Fresh from a 1999 sugar high sparked by the quick downing of a grape-flavored Fruitopia, I turned on TRL and saw my imaginary boyfriend Carson Daly (whom I dumped two years later for Quddus) introduce the video for a song called “Candy” by some artist named Mandy Moore. When I first saw Mandy, I thought, “Who cloned Britney Spears?”
I mean, I know not all white people look alike, but in the “Candy” video, Mandy gave me Britney Spears, if Britney Spears had longer legs that she didn’t know how to use—much less on a sickening pop beat. No shade. Sometimes a good spin and hair toss is all you’ve got in you. But even though Mandy couldn’t dance, “Candy” was a bop. By the end of the video, I was hooked. She wasn’t necessarily an instant favorite, but now I was paying attention.
Another stellar single from the Mandy Moore catalog is “Walk Me Home.” It’s one of those cute tracks that recalls some romantic scene in a teen drama. Or, if you were a gay boy in a certain era, a very sentimental instant messenger exchange with a boy you hope really did delete those pictures like he said he would…Whatever, you get it. It’s romance.
As a bonus, I adore Mandy’s aggressive lip quiver in the “Walk Me Home” video. We know she’s lip syncing. All artists lip sync in their videos. So for Mandy to give us such forceful mouth movements just confirms her true artistic commitment. Yes, girl. Sell me the song!
“I Wanna Be With You” is there for when I want to feel sad, but not like Mary J. Blige’s old hits sad, because I don’t feel like crying in public so early in the day.
As you can see, Mandy’s music career yielded some success: There was a platinum debut and two gold-certified followups. Still, she could easily have set sail for the Island of Lost Pop Acts (I assume Willa Ford and the remaining members of LFO reside there on a villa) after the release of 2004’s Coverage, an album of cover songs from the 1970s and 1980s. If white people had an answer to TV One’s Unsung, Mandy Moore might have had an episode for sure.
But Mandy shrewdly segued into acting, though she kept releasing music over the years. And she really can act, unlike many singers turned thespians. My favorite of her roles is in the 2004 film Saved!, which dealt with religion, homophobia, and teen pregnancy, and co-starred Macaulay Culkin. Hell, I still sometimes fight off the urge to shout “I am filled with Christ’s love!” while lobbing a bible at one of my haters.
Read the rest at ELLE.