Songs That Pop: Ashlee Simpson’s ‘Bittersweet World’
It happens once a year and every year we try to do something a little different and special that anniversary of an Ashlee Simpson’s third album, ‘Bittersweet World’.
To be frank, ‘Bittersweet World’ went largely unnoticed – but pop fans have solidified it as an underrated gem that never really was fully appreciated when it was made available in 2008. Well, at least those that have good taste.
There’s a bias here, but we’re able to take off our stan glasses and separate fact from plain ol’ favoritism. Originally mapped out as a singer-songwriter record, Ashlee decided to scrap that record in favor of something more fun and upbeat – “a party record”, as she likes to call it. The main take away from ‘Bittersweet World’ is the change in sound. No longer is Ashlee an angsty adolescent singing about boys, heartbreak, and falling in love. Instead, she turned to Chad Hugo and Timbaland’s camp to swap her faux-punk/rock pop sound for something more beat heavy.
Each song has it’s own distinct style and sound. From reggae, to jazz, to hip-hop, to 80’s Ashlee did it all. With such a diverse plate of material, it can be hard to pick out what’s actually great and stands out on the record. That’s where we come in. If you haven’t checked out Ashlee Simpson’s ‘Bittersweet World’ yet (…but why?), let’s break down exactly which songs you should check out (all of them) and in exact order you should listen to them in.
1. ‘Can’t Have It All‘
We consider this empowering ballad about coming to term with the end of a chapter in your life most underrated gem in Ashlee’s discography. It’s criminal that it was left as a bonus track. So hauntingly beautiful – a clear indicator of what was to come from the younger Simpson sister.
2. ‘No Time For Tears‘
The perfect blend of Ashlee from the past and the Ashlee at the time. Nothing says “move on and put your big girl pants on” quite like this foot-stomping anthem.
As she advanced in her career, Ashlee flirted with dance-pop and strayed away from a guitar heavy sound.. While she referenced the 80’s quite heavily in her dance-driven jams, it’s this flirty ‘Lovefool’ inspired cut that put a fresh new twist on Ashlee’s sound and had the potential to revitalized her career.
4. ‘Little Miss Obsessive‘
If dance Ashlee isn’t your thing, you’ll be happy to find ‘Little Miss Obsessive’ at the heart of ‘Bittersweet World’. It’s the one song on the record that beckons her first two albums and contains one of her most solid bridges to date.
5. ‘What I’ve Become‘
At the height of Ashlee’s fame, she was mixed up with the paparazzi generation of celebrity. Ashlee always managed to avoid the brunt of it, but ‘What I’ve Become’ falls nicely in between songs from other pop artists and how they dealt with the media. The best part about it? Ashlee’s melancholy twist about coming to terms with celebrity reinvented the topic and helped it stand out from the pack.
6. ‘Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)‘
Ay, ya, ya, ya, ya. What a song. Ashlee loves the 80’s and is obsessed with trying to recreate it and bring it into her work. The schizophrenic ‘Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)’ is living proof of that and one of Ashlee’s most daring singles to date.
You either love ‘Murder’ or hate ‘Murder’. It’s tribal infused beats totally stripped away everything you knew about Ashlee Simpson, the pop/rock artist, and introduced a vampy, mysterious dance queen that wasn’t afraid of doing what she had to do to get her way.
8. ‘I’m Out‘
Another bonus track. Grant it, this one wouldn’t have fit on ‘Bittersweet World’, but it’s maturity highlighted the evolution of Ashlee Simpson as a lyricist and vocalist.
A personal favorite of ours, but on a whole does it work? Once you get past the awkward first-verse yet. Ashlee is bratty, opinionated, and quirky. Is it a song for everyone? No. Is it a song that resembles Ashlee’s personality to a tee? Yes. Is it all in good fun? Absolutely! Take it for what it is and throw your fist in the air along with Ashlee.
While ‘Ragdoll‘ provides an interesting take on a one-sided relationship, it fails to leave any lasting impression. It’s great for a few spins, but hardly the track you’d want to replay over and over.
11. ‘Hot Stuff‘
Pure camp. Who could forget that iconic opening line too? However, the chorus totally throws off the playfulness of the verses and, ultimately, derails what could have been a guilty pleasure.
12. ‘Bittersweet World‘
Ashlee took a risk and spread her wings on this abstract track, but ‘Bittersweet World’ just gets lost in the mix. Does it represent the album well? Not really, not. Is it her strongest title track? Hardly. Every album has a filler track or two – this just so happens to be this album’s.
13. ‘Never Dream Alone‘
Not her strongest ballad. Some moments are great, some are shaky. If you’re looking to hear more of Ashlee’s vulnerable side, revert back to her previous records.
14. ‘Follow You Wherever You Go‘
Again, campy and over the top. It taps into Ashlee’s theatrical side which could be a turn off for the casual pop listener. Luckily, it’s just a bonus track so it’s not like you have to go out of your way to listen to it.
So tell us – what’s your favorite track off of ‘Bittersweet World’?
Download ‘Bittersweet World’ on iTunes.