Music

Watching Hilary Duff’s Awkward 2007 ‘Today’ Show Performance Is A Serotonin Boost Like No Other

Go girl! Give us nothing!

Hillary Duff Today Show

In 2007, Hilary Duff released ‘With Love’, a proto electro-clash song purely written to coincide with her perfume ‘With Love… Hilary Duff’: a piece of marketing genius, the song’s music video doubled as an ad for the perfume, prompting The New York Times to write a whole feature about it ushering forth a new age of advertising.

The perfume and song were both commercially successful, but in 2020, ‘With Love”s biggest legacy is the dance-break at the end of Duff’s live Today Show performance. You may have seen it: it floats around Twitter and Instagram as a reaction video, though it’s unclear what it could be used to react to.

Ask any musician who has done a morning show performance, and they’ll tell you it’s a hard gig. The energy just isn’t there; there’s rarely time for much of a soundcheck; and you’re ultimately just one small piece of content for the show, something people will barely remember by the time they get to work.

The US Today show heightens the stakes a little thanks to the outside stage in Rockefeller Centre, but even then, a crowd of tourists and annoyed bypassers at 8am isn’t an easy audience.

Having said that, Duff’s performance is particularly low-energy and awkward. Long before the dance-break, there are myriad factors that throw the whole thing a bit off.

There’s the song, for starters. The club-lite bleeps and bloops in the track, for one, reeks of something an ex-Disney star would release prove she’s more adult, but Duff keeps it pretty PG — no doubt since the song was filtered through marketing teams to make the perfume palatable to both 20somethings and pre-teens. It puts it in an odd spot — a ‘Rumours’ without any intrigue.

Then there’s the red dress with odd black buttons, the hoop earrings, the strap heels and the almost-beehive hair — she’s club-ready, 2007 style, at 8.45am. As are her back-up dancers, who are wearing the same thing but in white. Together, they have an accidental Christmas aesthetic.

The cutaways to the crowd are stunning, too — an awkward combination of pre-teens losing their shit internally while trying to look chic externally while their dads stand with them.

But, then, of course, it’s the dance that gets us. Not all pop-stars are dancers, and that’s fine — nor are they singers, or particularly charismatic performers either, and that’s fine. Duff, while generally usually all three, ticks none of the boxes in this particular performance.

The low-energy Irish jig; the snarky smile; the boss-ass posturing. It’s the definition of “go girl! give us nothing!”, and I experience an instant-serotonin boost every time I see it referenced, whether via the video, a low-res gif or simply a shot of Duff’s hair that day.

Find the full performance below.