She was so close. She was nearly there. And in 2003, just before she fell down that rabbit hole and got replaced by a drunken changeling, she gave us one of the best pop songs of the decade.
I know, I know, “Ultimate” is a piece of Disney pop graftwork by Nashville candymaker Robert Ellis Orrall and schlocketeer Jeff Coplan, with nothing of L.L. herself in it. I know all that. But it vrooms and veers and charms and rocks all the same, and it’s the kind of song that doesn’t sound right unless you sing it through a smile. Lindsay Lohan was seventeen, and for a brief moment, she was smiling.
We had to wipe that off her face.
She didn’t make it too hard for us, unable as she was to keep up with her own cue-track or to cope with life’s little setbacks — this one, again, involving a song that would play against movie credits, just two years later. It was like the downhill side of the rise that crested at Mean Girls (2004), an almost exact obversion of the “Ultimate” triumph.
I’d like some demographer/statistician, some Freakonomics nerd, to chart the curve on how quickly we allow or encourage our idols — more specifically, the idols of our young — to be toppled. I’m willing to bet the tear-down time is quicker for women than it is for men.
(Conflated in my mind with “Ultimate,” since I first heard both songs around the same time and for a while thought Lohan was responsible for both.)