Washington City Paper | September 29, 2006
Jessica Simpson could never dodge Joe Simpson for a whole two weeks, but tabloids have been speculating that the newly divorced singer has asked the former Baptist pastor and amateur paparazzo to step back a little bit and, like, let her live her own life. And in fact, the surest sign that Joe Simpson had little to do with A Public Affair is that it’s got a song about Jessica’s A instead of her T. You see, in addition to knowing best, Jessica Simpson’s father also knows breasts. “She’s got double Ds!” he said in a 2004 interview with GQ, happy to talk up his daughter’s rack.

On “Push Your Tush,” the former Mrs. Lachey is having a hoedown, and, unfortunately, we’re all invited. She’s drinking lemonade, flirtin’ with farm boys, and dancin’. “You want to impress a hick?” she asks. “Then make it go tick tick tick tick tick!” The Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis track isn’t half bad—it’s even got an Ohio Players sample that pauses in the middle for a banjo solo—but the overly throaty vocals muck it up. Ad-libs from the star about having a “hootenanny” and screeching—no lie—“cock-a-doodle-doo” are just wrong.

But it’s a wrong that pales in the context of an album full of them. Jessica’s record is indeed as bad as its sales suggest—when you’re barely outselling Paris Hilton, you’ve got trouble—and not even Us Weekly covers boasting “news” of her purported breakup with John Mayer have given A Public Affair a boost. The title track, a feel-good roller-skating jam, has won Jess a lot of flack for being a Madonna knockoff. It’s a well-deserved critique: It’s “Holiday” mixed with a taste of “Hung Up,” and it’s horrible. But Simpson isn’t finished with the ’80s. She also covers a song from way back when she was pre-born—Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).” Jessica pulls out her husky voice for this one, and though she gets through it without completely trashing the original, the track is hard to distinguish from karaoke.

Like OutKast and Christina Aguilera, Jessica hops on the whole old-timey, vaguely ragtime-era popular music trend on “Swing With Me.” Again, she sounds like she’s trying to be Madonna—in this case she’s mimicking Breathless Mahoney, Madge’s character from Dick Tracy. “Tension just starts to grow/As I’m spinnin’ and my bloomers show,” Jess sings as a bunch of sassy horns rage in the background and she gets to simultaneously show off both her sex appeal and her historical knowledge of undergarments.

On “Fired Up,” Jessica chooses to rely on her “sexy” voice instead of just singing. She’s struggling to copy Britney Spears circa “I’m a Slave 4 U” and putting way too much work into being a vixen. It’s good evidence that Joe might not have been in the studio while Jess was laying down her vocals—when Dad is around, she exudes a more effortless sort of sensuality. “Jessica never tries to be sexy,” Joe told GQ. “She just is sexy.”

In fact, whenever Joe’s around, Jessica never seems to be trying too hard—from playing up her dumb-blonde-ness on TV to making halfway decent pop records, all her best career moves have come courtesy Daddy. Joe may have a creepy habit of looking down his daughter’s shirt, but he still seems to knows Jessica better than she knows herself.

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