Music: Ashlee Simpson

May 7, 2008

by Mary Nash

Among the pregnancy gossip circulating within the latter part of April, it may have slipped by many that Ashlee Simpson released her third album Bittersweet World.

Known for being Jessica’s little sister or as the lip-syncing disaster on “Saturday Night Live,” Simpson’s latest studio album sounds like something produced during the era of leg warmers and Aquanet that was the 1980s. While that sounds good in the day of Leona Lewis’ Whitney Houston imitation remaining at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts, Bittersweet World is more like “Electric Avenue” than “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

Beginning with “Outta My Head,” the first single off “Bittersweet World,” the audience immediately hears the heavy Devo, “Oh Mickey You’re So Fine” vibe.

In the video for this song, Simpson goes so far as to appear in a straightjacket while singing of how a boy is filling her thoughts.

While outright catchy, the song tends to get stuck in listeners’ head, making the audience feel the need to borrow Simpson’s straightjacket just to escape the incessant whining in her voice.

Next, Simpson tries to take on a sultrier, playful sound with “Boys.” Sounding similar to the something from a Bananarama greatest hits album, Simpson declares her power over the male gender.

The B-52’s seemingly make a cameo in “Rule Breaker.” A bad rip off of the “Rock Lobster” sound, Simpson proclaims she and her boyfriend are rule breakers, but at the end of the day she is daddy’s little girl and a princess. Many may identify “Rule Breaker” as the closest thing to her previous single, “Boyfriend,” with the same simple, shallow lyrics.

“Little Miss Obsessive” is the best Bittersweet World has to offer. Simpson manages to carry a tune and drops the ’80s feel for a rock sound, even boasting Plain White T’s lead singer, Tom Higginson. “Little Miss Obsessive” is a great song – it’s just too bad it can’t resurrect the rest of the album.

The title track, “Bittersweet World,” sounds like a horrendous tribute to Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”

Simpson tries to be overly happy in both her vocals as well as the instrumental to the point where no one can truly see the bittersweetness she is claiming.

Simpson closes Bittersweet World with the only ballad on the album in the form of “Never Dream Alone.”

Accompanied solely by a piano and strings, Simpson shies from the immaturity which makes up the rest of the album. “Never Dream Alone” is one of the few pieces of evidence which could be used in the court of public opinion as a reason for her career to continue.

All in all, it would have benefitted Simpson greatly to spend more time honing this waste of 40 minutes rather than in the spotlight with her new fiancÇ_, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz. Then again, you would think being with someone who is talented as Wentz would have ignited some kind of musical spark. Too bad for us, she can’t even create an ember.

Other not so notable tracks: “Ragdoll,” “Murder” and “Hot Stuff”

One star