"You think you know me, word on the street is that you do. You want my history. What others tell you won't be true." I remember my 13-year-old self belting out the opening lines to Ashlee Simpson's title track to her debut Autobiography album (released in 2004) like my life depended on it. The angst-riddled lyrics, pounding production and unhidden cracks in her voice resonated with so many teen girls at the time. And it also helped that "Autobiography" was the theme song to MTV's The Ashlee Simpson Show.
I thought Ashlee was the most badass chick around when I first popped open my Walkman to jam out to "Love Me For Me." Despite only being 19 at the time, the singer was so unafraid to get just as growly as one of her inspirations—Joan Jett. The in-your-face drums, the rowdy guitar riffs and those middle-finger worthy lyrics ("Step up, sit down / Get ready, let me tell you who's the boss now") made for a damn awesome song.
"Beautifully Broken," from Ashlee's 2005 LP I Am Me, came at a time in my life where I was completely lost, felt alone in high school and needed some guidance. Some may brush off her music as cheesy, but lyrics like "It feels like tomorrow I may not get by / But I will try / I will try wipe the tears from my eyes" anchored by soaring strings helped me find inner strength.
Fun fact: The opening line to this track ("Sunday morning blues always about you, I wake up alone in a big room") actually inspired a poem I wrote in the summer of 2006. The spunky vibes of "Coming Back For More" will have you blissfully dancing in the bright corners of your bedroom.
Bittersweet World, Ashlee's third album released in 2008, featured a lot of production from by—surprise, surprise!—Timbaland. The music mastermind's best track off the LP remains to be "Murder," which flexed his versatility and the singer's sensual edginess. It's part hypnotizing, a bit menacing and very catchy.
Bittersweet World was filled with a ton of experimental sounds from Ashlee, and she heads to Broadway on the Timbaland co-produced title track. The singer begs everyone to try and get along, as handclaps, "la la la" harmonies and jazz-tinged melodies sails the showtune along.
"L.O.V.E.," the second single from I Am Me was a hit in its own right as it reached No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. But let's not forget the killer remix that followed, which was helmed by none other than Missy Elliott. The rap genius' production flipped the song into a fiery club jam, and gave it even more sass.