Review Summary: This contrived and commonplace style is sure to have a few people dancing, but beyond that, the album doesn't serve any other leisurely purpose.
I find it ironic that Christina Aguilera complains about her claim to fame, "Genie in a Bottle" but has no visible qualms with releasing the electronic-addled, Bionic
, years later, essentially going back to the roots which she herself has criticized, only this time with a more adult state of mind. Her "electro-sexual" style is much different than that of her debut, but the premise is the same. She's no longer embracing her emotions; she's holding tight to her sex appeal, referencing her anatomy more than anything genuinely driven by pathos. To boot, one of her strongest songs's common staples, insecurity, has been replaced by a tired confidence, which, in the context of her music, is fitting, but still cold and manufactured. Many will combat this claim with Aguilera's maturity; it's evident, and could possibly have affected her emotional and mental stability. However, it doesn't seem that Aguilera's making another happy record. She seems to be making the fame record.
Though Aguilera is obviously a more articulate woman than she was on her debut, she seems to be stuck in neutral, falling back to her innuendo-laden style and loving every second of it. Of course, she's holding her chin up high while she's doing it, which is surely, to her, a reflection of her wisdom and comfort. Her sound's imbued with happiness on Bionic
, and, as her title suggests, she's not wondering where she faltered. She's invincible, hiding in a shiny chrome shell; however, that's just her problem. As Aguilera's career jumps from modern takes on jazz and acoustic ballads to electro-pop, she's returning to her buzzing synths and cold tones in a way that forces her into the narrow confines of her genre, drawing many a comparison to Lady Gaga, but without the charisma or the memorability. Tracks like "Not Myself Tonight" show this comparison at its fullest. Everything from the oversexed, overtly modern feel to the slew of almost-memorable theatrics are just pale imitations of Gaga - just less fun, catchy, and original. "Prima Donna" also has Aguilera trademarking her run-of-the-mill club-friendly pop sound. Unfortunately, her voice doesn't carry many songs to new heights; it just sits there without life or spirit. Sure, she might occasionally slip into a belt or two, but ninety percent of the time her voice is just another component of Aguilera's sound. Meanwhile, the same-old-same-old pop themes get touched by a very mainstream and equally collaborative force.
has Aguilera team up with many hit artists, such as the newest-thing
Nicki Minaj, to boost her appeal, and occasionally experiment with the basis of her sound. To put it simply: when she fails, she fails miserably, becoming an uninspired hype-woman above standard club beats. That's mostly because, at this point, she's concerned with her reception, not her sound. But even when she puts some sort of innovation into it, half the time she sounds gimmicky, and the other half of the time it comes too little, too late. Sure, she's never really done the four-on-the-floor beats before, but neither has she been so insipid, boring, or idiotic. It's strange that over a decade after her debut's release, she's just become less intelligent with her lyrical base, talking about nothing more than her sexual fantasies. Similarly, she traffics only in the ridiculously cliché electronic pop style. However it's all just so expected and forgettable that Bionic
becomes nothing more than a contrived and hackneyed pop album. But that itself is just a mediocre product that's completely inoffensive and easy to forget. What plunges Bionic
past the pit of mediocrity and into a realm of no return is the fact that it doesn't feel like Aguilera whatsoever. She's trying to say something using someone else's vocal cords, hardly trying to masquerade the affects of the façade, and coming up short for it. It's quite a shame, too, because it makes Bionic
look only more shallow, shiny, and cold than it already had. This contrived and commonplace style is sure to have a few people dancing, but beyond that, the album doesn't serve any other leisurely purpose.