At Monday’s Radio Music Awards in Las Vegas, where Usher and Linkin Park took home armloads of trophies for topping on-air playlists this year, the prizes themselves seemed like an afterthought compared to the big question of the evening: Would Ashlee Simpson sing? For real? On live TV? Apparently, she did, judging by the ragged quality of her voice, but not before poking fun at her own now-notorious gaffe two nights earlier when she was caught using a pre-recorded vocal track on Saturday Night Live. A few bars into her performance, she stopped the band, screaming, ”That’s the wrong song!” Then she said, ”Just kidding,” and launched a full renditon of ”Autobiography,” the song she was supposed to sing on SNL.
On Monday, she said she had no choice but to use a pre-recorded track on SNL because she’d lost her voice on Saturday to acid reflux disease. In a phone interview on MTV’s TRL, she said the chronic ailment had flared up around 6 p.m. on Saturday, that her doctor warned her she could damage her voice if she sang, and that her father/manager, Joe Simpson, ”was like, ‘I’m sorry, you have to sing along with the backing track.”’ She added, ”I was so upset because I have never done that before. But my voice wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t even speak.”
Joe Simpson defended his decision in an interview with Ryan Seacrest on the latter’s Los Angeles radio show. ”Just like any artist in America,” Simpson said of his daughter, ”she has a backing track that she pushes so you don’t have to hear her croak through a song on national television. No one wants to hear that. Every artist that I know in this business has had vocal problems at some time, from Celine [Dion] on down. So you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”