Skip to content


I guess I just like liking things

I don’t consider myself a connoisseur of good music by any means, and will readily admit that my taste can be truly cringe-worthy at times. But that’s okay, because it makes me happy, and that is what matters. That said, I need to talk about this song from 2006 by former boy band heartthrob, Nick Lachey, entitled “What’s Left of Me.”

The song itself probably isn’t very noteworthy. The lyrics are a little cheesy and melodramatic. Lachey isn’t even a very strong vocalist. There is too much “breathiness” to take this seriously. But I find this song hauntingly beautiful, and it continues to give me chills whenever my iPod’s shuffle serves it up to me. At first, I just chalked it up to being a touchy-feely kind of gal, and it being a sweet love song. But then I realized why it has so much impact to me, and for that we need to slip into a time machine to the late nineties.

In September of 1999, Jessica Simpson’s debut single was released and then spawned a weird media gossip train that most of us frankly don’t understand, even though we watched it all unfold on our televisions. She became immediately connected to Nick Lachey, whose singing quartet 98* was in their prime; they were just about to release a Christmas album (a mark of success if there ever was one). It wasn’t Justin and Britney, but it was a close second. As JT and Brit went down in flames, Nick and Jessica were courting rather publicly, sharing personal aspects of their relationship that really should not have been divulged. After their marriage, they starred in a reality series for MTV called Newlyweds, where their relationship faced even more public scrutiny. It was such a public spectacle, it came as somewhat of a shock when the news spread all over the supermarket tabloids that they had broken up. Jessica became the vamp, and Nick became the victim. (This breakup would continue to boost Jessica’s career over the long term, but that is another post for another time.)

So, for anyone that even sort of keeps up with celebrity news (or who has eyes and needs to shop for groceries on a regular basis), it is incredibly difficult to separate the art from the artist. Would this song be as remarkable to me if some other person sang this song? Or if the heartbreak that caused the song was unknown to me? I don’t think it would. Whenever I hear it, it seems very convincingly sad and broken to me, despite the fact that Lachey is not superbly talented.

This, I think, is a side effect of our current media news-driven culture. Knowing certain aspects or details about the lives of celebrities changes the way that we view the art that is produced. Would you watch a movie about the Holocaust if Mel Gibson were attached to it? Did that thought produce an unconscious visceral reaction of disgust? On one hand, we can dismiss the idea of celebrity culture being important, but on the other hand it can enhance how we experience things.

I can’t really say definitively that the off-chance that something will seem more profound because we have a birds eye view of the people that created it is reason enough for the paparazzi fueled gossip rags to stay in business. The two are currently hopelessly intertwined, however, so I choose to see the silver lining. And in this case, I have found artistic merit from something that, in isolation, I would probably not.


Written by: