"It was a bad night for Jessica," a source told Malkin.
The night was Sunday. The pop songstress was at the Kennedy Center to pay tribute to Parton, one of the gala's five honorees, along with filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Motown great Smokey Robinson, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and conductor Zubin Mehta.
Simpson's job: singing "9 to 5," the 1980 Parton ditty from the movie of the same name.
Simpson's problem, according to her publicist: being "overcome with emotion."
The result: Simpson looked uncomfortable, blew a lyric and seemed on the verge of tears, as she blurted out at the end of the song, "Dolly, you make me so nervous, I can't even sing the words right."
And with that, the audience fell into a "Springtime for Hitler" silence, straight out of The Producers.