The Dutchess

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For other uses, see Dutchess (disambiguation).
The Dutchess
Studio album by Fergie
Released September 13, 2006 (2006-09-13)
Recorded 2005–06[1][2]
Genre
Length 58:00
Label
Producer
Fergie chronology
The Dutchess
(2006)
TBA
(2015)[4]
Singles from The Dutchess
  1. "London Bridge"
    Released: July 18, 2006 (2006-07-18)
  2. "Fergalicious"
    Released: October 23, 2006 (2006-10-23)
  3. "Glamorous"
    Released: January 23, 2007 (2007-01-23)
  4. "Big Girls Don't Cry"
    Released: May 22, 2007 (2007-05-22)
  5. "Clumsy"
    Released: September 25, 2007 (2007-09-25)
  6. "Here I Come"
    Released: January 19, 2008 (2008-01-19)
  7. "Finally"
    Released: February 25, 2008 (2008-02-25)

The Dutchess is the debut studio album by American recording artist Fergie. It was released on September 13, 2006, by A&M Records and the will.i.am Music Group as her first solo album since the break from her band The Black Eyed Peas. The album was recorded between The Black Eyed Peas' tour in 2005, and the songs were written throughout the last 8 years that preceded its release. While developing the album, Fergie wanted to create an autobiographical album that would be more intimate between her and the listener. By doing so, the album experiments with different music genres, including hip-hop, reggae, punk-rock, pop, soul and more. Lyrically, The Dutchess has themes about love, haters, while also dealing with her drug abuse and addiction.

Upon its release, The Dutchess received mixed reviews from music critics, with many praising its production, calling it one of the most eclectic and adventurous albums of 2006, but some criticized the album's lyrical content and believed the material was not strong for her voice. It became a commercial success, reaching number 2 on the US Billboard 200 and spending 94 weeks inside the chart, while also topping the Australian Albums Charts and becoming a worldwide success, reaching platinum status in over eight countries. It sold almost 4 million copies in the United States and over 6 million copies worldwide.

The album produced 5 top five singles in the United States, including three number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100, "London Bridge", "Big Girls Don't Cry", and "Glamorous", as well as the number two single "Fergalicious" and the number five single "Clumsy". All five of the aforementioned singles have sold over two million digital downloads each in the United States, thus setting a new record in the digital era for the most multi-platinum singles from one album.[5] Fergie held this record until 2012, when Katy Perry achieved six multi-platinum singles with her album Teenage Dream (2010).[6]

Background[edit]

After ten years with the band Wild Orchid, Fergie joined the hip-hop band Black Eyed Peas in 2002, replacing Kim Hill and receiving a prominent role in the band.[7] Fergie's debut album with the band, "Elephunk", was the band's breakthrough, spawning the worldwide hit singles "Where Is the Love?" and "Shut Up", selling over 8 million copies worldwide[2] and receiving four Grammy nominations (and winning one for the song "Let's Get It Started").[8] Later, while releasing her second effort with the band, the even more successful "Monkey Business" (2005), which features the hit singles "Don't Phunk with My Heart" and "My Humps" (with both receiving a Grammy award) and sold 10 million copies worldiwde,[9] the singer announced that she and the other members of the group were working on solo projects, with her debut album being announced for a 2006 release.[2] In an interview for Jam! Canoe, Fergie claimed, "We've been working on it, Will and I," she says. "And I'm so happy with the way it's turning out, but we just felt after 'Elephunk' that we needed to make another Black Eyed Peas record." Regarding the album's musical direction she said, "It'll be a deeper look into who I am. Soundwise, it'll be eclectic like the Peas but I'll get to experiment with more of the different sounds of my voice. I like to use my voice as an instrument sometimes and I'll be able to show that on that album."[2]

Recording and production[edit]

will.i.am, fellow member of The Black Eyed Peas, is the album's executive producer and produced eight songs.

The Dutchess was initially recorded in 2005, among promotion from The Black Eyed Peas' album "Monkey Business".[1][2] Great part of the album was recorded on the John Lennon studio bus while touring with the band. As stated by Fergie, "We'd go in a couple of hours before going on stage and that's how it got done. The songs span a seven-year period. Some were done before I was in the Black Eyed Peas - we just updated them, and some were done in this one-month span that we took off from touring, which is very rare for us. Will and I moved into this studio house in Malibu called Morningview. It's like a ranch. It was very serene-complete opposite to the chaos of touring. I was alone a lot, which is something that doesn't happen to me on tour, so I got to find these emotions that are a little bit deeper than the surface. [For example], 'The Makeup Song (All That I Got)' and 'Velvet' are very intimate lyrically and feeling-wise. I wanted [the latter] to sound like velvet feels-very smooth-and I wanted it to be sensual."[10]

According to Fergie, the songs on the album are "from a seven-year period, but [Interscope CEO] Jimmy Iovine heard some [tracks] and was like, 'This is great, let's put it out'.[10] One of the album's executive producers and fellow Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am stated that she was "writing about her personal struggles and casting her demons away and feminine power. [It's] her singing for young girls to be strong, and what they’re going through in life, just growing up in this world of uncertainty."[11] Ludacris, John Legend, B Real from Cypress Hill and Rita Marley, Bob Marley’s widow, were also confirmed on the album. B Real was set to appear on a track called "Thriller Man", an homage to Cypress Hill’s “How I Could Just Kill a Man,”, with B Real stating, “It’s pretty hot. Basically she took the song and switched the story around to suit it to her and put the female touch on it. She did the same chorus, she even did my same rhyme style, but she sung it. It’s hard to describe it, you just got to hear it — she did it justice.”[12] However, "Thriller Man" was not included on the album. Ron Fair and DJ Mormile were also the album's executive producers, with Fair, chairman of Geffen Records, expressing, "Once people get this album and hear what she's capable of as a singer and writer, I think that's when the roof blows off it. That's when she's not just a little trifling pop girl doing disposable hits." It was also announced that the album would feature samples from Little Richard, The Commodores and The Temptations.[13]

Album cover and title[edit]

The album's title, The Dutchess, is a play on words from the Duchess of York.

The album's title, The Dutchess, is a derivation of the noble title "The Duchess of York", as Fergie (a derivative of her last name "Ferguson") and Sarah Ferguson, the real Duchess of York, share a surname and nickname. The spelling "Dutchess," while nonstandard in contemporary English, was historically a valid spelling, as demonstrated in place names like Dutchess County, New York, itself named after a Duchess of York in 1683. The album's title garnered media attention, with Sarah Ferguson commenting, "Automatically, everybody in America thinks I'm Fergie, the most beautiful woman in the world, from Black Eyed Peas. [...] You know, I rang her up about that. I said, 'Fergie, it's Fergie... Now that you've done this, you have to sing at a concert for my foundation Children in Crisis'."[14] Fergie then commented about its title, "If you notice, on the album cover it says 'Fergie as the Dutchess' because I wanted each song to be a movie poster. But because 'London Bridge' did so well so fast, we had to get everything done so only half the songs on the album have movie poster themes. For example, for 'Fergalicious' I'm holding a lollipop; it's pretty campy and cute. The pictures were all shot by Ellen von Unwerth in Paris so a lot of them are very Brigitte Bardot-esque."[10]

Composition and themes[edit]

According to the website The Age, "'The Dutchess' offers a more introspective Fergie, a woman willing to talk about her loves, her critics and her former meth addiction."[13] Fergie explained in a Q&A interview for Billboard that, "This [album] is a complete thought. It's not just a verse or a sentence. It's my complete feeling and emotion. I think people will be surprised because they don't know that sensitive side of me yet. I also like to experiment with different tones in my voice, and I wanted to make the album really colorful."[10] She further explained the album's concept:

Regarding the album's sound, Fergie explained, "It’s a very colorful album. There’s dub, there’s reggae, there’s stuff like the Temptations, a band that I saw when I was 10 years old in concert. There’s the low rider, oldie style that we revisit that I was really inspired by in high school. There’s that punk-rock aspect — that just really raw rock and roll, get your hair messed up, sweat as much as you want, don’t feel pretty onstage — that aspect. There’s jazzy. We’re just crazy.”[13] “Every song has its own character,” she elaborated. “They use different pieces of my voice and that’s what I want to express, ’cause it’s fun. It makes the album less boring for me and hopefully for others as well.”[15] According to The Age, the album contains "everything from torch songs to bouncy pop, reggae and even techno," representing her wide musical influences.[13] Andy Kellman of Allmusic noted that the album has "throwback hip-hop, throwback soul, reggae, ska-punk, scat, vaguely torchy midtempo fluff, and a classy string-drenched ballad.[16]

Songs and lyrical content[edit]

The album starts with "Fergalicious", an electronica, hip hop and dance song,[17] which according to the song's co-writer, producer and featured guest, will.i.am, has Fergie "just being sassy and flaunting her stuff from a strong female perspective, paying homage to Salt-N-Pepa."[15] He also labelled it "the sister of [Black Eyed Peas hit] My Humps'."[10] Fergie stated that, "In 'Fergalicious,' I emulated ['80s female rap trio] J.J. Fad, and sampled the track from Afro-Rican's "Give It All You Got."[10] Lyrically, the song uses food metaphors to describe how tasty the singer is.[18] "Clumsy" follows, with will.i.am comparing the song to Shangri-Las "Leader of the Pack" with a ghetto-ass beat, guitars and background singers."[10] Lyrically, it finds Fergie "trippin', stumblin', flippin', fumblin'" after being struck by Cupid's arrow.[18] In "All That I Got (the Make-Up Song)", she wants a guy who will love her for more than her outward appearance,[18] with the singer asking, "Would you love me/If I didn't work out/Or didn't change my natural hair?"[13] "London Bridge" was co-written by Sean Garrett and produced by Polow da Don[11] and includes sexual innuendo.[18] It was described as "a club track that only lightly touches on personal lyrics about fame and celebrity" ('It’s like every time I get up on the dude/ Paparazzi put my business in the news,' she sings),[11] with the singer also threatening to mace pushy photographers and boasts. "It's poking fun at certain things. I'm really not going to spray the paparazzi with mace - I don't know if you know that about me," she said in an interview.[13] Regarding the song's title, she claimed, “There are a couple things that you could relate with that title, but I’m just going to leave it to people’s imagination."[12]

Ludacris (left) is featured on the R&B track "Glamorous", while John Legend is featured on the piano ballad "Finally".

"Pedestal" lashes out at gossip bloggers like Perez Hilton who "hide behind computer screens", as noted by Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine,[19] while "Voodoo Doll" is a reggae song,[19] with dub influences,[13] where Fergie talks about her past and getting over those demons.[15] According to Fergie, "It's about my struggle with crystal meth. There's a demon part that's a completely different voice than the singing part, and it's almost like two voices. It's me battling with myself."[10] "Glamorous" is again produced by Polow da Don and features Ludacris.[12] It was described as an R&B song[17] with techno influences.[13] Lyrically, it talks about how fame doesn't give her amnesia about where she came from.[18] "Here I Come" features once more will.i.am and it is done to the tune of The Temptations' "Get Ready."[16] In "Velvet", Fergie invites a man to share her bed.[18] As stated by Fergie, "I wanted it to sound like velvet feels - very smooth - and I wanted it to be sensual."[10] The pop/rock song[19] "Big Girls Don't Cry" talks about a crumbling romance.[18] will.i.am admitted that it "really pushed my production skills. I did an Edie Brickell type of production - 'I'm not aware of too many things,' on guitars."[10]

"Mary Jane Shoes" is a song inspired in reggae, ska-punk and scat.[16] It features Rita Marley, Bob Marley's widow, and I Threes. “That was quite an honor for me,” Fergie said of the song. “I kind of get to play Bob Marley in that song, which is a beautiful thing.”[12] She went on to described the song as "a breezy reggae song, and at the end I go into a little bit of punk-rock mosh music because I love to do that if you've ever seen my stage shows."[10] will.i.am commented, "She goes from dub, doing her interpretation of roots, to some ska-punk and ends up with jazz. From a production standpoint that was fun, flipping all those different styles."[10] The song is followed by the ballad "Losing My Ground", which is about desperation,[17] and the album closes with "Finally", a slightly Broadway-styled, ballad.[20] It was named a "dramatic piano and string-laden coda" track.[21] It was co-produced by John Legend, which also plays the piano.[10] Lyrically, it reflects on lessons learned the hard way and decides that life is good.[18] Fergie further explained the track:

Release and promotion[edit]

"The Dutchess" was first released on September 13, 2006 in Japan, and was released in the United States on September 19, 2006.[22] On September 21, 2006, Fergie held a launch party for the album, after a day of radio and television promotion.[23] She first performed "London Bridge" at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards on the “Red Carpet on the Rock" pre-show.[24] She also went to "TRL", NBC's "Today Show",[25] "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Late Show with David Letterman", performing the single "London Bridge".[26] She also performed the track during 2006's "Fashion Rocks", where she used a glittery mini-dress, and later was joined by her band Black Eyed Peas to perform their single "Pump It".[27] Fergie also went to the 2006's "Billboard Music Awards", performing the single "Fergalicious".[28] In 2007, Fergie continued the promotion of the album, being part of the "AOL Sessions", "Pepsi Smash Superbowl Bash", "Radio 1's Big Weekend", "2007 MuchMusic Video Awards", "2007's MTV Australia Video Music Awards", "Concert for Diana", "2007 American Music Awards" and more.[26] To further promote the album, Fergie embarked on the "Verizon VIP Tour", which kicked off on May 8, 2007.[29]

Re-release[edit]

In April 2008, it was announced that "The Dutchess" was going to be re-released, with the inclusion of "Labels or Love," for the "Sex and the City" film soundtrack, Nelly's "Party People", "Barracuda" (a Heart cover) and a remix of "Clumsy" with Soulja Boy.[30] Along with the four bonus tracks, the new package features an exclusive fold-out poster illustration of Fergie, an insert coupon discount to merchandise and a connect CD option providing video content.[31] An EP with the four tracks on the deluxe edition was released to the iTunes store. "The Dutchess: The Deluxe E.P." debuted at number 46 on the Billboard 200 chart with sales of 11,000 copies.[32]

Singles[edit]

"London Bridge" was released as the album's lead single on July 18, 2006 to radio stations[33] and on August 7, 2006 on the iTunes store.[34] The urban pop track caused controversy due to its double entendre title,[35] but became a huge success, topping the Billboard Hot 100 (for three weeks) and New Zealand charts, while also reaching the top-ten in over twelve countries.[36] The music video for the song features Black Eyed Peas members as well as Fergie on the Tower Bridge, among other scenes.[11] The following single, "Fergalicious", was released on October 23, 2006.[37] The track, which features will.i.am, managed to reach number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, the top-five in Australia and New Zealand, although it peaked lower than "London Bridge" in Europe.[38] Its music video features Fergie as Willy Wonka in a candy factory.[39]

"Glamorous" was released as the third single from the album, on February 20, 2007.[40] The track, which features Ludacris, became another number-one single for Fergie in the United States, and also reached the top-ten in over seven countries.[41] The fourth single, "Big Girls Don't Cry", was released on May 22, 2007.[42] The ballad became a huge success worldwide, topping the charts of ten countries, including Australia, Canada and the United States; it was also the album's most successful single in Europe.[43] The music video for the song features American actor Milo Ventimiglia as her love interest.[44] "Clumsy" was then selected to be the fifth single of the album. It was released on September 25, 2007[45] and became a top-ten hit in five countries,[46] including in Australia and the United States, becoming her fifth consecutive top-five hit in the U.S.[17] Its music video features Fergie falling head over heels for love in various scenarios shot using a green screen.[47]

The song "Here I Come" was released as the album's sixth single in Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) on January 19, 2008.[48] It reached the top-forty in both countries.[49] "Finally" was announced as the album's sixth single in the United States, being released on February 25, 2008.[50] A music video for the song was shot, but it was never released.[51] The Japan's bonus track song "Pick It Up" was released as a single on November 7, 2007.[52]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 58/100[53]
Review scores
Source Rating
About.com 4/5 stars[20]
Allmusic 2/5 stars[16]
Boston Phoenix 3/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau (choice cut)[54]
Entertainment Weekly B+[21]
Los Angeles Times 2/5 stars[55]
PopMatters 2/10 discs[56]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[57]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[19]
Yahoo! Music (7/10)[58]

Initial critical response to The Dutchess was mixed. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 58, based on 15 reviews, which indicates "average reviews".[53] Leah Greenblatt wrote for Entertainment Weekly that "Though not every track is a gem, The Dutchess reaches further than most albums by contemporary divas," prov[ing] that she's earned her Black Eyed independence — and perhaps even her new royal title."[21] Bill Lamb of About.com agreed, writing that it "is one of the top debuts of the year, [which] is good enough to pull into question the wisdom of Fergie sticking with the Black Eyed Peas or considering striking out on her own. [...] Adventurous, bold, and a whole lot of fun, she is an artist to be relished."[20] Uncut called it "one of the most rambunctiously entertaining and high-spirited records of 2006,"[53] while Robert Christgau gave the album a "choice cut", prasing the tracks "Fergalicious" and "London Bridge".[54] Kathryn Perry of The Boston Phoenix named the album "an eclectic, danceable collection of hip-hop, R&B, and pop confections,"[3] while Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone called it "a shameless solo debut full of Eighties-style electro bangers."[57] Dan Gennoe of Yahoo! Music saw the album as "an exceptionally random R&B mixtape," but perceived that while "be[ing] loaded with future hits and staggering imagination, it's also fundamentally flawed."[58]

In a more mixed review, Andy Kellman of Allmusic gave the album 2 out of possible 5 stars, noting that the album is "mildly entertaining but tremendously taxing" and writing that the album has "passable switch-ups, but none of them has any lasting (or even immediate) value, with the possible exception of the inexplicably asinine 'London Bridge'."[16] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine analyzed that "the album too often seems to be striving to display diversity at the expense of artistry," also criticizing the song's lyrics, writing that they "don't delve very deep."[19] Mike Joseph of PopMatters was more negative, observing that it "sounds like it was driven maybe 10% by an artist and 90% by a focus group. Fergie prances, preens, moans, talks and raps, but the result is canned and sterile."[56] Although expressing that "Fergie is talented enough to compete with the likes of Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera," Norman Mayers of Prefix Magazine noted that "the material on 'The Dutchess' won't take her to those heights,"[59] while Benjamin Boles of Now pointed out that it "would’ve been better if they cut the 'serious' songs."[60] Ann Powers of Los Angeles Times concluded that "the problem is the Duchess herself. Fergie exudes earthy charm, but can't keep up with the breakneck music. She forces emotion on the slower show-stoppers, and she's all cartoon kitten on the come-ons."[55]

Chart performance[edit]

The Dutchess debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 in the United States with sales of 142,000 copies in its first week.[61] It later fell to number 9,[62] selling 74,000 copies.[63] After four weeks falling on the charts, "The Dutchess" became the "greatest gainer" of the week ending November 18, 2006, climbing from number 21 to number 14.[64] In 2007, the album remained inside the top-twenty, while in March it kept on climbing, due to the success of its single "Glamorous", which was inside the top-ten at the time.[65] In May, the album continued its success, becoming once more the "greatest gainer", reaching number 12 on the week ending May 5, 2007.[66][67] After the Concert for Diana, in which Fergie performed, the album reached number 11, becoming for the third time the week's "greatest gainer".[68] A week later, the album re-entered the top with the aid of the single "Big Girls Don't Cry," ascending to number 8 in its 43rd week on the chart with 50,000 copies.[69] The song kept on climbing the following weeks, remaining at number 6 for two weeks, with sales of 50,000 and 56,000 copies, respectively.[70][71] It later fell to number 9 with sales of 53,000 copies,[72] and climbed to numbers 8 and 7 in the following weeks.[73] After 51 weeks on the chart, "The Dutchess" reached a new peak on the "Billboard 200" chart, climbing to number 2 with sales of 49,000 copies.[74] It spent 94 weeks on the albums chart, and went on to sell 3.9 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[17]

The album earned Fergie three number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including two more songs in the top five.

In the United Kingdom, it debuted at number 27 and eventually peaked at number 19, spending 30 weeks on the chart.[75] It was later certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry, for selling over 300,000 copies.[76] In Australia, the album debuted at number 13, before moving to number 10. The album kept on falling on the charts, before re-entering at number 35 on May 13, 2007. It entered the top-ten once again with the success of "Big Girls Don't Cry", which brought the album to rise until reach a peak of number-one for four consecutive weeks. It has shifted over 210,000 copies and it was certified triple platinum by the ARIA,[77] spending an impressive 62 weeks inside the nation's top 50, and 21 weeks inside the top 10.[78] The album also received planitum certifications in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Poland and Russia.[79][80][81][82][83] It sold over 6 million copies worldwide.[84]

Impact[edit]

The Dutchess became one of the most successful albums of 2006 and 2007, spawning five top-five hits in the United States. When the album's fourth single, "Big Girls Don't Cry", was released, she became the first female artist with three number-ones from one album since Christina Aguilera in 2000.[85] The song was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. In the United States, with the fifth single "Clumsy" climbing to the top ten, Fergie earned her fifth top-five hit, becoming the first album to produce five top 5 singles in the 2000 era, being surpassed only in 2010 by Katy Perry with her third studio album "Teenage Dream".[17] The album also set a new record in the digital era for the most multi-platinum singles from one album, with each single selling over two million digital downloads in the United States.[86] Fergie held this record until 2012, when Katy Perry surpassed her again, achieving six multi-platinum singles with her album Teenage Dream (2010).[87] Fergie also had five consecutive top-five hits in Australia, becoming the second artist to achieve the feat with a debut album;[78] the first artist to do so was Delta Goodrem with her 2003 album, Innocent Eyes, which had five consecutive number ones. While analysing the album after eight years of its release, Jason Lipshut of Billboard commented:

Track listings[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Fergalicious" (featuring will.i.am) will.i.am 4:52
2. "Clumsy"  
will.i.am 4:00
3. "All That I Got (The Make Up Song)" (featuring will.i.am)
4:05
4. "London Bridge"  
Polow da Don 4:01
5. "Pedestal"  
Board 3:22
6. "Voodoo Doll"  
  • Ferguson
  • Adams
will.i.am 4:23
7. "Glamorous" (featuring Ludacris)
Polow da Don 4:06
8. "Here I Come" (featuring will.i.am)
will.i.am 3:21
9. "Velvet"  
  • Ferguson
  • George Pajon Jr.
  • Michael Fratantuno
  • will.i.am
  • Pajon Jr.
4:53
10. "Big Girls Don't Cry"  
  • will.i.am
  • Fair[a]
4:28
11. "Mary Jane Shoes" (featuring Rita Marley and the I-Threes)
will.i.am 3:55
12. "Losing My Ground"  
  • Boldt
  • Fair
4:08
13. "Finally" (featuring John Legend) (includes hidden track "Maybe We Can Take a Ride")
  • Legend
  • Fair
  • Ridel[a]
8:26
Total length:
58:00
Notes

Charts and certifications[edit]

Preceded by
Time on Earth by Crowded House
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
July 30, 2007 – August 20, 2007
Succeeded by
Where We Land by Damien Leith

References[edit]

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  14. ^ Beggy, Carol; Shanahan, Mark (16 November 2006). "Clarke takes a pass on 'Game Plan' shot – The Boston Globe". Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c Moss, Corey (August 28, 2006). "Meet A New Fergie On Each Track — Introducing The Dutchess". MTV News. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c d e "Review: Fergie's The Dutchess". Allmusic. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Lipshut, Jason (September 15, 2014). "Fergie’s ‘The Dutchess’ Turns Eight: An Appreciation". Billboard. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
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  19. ^ a b c d e "Review: The Dutchess". Slant Magazine. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
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External links[edit]