Hilary Duff’s album, “Dignity,” should be retitled “Cajones,” because that’s certainly what she needed to release it. The album was so awful, it was difficult to know what to compare it to; rating it against something the quality of, say, Britney Spears, seemed unfair, and it has therefore earned five stars on its own, new rating basis: Cajones. One has to respect her lack of pretense. Duff takes no chances with regards to revealing her lack of vocal talent, refraining from ballads and keeping distracting orchestration blaring at all times. Duff’s leap from the Disney Channel to the recording studio seems to be a combination of sheer determination and reliance on her audience’s residual fondness for “Lizzie McGuire.” Departing from her wholesome, glittery pop albums of the past, “Dignity” is a wholesome, glittery party album. Put on your dancing shoes, it’s post-pubescent party o’clock.
For her third album, the former “Lizzie McGuire” star shed her blonde locks and assumed the appropriately adult topic of “Dignity.” Because nothing says “I’m mature and ready to be taken seriously” like dying your hair brown. Given her Disney-Channel past, it can only be expected that any product she turns out will be sugary sweet enough to rot the teeth out of a listener’s head. The musical wallpaper that Duff has manufactured (or rather, had manufactured for her) is unabashedly one thing: a money-making vehicle. The first single off the album, “With Love,” is also the name of Duff’s perfume (which she sprays on her neck in the music video). The plot thickens!
The audience for “Dignity” seems to be, sensibly enough, the group with the most spending power and undiscriminating taste among music consumers: tween girls. And Duff dutifully concerns herself with the three concerns most important to a 12-year-old girl: boys, her BFF and how to best get her groove on. Duff offers great insight into these pressing issues with lines like, “You gotta know yourself to be yourself / and it’s a struggle every day.” She, like, totally gets it.
Like any good product, only minimal melodic differences separate the tracks. Each track is a dance track. Actually, it is 14 copies of the same dance track that’s slightly too slow to dance to. Everyone but the guy who sways from side to side no matter what song is playing will be flummoxed. In short, “Dignity” is awkward. Which I suppose one can appreciate as a manifestation of all things seventh grade. Though she may have tried to blot out her former life as a Disney-Channel star with a new hairstyle and the onset of puberty, she will always be Lizzie, with her charmingly eccentric outfits and blue hair clip-ins.
[All comments about vomiting in my mouth and my still-bleeding ears have been stricken from the review out of respect for this masterpiece. After all, the new word to live by is Dignity.]