Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera


3.5
great

Review

by Amanda Murray STAFF
February 2nd, 2006 | 41 replies | 9,743 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist


For someone innovative enough to popularise the word dirrty and all of its dissolute connotations, Christina Aguilera is remembered as decidedly bromidic in the pop world. Or maybe I just wanted to use "bromidic" in a review. Throughout her three years of mass popularity, she was constantly playing second-fiddle to former friend and Mickey Mouse Club member Britney Spears. Spears may have had a perceived edge in the early years. Sure, she was more popular, sold more records, concert tickets. She dated pop deity Justin Timberlake, Christina only managed to snag a backup dancer. Spears married a potential rap superstar, Aguilera married a no-name music executive in November, 2005. Spears even starred in a movie. Spears' supposed triumphs aside, she was lacking something. Hard to place a finger on, but by the time Spears sang her first note, something nagged on the music mind. Oh right, talent. Christina had her fair share. She likely had Britney's share, too.

In 1999, teen pop was massively popular. Nsync, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears flooded the airwaves with their bubblegum pop goodness. Did American radio really need another aesthetically pleasing but musically unchallenging artist? Before the question could even be pondered, blonde newcomer songstress Christina Aguilera came blazing up the charts with "Genie in a Bottle". While the song itself was pleasant but unremarkable, it was Aguilera's soaring voice which brought the young artist to the forefront of the pop scene along with the aforementioned acts. Britney Spears was one of the those artists whose videos were watched on mute, whose concerts were attended by earplug-sporting "fans", whose magazine pictures were gazed at for hours on end in teenaged boys' rooms but whose words went ignored. Christina Aguilera was different. Her voice was pleasant, powerful, and it demanded attention. On her debut album, Aguilera takes familiar musical sounds from a trite genre arguably past its due date even in 1999, but delivers them with such an arresting voice that one can't help but listen.

To start with the faults, Aguilera's eponymous debut does have some laughably bad songs. On the pathetic ballad "Blessed", it is difficult to judge whether I'm listening to a parody song by SNL's Gemini's Twin or an actual pop song on an actual pop album by an actual pop artist. It's the only track that could be considered a major misstep that even Aguilera's voice could not bring some semblance of interest to. "Obvious", another lacklustre ballad, features a beautiful soaring Aguilera vocal track but the song itself is bland and not deserving of her effort. The closing track is a Fruity-Loopseque remix of hit ballad "I Turn to You", ridiculously unnecessary and seldom worth listening to.

Like most pop albums, Christina Aguilera features lyrics worthy of a 9th grade poetry assignment on elementary rhyming. It seems to be a common weakness present when the songs and lyrics are written by overweight, balding Swedish men. They seem to have difficulty truly reflecting how the 19-year-old Aguilera feels, and it is a wonder she is able to deliver the vocal melody so convincingly. Christina Aguilera donates no lyrics or musical ideas to the album, an unfortunate practice in late 90s teen pop. The lyrics fortunately surpass the laughably bad level, but they could never be mentioned as a positive aspect of this album.

Weaknesses aside, there are some truly well-made pop songs on the album. Singles (debut single "Genie in a Bottle", middle-of-the-road "What a Girl Wants", ballad "I Turn to You" and up-tempo "Come on Over (All I Want Is You)") are all catchy pop songs worthy of joining the likes of "Bye Bye Bye" or "Oops! I Did it Again" in the annals of pop history. While the songs do feature the cheesy keyboards, chiming percussion and misplaced wah guitar that plague so many songs of the period, they are for the most part well-composed and expertly arranged pop songs that serve their purpose. Without over-emphasising the point, Aguilera is a truly gifted singer who brings these songs, entertaining in their own right, to a new level. She brings personality and effort to even the blandest and least-deserving pieces. Whereas Britney Spears shaded her weak voice with distorters and other various effects, made heavy use of autotune in the studio and perhaps heavier use of uh, not singing in concert, Aguilera and her handlers knew that her voice was her strongest point and as such it was the unequalled focal point of the album. With ballads "I Turn To You" and "Reflection" (also featured on the Mulan soundtrack), the music plays a diminished role and Aguilera's voice is allowed to soar and shine moreso than on any of the other tracks. On the more danceable numbers, the focus remains on melody but the instrumentation provides proficient backing for the vocal line. "Love For All Seasons" and "Love Will Find A Way" are entrancing pop songs which could very well have been popular singles.

Christina Aguilera isn't an album worthy of comparison to Revolver or Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road, but it is an album that is highly representative of the better aspects of the teen pop movement of the late 90s. It should be noted she won a Grammy in 2000 as Best New Artist, an appropriate rewarding of her talent. Aguilera has publicly stated she dislikes the bubblegum pop music on this album and the clean-cut image she was forced to adopt in order to sell it. But is highly superior to Aguilera's "artistically independent" full-length effort Stripped (2002), which featured a hyper-sexual theme, disastrously allowing it to overshadowed her voice and catastrophically allowing her new-found raunchy image to supersede her talent. In 1999 Aguilera was a truly talented singer with unlimited potential. By 2002, she had squandered it all and has yet to recover. But for all of her wasted potential and missteps taken in the name of artistic freedom, at least she isn't married to Kevin Federline. She may have lost the commercial success battle, but for the love of all that is dirrty she won the war.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
On The Edge
February 2nd 2006



27 Comments


Awesome review, nice to see more pop reviews to. Good catchy pop, and I agree, always thought she had one of the better voices in pop.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
February 2nd 2006



1588 Comments


I was always more of a Spears fan myself, Aguilera just came too soon after Spears, and all the kids were still in Spears-mania mode.

After she did her 'shake up' of image, sound, appearance and everything else with Stripped, I totally turned off her musically.

Not a bad review either, not your best but still good.

taylormemer
February 2nd 2006



4913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's kind of funny - I have this on CD.

She's ok, though it's way out of my musical range, but hey I'll listen to it if it's put in front of me.

Great review.

Zebra
Moderator
February 2nd 2006



2647 Comments


Entertaining review. You covered a lot about the album yet kept things relaxed and humorous.
Spears > Aguilera. That's all there is to it.

pulseczar
February 2nd 2006



2385 Comments


great review, I probably would've liked this back in 1999, but I was too obsessed with Eminem. Or whenever his album came out, 1999 and 2000 both seemed like pop-filled camp years =

Iai
Emeritus
February 2nd 2006



3553 Comments


I actually like Stripped.

Not heard this one.

dustyboy316
February 2nd 2006



56 Comments


I love the pic of her with a guitar in Maxim I think it is. Sooo sexy.

morrissey
Moderator
February 2nd 2006



1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I believe that was on Rolling Stone.

Iai - I adore the singles from Stripped, save "Dirrty", which just didn't suit her at all, mostly because it seemed like a no-effort vocal track. But "Fighter" and "Beautiful" were amazing pop songs.

Galapogos - The album you're talking about was probably The Marshall Mather LP which came out in 2000, but yes 99 and 00 were both pop dominated years and Eminem was pretty much the only artist who could really compete.

Thanks to everyone who commented.

Pechorin
February 2nd 2006



160 Comments


Nice review. Entertaining, yet informative. As for Aguilera, I can't say I'm a fan, but it's cool to see more moz reviews.

morrissey
Moderator
February 2nd 2006



1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wait wait I think I get it

I dibs reviewing that album for sputnik so hard by the way

masada
February 2nd 2006



2733 Comments


Moz = :cool:.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2006



15727 Comments


Christina Aguleira? Not my cup of tea. But better than Britney Spears. But why does no one remember that she also made out with Madonna?

Digging: A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent

Pizza
February 2nd 2006



687 Comments


liberi, your avatar owns

Diabulus in musica
February 2nd 2006



485 Comments


she has one of the best voices in pop

Zaine
February 2nd 2006



199 Comments


i havn't heard anything from this album except for the big hits. i must admit that while pop music isn't my favorite genre to listen to, "Genie in a Bottle" was ace. i also find (or rather found) her more attractive than britney back in the day. Now Christina just looks trashy as opposed to cute like i always thought she was, and britney is just nice looking. I'm really glad that people are doing reviews of albums like this. we need more 90's mainstream music (especially the pop genre). Fantastic review and from what i've heard from this album, it appears to be pretty good.

masada
February 2nd 2006



2733 Comments


Christina all the way.

Britney is fat.

Diabulus in musica
February 2nd 2006



485 Comments


yeah but when she made the im a slave 4 u video she was very freakin hot

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2006



15727 Comments


Britney Spears is a fat guy.

And she was a slut in that vid, shes just blown up again.

masada
February 2nd 2006



2733 Comments


Perhaps.

"Come On Over (All I Want is You)" wears the pants on this album.

Diabulus in musica
February 2nd 2006



485 Comments


"britney is a fat guy".....hahahaha that was hilarious.....altough i think she was very hot



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