Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bionic: Christina's Hard Shell vs Soft Side

Christina Aguilera's album Bionic is set to drop soon and she boasts that it shows her using her voice differently, dabbling in futuristic sounds, and showing a different side of herself. She unleashed Not Myself Tonight as a first single but the track has been met with a lukewarm reception.

A standout track on the album is I Am. The song showcases Christina singing well. No shouting, yet no holding back. The song's title reminds me of a certain Fierce woman's Grammy winning album. That's exactly what this album is to me. Though it isn't packaged as a double album, there is a clear line between the softer songs and the songs that are deliberately brash and superficial. Tracks 9-15 may as well be a separate album. And as was the case with Beyoncé's Sasha Fierce LP, these more smooth songs are my favorite. They show Christina's true growth and her most pure and honest vocal deliveries. As is the typical problem with a Christina album, there is a bit too much of everything. She is never one to choose a theme/concept and stick to it.

You Lost Me
[Live on American Idol]

Of course, there are some standout dance tracks as well. Vanity and Glam are delicious pop cuts. Elastic Love grabs the 80s by the horns and the tongue-in-cheek Woohoo with Nicki Minaj has quickly become a fan favorite. However, all of these tracks leave Christina sounding like someone else. The problem is that any girl could sing those songs. Traces of M.I.A., Santigold, Gaga, Madonna, and Britney are all heard in the more uptempo tracks. Also, for some reason, she has always struggled with fans appreciating her sexual side. She kissed Madonna on the same stage as Britney and there was little to no buzz about it.

I don't understand why she doesn't just stick to her guns and record music like You Lost Me, Sex for Breakfast, and Lift Me Up. So what if she isn't the shocking pop princess. Who needs her to be? She should be going for longevity rather than riding trends. She doesn't need Janet/Madonna reinventions to keep us entertained. She has the voice. After all, although we loved Genie in a Bottle, it was really I Turn to You, Reflections, and Beautiful that made people take notice.
In the meantime, we still have a decent album with a variety of sounds and stunning vocals, even if it is a bit schizophrenic.

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