Today is Ash Wednesday, one of the most solemn days of the Catholic calendar, it marks the beginning of Lenten season, a time of sacrifice and reflection towards becoming a better person. 40 days from now (well, technically 46, but Sundays don't count in terms of one's Lenten commitments) it will be Easter Sunday, just in time for Spring, and as that journey begins, with it comes the annual ash on foreheads.
It's also a day where girls and boys named some variant of Ashley worldwide are greeted with "Hey, great Wednesday!" or "Hey, it's your great day, Ash!" While we at the Weekly are somewhat divided over the frequency with which such a pun can be exercised, we're embracing the possibilities by spending today looking back at some of the best Ash'es in music. Here's five memorable musical Ash'es for Ash Wednesday.
Starting things off we have '90s merengue icon Ashley. Real name Ashley Colon, her high energy and off the charts charisma made for some of the most compelling visuals in the genre. Her breakout single "Yo Soy La Bomba," which translates to "I Am the Bomb" is an undeniable party rocker. While she hasn't released music in over a decade, tracks like this keep her amongst our top Ashleys forever.
Ashley Banks AKA Tatyana Ali
We all remember late-'90s R&B princess Tatyana Ali first as Will Smith's younger cousin Ashley Banks on his hit NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire. It's impressive what a legacy the show's had, from affiliate syndication while it was still producing new episodes to debuting on Nick at Nite a decade ago to being rebroadcasted in re-runs daily as part of MTV's daily line-up. After the show wrapped, Ali teamed up one more time with Big Willie Style-era Will Smith for "Boy You Knock Me Out." Smith ends his verse with his trademark "Woooo!" so you know it's Big Willie approved.
There was something uniquely compelling about Ashlee Simpson in the mid-2000s. Following her big sister Jessica's footsteps, Ashlee was given an MTV reality show leading up to the release of her debut album Autobiography, and somehow manage to swim through the reality television genre cesspool to come off incredibly likable and charming. Thank goodness she racked up all that good will before she was caught lip-syncing on Saturday Night Live a few months later, and proceeded to offer various explanations for the gaffe. The unforgettable live TV moment has only gotten finer with age, and we have to give props to her band for really rocking out by themselves during their singer-less rendition of the already underrated single "Pieces of Me."
Ash Williams from Evil Dead
When Bruce Campbell brought "Ash Williams" from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead franchise to life in the dirtiest corner of the early '80s, a franchise was born. One of the most beloved characters in cult movie history, of course it spun off a musical two decades later. Yes folks, Evil Dead: The Musical is a thing, and we couldn't be happier. Whether performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway or Bronx, Ash brings some spirit-lifting tunes and soul-shattering violence to the big screen.
Ashley Parker Angel
No list of Ashes would be complete without Ashley Parker Angel. One of our favorite members of O-Town, Angel's story was something we loved to keep up with over the course of the 2000s. From reality TV boy band to reality TV singer-songwriter, to acting everywhere from Sega-CD games to Broadway, Angel was what's known in the industry as a Renaissance Ashley. Today, he's starring in a production of Wicked. Also, Lil B follows him on Twitter, so a dream collaboration doesn't seem as far off of a possibility as one might think.