The many faces of Christina Aguilera

I’d like to talk about Christina Aguilera who is an artist I truly appreciate. Even if she is discreet for a while, she’s still active & new music should be released soon (I hope so…).

Despite the success of her first album, I cannot say I was fan at the time. Maybe because of the perfect pop princess image ?! Anyway, she caught my full attention with Stripped & the raunchy single Dirrty featuring Redman. Who doesn’t know this song and music video ?! A video directed by David Lachapelle of whom I like the distinctive work and style.

With this exposure – no pen intended, I discovered an authentic personality, someone real, vulnerable & strong at the same time. A brave woman, passionate & working hard to make her dreams come true.

This record was a great achievement and a risky gamble especially for a woman (we can’t talk about gender equality yet…). She has my respect for that. I think it’s safe to say that she also paved the way for many singers of the new generation. Many are inspired by her work and style.

Few years later, Back To Basics was released. This double CD and its retro-modern style was also uncertain but successful. A beautiful and personal tribute from the singer to great artists who marked the music industry and many generations.

The third album Bionic pushed us in the future offering electronic sounds with moderation & beautiful ballads like You Lost Me.

Then, we had to wait a couple of years to get Lotus. That’s where the shoe pinches in Aguilera’s career, in my opinion. Even if there are some nice tracks as Blank Page written with Sia. I may be wrong but it looks like Christina was less inspired or had less freedom and control over this album than over the previous ones.

Let’s hope that her next studio album will help us forget about this flop.

Stripped
Promo
Nothing but the first single arouses people's curiosity actually ! However, the promotion around the album was active. Christina did many live performances & interviews. I remember she took part in Mtv Diary giving access to exclusive BTS of the album recording. We saw her walking down the streets of New York with Carson Daly. She also went on tour all over the world – I saw her performing for the first time with that album. Her team worked really hard to make of Stripped a major success and it worked !
Visual identity
Throughout this era, Christina aka Xtina played the game at 100% : her nickname, her make up, her hair, the way she dressed, her behaviour, her piercings and tattoos, etc. The whole works & represents well the concept & objectives of the album : standing out from the crowd, showing her abilities as a singer & songwriter, proving she is more than a pop princess, and so on. in short, that she is a real artist AND a person with stories to tell. I like the visual ID and design of the booklet & the CD jacket. The cover artwork is clean, simple and efficient with the white backgound, the thin halftone pattern on Aguilera’s figure, the contrasted grey scale and the personalized typography. The generous amount of photos, the lyrics, the silver touches, the photo collage in colours at the end of the booklet, etc. It’s all in the details. Really well done.
Musical style
This album is mostly pop and R&B with some soul, rock, hip hop and latin vibes. Different genres that suit nicely to her powerful voice which can also be delicate as we can hear on The Voice Within and the very personal I’m OK.
Some of my favourite songs
Walk Away, Can’t Hold Us Down & Dirrty.
In short
The visual identity is logical and well constructed with the booklet of the album, Xtina’s look, her music videos and live performances. All of that makes of Stripped a real success that marked many people and Aguilera’s career. And we can say that her management team had her back at the time despite this risky bet.
Back To Basics
Promo
Once again the promo around the album was active. The process started with Christina introducing the lead single Ain’t No Other Man during an award ceremony on Mtv.
Visual identity
True to herself, Christina aka Baby Jane adopted a retro fashion look that suits her perfectly. There, we could see a young woman, more elegant, feminine and sensual. The album’s visual identity makes no exception. Besides the retro vibes, it also displays a circus theme with the second part. The universe of this double album is more colourful, expressive and aesthetic bringing out Christina perfectly. There are lots of pictures and the graphic design is well balanced, neither too retro nor too modern.
Musical style
Back To Basics is also a pop and R&B album with jazz, blues and soul influences mixed notably with hip hop vibes. With this album, Baby Jane offers strength, power and vulnerability. A pleasure.
Some of my favourite songs
Intro (Back To Basics), Oh Mother, Welcome, Candyman, Nasty Naughty Boy & The Right Man.
In short
I really enjoy the visual identity of this album. It is fresh, feminine, playful, uncertain again but well done. It suits her well both musically and visually.
Bionic
Promo
The promo was disrupted by the almost simultaneous release of the movie Burlesque starring Christina Aguilera alongside Cher. Even if it had a good start, it was nipped in the bud due to the difference between the universes of both the album and the movie I guess. For the first time, Christina didn’t go on tour. I think it would have been wiser to promote the movie first, its universe having similarities with the Back To Basics era. And then, releasing Bionic that unfortunately didn’t get the attention it truly deserves. In terms of sales rate, this album is considered as a flop. But for many people – fans & pros – it is considered as one of the best Aguilera’s albums.
Visual identity
The singer brought back to life her alter ego, Xtina as a 2.0. Frankenstein, with the help of the artist and graphic designer D*Face who did an amazing job ! He raised the bar high. By using the promo pictures, he created unique and strong visuals. Dope ! We meet up again with a provocative Christina but more futuristic and mature this time. Clean visuals enhanced by D*Face work. The concept and research are going even further with this album.
Musical style
It is an electropop album with R&b vibes. It is well balanced and we can hear other facets of Aguilera’s voice.
Some of my favourite songs
Woohoo, Sex for Breakfast, Lift Me Up & Morning Dessert (intro).
In short
I sincerely believe this album has everything it takes to be a hit. Unfortunately it didn’t get the chance it deserves. And I still consider Bionic as a must when it comes to her career.
Lotus
Promo
Almost nonexistent. We heard about it mostly at the begining with the release of the lead single Your Body. Then, it got weak. No tour, only two singles out, one music video, rare live performances.
Visual identity
There’s no guideline. It is disjointed, random. I don’t really recognize the singer here. Apart from a few details, the artwork looks like the one from Stripped. The photos are incoherent. It looks like Christina is less confident and inspired. There are lots of pics and the layout is a bit heavy. Same about the typography used for both the album title and titles inside the booklet.
Musical style
Lotus is a pop album with elements of dance-pop, euro-dance, rock and more. This album sounds a bit too commercial for me. Some tracks are interesting but not enough to save it in my opinion.
Some of my favourite songs
Red Hot Kinda Love & Blank Page.
In short
I’m not convinced by this album which lacks of consistency both visually and musically.

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Fadoudou
    Répondre
    22 janvier 2017 at 3:40

    Great article and analysis! Effectivement, je n’avais pas entendu parlé de ses deux derniers albums, c’est dommage pour Christina qu’ils n’aient pas eu le succès qu’ils méritaient. Christina Aguilera a toujours été comparée à Britney Spears, cependant, pour moi, ces deux artistes sont incomparables! Christina fait vraiment la différence, pour moi c’est une véritable artiste, une véritable voix et une véritable personnalité… Loin du « produit » marketing qu’est Britney à mes yeux.
    Grâce à toi, je comprends mieux le calme autour de Christina, mais franchement c’est une pionnière qui a eu à chaque fois un coup d’avance sur les tendances musicales…

  2. Yasmine
    23 janvier 2017 at 10:14

    Merci pour ton commentaire, Fadoudou. Je suis ravie que l’article t’ai plu et qu’il t’ai permis de comprendre le calme autour d’elle. Je considère aussi Christina Aguilera comme une véritable artiste qui lance des tendances. En effet, Britney et Christina ont toujours été comparé alors qu’elles sont bel et bien différentes. Leurs points communs étant surtout liés à leur début, elles ont notamment toutes deux commencé leur carrière très jeunes et ont été remarquées au Mickey Mouse Club. Malheureusement, même encore aujourd’hui, les rivalités – bien souvent infondées et irréelles – sont favorisées entre les artistes, à l’avantage des médias qui en profitent pour vendre. Ça peut aussi servir de coup de pub dans certains cas. « Toute publicité, bonne ou mauvaise, est bonne à prendre »

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