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Dignity is Hilary Duff's fourth studio album that was released on March 21, 2007 by Hollywood Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Stranger 4:10
  2. Dignity 3:13
  3. With Love 3:01
  4. Danger 3:31
  5. Gypsy Woman 3:14
  6. Never Stop 3:13
  7. No Work, All Play 4:17
  8. Between You And Me 3:05
  9. Dreamer 3:15
  10. Happy 3:28
  11. Burned 3:21
  12. Outside Of You 4:03
  13. I Wish 3:51
  14. Play With Fire 3:01

Album BackgroundEdit

Between the releases of "Hilary Duff" and "Dignity", Hilary 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.

During that the same time, Duff's parents Robert and Susan separated after 22 years of marriage following an affair between Robert and another woman.

DevelopmentEdit

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."

Duff stated that with "Dignity", her increased songwriting output was a breakthrough for her, saying: "That hadn't really been part of my process on previous records, except here and there. It was important this time."

Duff co-wrote all of the album's songs, with the exception of the song "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 the album was written in Duff's own home, as she felt "comfortable and free" there.

Duff 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 she 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."

CompositionEdit

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.

She felt that the album's dance-pop themes were a deviation from the pop rock of her previous albums, saying: "I didn't necessarily plan the album to sound like this, but it was so easy to write to."

Critics have noted that the album's musical style is dance-pop 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. According to her: "Stranger is a song I wrote about how my mom must feel around my dad. 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. Duff said: "Dignity is a song that is definitely about people in Hollywood. 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, saying: "I understand that feeling of wanting to be dangerous. You may know morally something's not right, but you can't help yourself."

Duff 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.

Album ArtworkEdit

The album photography for "Dignity" was done by Andrew Macpherson, in which a "newly brunette Duff wears grown-up black leather and diamonds," in line with its theme of "reinvention".

The album artwork is a tightly framed portrait of Duff, with Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic opining: "From the soft-focused, impeccably styled, tasteful cover photo–better suited for Harper's Bazaar than a pop album [...] Dignity, appears to be the teen star's self-styled, self-conscious adult album. Almost too adult, actually, since the packaging makes it seem like Hilary skipped over her wild, restless years and headed straight toward polished adult contemporary blandness."

When asked by Westword if the artwork is a comment on how other celebrities should present themselves in the media, Duff stated: "The record cover is a big closeup of my face. It’s not like I have no clothes on or I’m trying to do something really edgy or provocative. [...] It’s not about anybody else. It’s my record and I would not ever want to try and make someone like me or say this is how you should be. I’m just saying this is how I am and this is how I want to be."

Its artwork for the Japanese release was done by Leslie Kee, who captured Duff's youthful appearance and "sexy" side as she transitioned into adulthood.

Chart PerformanceEdit

"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."

As of June 2015, the album has sold a total of 412,000 copies in the United States. It debuted at #25 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 the album sold the amount it did, noting the state of the marketplace and the moderate sales figures for other albums that week.

"Dignity" 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, the album received a Gold certification from the FIMI for shipments to stores of more than 40,000 copies. It has sold 1.5 million copies worldwide.

Critical ReceptionEdit

The critical response to "Dignity" was generally positive. Metacritic gave the album a Metascore of 61.

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 it 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 "Dignity" was firmly based on "sturdy, hooky, and memorable" songwriting.

The review claimed similarities between the album and Justin Timberlake's "FutureSex/LoveSounds" album, 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. They added: "Nevertheless, 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.

PromotionEdit

To promote the release of "Dignity," Duff "worked tirelessly with the whole Hollywood Records staff to market the album."

On the day of the album's release, 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 her new musical style, the record label began promoting Duff with a more mature image.

Duff dyed her hair dark and "sexed-up" her image. According to her, 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.

To further promote the album, Duff embarked on her fourth concert tour, the Dignity Tour, which started in July 2007 and ended in February 2008.

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