Once upon a time, everything Lindsay Lohan touched would eventually bring her success in the entertainment field. Lately, however, the possibility of lining Lohan up with anything in entertainment seems to be quite muddled and confusing. On Thursday, word came that she was set to appear in a London-based theater production of Speed-The-Plow, a play by David Mamet. It is definitely a different angle to the career of a young woman who once had the world at her fingertips. With heavy popularity from appearing in movies such as The Parent Trap and Mean Girls, and unbridled talent bursting at the seams, it made sense that the young Lohan would branch out and dip her toe into something a bit more risky: a music career. She came pretty close to making her dream of obtaining pop stardom a full reality. However, just as quickly as it came, it was gone.
In 2003, Lohan appeared in the remake of the Disney classic, Freaky Friday. In the updated take, her character is part of a rock band that hopes to become good enough to win a “battle of the bands” competition. As part of the soundtrack, Lohan sang Ultimate, a rock-pop filled jam about finding love. It was not an instant smash by any means, but it led the way to other songs being recorded for future movie releases (such as That Girl from another Disney production, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen).
Signing up with Casablanca Records in 2004, Lohan released her first album, Speak, at the end of that year. Critics were mixed on the raspy and not-so-great nature of her singing voice, but fans loved the offering. The first single from the album, Rumors, showed off a much different side of the then 17-year-old. The electro-pop dance track centered on the actress’ sketchy relationship with the paparazzi that followed her every move. Slowing it down for the second single, Over, she slid comfortably into the onslaught of teen pop queens at the time. The album eventually sold over one million copies in America alone. The rise should have continued, but it instead marked what would become the beginning of Lohan’s downfall.
The year 2005 saw the release of her final collaboration with Disney, Herbie: Fully Loaded. The dark tales of her life around that time possibly marred the promotion of the Speak album. Stories about her turning up late to set, passing out from exhaustion and rumors of her partying into all hours of the night began to hit the tabloids weekly. The final single from the album, First, was also the lead single of the soundtrack to Herbie. It failed to chart and mostly went unnoticed.
In the midst of the turmoil, Lohan recorded her follow-up to Speak, the introspective A Little More Personal (Raw). Put together while filming Herbie (producers for the album joked that you could hear speeding cars from the set on the vocal tracks for songs), it took on a much darker tone from its inception. Lohan stated that the tracks recorded for Raw (originally titled There’s Only One Angel in Heaven) were more tied to her personal life than ever before. She co-wrote eight of the 11 songs that would end up on the album.
“There’s been a lot going on [in my life lately],” she said of the album’s tone. “I think people can find that escape in hobbies that they do. Everyone has their own thing, and I use writing.”
The first single from Raw, Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father) was almost a straight forward retelling of the troubled relationship between Lohan and her estranged father, Michael Lohan. He was said to have abused Lohan’s mother, Dina, for years and would end up abandoning Lindsay and her siblings. At the time of the song’s release, he was imprisoned for driving under the influence of alcohol.
“Daughter to father, daughter to father,” she cries out while singing. “I don’t know you… but I still want to.”
It was a bold move. The video for the song, directed by Lohan herself, pushed the limit even further. Played out as a scene in a store window while spectators watched, chaos reigns supreme as Lohan’s parents (played by professional actors) fight out their issues (sometimes physically) while Lohan and her sister, Ali (who appears as herself) hide away in other rooms. The powerful nature of the song and video helped Lohan achieve her first entry into the Billboard singles charts, at number 57.
Released in December of 2005, A Little More Personal (Raw) had a peak position of number 20. Weak promotion and no other push for the album (critics called the disc too much of an attempt to “express herself”) would eventually cause it to fall off rather quickly. It would be another three years before Lohan would try again; switching things back to dance with a single called Bossy.
Although hopes were high that the song, co-written by Ne-Yo, would return her to prominence, it did not. In an almost ironic turn of events, Bossy would become Lohan’s first and only number one hit on the Billboard Dance Charts. Rumors have flown around for years regarding a follow-up to Raw. Songs from an unreleased project, said to be titled Spirit in The Dark, have floated around online for quite some time.
However, things are much different in today’s world. With an industry in constant change and a career that has yet to find a true point of return, Lindsay Lohan reclaiming a stake in the music game will probably never happen. Still, nearly a decade ago, anything was possible. The dream of becoming a triple-threat was so very close in her grasp and for a moment in time, everyone was ready to cheer her on.
Opinion by Jonathan Brown