|Studio album by Hilary Duff|
|Released||March 21, 2007|
|Hilary Duff chronology|
|Singles from Dignity|
Dignity is the fourth studio album by American recording artist Hilary Duff. It was released on March 21, 2007, by Hollywood Records. After launching her third record Hilary Duff (2004), she experienced an eventful personal life, including a stalking incident, her parents' separation, and breaking up with her boyfriend. Consequently, Duff assumed an integral position in its production, co-writing almost every track with longtime collaborator Kara DioGuardi instead of her previously-limited involvement.
Duff was musically inspired by indie rock band The Faint and pop singers Beyoncé and Gwen Stefani. In contrast to the pop rock themes of her prior releases, Dignity takes on more of a dance sound, which she said was not her intention while writing the album. The lyrics reference the events Duff experienced in the years leading to the album's release, and the album's songs contain influences of rock and roll and hip hop music.
Critical response was mostly positive; the album was praised for its songwriting and her new musical direction. Upon release, Dignity debuted at number three in the US, a lower peak than Duff's previous albums and with lower sales, which Billboard attributed to the loss of fans during her musical evolution. Despite this, it produced Duff's highest-peaking US single to date, "With Love" (number 24), and two US number one club hits. The album has reached the top ten in several countries and was certified Gold in the US by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Duff's previous studio album, the self-titled Hilary Duff (2004), received generally negative reviews. Despite peaking at number two on the Billboard 200, its commercial performance was modest: it exited the chart after 33 weeks and sold 1.8 million copies in the United States.
Between the releases of Hilary Duff and Dignity, Duff's personal life was eventful. In October 2006, she and her boyfriend at the time, Joel Madden of punk rock band Good Charlotte, claimed that they were being stalked by Russian emigre Maksim Miakovsky and his roommate, paparazzo David Joseph Klein. According to a restraining order filed by Duff, Miakovsky came to the United States solely to pursue a relationship with her. He was later arrested after threatening to kill her. In November, she ended her two-year relationship with Madden. Around the same time, her parents Robert and Susan separated after 22 years of marriage following an affair between Robert and another woman.
Writing and development
Duff explained of the album's title, "I'm older and more mature now than I was when I made my last record, but I don't think I know it all. Having dignity is something you work on your whole life, in how you treat people and how you treat yourself. I hope I always strive to have it." She continued, "It's not something that you can be given or that you can just get or that you're born with. It's something that you have to work on." She stated that with Dignity, her increased songwriting output was a breakthrough for her. "That hadn't really been part of my process on previous records, except here and there. It was important this time," she said. She co-wrote all of the album's songs, with the exception of "Outside of You", written by Pink, Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida. In an interview, Maida stated that the song was written for a Pink album but did not make the final cut. When Duff expressed interest in the song, she recorded it. Duff explained of her writing process:
[The album] has all of me in it. I never did my records like that before. I got to choose the music, but this time around it was, like, I'd sit down and think: 'What happened to me yesterday? What happened to me today?' and just write. It was very therapeutic, in a way. And easy – I was shocked at how easy it was to be honest about yourself and things that affect you. It is a dance record, but I wanted it to be serious. I wanted to talk about serious things, but do it in a not-so-serious way, with music that makes you want to get up and dance.
Much of Dignity was written in Duff's own home, as she felt "comfortable and free" there. She said that she knew from the beginning that she wanted to write the album with the assistance of songwriter and producer Kara DioGuardi, due to their previous work history on songs such as "Come Clean" and "Fly". Another reason that Duff wished to work with her was that she found her lyrics were complemented by DioGuardi's melodies. She added, "I helped with the melodies, but that's not my strongest suit. Coming up with the lyrics was mainly [what I did]. I'd tell her this is how I want it to go, and she would help with the lyrics, too, sometimes. She'd say, 'This doesn't really fit,' and if I was adamant, we'd make it work."
As inspiration for the album, Duff cited indie rock band The Faint and pop singers such as Gwen Stefani and Beyoncé, while critics compared her musical style with Stefani, Janet Jackson, Depeche Mode, Madonna and Justin Timberlake. Duff felt that the album's dance-pop themes were a deviation from the pop rock of her previous albums. "I didn't necessarily plan the album to sound like this, but it was so easy to write to," she said. Critics have noted that Dignity's musical style is dance-rock, new wave and electropop, with influences of hip hop, rock and roll and Middle Eastern music. According to Duff, the album is a combination of dance, electro and rock music.
The lyrics of several songs relate to Duff's experiences between the releases of Hilary Duff and Dignity. The songs "Stranger" and "Gypsy Woman", despite speculation that they were written about Madden's then-new girlfriend Nicole Richie, were actually written about Duff's father's affair. She said that "Stranger" was written from her mother's perspective. "Stranger is a song I wrote about how my mom must feel around my dad," she said. "I made it seem like it was about a relationship I was in, because I didn't want people to know about my parents. But I've realized that so many people can relate to what I've gone through." The album's title track has also been reported to be about Richie, though Duff did not deny rumors that it was. "Dignity is a song that is definitely about people in Hollywood", she said. "I wouldn't say that it is about her specifically but it is about people that kind of do what she does and act the way she acts." The song "Danger" was written about one of Duff's friends' relationships with an older man. "I understand that feeling of wanting to be dangerous," she said. "You may know morally something's not right, but you can't help yourself." She has stated that the song "Dreamer" was written about a stalker in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, and it has been speculated that it was written specifically about Miakovsky.
Three singles were released from the album. The lead single, "With Love" became her highest-peaking single on the Hot 100 when it reached number 24. The single reached number one on the Hot Dance Club Play chart.  "Play with Fire" was released as the first digital-only single on May 15, 2007 in a remixed form of the original version, with production by Richard Vission. It was previously released on August 21, 2006 which Duff considered to be a "tease" of Dignity's musical sound. Although she felt it was different from the album's other songs, she saw it as embodying the dance/electro/rock combination of the album, which influenced her decision to release it. Duff opted to release the song well in advance of the album "to give listeners a chance to get into my new sound". Though it failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, it charted on the magazine's Hot Dance Club Play chart, peaking at number 34. The third and final single, "Stranger", peaked at 97 on the Hot 100 and also reached the top of the dance charts.
To promote the album's release, Duff "worked tirelessly with the whole Hollywood Records staff to market [the] record." On the day of the album's release, April 3, MTV began airing the two-part documentary special, Hilary Duff: This Is Now. The documentary followed Duff as she prepared for the release of Dignity by attending photoshoots, interviews, wardrobe fittings, rehearsals and a trip to Europe. In addition, Duff hosted Total Request Live for the week of March 26, made several appearances at retail outlets and on television, and was given massive online coverage on MySpace and Yahoo!.
Accompanying Duff's new musical style, the record label began promoting her with a more mature image. Duff dyed her hair dark and "sexed-up" her image. According to Duff, she wanted to "try new things", but the image change "just happened. It is not like a conscious change. People think it is so different because they have watched me grow up but that is just what happens in life." Entertainment Weekly described Duff's new look as comprising "dark mane, dental veneers, luxe and vampy fashions". In mid-2007, concurrent to the preparation of the radio release of "Stranger", Duff was featured on the July covers of the magazines Us Weekly and Shape in a bikini, and on the August cover of Maxim accompanied by the declaration that she had gone "from the queen of teen to breakout sex symbol". The Associated Press wrote that Duff's more provocative image would help her singles to garner mainstream radio play. Guy Zapoleon, a radio consultant and former programmer for Top 40 radio, explained that "radio has a stigma about playing [Disney] acts, considering them teen and preteen in their appeal", and that Duff's provocative image would "definitely have a positive effect on the attitude of programmers, who are mostly male, as Disney tries to mature her image". A bonus EP containing five bonus remixes was released exclusively to US WalMart stores as a package with the album.
|Los Angeles Times|||
The critical response to Dignity was generally positive. Metacritic gave the album a Metascore—a weighted average based on the impressions of a select 13 critical reviews—of 61, signifying generally favorable reviews. Rolling Stone gave a positive review of the album, feeling that Duff's attempt to make an adult-oriented dance-pop album was successful. About.com gave the album four out of five stars, called Duff "as likeable as ever" and praised the songwriting and production contributions of Richard Vission and will.i.am. Allmusic noted that the album was firmly based on "sturdy, hooky, and memorable" songwriting. The review claimed similarities between Dignity and Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006), noting that Duff was musically fashionable but not a trendsetter. At the same time, the review criticized Duff's thin vocals, calling them "not at all like a woman". Billboard called Duff's decision to make a dance-pop album daring, considering the unpopularity of the genre at the time. The review continued, "It's practically something straight out of the United Kingdom for all of its poppy goodness." Entertainment Weekly noted that Duff's break-up with Madden brought out her personality, which the magazine felt was lacking in her previous work. "She's never sounded less eager to please or more messily human," the review claimed.
The Guardian praised Duff's decision to opt for a more electronic dance sound as opposed to the teen pop of her previous work, despite the questionable marketability. They argued that some of the album's strongest tracks rivaled some by Kylie Minogue. Sputnikmusic's review noted various flaws of the album, such as what they felt were a lackluster guitar solo on the song "I Wish" and Duff's childish, uncharacterized vocals throughout. However, they continued, "For all its inadequacies, Dignity is a solid, cleverly-constructed pop album. Like all albums of the genre not written solely by the performer, it's never quite clear which parts, if any, are Duff's words and which represent the feelings of the under-appreciated co-writer, but in Dignity we at least have an album where it's worthwhile listening to the lyrics." They praised the songwriting of every track except "Play with Fire", which they felt was a poor choice for a lead single.
IGN gave a more mixed review of Dignity, giving it 6.9 out of 10. They praised what they felt was Duff's more mature image, but ultimately claimed, "Duff is still Duff and her music is still running the standard pop line." PopMatters noted that the synthesizers used on the album's tracks failed to disguise Duff's speak-singing. The website believed her vocals were not on the level of her pop music peers such as Kelly Clarkson and Mandy Moore. "Nevertheless," they added, "thanks to the miracle of processing, reverb effects, and multi-tracking tricks to beef up her vocals, Duff's voice is still sweetly candy-coated enough to make the medicine go down." Slant Magazine said, "Duff is mostly just an anonymous voice for an assemblage of producers and songwriters. Which is perfectly acceptable for a self-proclaimed dance album, but Duff's voice is nondescript and her delivery is blank; the impish, quirky, or coolly disaffected vocal characteristics and sex appeal that make other dance-pop divas viable performers is nonexistent." The website's review claimed that the album was not very adventurous, and noted that the pop rock "Outside of You", which they felt was the catchiest song on Dignity, was not a dance song like the others.
Dignity debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, selling 140,000 copies in its first week. The debut was lower than those of Duff's previous albums, each of which entered at either number one or two with opening week sales of around 200,000 copies. Billboard wrote that Duff's "continued evolution in sound and image ... may have resulted in her losing some of her much younger fans." The album has sold a total of 411,000 copies in the US by June, 2014. The album debuted at number twenty-five in the UK with first-week sales of over 8,000 copies. The album spent three weeks in the top seventy-five of the UK Albums Chart. Dignity broke Duff's streak of consecutive number-one debuts in Canada, entering the albums chart at number three with 20,000 copies sold. In response, Duff said she "couldn't be happier" and felt lucky that Dignity sold the amount it did, noting the state of the marketplace and the moderate sales figures for other albums that week. The album debuted at number seventeen on the ARIA Albums Chart in Australia, selling roughly 2,300 copies in its first week. The Herald Sun referred to it as "dead in the water" in its second week on the chart. In Italy, Dignity received a Gold certification from the FIMI for shipments to stores of more than 40,000 copies.
|Dignity – Standard edition|
|7.||"No Work, All Play"||
|8.||"Between You and Me"||
|12.||"Outside of You"||
|13.||"I Wish"||Tim & Bob||3:51|
|14.||"Play with Fire"||
|Dignity – European digital download edition|
|15.||"With Love" (Bimbo Jones Radio Edit)||
|Dignity – Italian digital download edition|
|15.||"With Love" (Boosta Dub Remix)||
|Dignity – Japanese edition|
|15.||"With Love" (DJ Kaya Remix)||
|Dignity – Best Buy edition|
|15.||"Play with Fire" (Rock Mix)||
|16.||"Stranger" (Vada Mix)||
|Dignity – Walmart edition (bonus CD Dignity Remix EP)|
|1.||"With Love" (Richard Vission Remix)||
|2.||"Play with Fire" (Richard Vission Remix)||
|3.||"Dignity" (Richard Vission Remix)||
|4.||"Play with Fire" (Vada Mix)||
|5.||"Come Clean" (Dance Mix)||
|Dignity – Deluxe edition (bonus DVD)|
|1.||"At Home with Hilary"||32:41|
|2.||"Why Not" (music video)||3:06|
|3.||"So Yesterday" (music video)||3:34|
|4.||"Come Clean" (music video)||3:32|
|5.||"Our Lips Are Sealed" (music video)||2:41|
|6.||"Fly" (music video)||3:55|
|7.||"Wake Up" (music video)||3:39|
|8.||"Beat of My Heart" (music video)||3:10|
|9.||"Play with Fire" (music video)||3:03|
|10.||"With Love" (music video)||3:08|
|Dignity – Japanese deluxe edition (bonus DVD)|
|11.||"Hilary Duff x Leslie Key Making of the Photo Book"||3:35|
- ^a signifies an additional producer
- ^b signifies a co-producer
- ^c signifies a remixer
- "Dreamer" contains a sample of the song "Just Can't Get Enough" By Depeche Mode
Credits and personnel
|Italy||March 21, 2007||
|United Kingdom||March 26, 2007||EMI|
|Japan||March 28, 2007||
|Austria||March 30, 2007||
|Australia||March 31, 2007||Standard edition|
|Canada||April 3, 2007||
|Australia||January 19, 2008||Deluxe tour edition||EMI|
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