According to reports, Jessica Simpson‘s country career can now officially be called “short-lived”; the former teenpop star/reality-TV newlywed is no longer on Columbia Nashville, at least if you believe her absence from the label’s Web site and a label receptionist’s assertion, told to the gossip rag OK, that she has “come off the label.” (A weird locution, that.)
Simpson’s status in the pop-cultural universe had mutated from “singer” to “vaguely music-related celebrity” over the years, with tales of her romances and appearance far outweighing any discussion of her actual recorded product. She actually didn’t do too poorly at first; her album had 65,000 sales in its first week but sank thereafter, and its second single, “Remember That,” only peaked at No. 42 on the Hot Country Songs chart. (It did top one chart—the Bubbling Under chart, which counts down the songs that haven’t quite made the Hot 100.)
Simpson will probably be fine in the long run, despite the crisis racking much of the subprime celebrity economy. (The shoe line she’s lent her name to actually has a couple of OK specimens, although it’s way too heavy on the gladiator sandals for me.) Mostly, though, I’m wondering if Simpson finally being dropped means that labels will maybe think twice about the longer-term prospects of signing artists to record deals based on their fameball antics. Flipping past someone on a gossip Web site or during some downtime at a supermarket checkout is one thing; plunking down money for a song, or even lasting through its three-minutes-plus running time on the radio, is another level of commitment, and it’s one that time and time again people have proven resistant to making. Heidi Montag, you might not want to quit your day job. Whatever it is.