Why Nick Lachey Needs To Realize He's Not Famous Anymore

It's a pretty safe bet that there's not a single middle schooler from the late '90s and early aughts who escaped an awkward slow dance to a 98 Degrees song. Though the band never caused major divides at the lunch table — just try saying the Backstreet Boys are even a fraction as good as NSYNC, we dare you — they were still massive. 98 Degrees had a top 10 hit and sold more than 10 million records worldwide — and it should be noted that 100% of the members were sensible enough to not have what Buzzfeed describes as "ramen noodle hair," despite the fact the the one boy band member who rocked that exact look arguably went on to the biggest solo career of them all. Anyway, 98 Degrees' resident dreamboat — and pioneer of marriage-related reality TV shows — is Nick Lachey.

Alas, Nick Lachey's face no longer graces the cover of Trapper Keepers. He isn't anywhere near as famous as he was when he was rolling his eyes at Jessica Simpson on MTV. Many of his boy band rivals have gone on to get stars on the Walk of Fame, have lucrative solo careers, play the Super Bowl halftime show, and even almost become actual cosmonauts. Meanwhile, Lachey is hosting Miss USA pageants. It's hard to say where Lachey's career will take him next, especially while he's busy with his growing family, but everybody loves a comeback.

Nick Lachey's divorce from Jessica Simpson was not a springboard to fame

They were the Barbie and Ken of the late '90s pop music scene, with mutual popularity that only grew thanks to their popular post-nuptials reality TV series Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica.

Sure, Simpson famously didn't know the difference between chicken and tuna and he might have been milking the show in an effort to launch a solo career, but that didn't matter. Fans thought this crooning couple were destined to last forever. But just three years after tying the knot, Lachey and Simpson called it quits in 2005.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. According to The Washington Post, Simpson was the more financially successful of the pair at the time of their split, and worth about $35 million. Thanks to Lachey's lack of solo success, his fortune was a comparatively measly $5 million. He was actually able to get a large chunk of Simpson's money, leading the pop star to later refer to their marriage as her "biggest money mistake."

Even though Lachey got an apparently cushy divorce settlement, it's clearly Simpson who had the last laugh. She created a billion-dollar retail business and is said to have a personal net worth in the $200 million range. Although Nick Lachey eventually moved on and remarried, he didn't achieve anywhere near the success that Simpson has seen post-breakup. We can only hope he socked away some of that settlement money for a rainy day.

Nick Lachey's solo career fizzled out

98 Degrees might have been the third wheel in the fan war between NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, but there's no denying they had some hits, including "The Hardest Thing," "One Night (Una Noches)," and of course the iconic marriage anthem, "I Do." In addition to these songs, Nick Lachey also made music with his then-girlfriend, pop diva Jessica Simpson, most notably the duet "Where You Are."

Lachey married Simpson in 2002, around the same time he decided to pursue a solo career. Unfortunately, the popularity of the couple wasn't enough to get the public on board with Lachey's debut album SoulO. The album peaked at Number 51 on the Billboard 200 chart. What's Left Of Me, the album released in the immediate aftermath of his divorce from Jessica Simpson, performed much better. It rose to Number 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, and was certified gold by the RIAA.

His music career fell off after that. Sure he came back in 2013 with children's lullabies and again in 2014 to cover the hits of yesteryear, but these efforts didn't draw nearly as much attention as his debut or post-Simpson albums. All things considered, it's safe to say that Nick Lachey's music career just isn't what it was, and probably never will be again.

98 Degrees is a total nostalgia act

It's unfortunate that 98 Degrees never hit the heights that other 90s boy bands achieved, because it seems that while the group enjoys getting together from time to time, the general public isn't all that interested. Seriously, sometimes it seems like NSYNC's Joey Fatone has more cred, and he was in Jersey Shore Shark Attack.

In 2013, Lachey's boy band finally returned with their comeback album 2.0. Unfortunately, it was a flop, with the album debuting at No. 65 before falling fast. To add insult to injury, 2.0 only managed to sell roughly 7,400 copies during its first week, though how much can we really fault them? It's rough out there in the world of Spotify streaming and record sales aren't anywhere near what they were in the '90s.

The band actually seemed pretty realistic about a potential comeback. As Nick Lachey told the Washington Post, "We had a new album out and what we realized is that we're out there performing, you're looking out and seeing all these familiar faces, fans that we've known for the better part of 15 years now. They're there with their kids, some of them, and I'm thinking, 'This is really cool.'"

Rather than try to grow their fan base, Lachey and the others rolled with the punches and went on tour with other nostalgia-inducing bands, performing for their longtime fans.

Is Nick Lachey even still working on solo music?

You might have missed it, but Nick Lachey was pretty busy in the early 2010s. In 2013, 98 Degrees released its comeback album 2.0, and the following year, Lachey released his most recent solo effort, the cover album Soundtrack of My Life. After that, music fans heard crickets for years. The last time Lachey gave us anything new was in 2017, it was a solo single, called "Someone to Dance With" — which did not chart — and 98 Degrees' follow-up to its 1999 holiday album This Christmas, called Let It Snow. 

In the past, this was a huge money maker for the boys. According to Billboard, This Christmas went platinum, which means that at one point, 98 Degrees was so popular that a million people wanted to hear the crooners sing "Silent Night" and "Little Drummer Boy." The group's original Christmas song, "This Gift," even made it to the Billboard Hot 100. Unfortunately, it seems like Let It Snow didn't have nearly the same amount of success. It certainly didn't chart, and Lachey even admitted to People that This Christmas was the band's "favorite musical project [they've] done together."

Christmas is just one night — una noche — so it's not like it's that much of a loss, and according to a People interview, the band is having "more fun doing it now than [they] ever did in the past." At least there's that!

Nick Lachey's time on DWTS was 'uncomfortable'

Though he has a storied career as a reality star, Nick Lachey's 2017 stint on Dancing with the Stars didn't go so well. You'd think the boy bander would completely nail a dancing competition, but apparently, it was pretty awkward. Now that we think of it, did 98 Degrees have the same intense dancing as NSYNC or Backstreet Boys? Lachey told Us Weekly that he doesn't "like dancing" and that's why he probably "shouldn't have done [the show] to begin with."

"If you enjoy dancing, it's a great time," he told Us Weekly. "But for me it was just like, man, I never felt more uncomfortable in my life than being out there being judged at doing something that I don't even [like] doing. So it was a hard process."

Lachey also admitted that he put a lot of effort into the show, but it never translated into "positive scores." Is that really a bad thing, anyway? DWTS has a reputation for casting celebs who are far past the height of their careers. For example, 2010 DWTS contestant Jennifer Grey admitted her 1989 nose job made her virtually invisible after her Golden Globe nomination, and she's not alone. Sean Spicer picked up a gig at DWTS over two years after he resigned from the White House, and now the image of him shaking it to the Spice Girls in a ruffled, neon green shirt is something we can't unsee. Lachey didn't need to put himself through that.

Being a TV show host didn't pan out for Nick Lachey

Nick Lachey is no stranger to reality TV, and he managed to keep himself in the spotlight post-98 Degrees when he landed a hosting gig for NBC's new reality TV singing competition The Sing-Off.

The show, which premiered in 2009, did give the world Pentatonix, but it was no Masked Singer. By the end of Season 3, the ratings situation was dire that a 98 Degrees reunion couldn't even generate much public interest. Things got so bad that the network nixed a full fifth season in 2014, opting for a two-hour special where a winner was announced the same night.

Nick, alongside younger brother Drew Lachey, moved onto a reality TV docuseries about a bar they opened in Cincinnati, Ohio (think Wahlburgers but without New Kids on the Block). Unfortunately, as of 2015, A&E had yet to renew the show for a second season. The bar ended up closing its doors in 2018, according to Billboardand since then, Lachey has only landed a few one-off TV gigs. This includes competing in an episode of The $100,000 Pyramid and hosting the Miss USA 2018 pageant, which has been suffering from falling ratings for years, according to Variety.

Is a children's TV show the path back to the mainstream?

At this point, it seems like the multi-platinum singer is hosting singing competitions a whole lot more than he's actually singing. After The Sing-Off stopped making full-sized seasons in 2011, it didn't take long for Lachey to find another gig. Unfortunately, his new singing competition, The Winner Is, was short lived. By the looks of IMDb, the NBC series didn't make it past one season.

Of course, someone as experienced as Lachey was able to find hosting work again, it just wasn't with a major network for adults. Instead, he went to Nickelodeon to host a children's show. America's Most Musical Family is, indeed, a singing competition like all the rest, but Lachey is forced to share the spotlight with a panel of judges that includes early aughts legend Ciara; Debbie Gibson, a fellow nostalgia act who hasn't released an album in years; and David Dobrik, a YouTube star with virtually no musical experience but millions more subscribers than 98 Degrees. To add insult to injury, Dobrick — who's in his 20s — views Lachey as kind of old.

In an interview with Z100, Dobrik said, "Nick pulled me into his dressing room and there was a bunch of adults there that were having snacks and drinks, and I just felt like a grown-up. ... I felt like I was at camp and my [camp] counselor was like 'Come on.'" Well, it could have been worse. At least Dobrik didn't call Lachey a "boomer." 

What happened to Nick Lachey's acting career?

Nick Lachey isn't just a singer and TV host. In 2004, the star got actual recognition for his acting talents with a multi-episode run on Charmed. Considering the CW series was so popular it ended up getting a reboot more than a decade after it initially ended, this should have been a huge step forward for Lachey's acting career. Unfortunately, that didn't really pan out.

In 2004, it looked like Charmed was going to land Lachey a starring role on his own TV show. According to Today, he signed a "development deal with Fox Broadcasting Co., 20th Century Fox Television," and Brad Grey TV. The plan was to develop a half-hour or one-hour series specifically for the 98 Degrees singer, but it never came to fruition. If you check out the singer's IMDb credits, the only recurring acting role he's had since Charmed was a small voice-acting spot in the animated short Harvey Girls Forever! 

Beyond that, Lachey has had one-episode cameos in shows like Hawaii Five-0 and Twins. He also nabbed small roles in a few movies during the early aughts, but his character in Nicole Kidman's Bewitched didn't even have a name. Mostly, Lachey hasn't acted in front of a camera in years.

Wait, where did Lachey's fans come from?

If it seems like most of us know Nick Lachey from his 2003 MTV reality series Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica, that's because we pretty much do. By the time the series aired, 98 Degrees hadn't been on the Billboard charts for a few years (though let's be clear, that doesn't mean we still weren't singing "I Do (Cherish You)" while slow dancing with ourselves in our teenage bedrooms). You simply can't fight the fact that Lachey and Jessica Simpson were one of the first reality TV couples to have a show that chronicled their lives — yes, even before Brittney Spears and Kevin Federline and Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro.

Although Newlyweds only lasted three seasons (and Lachey and Simpson divorced shortly after it ended), the star admitted that the series landed him longtime fans. "That show gave me a chance to kinda show who I was," Lachey said during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live. "Cause when you're in a band, like, a boy band, nobody really knows who you are as a person ... And got a lot of fans to this day because of the show."

Lachey already has the 'greatest job' away from the spotlight

Even though Nick Lachey isn't nearly as famous as he used to be, he's a star to at least three people: his children. It looks like Lachey's main focus in the last few years has been his family, and it's not hard to figure out why. In an Instagram caption, the singer admitted that "fatherhood is the greatest job in the world." He also admitted that his "number one job" is to protect his offspring — which undoubtedly leaves a lot less time for things like singing in a boy band and being on TV.

If you're looking at Lachey's TV credits, there's a notable pause around 2016, and that's probably not a coincidence. According to Entertainment Tonight, Lachey and his wife Vanessa welcomed their youngest son on Christmas Eve that year, but he came 10 weeks prematurely and needed to spend time in the NICU. "I felt a vulnerability I had never known before and a fear I wasn't familiar with," Lachey wrote on Instagram.

As of this writing, Lachey and his wife haven't ruled out adding a fourth child to the mix, but it seems like their hands are pretty full with what they've got. "The train of life is not stopping," Vanessa told People. "And what I mean by that is my kids are only getting older and more crazy every single day and more loving and more everything."

Were fans turned off by his failed marijuana bill?

Despite a noted increase in support for marijuana legalization across America, Nick Lachey managed to get on the wrong side of Ohio voters in 2015. You see, the marijuana bill Lachey actively promoted across the state wasn't just about the legalization of the plant. As the The Washington Post reported, the bill "would restrict virtually all large-scale marijuana cultivation to 10 designated farms." And wouldn't you know it? Lachey happened to be an owner of one of the proposed ten farms.

With the pro-legalization community put off by the blatant attempt to corner the weed market before the item could even be legalized, there was no real support for the bill. Not even Nick Lachey's dazzling smile was enough to convince Ohioans to play the role of sucker. The bill was voted down in November 2015.

Nick Lachey might be working on a comeback

Regardless of Nick Lachey's fame, he'll always be a multi-platinum artist. That's not an accolade that ever gets removed, but there's also a chance the star will get his second wind in a field not even related to the one that made him famous.

In 2016, the singer was trying to jump behind the camera as a producer alongside New Kids on the Block member Donnie Wahlberg. According to Variety, the pair were tapped to produce a CBS sitcom about boy bands. It's unclear exactly what happened to the project — or if it was squashed altogether — but Wahlberg already has a successful TV track record with his role in Blue Bloods and various executive producing credits.

Lachey did tell AXS during a 2018 interview that he's working on a top secret project with his wife. All we know is that it probably won't be a reality show. The singer told Us Weekly he'd never do reality TV again. "With social media, I feel like it's kind of the new wave of reality," he said, adding, "So I think that's kind of a perfect mix for where I'm at in life. Having been there and done that, I don't think there's any chance you'll ever see that happen again. You know who I am." We'll just have to wait and see.