Face it: she was the smart man’s Britney. But while Brit used to be able to shake her ass, Christina Aguilera can still blast her pipes. Yes, Britney kissed Madonna (actually, so did Christina). Britney did the circus (so did Christina, um, two years earlier). Britney went crazy (Christina can still formulate full sentences!)
No one can deny that Christina Aguilera’s got talent. She was the youngest person to make Rolling Stone‘s list of greatest singers – ever (the only person under 30). Celine Dion called her “probably the best vocalist in the world,” and Mariah Carey said, “she showed up uninvited at one of my parties.” (?)
It all started with the Disney Dream Machine (still open and currently working on a model called Aves Cyrus? But that’s another blog post). Mickey Mouse certainly saw a good investment in the then-teenager. She was stuffed in a latex outfit and forced to (over)sing that catchy, age-inappropriate “Genie in a Bottle,” which critics have described nicely as “wise-beyond-its-years.” Not surprisingly, the song shot right up to the top of the charts (video of her performing her first mega-hit on Argentina TV in 2000 is quite cringe-worthy). Disclaimer: I love that song! But Xtina hated singing it, she told us that the song failed to capture her vocal strengths. Ironic, considering the lyrics… “you gotta make a big impression, you gotta like what you do.”
Regardless, she went on to win her first Grammy for best new artist (beating out Britney, omg!). She won again for “Lady Marmalade,” (beating out… herself, also nominated for “Nobody Wants to Be Lonely” a ridiculous duet with Ricky Martin). Then again for “Beautiful” (the award was presented to her by Hilary Duff). Linda Perry, who wrote the song, was stuck with the difficult decision of which pop protegé to hand it down to: Britney or Christina? Um. Can you even picture a Britney version? Where is that leaked demo?! The song was too bold and too brave and well… too beautiful for Britney. The proven pop culture “hit” was recently covered on Glee, no big hoopla around it. Christina’s work truly does speak for itself.
The singer/siren kept stripping for us. In “Hurt,” she sings about her relationship with her estranged father, watching her shine from the stands. She also co-directed the video, inspiring Britney (“Circus”), Lindsay Lohan (“Confessions of a Broken Heart”) and yes, Lady Gaga (video narrative) along the way. In the most recent cover story, OUT writer concludes: “Gaga talks about art and sings about cell phone reception and disco sticks. Aguilera isn’t given to public pronouncements outside her narrow area of expertise and sings about vulnerability and expectation, loss and strength, abuse and acceptance.”
Christina is not only talking to OUT, but to Billboard (about her album), to Oprah (about being a sexy mom), to Latina (about her dad), to German GQ (poses naked) and I think to Venus Zine, probably about Sia, who wrote the “heart” of her new double-album, Bionic. Like most of her previous power canon, it grows on you. Having learned how to negotiate with the media at a very, very adolescent age, Christina has released several confessional-style videos; interviews on her terms. Here she talks non-stop about her creative process, about growing comfortable with her “pop roots” and doing a fun record but in a more sophisticated, mature way:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbmNsWpNBLk&w=560&h=345]
It’s curtain call for Christina once again. She will be performing this Wednesday at the season finale of American Idol and on June 6 at the MTV Movie Awards. My advice? Just sing Christina, like only you can.