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Ashlee Simpson's 'Autobiography' album opens at #1 in US with 398,000 units sold


By Wade Paulsen, 07/29/2004 

Little Sis finally has the upper hand on Big Sis.

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Ashlee Simpson, the 19-year-old star of MTV's The Ashlee Simpson Show and little sister to Jessica Simpson (star of MTV's Newlyweds), vaulted to the #1 spot on the Nielsen SoundScan U.S. Album Sales chart (also known as the Billboard 200) with the release of her debut Geffin Records CD Autobiography. For the week ended July 25, Autobiography racked up an impressive 398,000 units sold.

Ashlee, who received co-writing credit on all 12 songs on the CD, has now accomplished something Jessica has never done: record a #1 album. Jessica's best chart performance came with the release of a special edition of her most recent CD, In This Skin, in March, which sold 159,500 copies to reach #2 that week.

In addition to Ashlee's chart-topping CD sales, Autobiography is also a hit in the music-download world. It is the #1 album in sales on Apple's iTunes, and the first single, 'Pieces of Me', which reached third place in the Nielsen SoundScan U.S. Singles Sales chart, is #1 on AOL Music. In addition, when streams of Autobiography were offered through The Leak on MTV.com, over 2.66 million streams were requested, breaking the all-time record on the site.

Oh, and the reality TV gig hasn't been going too badly either. The Ashlee Simpson Show was the top-rated cable program among Adults 18-34 last week, drawing 1.75 million viewers from the age bracket... and narrowly edging out Jessica's Newlyweds program.

Said Ashlee, who also co-stars as Cecelia on The WB's 7th Heaven when not singing or headlining a reality show, "This is beyond my wildest dreams. I'm so excited for what's happened and what's to come. I am so thankful for everyone's support." Her manager/father Joe, the Svengali behind the music and reality television careers of his daughters, said, "A father's dream is seeing his daughter's dream come true, and it happened this week."

Hmmm, and here we thought that the acting and music success of his daughters was Joe Simpson's dream....

Daily Variety associate editor Phil Gallo had a less-flattering view of Ashlee's surprising sales -- which rivaled the 416,500 units sold by American Idol 2 winner Ruben Studdard's debut CD Soulful. In Gallo's view, which he expressed to USA Today, Ashlee and the American Idol contestants may have something in common: prepackaging. "Adults don't feel the heavy marketing because it's directly targeting teens. Ashlee feels manufactured. Kids have a comfort level with that 'Hey, this is designed for me.' They don't have the savvy to say, 'Ooh, maybe I might like option C.'"

We wonder why marketing aimed directly at a particular demographic group is a bad thing. We also note that Zena Burns, editor of Teen People, told USA Today that, despite the marketing, Ashlee "also came out with an insanely catchy pop single." We agree, because we still believe that all of the marketing muscle in the world won't sell a bad product. Anyone remember From Justin to Kelly?

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