography
, Simpson performed her own unreleased song "Hollywood", The Pretenders' "Brass in Pocket", Blondie's "Call Me" and Madonna's"Burning Up".
2005–06: I Am Me
Simpson's second album, I Am Me
, was released on October 18, 2005. She wanted to incorporate the feel of music from the 1980s on the album, and unlike with her debut, she wanted to focus less on relationships and more on herself. The album debuted at number-one, selling around 220,000 copies in its first week; as of 2008, it had sold 944,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Its lead single, "Boyfriend", became a top 20 hit on the Billboard
Hot 100 while Simpson's next two singles, "L.O.V.E." and "Invisible" (a track not featured on the album), reached the top 40. Simpson began a concert tour in late September in Portland, Oregon and appeared on the October 8, 2005 episode of SNL
to promote the album. The first song she performed on the show was "Catch Me When I Fall", a ballad written about her previous SNL
experience, and she thanked the crowd after her second performance. In mid-December, Simpson collapsed after performing in Japan, and was briefly hospitalized, consequently cancelling an appearance at the Radio Music Awards. The collapse and her subsequent hospitalization were attributed to exhaustion as a result of her busy work schedule.In March 2006, Simpson won an MTV celebrity surfing invitational competition, which also featured celebrities such as Meagan Good, Jack Osbourne, Ashley Parker Angel and Tony Hawk. On April 12, 2006, she hosted and performed at the MTV Australia Video Music Awards, where she won "Best Female Artist" and "Best Pop Video" for the single "Boyfriend". She began a summer tour on June 5, 2006, with Ashley Parker Angel as the opening act.
2007–10: Bittersweet World
During 2007, Simpson recorded her third studio album, Bittersweet World
with producers Timbaland, Kenna, and Chad Hugo. She described the album as being influenced by 1980s music—bearing similarities with I Am Me
—while still incorporating elements of rock and pop and described her intention to go on tour to support the album. Geffen Records chairman Ron Fair said in December 2006 that working on Simpson's next album would be "very tricky" because of press scrutiny and "prejudices", but that Geffen would work with her to overcome that, "because she deserves to be heard and she deserves a shot." Bittersweet World
was released in the United States on April 22, 2008 to mixed reviews. The album's first single, the Timbaland-produced "Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)", was released as a digital download in December 2007, but failed to chart on the Billboard
Hot 100. The second single, "Little Miss Obsessive", was released in March 2008 and performed marginally better, reaching number 96 on the Hot 100. Bittersweet World
has sold 126,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, making it her lowest-selling album of her career.
2011–present: Upcoming fourth studio album
In an interview with Paper
, Simpson stated that her fourth album would have a "folk feel". On the June 23, 2011 episode of On Air with Ryan Seacrest
, Ryan Seacrest confirmed that Simpson had held meetings with record executives alongside previous collaborator John Shanks to plan the exact direction of her next album. On July 20, 2012, in an interview with Nylon
magazine, Simpson talked about her new album saying: "I'm really proud of the sounds and I'm really excited for it to be an artistic venture. The sound is a little soulful, a little electronic" She also said some of the tracks were completed. On October 31, 2012, Simpson revealed through her official website a preview of the song and video of her new single "Bat for a Heart." The song was released a month later under a patent of her name, "? 2012 Ashlee Simpson".
Saturday Night Live lip synching incident
Simpson appeared as a musical guest on the October 23, 2004 episode of Saturday Night Live
, where she was scheduled to perform two songs, "Pieces of Me" and "Autobiography". When she began singing "Autobiography", the vocals for "Pieces of Me" were heard again before Simpson had the microphone to her mouth. She began to do an impromptu jig when she realized she had been caught lipsyncing, and then left the stage in embarrassment. During the closing of the show, Simpson appeared with the guest host, Jude Law, and said, "I feel so bad, My band started playing the wrong song, and I didn't know what to do, so I thought I'd do a hoedown." On October 25, Simpson called in to the music video show Total Request Live
and provided a different explanation, saying that due to complications arising from severe acid reflux disease, she had completely lost her voice and been advised not to sing by her doctor. She said that because of the acid reflux, her father wanted her to use a vocal guide track for the performance. During the performance, her drummer hit the wrong button, which caused the wrong track to be played. Simpson said of the incident, "I made a complete fool of myself." Simpson returned as Saturday Night Live
's musical guest the following year on October 8, 2005, where she performed without incident.
Film and acting career
Simpson first started by making appearances in films and television series, including Malcolm in the Middle
(2001), a minor role in The Hot Chick
(2002), and a recurring role on the family drama series 7th Heaven
(2002, 2003, and 2004). In the summer of 2003, she worked as a VJ for MTV. Occasionally, Simpson appeared on Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica
, a reality show documenting the married life of her sister Jessica and her then-husband, Nick Lachey.In 2004, Simpson had a supporting role as an aspiring actress named Clea in Undiscovered
. While her performance was met with indifference, the film itself was panned by critics and failed to reach the top 10 in its opening weekend, earning just $676,048 during its theatrical run. Her performance in the film earned her a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actress.In 2006, Simpson was cast as Roxie Hart in the West End production of Chicago
from September 25 to October 28, 2006. She received mostly positive reviews. Her performance in the show was described as "dazzling and near flawless."In 2009, Simpson returned full-time to television episodes by playing the role of Violet Foster in Melrose Place
, the CW's revamp of the 1990s series of the same name. She was originally signed to the show as a regular, but producers and CWexecutives decided to write out her character. Simpson left the show after 12 episodes and stated that she had known all along that her character would leave the show once the murder mystery storyline had concluded. After her departure from Melrose Place
, Simpson reprised her role in the Broadway musical production of Chicago
. She began her Broadway run on November 30, 2009 and performed in New York for eight shows a week until February 7, 2010.In June 2012, it was announced that Simpson was filming Pawn Shop Chronicles
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a comedy movie set for release in 2013.
The Ashlee Simpson Show
As an accompaniment to her debut album, Autobiography
, and to create interest in the beginning of her own music career, she filmed and appeared on her own reality television series, The Ashlee Simpson Show
, which aired in the time slot following Newlyweds
. It ran in the United States for eight weekly episodes over the summer of 2004 (a second season of 10 episodes aired from January to March 2005). The show dealt with the processes of writing, recording and performing Simpson's music, as well as aspects of her personal life.
In 2006, Simpson started dating Fall Out Boy bassist and songwriter Pete Wentz. In February 2008, Simpson began wearing a diamond ring. She later explained that it was a promise ring from Wentz. In April 2008, Simpson and Wentz confirmed their engagement, and were married on May 17, 2008 at Simpson's parents' residence in Encino, California, with her father officiating the ceremony. She changed her surname from Simpson to Wentz, and during the marriage was known professionally as Ashlee Simpson-Wentz. Two weeks after the wedding, Simpson announced her pregnancy. She gave birth to their son, Bronx Mowgli Wentz, on November 20, 2008. She appeared alongside Wentz in the crime drama series CSI: NY
in 2009. On February 9, 2011, Simpson filed for divorce from Wentz, citing irreconcilable differences. She requested joint legal custody with visitation for Wentz, but sole physical custody and spousal support. She also asked that her name be restored to Ashlee Nicole Simpson. Their divorce was finalized on November 22, 2011.Simpson was in a relationship with actor Vincent Piazza from June 2011 to November 2012. In July 2013, it was reported that Simpson had begun dating actor Evan Ross, son of singer Diana Ross. They became engaged in January 2014.
Musical influences and public image
When Simpson first broke onto the music scene in 2004, she was set apart from her sister's already established image due to a different music style, different fashion choices, and a more assertive personality. Simpson's songs have been characterized by rock elements absent from her sister's music, and, particularly during her early career, Simpson would often wear outfits highlighting a rock or punk-influenced sense of style. She cites her childhood as being the time when she began to sing, and admits that she dreamed of being on Broadway and did not expect to break into the pop music scene. She trains with a vocal coach, and studies Etta James and Aretha Franklin albums for vocal inspiration. She has cited Gwen Stefani, No Doubt, Joan Jett, The Runaways, Madonna, Pat Benatar, Green Day, Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Chrissie Hynde, and Debbie Harry from Blondie as her musical influences.Simpson had a nose job in April 2006. In the May 2007 issue of Harper's Bazaar
, she said that she was not insecure about her appearance and had not been beforehand. She said that plastic surgery was a "personal choice" that one should only decide to do for oneself and not for others. In a September 2007 interview, her father, Joe Simpson said of the surgery: "There was a real problem with her breathing and that was cured". In mid-2006, Simpson gave an interview to Marie Claire
magazine, in which she was said to have "had it with Hollywood's twisted view of feminine beauty" and was photographed painting a pro-female mural with a group of underprivileged girls from Los Angeles' Green Dot Public School. By the time the magazine hit newsstands, Simpson had already had her nose job, and some Marie Claire
readers complained that this was hypocritical. The magazine received over 1,000 letters of complaint and the magazine's new editor expanded the letters section of the September issue of the magazine to give readers a chance to vent their frustrations.Simpson launched a collection of tops in partnership with the clothing retailer Wet Seal on April 22, 2008, the same day Bittersweet World
was released. She also began appearing in commercials for Canadian retailer Zellers to promote their independent clothing line, Request
, in mid-2008. Simpson appeared on the second episode of The CW's America's Next Top Model, Cycle 17
as a guest judge. She created a fashion line aimed at girls aged 7–16 in collaboration with her sister's successful brand. Simpson is the co-creative director of the line, which was released in the winter of 2011.