Pre-teen viewers of The Saturday Show will need no introduction to Hilary Duff, the 16-year-old star of The Lizzie McGuire Show and the top-grossing Lizzie McGuire Movie. Nor will any adverse reviews of this, her debut album, deter them from adding it to their Christmas lists in the millions.
Actually, it isn’t bad, in an instantly disposable, amiably vacuous kind of way. It’s clear from the layers of production, vocal double-tracking and army of songwriters that Hilary hasn’t got much of a voice and had little or no say in the content of the album, although she did write the first track on the album and even wrote the title track all by herself (and, before you ask, it doesn’t have anything in common with the Franz Kafka novel of the same name).
That shouldn’t matter too much. Manufactured pop does, after all, have a reasonably honourable history, dating back to The Monkees and The Partridge Family, and there are a couple of tracks here that are at least half memorable: So Yesterday and The Math, both produced by ace producer The Matrix, who has also sprinkled fairy dust over work by Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne.
Much of the album, however, is a cynical pocket-money grabbing exercise in faux adolescent angst, with all the emotional depth of a Barbie doll.
Mums and Dads will no doubt be relieved that Hilary hasn’t followed her erstwhile role models, Britney and Christina, in pitching for the dirty old man market – it’s certainly hard to imagine Hilary indulging in publicity-seeking lesbian kisses with has-been divas at third-rate award ceremonies, at least not yet anyway.
But much of this album is woefully thin and won’t engage the limited attention spans of her target audience for longer than about 10 minutes. Especially woeful are Inner Strength and Sweet Sixteen where those helium vocals begin to seriously grate, and the grindingly tedious Workin’ It Out.
It’ll sell by the truckload of course – how could it fail? But anyone who laments the current state of pop music should look no further for confirmation of their worst fears. What’s more, with two major upcoming movies, Cheaper By The Dozen and The Cinderella Story, this most assuredly won’t be the last you, or rather your younger relatives, hear of Hilary – more’s the pity.