The past year hasn't been the best for Christina Aguilera. The pop songstress' last album Bionic tanked (thanks to her label) and her 5 year marriage to husband/music marketing exec Jordan Bratman came to an end. Latest reports allege the diva attempted to physically assault her Burlesque co-star Julianne Hough at a Golden Globes after party and passed out drunk in the bed of actor Jeremy Renner during his birthday party. Personally I think both stories are fabricated soap opera storylines (the tabloid's forte), but I digress.
While many people are questioning if Aguilera can make a comeback, I thought it'd be nice to take a trip down memory lane. Enter 2008's Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits, a chronological runthrough of some of Christina's biggest hits and her evolution as an artist over the past decade.
The 1999 debut single Genie in a Bottle introduced the giggly, midriff bearing blonde Chrissy to the pop music scene. The suggestive come-on "I'm a genie in a bottle, baby/Gotta rub me the right way, honey... Come come, come on and let me out" caused some mild controversy from the press, but it wasn't that big of a deal. The R&B flavored What a Girl Wants thanks a guy for standing by his girl through the tough times. "What a girl wants/What a girl needs/Whatever makes me happy sets you free..." The ballad I Turn To You, penned by Diane Warren, is another dedication to a lover or friend for being a "shield from the storm". By the single version of Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You), Christina was ready to upgrade the sexuality of her image: "I'm not just talking about your sexuality/But I can't help myself when you put your hands on me.... It's paradise, when you and I/Get close, get tight/One on one I wanna/Go on all night/I wanna play that game with you, baby!"
The 2001 Latin pop track Nobody Wants to Be Lonely teamed the diva up with Mr. Livin' La Vida Loca Ricky Martin and Lady Marmalade, a Missy Elliot produced cover of the 70's Labelle classic, brought Pink, Mya, and Lil' Kim on board to pose the question "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?" "Do you want to sleep with me (tonight)?" in English. Christina's powerhouse pipes shut. it. DOWN!
2002's Stripped said "peace out" to Chrissy and "wazzup?!" to Xtina, the sexed up, aggressive bad girl with multiple body piercings, ratty weaves, and a phony "ghetto" accent (yo!). Dirrty, both the video and the song, made mouths drop all over the country. You remember her "sweatin' until my clothes come off", although she wasn't wearing much clothing to begin with. The self-esteem booster Beautiful was released as the follow-up and swept away the controversy of her new image. "We are beautiful no matter what they say/Yes, words won't bring us down/We are beautiful in every single way/Yes, words can't bring us down/Don't you bring me down today!" And don't you forget it! The rock influenced Fighter thanks all the backstabbers and naysayers who try to take you down with their hate. "Made me learn a little bit faster/Made my skin a little bit thicker/Makes me that much smarter/So thanks for making me a fighter!"
2006 saw the creation of Back to Basics, a throwback record inspired by the pioneers of jazz and blues like Etta James and Billie Holliday. The exuberant lead single Ain't No Other Man praises Christina's (or Baby Jane as she was called at the time) then husband Jordan for being "the only one who's ever passed every test" and prove himself worthy of her love. Candyman gives the 1941 Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy swinger a raunchy twist: "He's a one stop, gotcha hot, making all the panties drop!" Hurt is a dramatic Barbara Streisand styled ballad of Tim Burton proportions agonizing over an estranged parent's passing. "I'm sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn't do/And I've hurt myself/By hurting you."
The compilation boasts 2 new songs based in the futuristic electropop of her 2010 disc Bionic. Keeps Gettin' Better is a cocky and fun reminder that Xtina 2.0 is always in control and Dynamite is an electric dance track all about being free and having fun. Genie 2.0 is a techno inflected makeover of the original that passes with flying colors. I am deeply in love with the icy slice of electronica remake of Beautiful retitled You Are What You Are (Beautiful). Recalling the dreamy ambience of Zero 7 and The Knife, Christina's vocals are robotic and restrained, but the emotion of the original is still there. Her slightly muffled melisma runs toward the end are gorgeous. I can play this one a dozen times in a row and not get sick of it.
Christina isn't the first nor will she be the last star to hit a few bumps in her professional career. Mariah Carey, anyone? I'm sure she'll come back harder than ever, kickin' butts and takin' names. Lord knows she's come too far to throw in the towel for good. Get 'em, girl!