A belated congrats to Ms. Hilary Duff who signed a new record deal this week. Following her departure from Hollywood Records in 2008, Duff primarily focused on film and raising a family. The former Disney queen has been itching to return to music, though, announcing last August that she would like to “focus on my music.” With a new label behind her, Duff can certainly please fans with a long-awaited follow-up to her last album, 2007's “Dignity.” In honor of the occasion, here a list of Hilary's ten best songs. From her “Lizzie McGuire” days to dance music of “Dignity,” Duff has doled out a bunch of memorable tracks over the years.
10. “Any Other Day” from the “What Goes Up” soundtrack (2009)
“Any Other Day” is probably one of the lesser known tracks in Duff's discography but it's also one of her finest moments. Following her departure from Hollywood Records, Duff and famed dance music producer Richard Vission wrote the “James Bond”-esque song for her indie film “What Goes Up.” Warped synthesizers and piano back Duff as she moves through the picturesque lyrics. “Never mind the smoke and mirrors left behind you / Don't you go / There is nothing there to really bind you,” she sings in a hypnotizing performance.
9. “What Dreams Are Made Of” from “The Lizzie McGuire” movie soundtrack (2003)
Disney took Duff and her hit series “Lizzie McGuire” to the big screen in 2003 with “The Lizzie McGuire Movie.” For the film's soundtrack, she got to opportunity to sing two tracks, “Why Not” and “What Dreams Are Made Of.” The latter served as a crucial scene in which Duff's “Lizzie” takes a crazy chance (if you will) and sings with lookalike Italian pop star Isabella Parigi. Suitably decked out in Euro-pop beats, Hilary gives a showstopping performance, touching on Disney's “follow your dreams” mantra while bringing down the house.
8. “Reach Out” from “Best of Hilary Duff” (2008)
Hilary let her freak flag fly and threw out “Lizzie McGuire” with the bathwater on 2008's sexually-charged “Reach Out.” The track was originally slated for a “Dignity” album re-release but she later opted to put it out as the lead single from her greatest hits set. OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder penned “Reach Out” and supplied Duff with a sample of Depeche Mode's “Personal Jesus.” Over pounding beats with a rock music edge, she gives a breathy performance, hoping to take the guy of her eye home. “Tunnel vision had him locked on in my sight / On a mission for position by the end of the night,” she sings with determination.
7. “So Yesterday” from “Metamorphosis” (2003)
With work on “Lizzie McGuire” winding down, Duff looked to solidify her next career move as pop star with 2003's “Metamorphosis.” She led her charge to the Billboard charts with the kiss-off track “So Yesterday.” Embracing her inner pop-rocker, Duff says bye bye to a crappy ex-boyfriend with stinging G-rated lyricism. “Come tomorrow it will seem so yesterday, so yesterday / I'm just a bird that's already flown away,” she sings to the poor sap. Like finding a new denim skirt, Duff let the world know that sometimes a relationship change is like moving onto the next big fashion trend.
6. “Why Not” from “The Lizzie McGuire” movie soundtrack (2003)
Duff got to release her first song with Disney in 2002 on the “Lizzie McGuire” TV show soundtrack with a cover of Brooke McClymont's “I Can't Wait.” A Christmas album followed that further appeased her kid demographic but she looked to reach a wider audience. The amplified pop-rock anthem “Why Not” from “The Lizzie McGuire” got Hilary that leverage in the music industry. Her inspirational words on tune include gems like: “You always dress in yellow when you want to dress in gold” (a Michelle Branch favorite). Despite the loopy lyrics, Duff's can-do spirit with “Lizzie” made “Why Not” believable. It later went on to become her first music video to be played on MTV's “Total Request Live.”
5. “Fly” from “Hilary Duff” (2004)
Duff felt the pressure of releasing a follow-up to her mega successful debut album “Metamorphosis.” She masterfully channeled those emotions into something great on her power ballad “Fly,” the lead single from 2004's “Hilary Duff.” In one of the best vocal performances to date, Hilary belts with sincerity, “Trust yourself and don't give up / You know you're better than anyone else.” The singer-slash-actress has always been one to inspire with her early songs but “Fly” amplified her empowering words to whole other level.
4. “With Love” from “Dignity” (2007)
On her first two albums, Duff embraced the pop-rock sound of the moment. Sonically moving forward, she looked to electronic music for new inspiration on “Dignity,” her final studio album with Hollywood Records. Hilary made her mark with the slinky dance track “With Love,” which became her biggest hit in the U.S., peaking at no. 24 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Knowing that communication is key in relationships, she sings, “Tell me I'm wrong / That I'm coming on way too strong / Don't think I'll be crushed / Just do it with love.” In the name of love, Duff proved that she was willing to work things out, even if it's on the dance floor.
3. “Beat of My Heart” from “Most Wanted” (2005)
Duff caught the music industry off guard in 2005 when she dropped the compilation album “Most Wanted.” Some saw it as a premature greatest hits album, though, she was only intending to put out new music with her fans' favorites songs tacked on. Among the new material, “Beat of My Heart” was the standout single. She teamed up with Dead Executives (Good Charlotte's Joel and Benji Madden) for electro-pop gem, marrying her pop-rock sound with a synthy dance edge. “The beat of my heart, the beat of my heart, the beat of my heart, it tears us apart,” she repeats incessantly like pulsating heart.
2. “Play With Fire” from “Dignity” (2006)
Before dropping “Dignity,” Duff teased the album months in advance with “Play With Fire,” a real game changer in her discography. Having dabbed in synthy sounds before, she fully immersed herself in electronica on “Play With Fire.” Backed by dark dance beats, Hilary blows off an old flame with searing lyricism. “So don't you sit there trying to give me more excuses / I don't have time for this, I'm off to play in Houston,” she quips with no mercy. The attitude-packed tune, at the time, had Billboard writer Chuck Taylor asking “if America [was] destined to at last see the arrival of its own Kylie [Minogue].”
1. “Come Clean” from “Metamorphosis” (2004)
Hilary Duff's best song will always be “Come Clean,” her second single released from “Metamorphosis.” With the chilling pop tune, she was able to transcend her Disney days on “Lizzie McGuire” and become a bona fide music star. While most of “Metamorphosis” was a pop-rock effort, “Come Clean” melded her guitar-driven sound with light elements of electronica. Add in some teenage angst from arising relationship issues and Hilary had the perfect hit on her hands. “Trying to fit a square into a circle was my life,” she sings about her predicament. The single became more iconic when the MTV series “Laguna Beach,” starring Lauren Conrad, picked it up as a theme song.
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