There’s nothing worse than the person who shows up to the party mere moments before it’s over still demanding your undivided attention as they proceed to partake in activities you’ve already seen done what seems like a million times over. That in a nutshell describes Christina Aguilera’s recording process.
Artists have been recording music described as “futuristic” for well over a decade now. In recent years, “the future” has been the narrative of contemporary pop music. So much that when the future finally does arrive don’t be surprised if many dismiss it as sounding so five years ago.
That’s why when Christina sings “tonight I’m not the same girl” on the first single of her latest album, Bionic, it’s hard to take her seriously. You’re still the same girl, Christina.
In some ways, Christina Aguilera is a glowing example of what’s wrong with the industry. Why can’t a woman with such a gift soar past her vocally challenged contemporaries? At the same time, Christina is a perfect example of why those song birds crows continue to best her.
For a long time I’ve felt as if Christina, like many vocalists of her caliber, rely too much on their natural talent. Sure, you have a wonderful voice. But, you obviously don’t know how to use it — both technically and creatively. And you sure don’t seem to listen to people with suggestions on how to do both.
By no means is Bionic a bad album. Christina’s nadir thus far is still the ill-conceived and packaged Back To Basics. So the barometer might have already hit rock bottom, however, Christina needed an album that reminded fans and the world why she was once considered the artist to watch.
Bionic sounds nothing like that.
Several studio efforts into her career and I still can’t pinpoint who Christina Aguilera is as an artist. I know what themes she likes to sing about repeatedly (sex, her idea of feminism, her ego), but the sound in which she explores those themes constantly changes. That can often be a good thing, but in Christina’s case it seems more like a case of an identity crisis than personal evolution.
In fact, instead of calling this Bionic, let’s just refer to it as The United States of X-Tina because that’s the best way to surmise this project.
On this album we get Christina as M.I.A., Christina as Santigold, Christina as Sia, Christina as Britney, Christina as Janet, and Christina as her apparent idol, Madonna.
Some of these impersonations worked magically as they do on tracks like “Elastic Love” and the beautifully sang, “Sex For Breakfast.” Others, like “Glam,” sound like nothing more than second tier ripoffs not even worthy of a karaoke cover.
Initially I was happy to see Christina pulled in the likes of M.I.A. and Santigold into the studio with her. Now I wish she had just made up with Scott Storch and locked herself in a room with Linda Perry.
Whether she wants to admit it or not, people are right in saying she wants to be Lady GaGa. Maybe not the way in which most mean it but the two have things in common. As we’ve since learned in various profiles, before she because Lady GaGa, Stefani skipped around various sounds and gimmicks with one goal in mind — to be a superstar by any means necessary. Dance music turned out to be GaGa’s best way of attaining that goal, so that’s the sound she went with.
GaGa had the luxury of trial and error without the public scrutinizing her every move. Christina doesn’t, but don’t cry for Christina: She already had a gimmick that worked.
That “gimmick” was that she can sing. Well. So well in fact that it’s hard to lump her in with all of the cookie cutter singers she was often compared to only because of their shared age and hair color. Christina was aware of this, which is why she often took little snipes as the “trite” pop music the likes of Britney Spears created.
How ironic that she’s been reduced to recording songs that sound like tracks Britney rejected two years ago — complete with the same goal of making sure the voice is not the main attraction.
Instead of revisiting what worked for her, X-Tina continues to shove down our throats an image consumers already threw back at her years ago.
The “Dirrty” girl has been giving us an inside look at her insides since 2002. What made her think she needed to treat her vagina as a airport runway at night at the MTV Movie Awards?
Probably the same thought process that thought we needed to be told that she’s the baddest bitch in all the land (“Vanity). Or that she’s down for her girls in that sequel to “Can’t Nobody Hold Us Down,” “My Girls.”
She keeps remaking songs that were never that great to begin with. When she does try something genuinely different, such as “Monday Morning,” which is offered on the deluxe version of Bionic, we’re treated to pleasant surprises. If only she had offered more of that.
Why doesn’t she get that when it comes to her success, less is more is what assures it. Less tracks, less emphasis on the same old subject matter, and less theatrics to highlight a voice we already know is exceptional.
Christina’s so stuck on trying to do it all. Here’s to hoping that in the future, the bionic woman just sticks to what works.