Xtina Has Risen

Photo Courtesy of RCA

Christina Aguilera has had a rough go of it during the last couple of years. She went through a divorce, the struggles of being a single mom, and failed to give a believable performance in her first movie, “Burlesque.” Her last music release, the 2010 album “Bionic,” flopped so hard it became an Internet meme faster than you can say “bitter diva.”
But that’s not what Christina is this time around. Instead she’s teamed up with some of the prime pop producers to create a remarkable, entertaining, and dynamic record. The album title, “Lotus,” also reflects what she has become in the last year. Her judging on “The Voice” and singing with Maroon 5 on “Moves Like Jagger” have re-launched her into relevancy.
So does the music live up to all the hype? It sure does. From the very beginning, Christina beckons the listener with an ethereal intro track (the title track, “Lotus”) that features lyrics that are empowering (think her most famous track “Beautiful”) without being cheesy. Then the album launches into full pop queen mode with “Army of Me,” “Red Hot Kinda Love,” and “Make The World Move” (featuring Cee-Lo Green). Three songs that are all bursting of confidence, powerhouse vocals, and crisp entertaining production. “Red Hot Kinda Love” is one of my favorites for how unique it is, featuring tricky vocal runs, jazz instruments and a modern beat. It brings back some of Christina’s classic elements that made her an early 2000s icon.
The next two songs, “Your Body” and “Let There Be Love,” take you straight to the dance floor. Both tracks are produced by Max Martin and Shellback. If you are a pop music fan, those names should make you excited because they have produced some of the catchiest Top 40 tunes in the last decade from nearly every artist, including Christina’s unofficial rival, Britney Spears. These two tracks literally attack the listener with sensual synths, insane hooks, and an unparalleled vocal delivery from Xtina. If you are a fan of high-octane dance music, these two tracks will easily become your most played from the album.
Now we’ve made it to the middle of the album where the obligatory ballads sit: “Sing For Me,” “Blank Page,” and “Cease Fire.” Each song is talking about a different topic, and has a different texture. On “Sing For Me,” we see Christina in her most vulnerable as she sings about how she sings. In particular, she sings “Cause when I open my mouth, my whole heart comes out.” It’s a song that any artist can relate to, the vulnerability of singing, of making art for the whole world to judge. “Blank Page” is another tear-jerker, talking about a relationship gone wrong, wanting to start over, and saying sorry. Admittedly, these songs are definitely weird coming from someone as over-confident and vain as Christina. But her voice shows more emotion than the words do, she sings for her life on these raw songs. “Cease Fire” picks up the pace a bit with a steady military march type beat with repeated lyrics about a lover that needs to stop fighting.
Christina wraps up the album with four mid-tempo songs: “Around The World,” “Circles,” “Best of Me,” and “Just A Fool.” Unfortunately, these are the weakest tracks of the record. “Around The World” is catchy enough, but seems rather mundane. She sings about making love all around the world, including clichéd lyrics in French and other languages in an effort to spice the track up. “Circles” is where we see Christina turn the diva notch to full-blast, asking her haters to run around in circles around her middle finger. It’s songs like these that make you want to kick her off her high horse, especially since she just got done being emotional a couple tracks ago. “Best Of Me” is a filler ballad track that brings nothing new to the table. The album ends on a strange note with “Just A Fool” which features fellow “The Voice” judge Blake Shelton. It’s an interesting song, but very misplaced on the album. It would do better as a standalone country single than the ending note on a purely pop record.
All in all, “Lotus” is an entertaining, vibrant, and slightly flawed album with some amazing tracks. I applaud Aguilera for jumping on 2012 trends and working with producers she’s foolishly avoided most of her career. There’s a little bit of everything on this album to pick and choose from: sexy Christina, empowering Christina, divalicious Christina, vulnerable Christina and annoying Christina. All of which we’ve seen before. This album has proven Christina isn’t going anywhere, she’s weathered the storms in her career and personal life just like the unbreakable flower she claims to be, a lotus.
By Joseph Gooding
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Categories: Lifestyle

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