I Am Me is Ashlee Simpson's second studio album that was released on October 18, 2005 by Geffen Records.
- Boyfriend 3:01
- In Another Life 3:48
- Beautifully Broken 3:16
- L.O.V.E. 2:34
- Coming Back For More 3:30
- Dancing Alone 3:56
- Burnin Up 3:57
- Catch Me When I Fall 4:02
- I Am Me 3:18
- Eyes Wide Open 4:10
- Say Goodbye 4:15
"I Am Me" was released about fifteen months after "Autobiography" (which was released in July 2004).
According to Simpson, following her concert tour from February to April 2005, she was supposed to take a month off, but began working on the album early. She said, "I got home and got bored, so I called John Shanks and was like, 'Can I come in the studio? Let's get a head start so the record company's not asking for the record right away or anything."
Simpson also said that she wanted to "get the pre-jitters or anything that was going wrong out of my system. And when I went in everything started going smooth. It was fun."
According to her, she felt less pressure when recording "I Am Me" than she did when recording her debut album.
I Am Me is, like its predecessor, a mixture of rock and pop; it has been described as similar to Simpson's first album. Simpson herself has said that she wanted it to be "familiar" to "Autobiography."
Some differences have also been noted. I Am Me has been said to be influenced by '80s music. Simpson herself said, "I just love '80s music" and "It's just so light and fun, and that was a lot of what I wanted to do on this record."
Prior to recording the album Simpson had said she wanted to incorporate more of the feel of '80s music into her next album, as some of her favorite music is from that time.
"I Am Me" has been called more musically "aggressive" than "Autobiography" and incorporates a range of musical styles; it has been called "dynamic" and "ambitious".
Simpson's father and manager Joe said that his daughter had to be held back from "the places she wanted to go" as an artist, because, he said, if she changed too quickly her fans would be left behind.
Simpson has mentioned how she tried "new sounds" when working on the album, citing in particular the song "Burnin Up" which was described by one reviewer as "a fairly credible stab at Clash-style dub"; this song is not a cover of the early Madonna song ("Burning Up") that Simpson had covered live during her February–April 2005 tour.
Lyrically, the album reflects Simpson's different life experiences since her last album; in particular, two songs deal with Simpson's emotions following her failed performance on Saturday Night Live in October 2004, in which she used a backing track due to illness, only to have the wrong track played, thus making the presence of the backing track obvious and embarrassing her on live television. This incident left Simpson the target of a great deal of criticism and humor at her expense.
The first song on the album that deals with the incident is "Beautifully Broken", which strikes a positive tone of overcoming as Simpson finds beauty in failure.
According to Simpson: "The song is kind of about when you're in bed and you're crying and you don't want to get up the next day ... it's about finding that inner strength and finding that part in yourself that's like, 'Yes, I can put my head up and I can continue.'"
"Catch Me When I Fall", the second song on the album dealing with the incident, is a piano-driven ballad which reflects weakness & sadness, and deals with a feeling of loneliness.
The theme of accepting imperfections is reflected in a hidden message that is included in the CD case.
Simpson has said of the album: "The record is dark meets light in a sense. I feel everyone has a dark side. This album is about finding the positive, finding the lighter side as well."
She mentioned in an AIM interview online that she chose the title "I Am Me" "because I've been through a lot of highs and lows this year, but no matter what happens to me I always stay true to who I am."
Simpson has also mentioned how the lyrics on the album reflect her different feelings at different times, the ups and downs she experienced: "We all get sad sometimes, and we all want to dance and party, too."
Like "Autobiography", many of the songs deal with relationships.
Simpson calls the track "Coming Back For More" a "fun, dancey song about an ex-boyfriend" and their relationship that won't come to an end.
"I Am Me" is an energetic song in which Simpson responds with hurt and anger to her boyfriend being with another girl, and insists: "I am me, and I won't change for anyone".
"In Another Life" is, in Simpson's words, "a cute romantic song about when you meet a guy and it's kind of like he knows everything about you before you really get to know him, and you feel comfortable with him right away. And he makes you feel beautiful."
"Say Goodbye", the melancholy album closer, deals with the ending of a relationship.
Other songs cover a variety of topics: "Boyfriend" is a response to rumors or accusations that she stole another girl's boyfriend (although rumors suggest it is about her alleged affair with Lindsay Lohan's ex-boyfriend, Wilmer Valderrama, Simpson has said it is not about "one person in particular", but is instead about a situation many girls can relate to).
"L.O.V.E." is about girls going out and having fun without needing any guys.
"Eyes Wide Open" is a "spooky song" about Simpson's feeling that there was a ghost living in her house.
Like her debut album, "I Am Me" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200; however, it didn't achieve the same success as "Autobiography" as it sold only about 220,000 copies while her debut album sold 398,000 copies.
Sales for the album declined 67% in its second week, when it sold about 73,000 copies and fell to #6 on the Billboard 200.
During its third week, the album sold about 54,000 copies, a sales drop of 25%, and it fell on the chart to #10.
Rolling Stone magazine grouped it among the numerous "heavily anticipated albums" of the season whose sales had "fizzled" such as Alicia Keys' "Unplugged" album and Rod Stewart's "Thanks For the Memory: The Great American Songbook 4" album (which had been released in the same week as "I Am Me").
As of April 2008, the album has sold 944,000 copies in the United States (according to Nielsen SoundScan).
In Australia, "I Am Me debuted at number 35 without a single being lifted from it before its release.
The single "Boyfriend" was released the week after the album was released. However, the album failed to chart again after its debut and dropped out completely.
In the United Kingdom (in the absence of any promotion), "I Am Me" debuted at #160, selling just 1,392 copies in its first week.
However, in late January 2006, Simpson went to the UK to promote "Boyfriend", several months later than in the United States; the single was released in the UK on 30 January 2006, and hit #12 in its first week. Also, the album climbed to #50 in the UK in mid-February 2006.
The initial critical response to "I Am Me" was mixed.
At Metacritic, the album has received an average score of 43, based on 13 reviews.
A BBC review of the album was positive, calling it "confident yet searching" and saying that it "flirts with 80s production throughout and produces a more mature, tighter sound than some of her peers."
Stylus also gave it a favorable review; while saying that it "isn't as consistently strong a record as Autobiography", it calls the album "more-than-respectable" and "a very good record".
Another review called it "a solid pop/rock album" with strong songwriting that "should go far to re-establish Ashlee Simpson as a legitimate artist", giving it three-and-a-half stars (out of five).
Rolling Stone gave it a negative review, rating it slightly lower than it had previously rated "Autobiography." The album received one-and-a-half stars, while "Autobiography" received two (out of five).
Rolling Stone review called it "a collection of eleven soulless tunes that fail to even qualify as guilty pleasures" and said that "in venturing to offer something for everyone, Simpson offers nothing for anyone."
Allmusic also gave the album a negative assessment (and a rating of two stars out of five), saying that "unlike Autobiography, this simply is no rock & roll fun — the songs aren't catchy, the attitude is dour, the productions are cold and distant, all highlighting the deficiencies in Ashlee Simpson as a singer, while burying the likeable persona she had on both her debut and her MTV show."
Blender said that, in comparison to her debut album, "the songs are soggier, the sentiments more banal" and calls it a "sophomore slump", giving it two out of five stars.
Another review called the album "solid but unspectacular", crediting Simpson with going "in directions that Avril Lavigne has never thought of" but wishing that Simpson displayed more "obnoxious grit" on the album.