What Ever Happened To Vitamin C?

Every May, when the nostalgia-inducing "Graduation (Friends Forever)" inevitably returns to the radio airwaves, the world is reminded of Vitamin C — the orange-haired pop star who ruled the airwaves for a short time in the early 2000s.

The singer-songwriter, whose real name is Colleen Fitzpatrick, provided a unique yet simplistic blend of alt-rock, pop, and dance that served as a refreshing departure from most Y2K pop. But much like other performers who reigned the charts at the turn of the millennium, this multi-platinum recording artist fell out of the spotlight soon after.

But Fitzpatrick didn't disappear from the entertainment industry altogether. She's still very much a part of the music scene, working behind the scenes, and has even collaborated with influential artists like Ariana Grande, Linkin Park, and Enrique Iglesias. However, fans shouldn't be expecting her long-awaited third album to drop. So, whatever happened to Vitamin C? Her current gig might surprise you.

Vitamin C's sophomore effort flopped

Every new artist's greatest fear is the sophomore slump — and the dreaded phenomenon unfortunately hit Vitamin C hard. The artist's self-titled 1999 solo debut did well on the charts and in sales — rising to No. 29 on the Billboard 200, it was later certified platinum by the RIAA. However, her ill-fated follow up ablum, "More," was a total flop.

The 2001 effort received mixed reviews, with the Los Angeles Times delivering the most scathing critique. Ranked a mere 1.5 stars, the record was dubbed "predictable" and "as blandly advertising-ready as her earlier hit, 'Smile.'" They further asserted, "Anything appealing about Vitamin C is ultimately undermined by the sense that 'More' is just another leg of the campaign to make her a commodity." Ouch.

The album debuted at No. 122 on the Billboard 200 and failed to produce a hit single. Her lead song, "The Itch", did not meet expectations, nor did it break into Top 40 territory, as it peaked at No. 45 on the Hot 100. However, it did fare better in Australia, charting at No. 6 on the Aria Top 100. Vitamin C's next single, "As Long As You're Loving Me" did not chart at all and received little support from her label, Elektra Records. Following this, plans to release the album's final single were completely scrapped.

Her tenure with V2 Records was short-lived

Shortly after "More" failed to perform as expected, Vitamin C tried her luck with V2 Records in the U.K. In the summer of 2003, she released a cover of The Strokes' hit "Last Nite," which featured a heavier, less-bubblegum pop sound and was accompanied by a more adult, rock-chic music video.

As the singer-songwriter told MTV in 2006, "I knew the level of success Vitamin C was going to have would ebb and flow." She added, "I knew after 'Graduation' that I would have to figure out how to reinvent myself again."

And while she did just that with this track, things once again didn't go quite as planned: The song failed to chart at all in the U.S. It debuted at a dismal No. 70 on the U.K. Top 75 before quickly falling from the charts altogether the following week. It seems her third album was eventually shelved, as it has yet to see the light of day.

Fitzpatrick returned to acting

As her once promising career as pop's next it-girl began to dwindle in the early 2000s, Vitamin C reinvented herself by returning to her first love — acting. She took on quite a bit of work, interchangeably working under both her given name, Colleen Fitzpatrick, and Vitamin C between 2000 and 2007.

The triple threat, who's also an accomplished dancer, actually got her start in acting in the late 80s when she scored a major role as the spoiled Amber Von Tussle in John Waters' 1988 musical comedy "Hairspray" – no big deal. But her biggest role in the '00s was starring as Lucy opposite Gerard Butler in Wes Craven's "Dracula 2000" – a horror film that was later panned by critics and audiences alike.

Following this was a series of smaller roles and a string of cameo appearances in various B-movies and TV shows. These included a short appearance in the musical comedy "Rock Star," a cameo in the Kirsten Dunst and Sisqó-led "Get Over It," a voice-over in "Scary Movie 2," and a one-episode story arc on "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch." The actor also began hitting the reality TV circuit in a slew of gigs, ranging from "Hollywood Squares" to "Celebrity Boot Camp." She was even a judge on Lifetime's "Your Mama Don't Dance."

She married her longtime boyfriend and former bandmate

While her career in the spotlight began to slow down during the oughts, Fitzpatrick was lucky in love, as she married her longtime boyfriend, Michael Kotch, in 2004. Aww! The two had known one another for over a decade when they got married, having met in 1991 while attending NYU. In December 2016, Kotch explained in an interview with Furious, "I met Colleen at NYU, she was in my Shakespeare Survey II class. Then later, completely coincidentally, she answered an ad we put out in the 'Village Voice' looking for a singer." He then joked, "That's the way we had to do things pre-internet, use newspapers."

The ad in question was for a band he and his twin brother, drummer Benjamin, were putting together — an early 90s alt-rock outfit called Eve's Plum. Fitzpatrick got the gig, fronting the band while Kotch played guitar. Eve's Plum cultivated quite a significant output during its 1991-1998 tenure, including 1993's "Envy" and 1995's "Cherry Alive." Fun fact: Their song "Blue" was used in a 1993 episode of "Beavis and Butthead."

After the group disbanded, Fitzpatrick continued her musical (and romantic) partnership with Kotch, who garnered writing and producing credits on Vitamin C's debut album, as well as some of her future songwriting gigs. They certainly make quite a team!

She became tween pop's go-to songwriter

Colleen Fitzpatrick saw the slowing down of her performing career as an opportunity to pursue other facets of the music industry — and as she began playing producer to kid pop groups, she ended up becoming a go-to songwriter for tween-friendly pop acts. This turn in her career began with "We Are Gonna Happen" for the Nickelodeon show "Unfabulous" in 2005. The song was performed by "Scream Queens" actor Emma Roberts, who got her start starring in the series. Michael Kotch, then Fitzpatrick's husband of one year, was one of the principal musical contributors to the show.

Following this song's success, the couple teamed up again to co-write Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana's "Let's Get Crazy" in 2009, which appeared in "Hannah Montana: The Movie." This proved to be a big year for Fitzpatrick, who also wrote Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez's duet "One and the Same" for the Disney Channel original movie "Princess Protection Program."

It makes sense that she began utilizing her musical talent and knowledge of the pop music industry in this way. As Fitzpatrick told MTV, "I began songwriting because I've always been more into the behind-the-scenes aspect of the music anyway." She added, "I do like performing, but I liked the idea of creating a concept." And this career shift seemed to serve her quite well.

She also juggled several unfinished projects

It seems as if Colleen Fitzpatrick has always been most content juggling a plethora of projects — even if they go unreleased, she is constantly working. A true Renaissance woman!

For example, as she began producing and writing for other artists, she endeavored to work on two albums of her own in 2006. As she outlined in her interview with MTV, the first project was a children's world-music album. As the website noted, the goal of the record was to "celebrate diversity through songs like the Indian-styled 'Bhangra On and On' and 'We All Share the Same Sky.'"

Around the same time, Fitzpatrick made a second attempt at her third album under the name Vitamin C. She described the work as "Goldfrapp-meets-Vitamin C." And while she was hopeful both projects would be ready for an early 2007 release, neither ever saw the light of day for undisclosed reasons. More than a decade later, fans have long since given up hope for a leak.

Fitzpatrick started two production companies

In 2006, Colleen Fitzpatrick launched VCR Production, her own music production company, which enabled her to capitalize on her songwriting talents and use her vast knowledge of the music industry. It's where she started writing and producing songs for kid-friendly pop acts, like Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus. 

Her accomplishments in the music industry varied even further from her alt-rock beginnings and pop stardom, and she became a welcome management source for adult musical talent. In 2008, the former pop star created Collective Songs, the licensing and publishing segment of a management and production company in California called The Collective. The company allowed Fitzpatrick the opportunity to work with major recording artists, ranging from Linkin Park to Enrique Iglesias.

Speaking to Variety in 2021 about her transition to a much more normal job, Fitzpatrick shared, "When I went into Vitamin C, I had learned so much about what not to do and what to do, and I understood how the business worked at a much higher level. I could see where there was a vacuum and try and fill it." She added, "I was never a great singer, but I did have a very strong point of view."

She assembled tween pop groups

After her acting career began to slow down, Colleen Fitzpatrick officially dropped her pseudonym and began working under her birth name full-time. She reinvented herself once again, cultivating a successful, albeit quieter career, wearing many behind-the-scenes hats in the entertainment industry — including producer, songwriter, and manager.

Between 2006 and 2007, Fitzpatrick took her first major step out of the spotlight and assembled, produced, and wrote for two kids' groups. The first was the radio-friendly teen group The Truth Squad (aka T-Squad). The band was comprised of 12 to 14-year-olds who excelled at singing, rapping, and dancing. After releasing a cover of Vitamin C's "Graduation," they released the song "Flip." However, the band was extremely short-lived. Although their debut album charted at No. 23 on Billboard's Kids Albums, they called it quits in 2008.

Next, Fitzpatrick found slightly more success and longevity with her girl group, The Stunners. The group featured future "2 On" singer Tinashe and "What I Need" singer Hayley Kiyoko. Forming in 2007, the group's biggest hit was 2010's "We Got It." That same year, the girls opened for Justin Bieber's My World Tour. However, after plans for their debut album were scrapped, the band broke up in 2011.

Fitzpatrick was Nickelodeon's VP of Music

As announced by The Hollywood Reporter in March of 2012, Colleen Fitzpatrick was made Vice President of Music for the children's network, Nickelodeon. The Senior Vice President of Music and Talent at Nickelodeon, Doug Cohen, said in a statement, "Colleen brings a vast wealth of knowledge of the music industry to this newly created role." He continued, "Her work with emerging and established talent is a testament to what a tremendous asset she will be to Nick as we continue to expand our foothold in the music space."

Indeed! For years, Fitzpatrick oversaw all music for Nickelodeon and its sister channels, including Nick Jr. and TeenNick. She also handled the A&R and on-site management for Nickelodeon artists, which included everything from photo shoots to live performances and recording sessions. Some of her past clients have included the likes of Victoria Justice, Miranda Cosgrove, and pop superstar Ariana Grande. The singer-turned-exec also collaborated with marketing and press to organize various music initiatives for the channel.

She became a music executive for Netflix

After working with Nickelodeon, Colleen Fitzpatrick added another incredible gig to her resume. In 2019, she was named a music executive at Netflix. Fitzpatrick's responsibilities include covering all facets of the musical process in a series, including finding suitable composers and working on original songs. 

In an interview with Variety, the singer shared the intricacies and importance of her role. "It's about understanding the ultimate creative goal, and seeing how you can get to that final point," she explained. "There are a lot of different ways to look at music. It's not just as simple as, 'Oh, there's a song in the show.' What does that song do? What do we want that song to represent? And how do you get there?"

Fitzpatrick's work has consisted of creating original songs for the 2020 Netflix dramedy, "Julie and the Phantoms." She has also been featured on the streaming service's podcast series, "We Are Netflix," where Netflix employees discuss their work life.

Benny Blanco and Juice WRLD's remake of her hit song

Colleen Fitzpatrick's "Graduation (Friends Forever)" still resonates with many people, even though it has been 25 years since its release. It struck a chord with songwriter and music producer Benny Blanco, who, along with the late rapper Juice WRLD, created their own auto-tuned take on the song in 2019. 

The song's accompanying music video comprises a wide array of high school students played by celebrities, with captions detailing what happens to each one of them after graduating high school. The celebs include a who's-who in the music industry with stars like Hailee Steinfeld, Justice Smith, Dove Cameron, Noah Cyrus, and Madison Beer, while rapper Lil Dicky plays the high school principal.

Fitzpatrick herself had no idea when she wrote the hit song that it would remain relevant after all these years. In 2017, she told InStyle, "I certainly didn't expect it to live on for so many years. I think that when you write a song, you always have the hope that it means as much to people as it does to you, but it's never a given."

Would she be down for an Eve's Plum reunion?

In 2016, there was slight hope of an Eve's Plum reunion. In an interview with Furious, the band's guitarist and Colleen Fitzpatrick's husband, Michael Kotch, teased, "Well, we are all in the LA area, so if it's going to happen, now's the time!"

Either way, it's safe to say that Fitzpatrick ended up in the best place to utilize her talents. She told InStyle in 2017, "When I was graduating from high school, I didn't know where my life would lead. I was still very much a performer, but I knew I didn't want to do that forever." The advice she would have given herself back then still holds true for her today: "Don't waste time worrying, take as many risks as you can, and have a lot of fun ... strive for the impossible. It's a real cliché, but I think there's something to that." It seems so!

Fitzpatrick is obviously doing pretty well for herself despite not using those incredible talents to create her own music. Hopefully, she'll surprise millennials with a new song in the future or join forces with her hubby to bring back those cherished alt-rock jams with Eve's Plum!