There was probably no amount of prayer that could have saved the pop life of Stacie Orrico.
In 2003, the then 17-year-old’s self-titled debut, which spawned the semi-hits “Stuck” and “More To Life” (originally composed by another forgotten pop wannabe, Lucy Woodward) managed to propel the Seattle native among the likes of other teen queen powerhouses of the time, including Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Her early success also kept the door open for other hopeful ingenues, such as Rihanna, who would make her first mark on the music charts two years later, and Katy Perry to eventually follow suit.
How ironic is it then that the latter of those artists managed to do the one thing that Stacie never could: properly reinvent herself for a more secular audience.
Three years previous to the Stacie Orrico LP being released, Orrico recorded what was her actual first album, a Christian pop disc entitled Genuine that, for a time, marketed the doe-eyed brunette as almost an “anti-Britney Spears” of sorts. Years down the line, another Christian artist, Katy Hudson, would eventually drop her last name and her God-loving act altogether, to bring forth the bold and whipped cream bra-wearing icon known as Katy Perry to the world, but unfortunately, Stacie just couldn’t, or perhaps wouldn’t, budge her religion aside for the sake of mainstream relevance, although she did try her hardest to juggle the two for a time.
“Being in both [the Christian and mainstream] worlds is double the work,” Orrico expressed during a 2003 interview with Today’s Christian Music, “but it’s been cool, although it is interesting when at 7 a.m. you’re at a [secular] pop station and an hour later you’re at a very conservative Christian [Adult Contemporary] radio station. I think one of the greatest things is that everybody has just been so supportive from both sides.”
That support, however, did not last long. If it ever existed at all, that is.
In an attempt to push out Stacie to a more secular audience, one of the singles from Genuine, a ballad called “Everything,” was offered by her then-label, ForeFront, to mainstream pop stations across the country. Although the song didn’t take off as well as expected, it eventually caught the attention of staff members at Virgin Records, who signed Stacie to a joint contract with her original label at some point before 2003.
Before recording Stacie Orrico, the original plan was to follow-up Genuine with another Christian-themed project, Say It Again, but the disc was ultimately shelved to dedicate all efforts to promoting Stacie as a bonafide, mainstream pop star. Some songs from Say It Again were retooled for the Stacie Orrico album, including “Security” and “Maybe I Won’t Look Back,” while another, “Bounce Back,” was given more of an urban spin from its original pop sound.
Three singles deep into the promotion of Stacie Orrico — the Diane Warren-penned “I Promise,” failed to chart despite being one of the strongest songs off the album — the move was made to release a fourth, the upbeat “I Could Be The One.”
Unfortunately, whereas the first three singles included lyrics (which Stacie herself wrote) that were be interchangeable with holy thoughts or feelings without being overly Christian, “I Could Be The One” was filled to the brim with inspirational quotes about serving the Almighty in any way that she, and by association, her listeners could.
“I could be the one, someone You’re looking for
I don’t have much to give
Lord, I’m ready and through You
I could be the one…”
The move felt like something straight out of the South Park episode, “Christian Rock Hard,” where Cartman forms a Christian rock band, Faith + 1, and literally rewrites lyrics of classic songs to include mentions of religious figures to gain fame, although in Stacie’s case, it was always who she set out to be: a Christian artist first and a pop artist second.
Even worse, it was laughably treated as such by the public and the video release was ultimately cancelled, although it leaked to the internet not too long afterward.
Much wasn’t heard from Stacie on American shores following Stacie Orrico on both the mainstream and Christian fronts, with listeners from the former collective losing most of their interest after “More To Life” (“I Promise” and “I Could Be The One” were released to radio in the U.K. only) and fans from the latter sect seeing her as being a sell-out that couldn’t go platinum on either side of the board (the disc sold half that amount worldwide).
Orrico’s third album, 2006’s Beautiful Awakening, had its release postponed several times before finally seeing an international unveiling in 2007 with a temporary digital offering in the states quickly disappearing from the world wide web shortly thereafter. Stacie herself has also mostly shied away from public view, although she seemed to keep a somewhat active presence on social media; most notably, Twitter, until about 2016, where she last openly mourned the passing of singer Christina Grimmie via her profile.
In a moment of foreshadowing, perhaps one of saintly measures, it’s an unfortunate end that Stacie Orrico herself once hinted at way back when in 2003.
“People ask me if I think I’ll be making records in 15 years, and I have no idea,” she stated.
“When I watch how my life has gone so far, I’ve had such different stages of it; and although I know music will always be a part of it, I don’t know [where I’ll be]. I’m [just] really glad for [the] different, strange turns my life has taken.”
A promise to return in 2013 also went nowhere. As of that year, Stacie Orrico was said to be last residing in Denver, as noted by Breathecast.
[Featured Image by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]