Back when it became clear Hilary Duff was on the verge of a pop music comeback, I was understandably pretty excited. This initial excitement started to wane following the release of Duff’s first two singles, “Chasing The Sun” and “All About You.” While neither song was lacking in a certain earnest charm, both were misses in the “catchy-pop-song” department. Hey, I’m all about a pop-star reinvention but when neither song connects with an audience, it’s time to, in the immortalized words of Aaliyah, “dust yourself off and try again.” Thankfully that’s precisely what Hilary Duff did. Her new single, “Sparks” is a bonafied pop GEM and catchy as F! Check out the video below.
Written by Christian “Bloodshy” Karlsson, Tove Lo, Peter Thomas, Sam Shrieve and produced by Thomas and Bloodshy, “Sparks” was released April 7th (RCA) and proves the old adages, “if at first you don’t succeed try, try (try) again,” and “third time’s the charm” both correct. The video above is actually the second video released for “Sparks,” following some fan backlash over the fact that video #1 was nothing but a glorified Tinder advertisement, interspersed with FUN clips of Duff dancing with blue hair. The new video, touted as a “Fan Demanded Version” is a proper pop video, taking those interspersed clips and essentially making the video as fun as the song itself. Featuring Duff looking hot as hell in a number of sparkly costumes as well as some pseudo elaborate pop-video-perfect choreography, this is the “Sparks” video that should have been released to begin with. Taken from her forthcoming fifth studio album, Breathe In. Breathe Out., “Sparks” is exactly the sort of song Duff needed to reignite her once promising pop career. The album is set for release on June 16th via her new label, RCA Records, marking her first collection of original material since 2007.
I have to admit, when I first learned of Duff’s new music being labeled “earthy, indie-pop” I was cautiously optimistic. When an artist matures, it’s only natural to want to move past a signature sound that people might recognize. Experimentation should be a part of ANY pop star’s evolution, and while “Chasing The Sun” was a sweet foray into singer-songwriter territory, it read a little too safe for me. It also didn’t sound particularly fresh or interesting. “Sparks,” while not particularly groundbreaking as far as dance-pop goes, is at least on target with the sort of pop music that’s out there right now. Enlisting assistance from Peter Thomas (Betty Who‘s longtime collaborator), Bloodshy and of course Swedish “IT” girl Tove Lo was very smart on the part of RCA. I just hope switching up the sound of the album entirely wasn’t too hard a pill for Duff to swallow. I want her to be INTO the music she’s making right now, since it has been so long for her. I don’t want her to be making catchy pop music just because it’s what radio is playing right now.
In addition to her music, Hilary Duff stars in the critically acclaimed TV Land series ‘Younger‘ (recently picked up for a second season). She has 4 top 20 UK singles to her name, with “Wake Up” being her highest charting single at No. 7. Back home in the U.S., chart success has been a bit more elusive. To date, Duff’s highest charting song on the Billboard Hot 100 is “With Love,” (No. 24) off her underrated 2007 electropop album Dignity. Of the newly released, only “Chasing The Sun” has found a spot on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 79, while follow-up “All About You” managed to crack Billboard’s “Bubbling Under Hot 100” chart (No. 19) and Mainstream Top 40 chart (No. 38). While Hilary’s latest single, “Sparks” has yet to debut on the Hot 100, it’s getting closer, managing to hit the No. 2 spot on the Bubbling Under” chart, as well as No. 1 on the magazine’s new(ish) Twitter Real-Time chart. Not a bad showing.
Hilary Duff will kick off her album release week with performances on ABC’s Good Morning America, Live! With Kelly and Michael and The View. Get ready for Breathe In. Breathe Out. on June 16th and grab “Sparks” on iTunes now. Check out the album tracklist over on Billboard. Oh, and in case you were wondering – YES – Duff’s collaboration with Ed Sheeran (“Tattoo“), DID make the cut.