Ashlee Simpson Sings! (Really)

Disgraced pop tart sings live at the Radio Music Awards in attempt to redeem herself after SNL disaster

By Sarah Hall Oct 26, 2004 5:55 PMTags

Ashlee Simpson is working hard to pick up the pieces of a reputation damaged by her disastrous Saturday Night Live performance.

At her live, yes, live performance at the Radio Music Awards Monday night, the 19-year-old popster mocked her SNL lip-synch meltdown. As her band started playing, Simpson shrieked, "It's the wrong song!", but quickly revealed that she was joking.

She sang "Autobiography" off her album of the same name--the song she meant to perform on SNL. This time, the performance went as planned, without any "backing tracks" popping up to send Simpson into a frenzied hoedown.

Both Simpson and her father-manager, Joe Simpson, have been focusing on damage control since Saturday's mishap.

On Monday, Joe Simpson spoke with E! News Live and dissected the timeline of his daughter's humiliating onstage breakdown.

"Ashlee has acid reflux severely," Joe Simpson said. "What that does is inflames the vocal cords and swells them and when the cords are swelled, you're hoarse. You can't sing.

"She woke up Saturday morning with a sore throat. She sang through the afternoon performance. We had a pre-rehearsal. She did great in that but her throat was hurting her. We came back to do the live rehearsal. She could barely even get through 'Pieces of Me' because she was in such pain."

Joe Simpson said the decision to use the backing track was made after it became clear that Simpson's voice would not be able to carry her songs alone.

"What we did is what we had to do which was to add backing vocals to her vocals," he said. "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."

Unfortunately, according to Daddy Simpson, due to an overexcited drummer's mistake, Simpson's performance came off worse than anyone could have predicted.

"When [the drummer] finished with 'Pieces,' he did not reset his Pro-Tools rig because he was so excited to be on Saturday Night Live," Joe Simpson explained.

"So, he walks back out to the drums, and he pushed the button without looking at what it was, and it was the same song he just played. He has ear monitors in, so he can't hear the audience. He can only hear what is in his ears. So, he was just playing his little heart out."

In the meantime, a humiliated Ashlee Simpson was left to kick up her heels onstage, as an audience listened to her voice singing the song she had already performed. She slunk off the stage 35 seconds later.

"It was definitely upsetting and mortifying. I get comments like now, [I'm like] Milli Vanilli," Simpson told Katie Couric on Tuesday's Today Show. "I write all of my own music and perform from my heart. I am always singing on any show I have ever done. Singing as hard as I can always. This was a situation where I was in trouble like with my voice. Each in the rehearsal I was singing and I am holding my throat.

"I'm not anorexic, my boob didn't fall out, I'm not on drugs."

Simpson said she wasn't going to fire her drummer and again insisted that the SNL performance was the first time she had ever relied on a backing track.

Talk about beginner's luck.

Meanwhile, Simpson was apparently so busy attempting to save face that she skipped out on a planned performance at a Utah high school Tuesday.

Her on-again, off-again flame, Ryan Cabrera, who's also managed by her father, took her place at the concert, which the students won as part of a radio contest.

Though Simpson's SNL fiasco earned her the lion's share of the spotlight at the Radio Music Awards, there were other performers there. And some of them even won awards.

Destiny's Child opened the evening at the Aladdin Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas, wowing the audience with the song "Lose Your Breath." Other performers included Elton John, Tim McGraw, Gretchen Wilson and Alanis Morissette.

Usher was the night's big winner, nabbing three awards, including the Artist of the Year/Hip-Hop Radio. Linkin Park went home with two awards, including Artist of the Year/Rock Radio. The awards were broadcast live on NBC.

The Radio Music Awards honor the performers whose have the top-playing songs on the radio. Radio program directors and music directors nationwide vote on the winners.

In case anyone's keeping score at home, here's a complete list of the winners at the 2004 Radio Music Awards:

Artist of the Year Hip-Hop/Rhythmic Radio: Usher Artist of the Year Top 40 Radio: Beyoncé Artist of the Year Country Radio: Tim McGraw Song of the Year Rock Alternative Radio: Linkin Park, "Numb" Song of the Year Hip-Hop/Rhythmic Radio: Usher, "Yeah!" Artist of the Year Rock Radio: Linkin Park Artist of the Year Modern Adult: Train Legend Award: Janet Jackson Cingular Artist of the Year: Usher