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    Ashlee Simpson Falls to "Pieces"

    This just might be an incident Ashlee Simpson will want to omit from her autobiography.

    The raven-haired popster was caught in a Milli Vanilli-esque moment during her performance on Saturday Night Live over the weekend.

    As Simpson bopped around onstage at the start of her second performance of the night, her voice launched into "Pieces of Me," the song she had already played earlier in the show. Strangely, her microphone was nowhere near her mouth...which was closed.

    Apparently dazed, Simpson peered desperately at her bandmembers, then broke into a bizarre, high-kicking jig before slinking off the stage in disgrace. Her band played on for several more moments before SNL cut to commercial.

    At the show's end, a humiliated Simpson stood onstage next to host Jude Law and apologized for the incident, making sure to quickly place the blame elsewhere.

    "I feel so bad," Simpson said. "My band started playing the wrong song. I didn't know what to do, so I thought I'd do a hoedown."

    That explains the cringe-worthy jig but not how the band could possibly be responsible for the mystery vocals.

    The entire meltdown quickly became widely available for download on the Internet, while message boards on both Saturday Night Live and Simpson's Websites exploded with colorful commentary.

    "You have disappointed your fans," one posting at ashleesimpsonmusic.com stated. "If you really can't sing, don't fake it. If you can, don't be so lazy. It may be too late anyway. You have seriously damaged your credibility. Blaming it on the band was the worst part."

    Other postings made effusive use of expletives and exclamation points to express their thoughts on Simpson's "live" performance. By Monday afternoon, the popster's messages board was crammed with almost 19,000 postings.

    "The whole situation was a bummer," Simpson said in an interview on MTV's Total Request Live Monday.

    Geffen Records, Simpson's label, initially blamed the incident on a computer glitch that caused a recording of "Pieces of Me" to play, rather than a prerecorded segment of electronic percussion.

    But by Monday, Joe Simpson, father and manager to the fallen popster, was at work on a damage control campaign, claiming that acid reflux disease thrashed Simpson's voice, forcing her to rely on the vocal track.

    "What the [reflux] does is inflame the vocal cords...and when the cords are swollen, you're hoarse. You can't sing. She woke up Saturday morning with a sore throat," Joe Simpson told E! News Live.

    He says that after SNL rehearsals, "She could barely even get through 'Pieces of Me'...Literally she was singing and nothing was coming out at times. So what we did is what we had to do which was to add backing vocals to her vocals. She still sang live but she was singing over the top of stronger vocals so she wouldn?t sound like a frog on national television.

    "Every major singer in this business has those...when they are sick. It is how we do our business."

    He claimed that it was the first time Simpson had used vocal help onstage and that her drummer had mistakenly pushed the wrong button, resulting in the apparent lip-synch disaster.

    "You would have thought we stole cocaine, were doing drugs or got married in Vegas or something," the elder Simpson joked. "Because the press is nuts about this."

    Ashlee Simpson has since consulted crooner Wayne Newton's doctor and received a cortisone shot to prepare for her live performance Monday night at the Radio Music Awards in Las Vegas. Joe Simpson was emphatic that she would, indeed, be performing live at the event.

    "She'll be singing live--so pull in close on your camera and watch her lips because its real," Joe Simpson said.

    Making the SNL incident all the more embarrassing is the fact that Simpson took a forceful stance against lip-synching when asked about her views on the practice in a recent magazine interview.

    "I'm totally against it and offended by it," Simpson told Lucky magazine. "I'm going out to let my real talent show, not to just stand there and dance around. Personally, I'd never lip-synch. It's just not me."

    SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels said Monday that he felt "terrible" for Simpson and that she was "mortified" following the experience.

    "If she were a more seasoned performer then I think that she would've taken charge and said, 'No, let's start this over again,' " Michaels told AP Radio.

    Simpson, the younger sister of pop diva Jessica, shot to fame last summer with the advent of her MTV reality show, The Ashlee Simpson Show, which featured the aspiring popster going through the motions of making her first album.

    The show rocketed the raspy-voiced teen to fame and ensured that her album, Autobiography, was released with an instant fan base, debuting at number one.

    Since then, Autobiography has gone on to sell close to 2 million copies. However, Simpson's live performances have not consistently matched the quality of her album.

    In addition to the SNL gaffe, Simpson's performance on the MTV Video Music Awards in August was roundly criticized as off-key and generally unimpressive.

    The disgraced popster has a chance to redeem herself Monday night if she manages to prove that she actually possesses vocal chops at her Radio Music Awards performance.

    We're just hoping her band doesn't make the same mistake.

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