Speak, by Lindsay Lohan
At this point, it is somewhat difficult to remember that Lindsay Lohan was once a fresh-faced actress whose career had been built on family-friendly films where she played a spunky and cute kid who could act and sing and was a part of a generation of stars that sought to move the music charts as well as the box office charts with their often interconnected product. As it is, throughout her entire career to date, Lindsay Lohan has released exactly two studio albums of her own, and this is the only one that was relatively successful–having a top ten debut and selling hundreds of thousands of copies. This particular album was released at an interesting time, when the rumors about Lindsay Lohan’s less than exemplary and indeed highly disordered personal life had reached a level beyond mere gossip and was about to derail her career in a spectacular way, and it appears as if at least some of the album deals with this context. Is it any good though? Let’s find out.
The album begins with “First,” which features some relationship drama with Lindsay being jealous of a partner’s ex, with irritating production and singing that seems to frequently miss the beat during the verses before a passable chorus that sounds like a second-tier Hillary Duff song. “Nobody ‘Til You” offers lyrics that claim that the singer’s current partner is the first one to make her feel loved and special, but this mood is undercut by minor keys and a somewhat dark tone to the production. “Symptoms Of You” offers up a pretty basic ballad that compares the singer’s love for someone to an illness. The production is decent enough this time, but the lyrics are lamentably subpar. “Speak,” the title track of the album, affirms the right of people to their own opinion while also having a somewhat aggressive perspective that assumes that she is going to successfully woo someone by calling upon that person to speak their feelings. Again, though, the production is appealing enough but the lyrics are pretty bargain basement. “Over” features Lohan mourning the end of relationship that seems to be happening, calling on her partner for communication and a definite break. The lyrics are definitely the weakest part of the song but here they are passable at least, and this is a high point of the album, to go along with some decent music. “Something I Never Had” offers an acoustic pop number that laments her disconnection with a loved one that she wishes would stay with her. Again, the lyrics are pretty painfully basic, but the mood is sufficiently nuanced and relatable that this song is enjoyable, especially with its production. “Anything But Me” offers a complaint about the lack authenticity in what other people want from the singer, even as she tries to be true to herself. As might be imagined from this album, the production is excellent and the sentiment is relatable enough but the lyrics are cringeworthy. “Disconnected” explores the most basic of polarities in a way that Ava Max would be ashamed to put to paper, even if the production is acceptable and the mood is relatable, as the kind of material that an Avril Lavinge would have turned into a more memorable song. “To Know Your Name” offers another dark tale of a secret love that Lindsay Lohan is trying to keep under wraps and private while seeking to escape from the fame monster that she was simultaneously dependent on for her income, even while buckling under the pressure of the cameras and the gossip. This is, of course, expressed in the most basic way. “Very Last Moment In Time” offers a picture of the singer clinging on to a loved one as if it was the last moment in time, with the most basic expression of her desire to linger in the sensuality of the love in a way that seems like the poor woman’s version of Hilary Duff’s “Come Clean,” which is nonetheless a standout track here. “Magnet” is a pretty basic song about attraction, but it’s pretty convincing as a picture of attraction that seems to be contrary to reason but that comes from nature, a pretty common enough feeling in song and in life. “Rumors” offers another call to the press for privacy that reflects Lindsay’s personal life and the contradiction between being a star and seeking to live a very private life. This is a pretty powerful song, but it shows a marked lack of self-awareness that seems to characterize the life of a great many celebrities.
In reading the credits of this album, it is almost embarrassing that quite a few of the songs were written by professional songwriters and only some of the songs feature lyrics from Lohan herself. Most of this album sounds as if it was written by Lohan and produced competently by professionals. It is not a bad album, but it is an album that is markedly lacking in self-reflection or self-awareness. Lohan sings about various aspects of love and relationships as she struggles to find a release from the pressures of her life while also profiting from being a star by being in movies and seeking a career as a pop starlet, unaware that her desires for freedom and her career ambitions are directly at odds, and that no one who covers her is going to let her increasingly chaotic personal life go without comment. All of this makes for a heady album that shows a singer at the beginning of her career as a pop musician but already in full crisis mode. This context is sufficient to make the album an interesting one as a picture of a career just about to implode in the face of bad decisions, and no amount of professional production can cover that sort of disaster. As far as a singer goes, Lohan here sounds uncannily like Hilary Duff, only not quite as appealing and innocent-seeming, and the composition of these songs is below the level of a Miranda Cosgrove, Mandy Moore, Ava Max, or any other number of B-list pop princesses that would serve as suitable comparables to Lohan as pop stars.