We all know how this went back in the TRL day–Britney, Xtina, Jessica….Mandy. Although she never reached the heightened prowess of total chart dominance (or in Ms. Simpson’s case a fancy Macy’s fashion empire), Ms. Moore certainly proved to be one of the more resilient divas of the historic late-’90s teen pop gauntlet.
Born Amanda Leigh Moore in Nashua, NH, the singer (and future actress) got her start after her family moved to the suburbs of Orlando, FL, where she soon took an interest in theater and starred in several local productions. The pint-sized pop princess also made a name a local name for herself by performing the National Anthem at Orlando-based sporting events, even further raising her profile in a town that’s (still) heavily populated by music executives and producers. Epic Records took notice and soon brought her aboard their roster in mid ’99, hoping to take a bite out of the teen pop scene with a superstar of their own…and it worked like a charm, well, sort of.
Making her debut at the age of 15 with her groundbreaking freshmen set, So Real, Mandy Moore soon became a permanent fixture on Carson Daley’s TRL, mostly because the song and video for “Candy” were just so lip-smackingly irresistible. (I still want a green VW bug, anyone?) It also didn’t hurt that second single, “Walk Me Home,” was featured in the hit teen film, Although her debut went platinum within three months, Moore’s success was trivial compared to the overwhelming popularity of those other girls. Keeping on her path, Moore followed in 2000 by serving up I Wanna Be with You, which was Moore or less a rewerked version of her debut with some remixed cuts and a helping of new material, which included the breathy title track. Peaking at #24, the sugary sweet serenade would eventually became Mandy’s biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100. A showing of Center Stage, anyone?
I Wanna Be With You was soon followed with 2001’s self-titled Mandy Moore, which is blessed with just might be one of the best pop songs ever recorded–“In My Pocket,” a bouncing, whirling Eastern influenced number that should have pick pocketed up to the charts, but being that Moore was often labeled as a “fourth-rate Britney,” the worthy track and the album suffered a similar fate as all of her other sets–they never went anywhere on the charts. Not even “Pocket” follow-up, “Crush,” did a blip on the countdown, which is just a shame because, sigh…I wonder if my crush is reading this right now. Thank you, Mandy.
While the struggle became real for Mandy to achieve bulldozing chart success (except on TRL because that’s really how it was, wasn’t it?), she managed to hone a craft that snatched the wigs off all the others–a credible acting career. She first popped up in 2002 by landing a leading role in A Walk to Remember, which became a healthy box office adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. Ms. Mandy kept on her film path, appearing in Saved! (classic) alongside Macauly Culkin, Because I Said So with Diane Keaton (#moviesthatrock), and also alongside the dearly departed Robin Williams in License to Wed. And the double comedic dose of How to Deal and Chasing Liberty? Classic. Moore’s biggest box office hit came just a few years ago with Disney’s animated hit, Tangled, in which the “Cry” singer lent her sassy vocals to the voice of Ms. Rapunzel. But she didn’t keep her talents in the movies, the budding actress also forayed into television with roles in Entourage, The Simpsons, Scrubs, and in a very relevantly powerful episode of Grey’s Anatomy that no one will ever forget. (Watch a clip of her guest spot right here).
Moore also found time to keep making music while working join her budding acting career, releasing the critically acclaimed Covers in 2003–a romping set featuring covers of classics by Carole King, Joe Jackson, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon The record became made way to a successful music reinvention for Moore, but sales were low which prompted Epic to drop her from their ever-changing roster of mid ’00s talent.
After leaving Epic, Moore jumped over to Sire Records, but after a short struggle she ultimately left the label in May 2006 and partnered with EMI, who allowed her more artistic control. Releasing Wild Hope in 2007, Moore co-wrote much of the material which received warm critical reception upon its release. It was also during this time that she hit the road alongside the likes of Ben Lee, and Paula Cole, working hard to reestablish herself as an adult artist. Her newfound adulthood theres would also take over on 2009’s Amanda Leigh, a light, breezy collection of underrated tunes that truly saw Mandy, err, Amanda finally coming full circle with her music career. Besides, Amanda Leigh lead single, “I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week” is just so much fun!
While yes, back then, the sugary concept of Mandy Moore was disposable (Dream, anyone?), but with her now impressive resume that includes you watching Because i Said So on E! to help nurse your weekend hangover, there’s no denying that our “Candy” girl certainly got the job done. While Amanda Leigh was her most recent studio set, the diva left us with plenty of Moore-sels that will forever be creating music memories in headphones all across the music globe.
For all things Ms. Mandy, get down right here.