Mandy Moore offers more than meets the eye

Here is the thing: I think I’m becoming a Mandy Moore fan. It’s so unexpected and, at the same time, oddly invigorating.

In a churning sea of pop tarts and party princesses, Mandy stands out as an oasis of self-confidence and grounded calm. While she came up at the same time as the bubblegum brigade of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson, her path diverged. At the time, she seemed the least promising of the bunch and now she could have the most staying power (no disrespect to X-tina and her unparalleled pipes — that girl can flat-out sing). But Mandy is an industry triple threat: She sings, she acts and she seems smart.

Certainly, if you had told me eight years ago that the singer of that damn “Candy” song would mature into — dare I say it — an artist of substance, I would have told you to stop drinking the box wine in bulk. But then, back in 1999, if I’d thought that that same song might someday — dare I say it, again — sound good when all bluesed up by the same singer, I would have wondered if perhaps I was the one with the wine box problem. Earlier this month, Mandy reinterpreted her hit single at a concert for MSN. If you’ve heard it, tell me that’s not just a little bit sexy.

If you’ve tracked Miss Moore’s career of late, you’ll know that she has taken a new direction with her sound and has been disarmingly honest about her pop past. Earlier this month, Mandy released her new CD Wild Hope. Its first single was the empowering little ditty “Extraordinary.“

She collaborates with some talented indie singer-songwriters on the release, including Rachael Yamagata, The Weepies and Lori McKenna. Mandy told Elle magazine her expectations for the album:

“I don’t want any expectations. I just want people to know that I still sing. Most people don’t realize that, or else they hate my music — rightfully so.”

In the same interview, Mandy declared both her singing and acting mediocre: “I’m not trying to be self deprecating. I’m just being honest.” That refreshing openness also comes through when she talks about her figure, which is blessedly healthy and visible sternum–free.

And as she told C magazine:

“I’m not willing to deprive myself. I am who I am. I know I don’t fit into the trendy look right now, but I’m much happier representing this body type. I have to make other sacrifices, like not seeing my friends, for my career, so if I want French fries, I’ll have them.”

Mandy’s career continues to be like one of those late-night infomercials where the announcer breathlessly declares, “But wait, there’s more!” On July 3, her new comedy License to Wed, which co-stars Robin Williams and The Office’s John Krasinski, opens. I have no idea whether it’s any good, but I’m going to give the film the benefit of the doubt.

I mean, how can you not root for an actress who so completely goes for it while chucking a bible at someone’s head and screaming, “I am FILLED with Christ’s love!” Fantastic. If you haven’t seen Saved! rent it now. Like, right this very second.

And Mandy, keep it up. You’re giving me wild hope for the next generation of young women. And that, that is pretty darn extraordinary.

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