Fans are ready for Hilary Duff's so-called comeback album.
After seven music-less years -- her last album was 2007's Dignity -- 2014 brought fans the laid-back, beachy "Chasing the Sun," a song that strayed from the sexy, dance tracks of Dignity and went toward an acoustic, upbeat pop route. But nine months later, there's still no comeback album from Hil -- just three more songs that tease a project in the offing. The most recent, "Sparks," released last week, ditches the sweet and happy vibe of "Sun" and dives right back into Dignity-era dance. So, now that Hilary has played with genre for a year, have we finally gotten the comeback jam that we wanted?
When MTV News caught Duff on the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Awards red carpet a year ago, she told us she had been working with acoustic master Ed Sheeran and that the album, which was then expected in the fall, had an "earthy, indie-pop vibe." In fact, "Chasing the Sun" was co-written by Colbie Caillat, the boho adult contemporary artist known for the easy-floating "Bubbly." I was totally ready for Hilary to smack on a bunch of friendship bracelets, sing about peace and love and maybe headline Burning Man. I was so ready.
"All About You," released next, also met that sweet, organic pop description. It had group-sung vocals, hand-claps, foot-stomps, and a banjo to give it a country kick. Still, fall 2014 came and went without an album.
But then Duff went to Sweden, where she met up with Tove Lo, among the other writers who helped to pen the track "Sparks." Tove Lo is also the same woman who sang about bingeing on Twinkies and throwing up in the bathtub on "Habits."
"Sparks" isn't like "All About You" or "Chasing The Sun." It's a dance track reminiscent of Kylie Minogue with a whistled chorus you'd expect from a Jason Derulo song. The lyrics are more commanding: "Take it all off/ Want every inch of you," Duff sings, punctuating every word. The cover art is a washed-out black-and-white photo of Hilary with her hair slicked back and emphasis on her pink lips -- a stark contrast from the single art of "All About You," which was illuminated by soft sunlight and captured Hilary in a flowy top and floppy hat, her blonde hair in beachy waves.
"Sparks" isn't a new direction for Hilary though. If anything, it's a continuation of Dignity. But I have to admit, my first reaction was confusion -- where is she going with this record? Is Duff going the pop folk way or is she doing Dignity 2.0? Perhaps she was just dipping her toes into folky sounds, just to see how it went down.
Meanwhile "Sparks" seems to be going down really well with the Internet. Sure, the video for "Chasing the Sun" has over 30 million views to date, but "Sparks" seems primed to have legs, and some are already predicting it'll be the song of the summer. If you listen to the people, Hilary Duff is BACK.
If you've been waiting for Hilary's comeback, "Sparks" seems to signal it's already here.
So what do you think? Do you like dance Hilary or pop-folk Hilary? Is "Sparks" her comeback jam? Sound off in the comments!