Stepping Stone (Duffy song)

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"Stepping Stone"
Single by Duffy
from the album Rockferry
B-side "Frame Me"
"Big Flame"
Released 1 September 2008
Format Digital download, CD, 7" single
Recorded 2007, Bookerland studios[1]
Genre Neo soul, blues
Length 3:29
Label A&M, Mercury (US)
Writer(s) Duffy, Steve Booker
Producer(s) Steve Booker
Duffy singles chronology
"Warwick Avenue"
(2008)
"Stepping Stone"
(2008)
"Rain on Your Parade"
(2008)
Rockferry track listing
"Serious"
(3)
"Stepping Stone"
(4)
"Syrup & Honey"
(5)
Duffy's "Stepping Stone"

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"Stepping Stone" is the fourth single by Duffy from her debut album, Rockferry. The single was officially released as both a digital download and CD single on 1 September 2008 in the United Kingdom. Although it followed the massive success of previous singles "Mercy" and "Warwick Avenue", it did not perform well in worldwide music charts. However, the single received widespread acclaim.

Writing and inspiration[edit]

"Stepping Stone" was written by Duffy and Steve Booker (who also co-wrote international success "Mercy"), and recorded at Booker's "Bookerland studios".[1] It was the first song the pair completed together.[2] According to Booker in an interview with HitQuarters, Duffy firstly wanted to do the song "completely Supremes and up-tempo" because she felt that her album still needed a "big song" to complete it.[2] The following day she changed her mind about the song's direction and the ongoing search for a big up-tempo song would eventually lead to "Mercy".[2]

Release[edit]

It was released worldwide as the third single from Rockferry, and the fourth in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Ireland, after "Rockferry", "Mercy" and "Warwick Avenue". The single was not released in mainland Europe, despite reaching the charts in many countries in this region.[3] The cover art was produced by Studio Fury, and photographed by Max Dodson.

The single was released in both CD single and 7" vinyl (see release history). In a press release for the single it was stated that there would be a two-track exclusive single available for digital download, although this never came to fruition.[4]

One press release commented about the context and content of "Stepping Stone":

"Stepping Stone is one of the many album highlights, it is a song about self-possession, strength and restraint. The music is dramatic, pulsating yet sparse, compelling the listener to focus on Duffy's remarkable vocals and evocative lyrics."
I Like Music [4]

Reception[edit]

Critical[edit]

Clash gave the single a very successful review.[5] In this particular review, the song was heavily praised for its "orchestral grandeur" and "slick production". Ending the review, it congratulated Duffy for being "one of the most potent pop talents in the UK".[5] Daily Music Guide followed the positive style of Clash's review, giving the single a "4/5" rating.[6] The writer said that Duffy "stands out" and that when compared to other soul singers such as Adele and Estelle, her "songs are better". However, the Daily Music Guide did point out that "Stepping Stone" is not as good as previous singles, when saying "'Stepping Stone' doesn't quite have the majesty of 'Warwick Avenue', the oomph of 'Mercy' or the epic sweep of the song 'Rockferry'".[6] The review closed with the writer noting that the song is "a thoughtful and emotional piece of music".[6] As with a Digital Spy review, Duffy and the song were compared to Burt Bacharach.[6][7] Another reviewer for The Independent compared "Stepping Stone" to "elegant Bacharach style".[8]

Following the positive trend of reviews by critics, The Hollywood Reporter said that the song "shows what all the fuss is about", referring to Duffy's success worldwide. It went on to say that Duffy "sheds so many previous vocal comparisons" with the song, also noting that the single is "clearly aimed at adults who may have shied away from the party vibe of 'Mercy'".[9]

However, many critics gave the single mixed reviews. Digital Spy, in particular, gave the single a mixed review.[7] Giving the song three stars out of five, the reviewer noted that "[Stepping Stone] is her weakest to date". This is against previous reviews given by the website, which were generally positive. The review went on to say that "[Duffy (with the song)] plays into the hands of critics who brand her music "coffee table soul". Finally, the reviewer said that "it [Stepping Stone] lacks the heart-melting chorus which made the former [Warwick Avenue] a triumph".[7] A reviewer for the BBC said that "Stepping Stone" was "noticeably hanging limply" when compared to the full tracklisting of Rockferry.[10]

Commercial and chart performance[edit]

Duffy performing at the SOS 4.8 Festival in Murcia.

The song was originally one of the most popular songs on Rockferry, debuting on the UK Singles Chart at number 99, on 9 March 2008, due to strong sales from the album.[11][12] This performance was behind that of the other non-single popular from the album, "Warwick Avenue", which entered the chart at number 83.[11] However when the song was released as a single, "Stepping Stone" re-entered the chart at number 80 and rose to a peak position of 21, reached on the chart dated 13 September 2008 .[12][13] The song is Duffy's least successful single in that country, behind "Rain on Your Parade", which peaked at position 15.[14] However, the song managed to stay in the UK Singles Chart for a total of 21 weeks.[15] The song also featured on UK's Official Charts Company year-end chart at number 180, behind all of Duffy's previous singles.[15] In Australia, despite little promotion, the song managed to chart at a peak position of 55.[16] In Ireland, "Stepping Stone" entered[17] and peaked[18] in the Irish Singles Chart at number 49. In the United States, "Stepping Stone" was the third single to be released from Rockferry. The song did not manage to place on any major U.S. Billboard singles charts, instead reaching a peak of 25 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.[19] However, on the European Hot 100, "Stepping Stone" managed to peak at number 67 on the chart.[20]

Elsewhere, in mainland Europe, despite not being released as an official single, the song managed to chart on various singles charts in that region. In Belgium (Flanders), the song reached a peak of 27 on the Ultratop charts,[21] whilst in Switzerland, the song reached a peak of 49 on the official Swiss Singles Chart,[22] becoming Duffy's worst charting position there.[22]

Music video[edit]

Duffy's music video for "Stepping Stone" shows her in a mature, sophisticated style.

The music video for "Stepping Stone" depicts a mature, sophisticated style as Duffy is involved with one mysterious man. Early anticipation suggested that Duffy would be "depicted as a 1960s sexpot who is seduced by a stranger in a nightclub".[23]

The video begins with Duffy sitting in bed, singing that she "will never be a stepping stone" to her lover.[24] The video continues with Duffy trying on many different outfits throughout the day whilst singing the song, as if trying to impress somebody. Each time she leaves her house, she is seen going back to get changed, before finally building up the courage to leave. It ends with Duffy entering a filled bar, whilst someone enters and she looks up.[24] The storyline suggests that Duffy is in love, however he does not love her in the same way. This fits in with the theme of the song, with its chorusline "I will never be a Stepping Stone", perhaps showing that Duffy is the bridge between two better relationships.

The music video was directed by Sophie Muller,[25] and was first shown on video-sharing website, YouTube on 4 August 2008.

Tracklistings[edit]

CD single[26]
(#1780731)
  1. "Stepping Stone"
  2. "Frame Me" (Duffy, Bernard Butler)
7" vinyl single[27]
(#1780732)
  1. "Stepping Stone"
  2. "Big Flame"(Richard J. Parfitt)

Charts[edit]

Chart (2008/09) Peak
position
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[16] 55
Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart[21] 27
Danish Singles Chart[3] 18
Dutch Top 40[3] 26
European Billboard Hot 100 Singles[20] 67
Irish Singles Chart[17][18] 41
Swiss Singles Chart[22] 49
UK Singles Chart[12][13] 21
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[19] 25
Billboard Greece[28] 3

Year-end[edit]

Chart (2008) Position
UK Singles Chart[15] 180

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Catalog
United Kingdom[29][30] 1 September 2008 CD single 1780731
7" vinyl 1780732

Credits[edit]

The following people contributed to the recording and production of "Stepping Stone":[1]

  • Aimée Duffy – writing, vocals, backing vocals
  • Steve Booker – writing, production, recording, programming, mixing, guitar, bass, keyboard
  • EMI Music Publishing/Universal Music Publishing – publishing

Covers[edit]

The song was covered by the operatic soprano Renée Fleming on her 2010 album, Dark Hope.

Danish singer Caecilie Norby opened her 2013 album Silent Ways with Stepping Stone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Rockferry (CD liner notes). A&M Records.
  2. ^ a b c "Interview With Steve Booker". HitQuarters. 8 March 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c ""Stepping Stone" chart positions". aCharts.us. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "I Like Music > pop > Duffy – Stepping Stone". I Like Music. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Murray, Robin (2 September 2008). "Duffy – Stepping Stone". Clash. Clash Music. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Daily Music Guide > Reviews > Duffy – Stepping Stone (A&M)". Daily Music Guide. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c Fletcher, Alex. "Duffy: 'Stepping Stone'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  8. ^ Gill, Andy (22 February 2008). "Album: Duffy, Rockferry (A&M)". The Independent. Independent News and Media Limited. Retrieved 28 June 2009. 
  9. ^ "Music Reviews Stepping Stone". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 May 2009. [dead link]
  10. ^ Hammer, Sophie (22 February 2008). "After three years of musical growth, Duffy has found her voice". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 23 June 2009. 
  11. ^ a b "CHART: CLUK Update 15.03.2008 (wk10)". Zobbel. zobbel.de. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  12. ^ a b c ""Stepping Stone" Chart position and Trajectory". chartstats.com. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  13. ^ a b "UK Chart Positions". chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2009. 
  14. ^ "Rain on Your Parade UK Chart Listing". chartstats.com. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  15. ^ a b c "UK Year End Chart 2008". ChartsPlus/The Official Charts Company/British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 27 March 2009. 
  16. ^ a b "The ARIA Report > Issue 993". Pandora Archive. pandora.nla.gov.au. Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 27 April 2009. 
  17. ^ a b "Irish Singles Chart > Week 36 2008". Irish Recorded Music Association. aCharts.us. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  18. ^ a b "Discography Duffy – Ireland". irishcharts.com. Retrieved 25 May 2009. 
  19. ^ a b "Artist Chart History – Duffy (singles)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 May 2009. 
  20. ^ a b "Chart Listing For The Week Of Sep 20 2008". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 25 May 2009. [dead link]
  21. ^ a b "Duffy – Stepping Stone – Belgium". Ultratop. ultratop.be. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  22. ^ a b c "Discographie Duffy – Switzerland" (in German). hitparade.ch. Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
  23. ^ "Duffy takes kit off in new video". The Sun. 18 July 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2009. 
  24. ^ a b "Stepping Stone music video". MTV. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  25. ^ Knight, David (20 August 2008). "Duffy's "Stepping Stone" by Sophie Muller". PromoNews. promonews.tv. Retrieved 28 March 2009. 
  26. ^ "Stepping Stone CD Release". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  27. ^ "Duffy > Discography > Stepping Stone – Single". Duffy. iamduffy.com. Retrieved 25 May 2009. 
  28. ^ "Billboard Greece > Chart Listing For The Week Of Jan 31 2009". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media Inc. Retrieved 26 June 2009. [dead link]
  29. ^ ""Stepping Stone" vinyl". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  30. ^ ""Stepping Stone", by Duffy (7" on Polydor)". normanrecords.com. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 

External links[edit]