Jessica Simpson
Memo to Britney: Can't We Be Friends?

by *NSync's Lance Bass

[The telephone rings.]
Lance Bass: Hello, Jessica?
Jessica Simpson: Hey, Lance!
LB: Hey, girl!  What's going on?
JS: Everything.  Name it, and it's going on.
LB: [laughs] So, Irresistible [Columbia], you second album, has just come out. Congratulations!
JS: Thank you.
LB: I got it yesterday, and it is incredible.
JS: You did?  Awww, thanks sweetie. You know, it's been the most stressful week of my entire life. I've been running around all over the place.
LB: I'm sure.  It gets crazy.  So how does this album differ from the first?  How do you?
JS: So much has changed in the past two years since Sweet Kisses came out, it's ridiculous.  The biggest thing for me this time around is to differentiate myself.  Last time, people told me "You need to be like Britney.  You need to be like Christina.  You need to be like Mariah.  You need to be this.  You need to be that."  And while making Irresistable, I stepped back a little bit, and was like, "OK, who am I?  Who do I want to be?  What do I want to accomplish?" And I think I answered that with this record.
LB: Your sophomore album is always where you find yourself.
JS: yeah.  I completely reevaluated everything.  I wanted to do different things: I wanted to duet with Marc Anthony.  I wanted to do some stuff that was a little bit more R&B. And I wanted to go to my roots and do a gospel song. It was really cool because it was what I wanted, and I did it.
LB: That brings up a good point about your music. It's got elements of gospel, hip-hop, R&B and even jazz. What were your influences growing up that gave you your sound?
JS: Well, my dad's a minister, so I listened to a lot of gospel. People like Kim Burrell--who is my favorite gospel singer--CeCe Winans and Aretha Franklin.  But, then again, I also listened to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.  I was totally obsessed with big diva voices.
LB: Yeah, you can definitely tell. [laughs] What do you think of all the rumors always going around--you know, rivalries and everything.  Us versus the Backstreet Boys, you versus Christina versus Britney...
JS: It's so stupid. There are no rivalries.
LB: No one has the time.  We're too busy worrying about ourselves. Are there any rumors you want to clear up? Any scandals that you're like, "No, that didn't happen!" or "I do not hate Britney Spears!"
JS: [laughs] Well, I did something for a magazine a while ago and they completely twisted my words on Britney and Christina just to make the sotry look better. And that really frustrates me because I've always been so positive about both of them. I think Britney is an amazing performer and I think Christina's an amazing singer, and they work as hard as me, if not harder. I would never say anything negative about somebody, especially somebody I respect. It jsut sucks that people twist your words like that.
LB: Well, I promise I won't do that. [laughs] I don't know if you know, but I've dabbled in film recently. Me and Joey [Fatone, another member of *NSYNC] just finished a movie called On the Line. Are you thinking about doing anything like that? I did hear something about Phantom of the Opera.
JS: You heard that?! How?
LB: I know all. [both laugh]
JS: That's not definite yet. We're negotiating and taking it slowly.  It's not about sprinting to the top for me--it's about a marathon. It's about longevity with my music, and with acting, if that's something I decide to do. If I take the time out to do a movie, I want it to be something that I can really respect and that I'm really respected for.
LB: Something smart, creative.
JS: Yeah, absolutely. Especially if you're going to take time away from your passion to do it.
LB: OK--this is going to be my last question because we've got a show in a few hours and I've gotta do my sound check. What is your definition of true success?
JS: I think my definition of true success is success within myself. People can talk about how many albums you're supposed to sell, or what your videos are supposed to look like, but who are they? If I feel confident about what I'm doing, then I feel successful, you know? And I can't let anybody persuade me otherwise, because success today is measured in astronomical numbers, and it's hard to live up to success in a lot of people's eyes. If I keep it within my own eyes, and keep it within reality, then it's cool.  I'll be just fine.
LB: If we can think like that, we'll all be fine. Cool. Thanks, Jessica.
JS: [laughs] Cool. Thanks, Lance. It was good to talk to you. I had fun.
LB: Me too.
JS: Can I interview you next?
LB: Let's do that!

Lance Bass is a member of *NSYNC and the star/co-producer of the upcoming film On the Line.