#TBT Ashlee Simpson’s ‘Bittersweet World’ Album

Ashlee Simpson 'Bittersweet World' album cover
Ashlee Simpson ‘Bittersweet World’ album cover

So today is Thursday and in the world of Instagram it is #ThrowbackThursday so I thought I’d apply that little trend to today’s blog post. I want to share with you an album from many years ago which I always felt like it never got the attention it deserved.

The year is 2008, oh what a great year that was. Lady GaGa did not exist, Rihanna finally scored a number 1 single with ‘Umbrella’ and Katy Perry burst out onto the scene with ‘I Kissed A Girl’. Amidst all of this, Ashlee Simpson released her third studio album titled ‘Bittersweet World’.

Now a little back story for anyone who isn’t familiar with Ashlee Simpson; she is the younger sister of Jessica Simpson and started her own solo career in 2004 with her debut album ‘Autobiography’. In 2004 Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were hot property thanks to the success of their reality soap opera ‘MTV’s Newlyweds’ and it was only natural for Jessica’s little sister to capitalise on the new found success her sister was enjoying. Ashlee had her own MTV reality show called ‘The Ashlee Simpson Show’ which acted as a vehicle for promotion for her debut album.

The overall sound of her debut was in the vain of Avril Lavigne and FeFe Dobson. Basically a pop/rock girl with attitude but far more Hilary Duff than P!NK. Despite mixed reviews the album sold pretty well selling 300,000 copies in its first week, a figure which some megastars struggle to reach today.

I can’t discuss Ashlee Simpson and not mention her infamous Saturday Night Live performance where she was caught out lip-syncing when the wrong backing track started playing and Ashlee, looking like a deer caught in head lights did the only thing she could do in this situation; she did the Irish jig. Its been almost 10 years since the incident and I never quite understood why she did that but moving on.

Not deterred by the negative press she received, Ashlee charged on and realised her second album ‘I Am Me’ in 2005. It sold 200,000 copies in its first week, a decline on her debut but its a figure some artists would kill for today in 2014. Again the sound was pop rock and it received scathing reviews from critics such as Rolling Stone who awarded it one and a half stars. Ouch!

Now the year is 2008 and Ashlee Simpson releases her third studio album ‘Bittersweet World’. Unlike her previous two albums, the sound of this album was less about the guitars and more focused on production. Simpson even she wanted to make ‘singer song writer’ record but changed her mind in favour of a ‘fun dancey album’ which still retained some elements of her previous pop/rock work.

You are probably wondering why she decided to go in a completely different direction with this album but you have to remember that in 2008 everything you heard on the radio was produced by either Timbaland or Danja Hills. The ‘urban’ sound that they developed became the ‘pop’ sound of the late noughties and Ashlee was simply staying on trend musically. Also the whole pop/rock sound which was so popular in the early 2000s was losing its footing on the charts and Ashlee realised this and acted accordingly. Its a shame Avril Lavigne still hasn’t quite realised this but whatever.

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Ashlee in her music video for ‘Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)’

The album received mixed reviews, as all albums from Ashlee seemed to do but I decided to listen to this album with an open mind because I had grown used to associating Ashlee Simpson with pop/rock so when I heard she was following in the footsteps of Nelly Furtado (‘Loose’) and Madonna (‘Hard Candy’) and going all urban on me I was intrigued to say the least.

The lead single ‘Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)’ was produced by Timbaland and was a throwback to the  synth-pop sound of the 80s with a modern twist. It was catchy as hell, the production was slick and the music video showed a more creative and colourful Ashlee Simpson. The song failed to make much of an impression here in the UK charting at Number 24 but that didn’t stop me from listening to the rest of the album.

And my God this album was good. It wasn’t focused on a girl heartbroken singing about how her boyfriend of 15 minutes did her wrong. This was a grown up Ashlee Simpson singing songs about sex and real relationship struggles and she was having fun with it.  The tracks ‘Boys’ and ‘Hot Stuff’ followed in the urban/pop/dancey sound Ashlee was going for with this project and they were fun, breezy, catchy pop songs. And the lyric ‘Use your head but not that one one, track mind ‘ on ‘Boys’ still remains a personal favourite today.

But the album wasn’t a complete urban/pop/dance frenzy, Ashlee did stick true to her promise that the album would still feature song elements of pop rock and this can be seen in ‘Little Miss Obsessive’.  A pop/rock power ballad which harked back to Ashlee’s ‘Pieces of Me’ debut single. As with everything related to this album it never got to be great! It was intended on being the album’s second single but by this point interest in the project was fading and Ashlee found herself to be pregnant which brought this album and its entire era to abrupt end before it even had a chance.

Ashlee hasn’t released an album since ‘Bittersweet World’ and despite her fans wanting new music from her (I have tweeted her many times asking for a new album!) she has showed no signs of returning to the studio anytime soon. I guess she is just happy being a Mother at this point in her life.

If  ‘Bittersweet World’ ends up being the last ever solo album by Ashlee Simpson then she can at least be proud she ended it with a brilliantly crafted urban infused pop album. Much like everything which came from that era in pop where everyone went urban, ‘Bittersweet World’ doesn’t sound dated at all and plays very well today against the electro pop/EDM genre which exists today. By no means a genre defining album, Ashlee let her creative juices flow on this album and you can see it which gave us the ‘Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)’ which will always go down as a forgotten pop masterpiece.

Hopefully in 20 years times my children will discover this album and appreciate its greatness because it really is  a brilliant and enjoyable body of work which Ashlee never received her due for.

I will not rest until #JusticeForBitterSweetWorld is served!
I will not rest until #JusticeForBitterSweetWorld is served!

 

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4 comments

  1. I just wanted to say that Ashlee Simpson has lost a lot of her fans after she got caught lip-synching on Saturday Night Live back in 2004 to the song, “Pieces Of Me” and then she blamed her band for it. Her, “Bittersweet World” album was released on April 22, 2008 and it flopped because it only sold 126,000 copies over here in the United States of America. She said that she was inspired by the 80’s and that she wanted to make a dance album. My thought on the album is that in my personal opinion, I think that it was one of the worst Pop albums of 2008 and it lacks creativity because her ex-husband, Pete Wentz (bassist from the Pop-Punk band, Fall Out Boy) didn’t help her on the album at all. I don’t feel bad for the poor girl because I never liked listening to her music at all and she doesn’t have any singing talent like her sister, Jessica does. End of story.

  2. I just wanted to say that I think that it is so sad that Ashlee Simpson got caught lip-synching on Saturday Night Live back in 2004 and lost a lot of her fans after she blamed her band for it. I was going to buy the, “Bittersweet World” album when it was released on April 22, 2008, but I decided not to because she said some mean things about Britney Spears by saying that, “she should move out of the country”. The album has been given some positive reviews, but it flopped because it only sold 126,000 copies over here in the United States of America. It was rumored that Ashlee was going to work with Robert Smith (lead singer from the band, “The Cure” ) on the album, but it didn’t happened because he’s too good to be working with a music artist like her. She said that she wanted to make a dance record instead of making another Pop/Rock record like her previous records, “Autobiography” and, “I Am Me” because she wanted to evolve as an artist. My thoughts on the album is that I also agree that it was one of the worst Pop albums of 2008. It’s too bad that she didn’t get her ex-husband, Pete Wentz (bassist and songwriter from the band, “Fall Out Boy”) to help her on the album because she would’ve sold a lot more copies over here in the United States of America if he did. I also agree that she doesn’t have any singing talent like her sister, Jessica does. She should just give up on singing and move out of the country herself because her career an a music artist is over and she is a joke to the music industry. End of story.

  3. I just wanted to say that I love Ashlee Simpson’s music with all my heart and I want to spend the rest of my life listening to it because her music has been the best thing that has ever happened to me ever since she came into the music industry back in 2004. I would be lost if she ever decides to stop making music because making music is what she lives for. I bought Ashlee’s, “Bittersweet World” album at Target when it was released on April 22, 2008. The album had a lot of positive reviews on it, but it flopped because it only sold 126,000 copies over here in the United States of America. I also have her, “Autobiography” album and her, “I Am Me” album as well. It was rumored that Ashlee was going to work with Robert Smith (lead singer from the band, “The Cure”), but that didn’t happen. My thoughts on the album is that in my personal opinion, I think that it was one of the best Pop albums of 2008 because it has an upbeat oriented sound to it and it was also inspired by the 80’s. I don’t care if Ashlee got caught lip-synching on Saturday Night Live back in 2004 and blamed her band for it because that happened 12 years ago, and we all need to get over it and move on with our lives because she already did. I also don’t care if she had plastic surgery on her nose because in my personal opinion, I also think that she looks a lot more prettier than my wife does. Her name is also Ashley and I regret marrying her when I was 21 years-old becsuse she has a mean bone in her body. Evan Ross (Diana Ross’s son) is a very lucky man to be married to her even though he is 4 years younger than she is. They have a beautiful daughter together named, Jagger Snow Ross and she also had a handsome son with her ex-husband, Pete Wentz (bassist and songwriter from the band, “Fall Out Boy”) named, Bronx Mowgli Wentz. Ashlee also designed some T-shirts and tops from Wet Seal and I would buy all of them and wear them if they still have any left because I’m one of her most biggest fans who was born and raised over here in the United States of America. End of story.

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