Former Disney starlet Hilary Duff released her major label debut album, “Metamorphosis,” 10 years ago today. Having conquered the television scene with “Lizzie McGuire,” Duff later set her sights on a serious music career with this pop-rock record. Commercially, the 13-track release would put Hollywood Records on the map and allow Duff to sit high atop the music charts with established acts like Beyonce and Mary J. Blige. The album's impact can still be felt today with stars like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, who were Disney acts that followed in Duff's musical footsteps afterword.
On the Spanish-influenced dance title track, Duff sings, “I wonder what I'll become,” as if she was thinking about her transition to music. She successfully became a full blown pop star with “Metamorphosis,” delivering catchy and inspiring tunes. She added her own twist to the pop-rock sound of the moment that was dominating the charts.
The album's best track will always be the most experimental of the bunch, “Come Clean.” On the chilling pop tune, Duff perfectly melded her guitar-driven sound with some electronica elements. 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. It would become even more memorable as the theme song to MTV's “Laguna Beach” series, starring Lauren Conrad.
At “Sweet Sixteen”-years-old, Duff proclaimed that she wasn't too young to hit up a raging shindig in “Party Up.” Her Disney rock sound was polished into a wild dance track. It's the usual upbeat fanfare about enjoying a party, but there was also a darker edge to it. Duff is on the prowl for a boy that is no good for her but keeps her coming back for me. “You roll me, you use me, you love me and then you wrap me up and reel me in and use me again,” she delivers in a hypnotic performance. Disney starlets nowadays don't deliver that kind of material until like album three, but Duff pulled it off on her debut.
She embraced her inner pop-rocker on “So Yesterday,” a kiss-off track where she says bye bye to a crappy ex-boyfriend. Nothing gets the message across like telling someone they are “So Yesterday,” but Hilary's good-girl voice made it all the more stinging. “Why Not,” a single from the “Lizzie McGuire” movie soundtrack, was also included on “Metamorphosis.” Her inspirational words on the amplified 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.
On the slower side of things, “Metamorphosis” includes one of Duff's best ballads, “Where Did I Go Right?” Like Britney Spears' “Unusual You,” which was released years later, Hilary's gloomy song finds her singing a different tune. After being unlucky in love, she finds the perfect boyfriend that leaves her asking, “Where did I go right? How Did I get you?” Her awestruck performance made it a very compelling number. “Inner Strength,” a pulsating tune penned by Duff's sister Haylie, is another good ballad. It's only a minute-and-half long, but Hilary gets across all she needs to say. “Listen girl, got to know it's true / In the end all you got is you” is just some of the empowering words of wisdom she delivers.
With “Metamorphosis,” Duff was able to evolve in the pop star she wanted to be. Her lighthearted pop-rock songs were able to transcend the Disney Channel and reach a wider mainstream audience. It allowed her to live a fruitful music career and opened up the doors for Gomez, Lovato, Cyrus and others on Hollywood Records. Lately, Hilary has been quiet on the music front, happily married with her husband and baby, but hopefully she sticks to her word about returning to the recording studio later this year.
Listen to "Metamorphosis" on Spotify.com
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