Aguilera under every way

Christina Aguilera is not a nice person.

Now we can begin.

Let's start with the good news: After a four year absence, Christina Aguilera, one of the most applauded vocalists and decorated recording artists of the past decade, has finally made her much-anticipated return with the release of her fourth English-language album, Bionic.

The bad news? It's Aguilera's lowest charting and lowest first-week sales yet. Bionic managed to move a meager 110,000 copies in its first week, bested by both Glee and Eclipse soundtracks. While we could easily blame her under performance on the recession, music piracy or the Obama administration, I have other ideas.

In the beginning, Aguilera seemed just as disposable as the rest, releasing suggestive pop tracks about rubbing genie's bottles, giving girl's what they want, and coming over, baby. But over time it became clear that the one thing that set Aguilera apart from her equally blonde and busty popmates was her superior vocal range, technical precision, and her musical versatility.

Aguilera possessed great artistic drive, delving into various styles, even periods, of music. She took long breaks between albums to maintain normality, start a family, pursue other interests, but while some may argue that her puny discography calls to mind the oft-quoted "quality over quantity," I can't help but wonder if her frequent hiatuses from the music industry have hurt her in the end.

It's been nearly four years since her third LP, Back to Basics, arrived in all its retro-glory, and since then the music scene has undergone some drastic face-lifts. Long gone are the days when power divas melissma-ed their way to the top of the charts; women's role in pop music today has somehow evolved to become the quirky kid sister to the male pop stars older, more serious brother. It's very telling of the times when Katy Perry and Ke$ha sit atop the Hot 100 and Pop Charts, respectively; pop music is a parade of gimmicks.

With Bionic, Aguilera attempts yet another high-concept album, her own gimmick of sorts, this time inspired by electronica and the "future." But what truly inspired this album? According to Aguilera in several interviews, her two-year-old son, Max. Let's consider her latest video for "Not Myself Tonight":

Riiiiiight. Moving on.

If watching a hypersexual Aguilera writhe and moan in "Not Myself Tonight," the lead single off the new album (a complete and utter disaster, if you ask me), wasn't enough to ignite the fury of backlash across the blogosphere, those uncanny Gaga similarities certainly were. Blatant erotic imagery and overt sexuality aside, the real controversy was Aguilera's desperation to maintain relevance in a pop world ruled by Queen Gaga.

Which brings me to the new album, Bionic. Possibly in an attempt maintain such relevance, Aguilera enlisted the help of some super hip songwriters (M.I.A., Santigold, Sia, to name few), and the results are somewhat discouraging.

The one thing Christina Aguilera has to set her apart from other pop starlets is her pipes, and with the pounding electronic beats and grating over-production, Aguilera gets lost in the sound. She sings of "woohoos," morning sex, vanity, glam, "dancing a lot and taking shots" among other "sophisticated" topics, still crediting her dear toddler son for inspiring her "playful" side. He will be so proud someday.

There are some standout tracks on the album, most notably the ballads, which, ironically, sound more jazz and blues-influenced than most the tracks on Back to Basics. Bionic is inconsistent and confusing, and manages to completely smother Christina Aguilera's only redeeming quality: her voice.

But hey! Props for a stellar album cover, Xtina.


Brandon said...

I couldn't agree more. Oh and I love you.


Anonymous said...

i betcha wanna put your lips where my hips are... apparently this son was quite the inspiration...

hun*ter said...

You're right Chase, the cover is amazing. That's about it though.

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