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"Shadow" single cover

"Shadow" is a song by Ashlee Simpson, the second single from her 2004 album Autobiography in the U.S. and Australia, although not in the U.K.

About the song[edit | edit source]

"Shadow" was written by Ashlee Simpson, Kara DioGuardi and producer John Shanks. It is three minutes 57 seconds long, and is the third track on Autobiography.

The song is about feelings Simpson had (when she was about 15 or 16 years old, according to one interview [1]) of living in the shadow of the dreams and accomplishments of her famous older sister, Jessica Simpson, and finding her own identity. Although "Shadow" is noted for having somewhat dark lyrics, it has a positive message, and towards the end of the song Simpson sings that "everything's cool now" and "the past is in the past." In an interview on Live with Regis and Kelly on September 22, 2004, Simpson described the song's meaning:

"Actually, a lot of people think that 'Shadow' is about my sister, but it's really about dealing with myself and ... dealing with ... the voice in your head that's like, 'Oh, everything has to be so perfect, and I have to be like this,' and ... finding my identity and saying, OK, you know, this is who I am, you know, imperfections and all, and I love myself for me, and here I am!"

"Shadow" was called the "best and most personal song" on the album in a People magazine review. [2] Others, however, have criticized the song's lyrics—which begin with the line "I was six years old / when my parents went away"—for seeming excessively dramatic in light of the appearance that Simpson's family is quite happy, loving, and successful, as seen on the reality shows Newlyweds and The Ashlee Simpson Show. [3]

Asked in one interview about the unhappiness she expresses in "Shadow" about her childhood, and whether it's "just for the song," Simpson replied:

"I was dealing with my inner demons, and my inner voices in my head. It wasn't necessarily my parents being bad parents. It was just things that I battled with in my head. Feeling second best, or feeling that they didn't love me. But the song's saying: 'Guys, I apologize, if I ever put you guys through hell. I love you, and love my life, and thank you for letting me be myself, even though I messed up at times.'"
"They all bawl whenever they listen to it—my sister, my parents, everybody."1

She also related that "[w]hen my sister heard the song she cried and said, 'That's the most beautiful song I've ever heard!'" [4]

The music video for "Shadow", directed by Liz Friedlander, is more elaborate than the video for "Pieces of Me", the first single. In the video, Simpson plays two different versions of herself, blonde and brunette, who live in separate "worlds" which exist side by side. The world of the blonde Ashlee appears happy and perfect, while the brunette Ashlee seems to have more negative feelings—at one point she shoves a bowl of cereal prepared by the blonde Ashlee off a kitchen table—but eventually it is revealed that the blonde Ashlee is not as happy as she seems. At the end of the video, shadows are seen leaving the brunette Ashlee. These scenes are intercut with Simpson singing in a living room setting with her band.

Simpson made a few notable television appearances in the U.S. to promote "Shadow". On September 20, she appeared on MTV's popular music video countdown show Total Request Live; although she did not sing "Shadow" as scheduled because she was not feeling well, she did give an interview and introduced the "Shadow" music video, which was at number two on the countdown that day. Simpson was also on Live with Regis and Kelly on September 22, performing the song after the interview mentioned above; on the same day, she also performed "Shadow" on The Tonight Show. The song was, however, unable to match the popularity of "Pieces of Me", proving only moderately successful by comparison. While "Pieces of Me" reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100, "Shadow" reached only number 57; "Pieces of Me" also reached number one on the Billboard Top 40 Tracks, but "Shadow" reached only number 27. In Australia, "Shadow" was Autobiography's second single, and it reached number 31 on the ARIA singles chart in November 2004; in the same week, "Pieces of Me" was still ahead of it on the chart, at number 30. In early January 2005, after some time spent out of the ARIA top 50, "Shadow" rebounded to number 34. In the United Kingdom, the song "La La" is the second single instead of "Shadow".

Track listing[edit | edit source]

  1. Shadow - 03:59
  2. Pieces Of Me (29 Palms Remix Vocal Edit) - 04:05
  3. Sorry (Non LP Version) - 03:45
  4. Shadow (Video)

Peak chart positions[edit | edit source]

Year Chart – Billboard (United States) Position
2004 The Billboard Hot 100 57
2004 Top 40 Mainstream 14
2004 Top 40 Tracks 27
Year Chart – ARIA (Australia) Position
2004 Top 50 Singles 31

Credits[edit | edit source]

  • Vocals – Ashlee Simpson
  • Drums – Kenny Aronoff
  • Guitars, bass, keyboards – John Shanks
  • Piano, organ – Jamie Muhoberac
  • Chamberlin – Patrick Warren
  • String arrangement – David Campbell
  • Background vocals – Ashlee Simpson and Kara DioGuardi

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Heffernan, Virginia. The New York Times, "Ashlee Simpson, Platinum Brunette". August 1, 2004. Interview.
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