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Breakouts 2004

Ashlee Simpson, Kanye West, and the year's other emerging talents relive their star-making moments and tell what's next

Ashlee Simpson
Image credit: Ashlee Simpson Photograph by Danielle Levitt
Ashlee Simpson
Image credit: Ashlee Simpson Photograph by Danielle Levitt

Ashlee Simpson

AGE 20

HOMETOWN Dallas

HER BREAKOUT MOMENT Thanks in part to her habit-forming MTV reality show (which quickly rivaled older sister Jessica's series in the ratings), Simpson's debut CD, Autobiography, produced the ubiquitous single ''Pieces of Me,'' spent three weeks at No. 1, and sold 2.2 million copies.

GUIDED BY VOICES After a disastrous, deliriously awkward tape malfunction on Saturday Night Live, fans were shocked — shocked! — to learn that Simpson (like so many popsters before her) uses ''guide vocals'' in live performances. ''I thought maybe, since there was this election going on, that would be more important,'' she says. ''But it was on CNN. I mean, wow.'' We'll forgive her, because in true Simpsonian fashion, she let MTV's cameras capture the entire mortifying incident: ''You get to see the whole inside story in the second season of the show.''

LESSONS LEARNED FROM TOILING IN OBSCURITY Um, not applicable.

FIRST MAJOR PURCHASE Aside from the Mercedes she shopped for on her show, Simpson also bought a house in Studio City, Calif., to share with three girlfriends.

BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT TO FAME ''People taking my picture all the time, like when I'm just eating or whatever.''

WHAT'S NEXT A supporting role in the romantic comedy Wannabe and season 2 of The Ashlee Simpson Show in January.

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