The Dutchess is Fantastic

I held out on Fergie’s album for a long time. Though I held a dance party for one in my car everytime her singles came on, I tried to not like her as much as I could on principle. The funny thing is I don’t even recall what I held against her. Was it her repeatedly tacky and busy videos? Was it the ‘in your face’ sexuality and broken past? Was it the peeing in the pants while with the Peas? Well, whatever it was, I am over it. I’m a Fergie fan.

The Dutchess album is creative, which is hard to do in this era of overproduction and underperformance. Her album is like musical dim-sum, a little of everything. She has some hip-hoppy raps in “Glamorous” and “Fergalicious”, a hybrid reggae/ska in “Mary Jane Shoes”, a soul ballad on “All That I Got”, the poppy love song in “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, and gets jazzy on “Velvet”. It is a danceable album that demonstrates the cosmic scope of her talent, hinted at by various Black Eyed Peas albums.

Additionally, Fergie is legit. She offers a genuine message in her music about life, self esteem and struggle that is uncommon in mainstream albums. Though I agree with an Amazon reviewer that her lyrics can be awkward, they are real and she wrote them. I love that line in Glamorous “I still go to Taco Bell/ drive through Ross, hell”, as well as her complaint about uncomfortable shoes at a club in “London Bridges”, and her wondering whether a superficial change in her appearance would discourage her boyfriend in “All I Got”. Her album is replete with lyrics that I relate to as a working class young woman. Finally! Substance! As we have Paris Hilton helping to move us toward apocalypse, we have Fergie pulling us in the other direction. In many ways, her music is about hope. Considering who she is, her junky to riches triumph, she The Dutchess represents a stunning and meaningful accomplishment.

The Dutchess also does something I think the Peas are good at; no dull moments in the cd, even in the slower songs. It sucks when albums fall flat for four songs, like Rihanna’s Girl Gone Bad, who is on a roll until the last half of her album. As Timbaland says, “It’s been a long time/ I shouldn’t have left you/ without a dope beat to step to.” The Dutchess never leaves you stranded without a beat.

Fergie is hard to take in the same way Pink is. She is sort of funny looking. Her music is reflective and personal. She isn’t a ditz like Jessica “Push Your Tush” Simpson. She isn’t lacking mental capacity like Paris Hilton, hasn’t sold out like Gwen Stefani, has matured past the self destructiveness trademarked by Lindsay Lohan, and isn’t psychotic like Brittany Spears. Fergie is an adult and made an album for adults who love to dance, and for girls who need a strong woman to look up to in an industry where they are hard to find.

Fergie – The Dutchess – 8/10 – Amelia Timbers