It’s been 11 years since Brooke Hogan released her debut album, Undiscovered, a musical masterpiece that the world has failed to properly recognize — with the exception of obscure pop diva enthusiasts such as myself. And, yes, more than a decade later, I am seeking justice for Hulk Hogan’s now-29-year-old daughter, who I believe had the potential to be one of the greatest pop stars of all time.
I remember the day Undiscovered dropped. I forced my mom to drive me to Wal-Mart on Oct. 24, 2006, the minute school let out so I could finally get my hands on the CD. As an avid viewer of VH1’s Hogan Knows Best, which starred Brooke and her famous family, I watched as the aspiring singer worked her butt off to be — in the words of her mom, Linda Hogan — “bigger” than Britney Spears. Impossible, but admirable. And I was rooting for Brooke just as hard as Linda.
Brooke with brother Nick, mom Linda, and dad Hulk in 2006.
I was obsessed with any scene in HKB where I was able to catch a glimpse of a then-teenage Brooke recording in the studio with mid-aughts power producer Scott Storch — who helmed another pop opus, Paris Hilton’s self-titled 2006 LP — because, if I was lucky enough, I’d hear 30 blessed seconds of a yet-to-be-released song off Undiscovered.
Although Brooke had already released her first single, “Everything to Me,” in 2004, its pop-rock vibe (à la Ashlee Simpson or Avril Lavigne) failed to resonate with an audience — and seemed despairingly inauthentic compared to the R&B-infused dance-pop that laced Undiscovered’s 14-song track list. This was evident as Brooke prepared to film the music video for the album’s lead single, “About Us,” an urban-inspired banger featuring rapper du jour Paul Wall.
Not only did Brooke’s vocals shine on “About Us,” it’s accompanying visual proved that girlfriend could slay complicated choreography that would make Britney, Janet Jackson, Madonna, or any other dancing queen proud. Plus, after months of strength conditioning (overseen by her WWE legend father), Brooke showcased her insanely fit physique in the array of skin-baring ensembles she wore for the three-minute and 18-second clip. At the time, this was one of the best presentations of pop music I had seen since Brit-Brit's “Toxic," released two years prior in 2004. And, yes, I really mean that. Watch the video below and see for yourself:
So, with all that (and by that I mean Brooke’s voice, moves, and her hot bod!) in mind, I was expecting the video for “About Us” to catapult Undiscovered straight to the top of the charts. I honestly thought Brooke’s album was going to have the entire music industry shook. But that didn’t happen. And I still haven’t come to terms with it.
Now, I don’t want to say Undiscovered wasn’t a hit in any capacity. Not everyone was a fan of the Hogans’ reality show, and Brooke’s family’s polarizing presence in the media may have hindered her success. The album — released by Storch Music Company and SoBe Entertainment — sold 30,000 copies in its first week, debuting at No. 28 on the Billboard 200 chart. But, as of April 2007, it had only sold a total of 127,000 copies — hundreds of thousands of units away from achieving at least a Gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America.
It did reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart; but compared to Paris’ body of work — which is still celebrated in 2017 by 2000s nostalgia-loving hearts — it didn’t perform nearly as well. Paris peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, sold 77,000 copies in its first week, and has since sold 600,000 copies worldwide. I’m not trying to knock my girl Paris (because I also love her more than words can describe) — but the difference in her commercial success versus Brooke’s still infuriates my soul. Let’s be real, both albums were lit AF.
Even worse? Undiscovered received absolutely no professional accolades for its sheer brilliance. Every year, the Recording Academy undoubtedly gives at least one Grammy nomination to an artist whose talent overrides their poor sales or lack of radio airplay. And when the Grammys rolled around in February 2007, Brooke Hogan should have been that artist. Because if Nelly Furtado’s “I'm Like a Bird” won the award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2002, it’s unforgivable that Brooke's "About Us" was robbed of that win in 2007 — let alone a nomination. Granted, the Grammy ended up going to Christina Aguilera for her 2006 smash “Ain’t No Other Man,” so I can’t be too mad.
But still, Brooke’s vocal chops can’t be denied. And she was robbed of every Grammy she was never nominated for — which is all of them! Xtina’s “Fighters” may try to literally fight me for saying this, but Miss Hogan’s voice is almost just as powerful as the "Beautiful" songstress'. For instance, in her emotional ballad “For a Moment,” Undiscovered’s third and final single, Brooke offers an intoxicating mix of sweet falsettos, spirited ad-libs, and impressive runs that still give me chills to this day. Even my boyfriend’s 58-year-old mother — who is more of a Diana Ross and Bee Gees kind of gal — has “For a Moment” in her iTunes library. Because, hello, talent.
(Also, while we’re on the subject of Undiscovered songs other than “About Us,” please do yourself a favor and give a listen to these standouts: “Beautiful Transformation,” “One Sided Love,” “Next Time,” and bonus track “Certified.”)
Even though Undiscovered didn’t take off the way I (and probably Brooke) had hoped, she didn’t give up. In 2009, she released her second album, The Redemption, which includes gems like “Ruff Me Up,” “Strip,” and “Handcuffed." Brooke's sophomore effort garnered more critical acclaim than Undiscovered, but peaked at No. 144 on the Billboard 200. In 2015, she tried her hand at country and released the twangy (but disappointingly overlooked) EP I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend. And, just this year, Brooke returned to her pop roots and dropped “Taste Like Summer,” a grade-A bop, marked by shimmery synth pulses and sexy, spoken lyrics, that deserved to grace the Top 40.
Despite her perseverance, Brooke hasn’t been able to secure a seat at Britney and Christina’s table — or even Paris’. And for that, I am heartbroken. However, it helps to know that Brooke sang not for the glory, but for herself. “All of those girls have the good sides to them and they've all been very successful in this business. I can only hope for half the success that they have,” she told IGN Music in 2006. “I'm not gonna sing a certain kind of music because people want me to. I'm gonna stay true to me and hope that it works.”
It worked for me, Brooke. ? #JusticeforBrookeHogan!