From ‘I Wanna Love You Forever’ to ‘Newlyweds’ Jessica Simpson’s music and Chicken of the Sea confusion were irresistible in the era of classic MTV.
Hello, it’s time that we stop ignoring the truth about who really ruled MTV in the 2000s. No one can deny that Madonna held the crown in the ’80s and Britney Spears practically kept the network in business with her handful of mind-blowing VMAs performances, but there’s an underdog pop star who deserves to reign as the true queen of the classic MTV era: Jessica Simpson.
Now, the “I Want My MTV” purists who bemoan the network’s lack of music videos won’t accept this unpopular opinion of “classic” MTV. But the cool thing about MTV and its varied programming is that there’s a definitive era for every generation. The current crop of viewers devour the dramas of teenaged mothers and werewolves. There’s the generation that grew up consuming round the clock music-related entertainment and rolling their eyes at adults with Daria Morgendorffer. And for those of us who came of age obsessing over the TRL Top 10 and catching mindless Room Raiders reruns after school, the early aughts were our definitive era thanks in part to Newlyweds.
Newlyweds was MTV’s pioneer conscious push into reality programming, and the inside look at pop’s First Couple quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Whether she knew what she was doing or not, Jessica’s ditzy on-screen persona launched her into A-list super-stardom. Who knew that mixing up chicken and tuna could skyrocket a pop singer’s career and make her a household name?
Of course, today Jessica Simpson isn’t just a name. It’s a billion-dollar fashion retail empire. But in the humble beginnings of the business mogul’s career, she allowed MTV’s cameras to capture intimate moments of her life and her ensuing misadventures in marital bliss. Back in 2003, anyone with ears and a working Walkman knew Jessica had pipes, but with Newlyweds, we learned about the normal girl-next-door behind the fame who happened to be an accidental comedic genius.
Jessica’s cleverly synergistic “With You” music video, which incorporates her most memorable brain-farts from Newlyweds, proves she knew how to corner every MTV market. When she wasn’t busy misidentifying 25 as “almost mid-twenties” and providing the world with quotable (and in 2017 speak, gif-able) soundbites such as “You love my stinky ass,” she brought MTV’s Making the Video behind the scenes of her latest TRL sensations. Who could ever forget the steamy “Sweetest Sin” video with Lachey or the instantly iconic “These Boot Are Made For Walkin’” clip for her big screen turn as Daisy Duke?
Yes, Madonna, Britney, Janet, Michael, and all of the other mega chart-toppers from the rock and pop realms stake their claim for the MTV throne. And there’s even a case to be made for network darling Lauren Conrad, the ringleader of MTV’s beloved “reality” staples Laguna Beach and The Hills. (We were all #TeamLC and obviously still are.) But it’s time we give credit where credit is long overdue and recognize Jessica “Is this chicken what I have, or is this fish?” Simpson as the true queen of the last classic era of MTV.
In the time of Spotify and Catfish, we don’t have a reigning queen of Music Television. Throwing it back to the glory days of VJs, Jessica Simpson’s singles might not have been the most heard on Top 40 radio. But that didn’t stop her from ruling our oh-so distinctive 2000s pop culture landscape with her delightful presence on MTV. Simply, you don’t mistake buffalo wings for actual buffalo on your hit series at the same time you’re burning up the TRL countdown and not make an imprint on an entire generation of MTV viewers. We’re gonna love you forever, Jess.