Mandy Moore Is The Most Underrated Pop Star Of The ’90s

We're missing her like "Candy," y'all.

Written by Christopher Rosa

This is a very important PSA, so sit down and take notes. Sixteen years ago, a doe-eyed pop star named Mandy Moore set out for total music domination with her groundbreaking classic “Candy.” However, underground indie acts like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera overshadowed this IRL empress, so she was never considered more than a bubblegum clone. This is a grave injustice, because Moore is actually the coolest — and most talented — pop act to emerge in the late ’90s/early ’00s. Class is in session.

She has great songs, a sugary-sweet voice and alluring music videos to boot. So why did everyone write Moore off as just another Britney wannabe back in the day? We’re about to remedy that catastrophic mistake now and serve you all the reasons the “Extraordinary” singer (eh?!) deserves a second look. Soon, you’ll agree with our consensus that She. Is. Queen.

  1. She was able to pull off floor-length skirts with style and aplomb.

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    Plaid floor-length skirts. Oh, and turtleneck tank-tops. Sure, Spears and Aguilera may have donned similar ’90s garb, but nothing this epic. Honestly, your fave could never.

  2. Her pop songs are damn good.

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    Does she have a “…Baby One More Time” in her catalogue? Obviously not. However, Moore does have some genuine bops that rival even the most impressive album tracks on both Spears and Aguilera’s early discographies. From the bubbly come-ons of “Candy” to the sweeping melodies in “I Wanna Be With You” and the flirtatious, defiant “In My Pocket,” Moore’s pop treats are pretty darn delicious.

  3. Her early acting gigs led to a solid film career.

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    Sure, Spears has Crossroads (iconic because BritBrit) from 2002 and Aguilera did Burlesque (iconic because Cher) in 2010, but Moore is the only pop princess who didn’t become a movie one-hit wonder. After her breakout role in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation A Walk to Remember (2002), Moore went on to star in several other successful films like Saved! (2004), Racing Stripes (2005) and Because I Said So(2007); the latter also starring ageless goddess Diane Keaton. Not to mention a little film called Tangled (2010), but more on that later.

  4. She blazed the genre-changing trail long before Aguilera (and Taylor Swift).

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    While it’s pretty badass Aguilera made the bold move from pop to jazz with Back to Basics (2006), let’s not forget Moore did something similar in 2003. After her third teen-pop album Mandy Moore (2001), the singer switched gears to something more natural: enter Coverage. The LP was a far cry from Moore’s earlier discography, swapping out glossy pop beats for acoustic instrumentals. And it surprisingly worked (“Drop the Pilot” is one of Moore’s catchiest singles ever.) She continued evolving with 2007’s Wild Hope, a subtle folk-pop album that Billboard called “gratifying” and full of “undeniable hooks.” Her latest album Amanda Leigh (2009) is her highest rated to date and, coincidentally, her folkiest. Moore’s catalog may not be as profitable as Spears’, but it’s definitely more diverse.

  5. She wore this hat once.

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    A deeply experimental and avant-garde fashion statement that broke barriers and changed the perception of bucket hats for years to come. It was pioneering.

  6. She’s an actual Disney princess.

    Oh yeah, remember the time Moore voiced Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled? It only went on to gross $591.8 million and snag an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song (“I See the Light”). Obviously, the directors were inspired by Moore’s platinum blonde Y2K days when they gave her this role. The resemblance is uncanny. Where are Spears and Aguilera’s princess reincarnations, huh? Right…THEY DON’T EXIST. Take all the seats. Class dismissed.

    [Photo: Getty Images]