Summer means a lot of things, but right now it signals the return of Hilary Duff. Before Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Bella Thorne were Disney stars, Duff was the Disney star. On Lizzie McGuire, the world got to know her acting talent, but she started to shine as a singer when she had the chance to portray a pop star in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, displaying syrupy, sweet vocals that were perfect for launching a career in mainstream music.
Since 2002, Duff has released five studio albums. While she first began in a pop-rock singer-songwriter role, she has since evolved into a dance-pop star who isn’t afraid to bare her soul or flaunt her confidence. Duff’s last album Breathe In. Breathe Out. was released in 2015, so we can only hope that new music could be on the horizon soon.
In any case, Duff is back on the fourth season of Younger as Kelsey Peters (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET). To celebrate the show’s return (and Duff’s presence in all of our lives), relive the glory of the 10 best Hilary Duff songs below.
“Come Clean” stood on its own for its ominous dark pop opening and Duff’s wistful, rainy music video, and it became a track no one would ever forget thanks to a little show known as Laguna Beach. “Come Clean” rose to prominence as the dramatic opening to the MTV reality show that would make the world forever remember the love triangle of Lauren, Kristin and Stephen.
In 2015, Duff returned with a new look and a new sound. “Sparks” showcased Duff’s foray into electropop and her fierce powder blue hair. The whistling melodies became inescapable thanks to the song’s placement in ads for Duff’s show Younger.
It’s hard to believe “So Yesterday” was a hit from 2003’s Metamorphosis because it’s so timeless. But the Hilary Duff song found the singer flippantly getting over an ex and gave us all a breakup song that would help us move on with our forever teenage lives.
One of Duff’s most beautiful tracks comes from her latest record Breathe In. Breathe Out. If the simplistic pop melody sounds familiar, it’s perhaps because Duff collaborated on writing and producing with Ed Sheeran on “Tattoo.” And if listening to the somber ballad makes you think of Duff’s breakup with ex-husband Mike Comrie, you’re not alone.
Back in 2004, Duff released her self-titled LP, which featured the opener “Fly” — an earnest, inspirational pop-rock melody that tied in perfectly with the end of Duff’s run as Lizzie McGuire. It’s definitely a trip down Disney lane, but it’s reflective of Duff’s struggle to open up to the world as a young adult coming into her own.
To show the world she was no longer the Duff Disney fans knew, “Reach Out” was a re-branding song from her Best Of album, which was also perfect for her threesome reintroduction to TV on Gossip Girl. The BDSM-inferring video accompanying it showed fans Duff had matured.
Duff lucked out with not one but two theme songs on original MTV programming. “Sweet Sixteen” ended up on (you guessed it) My Super Sweet Sixteen where young women from affluent backgrounds shared their coming of age fetes on TV.
“Anywhere But Here”
Another hit on Metamorphosis, “Anywhere But Here” has the feel of an ethereal, ’90s singer-songwriter track. It could have been on Dawson’s Creek, yet you’d still probably listen to it while driving down the beach. It was pre-pop icon Duff, which we’ll always cherish.
Dignity is a very underrated album, but Duff’s single “Stranger” seemed to be her version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Dignity brought in a darker side of Duff (with darker hair), and a new era for how the pop phenom would be perceived.
“Hey Now — What Dreams Are Made Of”
If you were a diehard Lizzie McGuire fan, you probably watched The Lizzie McGuire Movie a hundred times. While Duff stands-in as an Italian pop star, she gets to show off her own voice and electropop chops on the candy-coated “Hey Now — What Dreams Are Made Of.” If anything, it was a chance for us to see what the world would look like if Duff became a pop star.