What could the Duchess of York and the leading lady of the Black Eyed Peas possibly have in common? Though they may not share a vaginal sweat disorder, both sport the same name, strive for commercial success, and enjoy newfound independence. Similar to the way the Duchess of York left her sheltered life with the royal family, Fergie is declaring her own identity outside of the sanctuary of the Black Eyed Peas as The Dutchess.
Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson’s life journey has been nothing less than an episode of Oprah, awash with prepubescent fame, a washed-out girl group, and a ruinous addiction to crystal meth. But with a boatload of strong will and a teaspoon of therapy, Fergie rose above these tribulations and was mixed into the budding trio Black Eyed Peas. Since then, her career has been a boiling pot of madness, and with the release of The Dutchess, Fergie turns the heat up.
“You ain’t ready for this,” Fergie nonchalantly begins in her premier single “London Bridge.” Flooded by a sea of mesmerized men bellowing “oh shit,” Fergie reclines aside the honk-and-squeak traffic of Atlanta’s Polow Da Don, proving this as simply another ordinary day in the fabulous life of Fergie. But don’t let your guard down. This song is just the bait for an album that is one “Fergalicious” treat.
Afro Rican’s “Give It All You Got” is only the first layer of “Fergalicious,” a decadent cake, drenched with pompous lyrics, sprinkled with verses by will.i.am, and iced with a delectable rap by Fergie. Little Richie’s “Can’t Help It” and a steaming Pea are the main ingredients in the will.i.am-produced “Clumsy.” The Commodores add the dated background to “All That I Got (The Make Up Song)” with their hit “Zoom,” as Fergie croons about a relationship that could last a lifetime. Blending irresistible bass into the classic Temptations hit “Get Ready,” will.i.am transforms a thin-crust cheese pizza into a deep-dish delight in the overly commercial “Here I Come.”
Return to chef! What was Fergie thinking when she created (or copied) “Glamorous,” a fast-food order gone wrong that sounds too much like Gwen Stefani’s “Luxurious”? The only redeeming quality of the song is a well seasoned side of fries served by one of rap’s greatest, Ludacris. And why does Fergie feel it necessary to give Hooked On Phonics lessons in her songs, spelling “glamorous” several times over as well as “tasty” and “delicious”? “Pedestal” may have spicy lyrics, but the rest of the song is mild in comparison. And the enticing horn line isn’t even enough to save the rotten apple that is “Voodoo Doll.” Making me want to cry for sitting through these expired tunes, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Losing Ground” are beyond repair, as their raw, undercooked features are undeniable.
Rita Marley (Bob Marley’s widow) and the I-Threes honor Fergie with their vocal talents in “Mary Jane Shoes,” mashing No Doubt-flavored ska with effortless reggae that sizzles to an eccentric climax and cools off with a verse of scatting. In “Velvet,” Fergie allows the creamy bass and rich guitar to set the mood while her voice marinates in their lush vibes. John Legend sticks to stroking the keys and orchestrating a vehement string section in the Cinderella-esque “Finally,” proving that the winning combination for Legend is to extract his dry, monotonous vocals and replace them with any living being who has the slightest bit of emotion in their voice.
Though The Dutchess may have its fair share of delicacies and deficiencies, it makes for one luscious five-course meal that should last you until the Black Eyed Peas whip up another world-class recipe for success.