Release Date: September 19, 2006
Going into this fall season of rabid superstar releases, there was no song that I despised more than London Bridge. I found it derivative and obnoxious (still do, actually), but most of all it upset me that this kind of song is what qualifies as an American number one these days. I guess we have Hollaback Gwen to thank for this.
So, it was to my absolute surprise that I actually enjoyed the majority of The Dutchess. It’s a party album for sure, but an interesting and spontaneous one. The expected pseudo-rap of Black Eyed Peas’ hit My Humps is of course here, most notably in Fergalicious (which is as stupid as it sounds, but still fun). However, there are also touches of guitar pop (Big Girls Don’t Cry ( Personal)), 60’s girl group (Clumsy), Missundaztood-era Pink (Losing My Ground), and Celine Dion-style balladry (Finally, which sounds nothing like you’d expect from Fergie). The highlight of the album, though, is the reggae stomper Mary Jane Shoes, which rides along on a gorgeous melody until about three quarters of the way through, when it turns into an all out ska stomper. I wish we could hear more like this.
Of course, not everything here is brilliant. There is still the matter of London Bridge, after all. Immediately after that song, Fergie continues the theme by sampling the melody from the original London Bridge song on Pedestal. A bit of overkill? Yes, but Pedestal is far superior, so it works alright. Less successful are a pair of tracks (Here I Come & Get Your Hands Up) that sound like horrible Black Eyed Peas b-sides and Velvet, which is a thoroughly unsexy sex jam. Still, given the album’s length at fourteen tracks, it is not entirely impossible to overlook the few clunkers. B
Key Tracks: Mary Jane Shoes, Clumsy, Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)