One of the best things about Saturday Night Live is that it’s live. Anything can happen. One of the most iconic live moments from the show was Ashlee Simpson’s 2004 musical performance.
In 2004 the singer was the musical guest and Jude Law hosted. For her first performance, she sang her hit song “Pieces of Me.” The performance was seamless. But then when Simpson went on to perform her second song, “Autobiography,” a pre-recorded vocal track for “Pieces of Me” began playing.
In the video, you can see Simpson stop what she’s doing and turn back to her band. Not knowing what to do, Simpson panics and begins to awkwardly dance. She then stops and walks off stage leaving her band behind. SNL eventually cuts to commercial.
At the end of the episode, Simpson went on stage with Law and explained the situation.
“I feel so bad my band started playing the wrong song and I had no excuse so I had to do a hoedown,” Simpson told the audience. “I’m sorry!”
This performance is linked to ending Simpson’s pop career. She was accused of lip-syncing, which she admitted to but said it was her first time doing so.
“If you ever go out to one of my shows or anything like that I never ever – I’m always singing my heart out,” Simpson told Entertainment Tonight a few days after the incident. “I have severe acid reflux and it was just acting up that day.”
Simpson also doubled down on saying that this was her first time using a backing track.
“So many artists do that,” She said. “Of course the first time I do it…I’ll never do it again!”
Simpson also blamed her drummer for the track mishap. She told Entertainment Tonight that her drummer “got like really excited and maybe a little bit nervous” and hit the wrong track.
Her image was damaged by this performance no matter what she said. SNL even had her back a year later to perform again and it went smoothly, but the damage was already done.
That was 14 years ago and Simpson has since moved on. She opened up about the disastrous performance to E! News. Her new reality series ASHLEE+EVAN is airing on the E! network soon, so it makes sense why they’re asking her about this pop culture moment.
“For me, I feel like it’s been such a long time since I’ve been out,” Simpson told E! News. “I came to a place where I was like, ‘Well I do want people to know where I’m at and who I am in my life.’ I was a teen, angsty girl on my show back in the day and now I’m a woman and a mother.”
Her SNL performance helped her grow as an artist, but it doesn’t haunt her.
“It’s definitely not difficult to talk about…that was a very long time ago,” she stated. “It’s something that happened to me and things in life happen to you and they make you stronger and they make you a better performer, a better person. I think things like that build your character and your strength and it’s how you handle them.”