Dignity is the third studio album and sixth album overall by American singer Hilary Duff, released on March 20, 2007 (see 2007 in music). Duff co-wrote the majority of the tracks with Kara DioGuardi, who co-produced the album with Chico Bennett, Richard Vission, Vada Nobles and others. In contrast to the pop rock sensibility of Duff's previous work, Dignity features a dance-pop- and electropop-influenced sound. It reached the top five on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, and the RIAA certified it Gold for shipments to U.S. retailers of 500,000 units. The three singles on the album—"Play with Fire", "With Love" and "Stranger"—reached the top forty on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, the latter two peaking at number one.
Duff co-wrote all tracks but "Outside of You", and Kara DioGuardi is a co-writer on every song except "Outside of You" and "Gypsy Woman" (co-written by Haylie Duff). Duff said working with DioGuardi "allowed me to talk about things on my mind. It was one big therapy session." According to Duff, she wanted to work with DioGuardi because she liked DioGuardi's work on melodies, which she says "[are] not my strongest suit." Duff wrote most of the lyrics with occasional help from DioGuardi: "She'd say, 'This doesn't really fit', and if I was adamant, we'd make it work." She said the process of her writing lyrics, which she had only done "here and there" on her previous albums, was "important this time". According to songwriter Raine Maida, he and Chantal Kreviazuk co-wrote the song "Outside of You" with singer Pink for one of her albums, but it was not released. Duff "loved" the song and recorded it.
Duff also worked with producer-songwriter Rhett Lawrence in Toronto, Canada. Other producers and mixers on the album include Greg Wells, Ryan Tedder, Richard "Humpty" Vission, Tim and Bob and Manny Marroquin, and will.i.am of hip-hop/R&B group The Black Eyed Peas. Chico Bennett, Vada Nobles and Fred Wreck also contributed. Renowned photographer Andrew Macpherson shot the photos for the album's liner notes.
An alternate version of the song "Happy"—featuring the instrumental track for "Play with Fire"—was featured in the 2006 film Material Girls, in which Duff starred.
According to Duff, she had wanted to write songs about aspects of every experience that she had had for the two years before the release of the album; she has said the album is \"a new side of me and part of me. All the songs are so self-explanatory. It was very liberating\". The album deals heavily with a relationship Duff had during the songwriting process in which she was in love, experienced feelings of doubt and then broke up with the other party. \"I cover these emotions and the feeling of being in the dark\", she said. Duff's breakup with Joel Madden inspired her to write songs that are, as she describes, \"a little bit angry and ... a little bit hurt and lonely and sad\". The album also features songs about when they were happy together that Duff said she was \"really scared\" to include, but she thought she should because they were her experiences. She titled the album Dignity because she felt dignity is something \"you have to work on having ... The album is so personal and talks about so many experiences I've had—good ones and bad ones—and dignity is something I always hope to have and strive to have. She said the album is \"definitely more mature\" than her previous material. The Associated Press quoted Kara DioGuardi as saying that Duff \"was very honest about where she was in her life, and very open, which made it very easy to collaborate. I think she’s really become an adult on this record... in the way that she feels, in the way that she acts, in the way that she interprets what she's singing about.\"
According to Duff, "Gypsy Woman" is about a woman who had a relationship with Duff's father that "broke up a big part of my family"; Duff said she had not discussed it before because she "was embarrassed that my family wasn't perfect and that some woman had broken it up." However, it has been rumored to be about Nicole Richie, who began dating Joel Madden after he split up with Duff. The song "Dignity" is also rumored to be about Madden and Richie. Duff said "Dignity" is "[not] about [Richie] specifically but it is about people [in Hollywood] that kind of do what she does and act the way she acts"; however, she also said none of the songs were about Madden and Richie's relationship: "she seems like a nice person. There's no bad blood there. I hope that they are happy together." "Stranger", although rumored to be about Duff and Madden, is about how Duff thought her mother feels around her father; it was inspired by the same situation that inspired "Gypsy Woman". Duff said she wrote "Stranger" to appear to be about one of her own relationships, because she didn't want people to know about the strained relationship between her parents. "But I've realized that so many people can relate to what I've gone through", she said.
Another track, "Dreamer", was the subject of media speculation; it is reported to be about the two men who stalked Duff during 2006, and Duff has said that the song describes having a stalker "in a tongue-in-cheek way". She said that "With Love" is about having a "crazy job" but being kept "sane" by "that one person" with whom they are in a relationship, "and letting that person know that you appreciate criticism or advice because you know it comes from a place of love. "Danger" was inspired partly by the involvement of one of Duff's friend's with an older man, and Duff said "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 named "Never Stop" her favorite song on the album, and said that "it's all about being in a relationship and being so happy." "No Work, All Play", as Duff puts it, "goes back to not trying to fit into other people's ideals or be perfect—which a part of me still does. I want to look pretty and I want them to like my outfit. But another part of me is thinking, 'Well, why do I care?'" She said "Happy" "is the most personal, acoustic, mellow song [on the album]", and that it "says it all—I'm happy now, and really lucky to be in a good place in my life."
The album was originally going to be released on November 21, 2006, but because production took longer than expected, it was pushed back to December 5. It was subsequently pushed back to February 2007 because of Duff's commitment to the film War, Inc.. It was released in Europe and Australia in late March 2007, and in North America in early April—Billboard magazine noted that the timing of the U.S. release made it "likely an ideal Easter basket gift item". Dignity was at number eight on About.com's "Top 10 Albums to Watch for in 2007" list.
Promotion for the first single, "Play with Fire", began in August 2006; a Richard Vission-produced remix of the song followed in November. According to Duff, the advance "teaser" release of the single was to allow listeners to become accustomed to her new "dance/electronic rock" sound. The second single, "With Love", was released to U.S. radio in February 2007, and its music video was used as the television commercial for Duff's first fragrance, With Love... Hilary Duff, promotion for which began in November 2006. "With Love" was heavily promoted at top 40 radio, where it was the "most added" song during the week of its release. Abbey Konowitch, Hollywood Records general manager, said Duff's new sound is suitable for pop radio's "overlooked middle" because she offered "balance between hip-hop and rock", and said she was "already an iconic pop star crossing into a new generation, versus someone who simply has a nice song for radio." A Z100 program director called "With Love" "exactly the kind of song she should be doing."
"Stranger", the third U.S. single, was released to radio in early July 2007 in the U.S. In the UK, after the club success of a WaWa-produced dance remix of the song during the summer, Angel Music Group released it as a single in September 2007 in lieu of the album version. In Australia, EMI promoted "Play with Fire" as the second single to radio and video during April–June; "Stranger" followed as the third single in October–November.
Pre-release promotion for Dignity was heavy, according to a Hollywood Records press release. Duff and the album were the subjects of Hilary Duff: This Is Now, two MTV documentary specials following Duff during her preparations for the release of the album that aired in early April 2007. Yahoo! filmed a multi-episode series about Duff's new music and image, and coverage on MySpace was also wide. Duff made several appearances at retail outlets and on television, including co-hosting MTV's Total Request Live for a week.
A noted aspect of promotion for the album is Duff's image, which Entertainment Weekly said comprised "[d]ark mane, dental veneers, luxe and vampy fashions", which it wrote is a contrast to the "[d]imples and blond curls, mall-princess ensembles that echoed her Disney Channel alter ego Lizzie McGuire" for which she was originally known. Buena Vista Music Group chairman Bob Cavallo said her new look was "reflective of [her new musical direction]—confident, beautiful and edgy." 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."
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 the first two were representative of "a clear move [on Duff's part] to put her Lizzie McGuire past behind her", and that more provocative imaging of her would help her singles to garner mainstream radio play: "Ultimately, nature, time and genetics may help Duff in a way Disney, despite all its might, cannot." Guy Zapoleon, a radio consultant and former programmer for top 40 radio, said such imaging would "definitely have a positive effect on the attitude of programmers, who are mostly male, as Disney tries to mature her image".
Duff embarked on a concert tour, the Dignity tour, in mid-2007. At its outset, the tour was scheduled to include twelve shows in Canada in late July and early August, and fifteen shows in the United States in mid-August and early September. During the January 2008 concert in Monterrey, Mexico, Duff was seen mouthing into her microphone without her voice being heard, leading to rumors that she was lip-synching. A representative for Duff said that locally provided faulty sound equipment was responsible for the incident, explaining that for the opening seconds of her performance, her microphone was set to mute accidentally. A Deluxe Tour Edition of the album is scheduled for release in Australia on January 21, 2008.
Duff said in September 2007 that a previously unheard song on the Dignity tour's set list, "Reach Out" (which samples Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus"), would be released as a single. In an interview with remix producer Joe Bermudez in November, she said that Dignity would be re-released in an edition featuring remixes of the original songs alongside two new tracks: "Reach Out" (featuring rapper Prophet) and "Holiday". Duff said she hoped to write a third new song for the re-release, and to have "Holiday" released as its first or second single.
The most doubtful of the new gold albums is Hilary Duff's Dignity. It's off the chart, meaning its weekly sales have to be below 4,000 (that's the rounded-off figure that No. 200 on the chart sold), and there's no compelling reason at present for its sales level to change. And its total is just 344,000. Doing the math, if it averaged 3,500 copies or so, it would take almost a year to hit 500,000. Not sure that will happen. Some degree of starry-eyed optimism going on here.
The album debuted at number twenty-five in the UK with first-week sales of over 8,000 copies, and it spent three weeks in the top seventy-five; it is her highest charting album there. In Japan, it entered the albums chart at number twelve, selling 17,600 copies in its first week. 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, and the Herald Sun referred to it as "dead in the water" in its second week on the chart. It remained in the top fifty for three weeks. In France, it peaked at number 133, and in Italy, it received a Gold certification from the FIMI for shipments to stores of more than 40,000 copies. Dignity reached the top ten in Ireland, the top forty in New Zealand, and the top 100 in Switzerland.
"Play with Fire", the lead single from the album, received nightclub play in the U.S. and reached the top forty on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, but it failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Second single "With Love" was more successful: it reached number twenty-four on the Hot 100—Duff's highest peak on the chart—and the top forty in Australia and the UK, though it peaked outside the top forty in Germany. The song topped the Hot Dance Club Play chart, as did the third single, "Stranger", which became Duff's lowest peaking song on the Hot 100, reaching number ninety-seven.
|U.S. Billboard 200||3||430,000+||Gold|
|Italy Top 100 Albums Chart||7||40,000+||Gold|
|Taiwan Top Albums||1||15,000+||Gold|
|Japan Oricon Charts||12||80,000+||Gold|
|Canadian Top Albums||3||100,000+||Platinum|
|U.K Top 75 Albums||25||60,000+||Silver|
|United World Chart||2||1,000,000+||Platinum|
Dignity was met with generally positive reviews, receiving a 61/100 on the website Metacritic. The Guardian called Duff's musical change "curious commercially, but thoroughly worthwhile artistically", and wrote that "Duff, as ever, is charmingly chameleon-like", compared Dignity favorably to the work of Kylie Minogue and Rachel Stevens's 2005 album, Come and Get It. Allmusic editorialized that on the album, "she [Duff] makes some serious headway into turning into a mature recording artist, which makes this an effective, strangely endearing album." Entertainment Weekly opined that "It would be churlish not to hope for a happy ending in Hilary's future, but on the evidence of Dignity, heartache brings out the best in her." Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times called it "a pretty strong album of electro-pop; listeners who have never heard of [Lizzie McGuire] might be pleasantly surprised.
The Los Angeles Times said that Duff "seems a little lost and overwhelmed by the percolating dance settings and body-blow rock arrangements ... But as she tries out different approaches, Duff eventually finds some footing". USA Today said it consisted of "a lot of monotonous dance-pop grooves [lifted] from Justin Timberlake's scrap pile ... It's the jauntier pop material that materializes halfway through and sounds more like her past records that holds more appeal." Rolling Stone said Duff's attempt to "make an adult dance-pop record" yielded "surprisingly successful results". Manchester Evening News called the album "commercially savvy" and said "Duff sometimes sounds as weak as a new born kitten", adding that "In terms of pure pop though, this is Hilary's best material". The Sun Media called Dignity "Duff's most personal and revealing album yet", but that "[w]isely, the weight of her lyrics is leavened by the lightness of the music."
Slant Magazine was unimpressed with the album, stating that "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 Washington Post compared Dignity negatively to Avril Lavigne's 2007 album, The Best Damn Thing; it said "Both discs seemed rigged. Neither woman ventures an inch from her respective corner. And neither sounds like she's having any fun.
|Australian ARIA Albums Chart||17|
|Canadian Albums Chart||3|
|Billboard Europe Top 100 Albums Chart||28|
|France SNEP Albums Chart||133|
|Irish Albums Chart||10|
|Italian Albums Chart||8|
|Japan Oricon Weekly Albums Chart||12|
|Japan Oricon Weekly International Albums Chart||1|
|Korea (Music Industry Association of Korea) Pop Record Sales Volume||10|
|Mexican Albums Chart||4|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||31|
|Spanish Albums Chart||12|
|Switzerland Hitparade Top 100 Albums||64|
|UK Albums Chart||25|
|U.S. Billboard 200||3|
|Thailand||March 20, 2007||EMI||CD||0946 371081 23|
|Italy||March 23, 2007||EMI, Hollywood Records||CD|
|France||March 26, 2007||EMI, Hollywood||CD|
|United Kingdom||EMI, Hollywood||CD|
|Japan||March 28, 2007||Avex, Hollywood||CD|
|CD+DVD [deluxe edition]|
|Germany||March 30, 2007||Hollywood, EMI||CD [standard edition only]|
|Australia||March 31, 2007||Hollywood, EMI||CD [standard edition]||3903612|
|Hong Kong||April 2, 2007||EMI||CD|
|CD+DVD [deluxe edition]|
|CD+DVD [deluxe edition]|
|Canada||April 3, 2007||Hollywood, Universal Records||CD|
|CD+DVD [deluxe edition]|
|CD+DVD [deluxe edition]|
|CD+DVD [deluxe edition]|
|Sweden||April 18, 2007||EMI, Hollywood||CD|
|Brazil||May 17, 2007||Hollywood, Universal Records||CD||670801|
|CD+DVD [deluxe edition]||670801|
|India||Times Music, Hollywood|
|Australia||January 21, 2008||Hollywood, EMI||CD+DVD [deluxe edition]||3909212|