"a debut solo effort that sadly feels like a missed opportunity..."
Hannah John

16:32 2nd October 2006

She’s ‘the F to the E-R-G the I, the E’ and she’s realised it’s just too parky to be cavorting round London in September in those Union Jack hotpants, so it’s into the studio to record a debut solo effort that sadly feels like a missed opportunity.

There’s no denying that Fergie made the Black Eyed Peas what they are today: a multi-million selling hip-hop monster. As their front woman she’s all sassy funk-stained attitude, and there’s attitude aplenty in ‘The Dutchess’, but what’s lacking is the Peas’ particular genre bending musical hocus-pocus. Not that she doesn’t try ever so hard to recreate this. Fergie approaches the album like an über-enthusiastic puppy excitably paying homage to various styles: smooth R&B (‘Clumsy’), guitar girl angst (‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’), ska (‘Mary Jane Shoes’) and even classical ballad (‘Finally’). They just lack the catchy hooks of a ‘Don’t Phunk With My Heart’ or ‘Shut Up’. It’s telling that the best track is the bonus song ‘Get Your Hands Up’, a collaboration with, you’ve guessed it, The Black Eyed Peas.

Given that ‘The Dutchess’ is produced, and co-written, by BEP founder Will.I.Am, this is all a bit of a mystery. First single ‘London Bridge’ has enough block rockin’ beats and horns to keep grinding levels to an optimum in many a London club, but unfortunately much of the album feels like the soundtrack to the lost hours of a particularly inebriated night out; you’re sure there was music playing, but damned if you can remember what it was. Plus, we are sadly well aware that the following remark outs us as the tragically pedantic tank top wearing hacks we are, but we would like to point out that there is no T in Duchess, as in Fergie the Duchess of York, and it is in fact Tower, and not London, Bridge in the video. Oh dear.

Fergie evidently would love to emerge from the Peas as a beeyodiful Gwen Stefani style butterfly, going as far to recruit her very own Harajuku girls for the ‘London Bridge’ video. However, as BEP are due to tour next year, take our advice and go to see her shine in her proper habitat.