Should Have Been Bigger: Hilary Duff’s “Sparks” Deserved More
Every once in a while a song comes along that can shift the sound of pop for years to come. Sometimes (like in the case of “…Baby One More Time” or more recently “Don’t Start Now”) those delightful rarities get the respect they so obviously deserve. But often the world just isn’t ready. Sadly, that was the case when Hilary Duff dropped “Sparks” in 2015. Produced by Peter Thomas and Bloodshy and featuring a writing credit from Tove Lo, the relentlessly catchy gem landed on her comeback album Breathe In. Breathe Out. And it placed the Disney diva (who toyed with folksier sonics on previous singles) back in her most shimmery soundscape.
On it, the “So Yesterday” singer loses herself in the rush of attraction to a partner. “I can’t hear a single word. Just know you’re talking ’cause your lips keep moving,” she coos. “Everything I thought I learned goes out the window. All I want is one thing.” We find out exactly what that is on the loved-up chorus. “Turn the lights down low and kiss me in dark. ‘Cause when you’re touching me, baby I see sparks. You make me heart go,” Hilary teases. Then comes the beguiling whistle that closes out the passionately delivered lines. Duff paired the anthem with a candy-coated (and fan-demanded) video, which finds her rocking pastel hair and dancing in colorful rooms.
Momentum should have been on the pop princess’s side the second she unveiled the whistle-laden tune. But what can I say? Sometimes we lack taste. Instead of topping the Billboard Hot 100, the song only peaked at number 93. That is an unforgivable offense. Thankfully we’ve learned from the error of our ways in the last five years. That’s evident with even a passing glance at Twitter, where stans rally around “Sparks” on a weekly basis. Perhaps it’s not too late to give the song the justice it so obviously deserves. After all, last year we saw it happen for Lizzo’s once-robbed “Truth Hurts.”
It’s only fair that we continue making up for our previous shortcomings by sending this pop-saving bop up the charts. Revisit Hilary’s most critically undervalued single below and let us know if you agree.