The Down Low

Thu. October 28, 2004 12:00 AM
by David Viggiano

Can we get past the Ashlee Simpson/Saturday Night Live debacle? From the media response and the public backlash, you would think the poor girl just committed some major crime against humanity.

For those living under a rock, Ashlee performed “live” (the Britney Spears definition of the word) last week on SNL. As she started to sing her second song, “Autobiography” her band started playing “Pieces of Me”, the song she sang earlier in the show. The glitch might not have been so bad, except when Ashlee realized the wrong song was playing she stopped singing. Only problem was, you could still hear her vocal track to “Pieces of Me” which was pre-recorded to the music, making it painfully obvious that she was lip-synching earlier in the show. Or at least had “help” with the vocals. After a few awkward seconds dancing around the stage trying to figure out how to get out of this mess, Ashlee just walked off stage and NBC quickly cut to a commercial. Ashlee blamed the band for playing the wrong song. Her record company blamed a computer glitch.

Was the incident a huge embarrassment? Yes. Does it suck that she was lip-synching? Sure. Should she have gotten her story straight with the record label before they made conflicting statements? Damn right. But is anyone truly surprised? How often have you watched these teenage pop stars perform on awards shows and it has been obvious that they are not singing? Most of these young kids have been thrown into the spotlight and are studio singers, their voices tweaked to sound good on their albums. They have very little live experience and the record label wants them to sound exactly how they sound on the radio. Very little is left to chance with these inexperienced singers. A vocal track is often laid down so the performer can sing along. It makes their voice sound stronger and ensures that there are no flat notes or missed words.

What’s most upsetting is the onslaught of nasty emails Ashlee received from viewers on her website calling her a “fraud” and a “complete and utter joke”.
Give me a break. It’s not like she’s Milli Vanilli and it wasn’t her voice. She sings her own songs and writes her own music. She’s a slave to her record label and does what they want her to do. She’s a product and must deliver. If people are disillusioned it’s because they let themselves be. They should be mad at themselves for being duped, not at Ashlee.

My defense of her is not because I’m a fan. I couldn’t even tell you what one of her songs sound like. It’s because in the grand scheme of things, I find it hard to understand why we should care. Let’s let this go and concentrate on something that really affects our lives. Like the election that’s just days away. With Bush so close to another victory, our rights, our futures, our very lives are at stake. Let’s all get out and vote and make our voices be heard. Do we really want to end up with an amendment that takes away our rights and allows discrimination to be written into the constitution? And that’s just the beginning of what could happen.