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Aguilera Aims For Edgy, But Richer, Sound
By Lola Ogunnaike
The New York Times
NEW YORK - Christina Aguilera would like to make one thing painfully clear: A happy marriage hasn't made her all sappy.
"Just because I have this newfound love in my life, that doesn't mean I'm going to play it any softer, or that I'm going to change my point of view on sexuality," said this platinum blond pop singer, known for her stellar voice, saucy attitude and penchant for chaps.
"I still got the nasty in me."
That may be true, but Aguilera, 25, has changed quite a bit since we last saw her. She's traded the ratty, multicolored hair extensions of yesteryear for a 1930s coif, the skanky miniskirts and leather S&M ensembles for an old- Hollywood look and the drag-queen makeup for a more understated glamour.
Her music has changed as well. Due out Aug. 15, the album "Back to Basics," her first in four years, features more than a handful of love songs, including the first single, "Ain't No Other Man," a rousing, horn-driven ode to her husband of nearly a year, Jordan Bratman.
"Before I met Jordan I used to think that love songs were so corny, and I never really wanted to go there," she said. "But now I'm in a happier space."
For "Basics" (RCA), a double disc of 23 songs, Aguilera brought together the disparate talents of the rock songwriter and producer Linda Perry and DJ Premier, a producer best known for his work with rappers like Jay-Z and Nas. In addition to celebrating her new romance, Aguilera pays homage to the music that inspired her: jazz and blues from the 1920s, '30s and '40s, and soul. While recording the album, she said, she listened to Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, Billie Holiday and Etta James, among others. They are the origin of her new look, too.
"For me the visual is just as important as the music," she said. "I would never record without my red lipstick. It was my way of getting into character, sort of like Method singing."
Over dinner at a Japanese restaurant in New York, Aguilera recalled the days when she didn't have this much artistic freedom. She burst onto the music scene in 1999, during the teen music boom that produced boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, and her label morphed her into a pop princess, singing tunes like "Genie in a Bottle."
"I was very pushed to look a certain way and act a certain way, and it wasn't me," she said, "but I played by their rules to get my foot in the door." It worked: Her album "Christina Aguilera" hit No.1 on the Billboard charts and sold more than eight million copies. In 2000 Aguilera, whose father is Ecuadorian, followed with "Mi Reflejo," a Spanish-language album, as well as a Christmas album, both of which sold well.
Though she was widely considered the more talented artist, she was immediately dogged by comparisons to Britney Spears. Both were blonde and perky, and both began their careers performing together on "The New Mickey Mouse Club," a cavity-inducing show on the Disney Channel.
She beat out Spears for the best new artist Grammy in 2000, but Spears, with her teasingly virginal persona and revealing Catholic schoolgirl costumes, was the bigger star.
Desperate to liberate herself from her squeaky-clean pop persona, Aguilera began acting out. She got tattoos and piercings - nine in total - started calling herself Xtina, and discussed how she broke dishes to relieve stress. Her hemlines rose, her necklines plunged, and her lyrics grew racier. "Dirrty," the first single from the 2002 album "Stripped," successfully torpedoed her girl-next-door image.
Aguilera admitted: "I came with a lot of angst, aggression and attitude on 'Stripped.' All that stuff that I'd pent up and repressed while making the first album just came out."
And, as she said at another moment, "I had a lot of walls up, a lot of defenses that came from being young and also being female in this business."
But some of her defenses predate her career.
Whether discussing the subject or writing about it, Aguilera has always been open about the domestic violence she and her mother endured at the hands of her father. On "I'm OK," from "Stripped," she sings: Hurt me to see my mother's face/ Every time my father's fist would/ put her in her place/ Hearing all the yelling/ I would cry up in my room/ Hoping it would be over soon
She sings about it again on "Basics." "Oh Mother" praises her mother for escaping her father, and "The Right Man" is about moving beyond a painful childhood by looking toward a future with Mr. Right.
Singing about physical abuse, she said, is therapeutic. "Growing up with the childhood that I had, I learned to never let a man make me feel helpless," she explained, "and it also embedded a deep need in me to always stick up for women."
She says that she has grown up - and "healed a lot" - since those days. (Making the new album, Perry said, "we only had one fight.")
Aguilera said, "My husband broke down so many walls." She beams when discussing the man she calls her "best friend and backbone," and the family they hope to start in a few years. "It took a bit of time, but he did it."
After dating for more than three years, the two were married last November in a lavish ceremony in Napa Valley, California. "I was never one of those girls that dreamt about her wedding day," Aguilera said. "I was always so focused on my career, and boys were second." But her partner's patience won her over.
"I've never really had a heartfelt relationship with a man besides my husband," she later added. It was a realization that came to her as she considered who would walk her down the aisle. She chose to walk solo. And to not invite her father.
But no longer having to do so, at least not alone, clearly means a great deal to her. "It takes a strong man to be by my side and deal with this lifestyle," she said. "And it takes a very strong man to give me the freedom to do what I need to do artistically, and he's that."
Making a double CD was a risk, Aguilera acknowledged. "I did kind of shoot myself in the foot, because it costs more to put out a double album, and the label isn't always so happy about that, and statistically they don't sell as well," she said. "But I think it's important to be fearless whenever you're doing something for your art."
But Clive Davis, head of RCA Records, said his label had no misgivings. "She has turned into one of today's most cutting-edge artists," he said. "She brings a whole fresh look to Top 40 and expands the horizon of what a pop artist can do. Everything from the video to the performance is coming from her, and she deserves full credit."
As Spears, a proud hillbilly and soon- to-be mother of two, attempts to clean up her image and quash speculation that her marriage is on the rocks, it's her former rival, Aguilera, who has found the road to respectability. And the once-dirty singer is convinced that it is she who will have the last laugh.
"Just like I knew I was going to be far more than that genie in a bottle, I knew I wasn't going to be that girl in the chaps forever," she said. "I'm in it for the long run."
Aguilera On Top Form
By Tom Dooley
DOOLEY ON THE TILES: Dooley has always had a soft spot for Christina Aguilera. As far back as her debut single Genie In A Bottle, she has possessed the believability factor which is so lacking in many of todays artists, and with her nine million selling Stripped album of 2002, she proved she could really sing too.
Last night, Dooley was privy to an exclusive preview of songs from her anticipated follow up, Back To Basics, a double album split between tracks co-written and co-produced by DJ Premier and Linda Perry, and Dooley for one, was... ummm, lets see.... well, to call this a strong album is an understatement. In Back To Basics Aguilera just may have delivered the pop album of 2006.
Aguilera was in London to talk the interested among us through the album which was played back at refurbished jazz venue Ronnie Scotts. She highlighted her influences (Billie Holiday, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, etc) for the album which is best described as a modern take on jazz, soul and blues, all done with an unshakable contemporary pop sensibility which proves utterly irresistable.
What stands out about this album is that it works as just that. This is not a few hits with fillers thrown in to fill a CD, this is an 'album' that you will listen to in its entireity then want to play again. When was the last time you could do that with a chart album?!
Source: Music Week Blog
Aguilera Smells And Plays New Album
Christina Aguilera's nose doesn't work. If it did it would surely have recognised the importance of calling it a day after just the nine squirts of Chanel No 5, or whatever particular brand of stink it is that she uses, rather than pouring the entire bottle over herself.
At the media launch of Aguilera's new double album, Back To Basics, you could smell Christina before you saw her, which was lucky as there wasn't a lot to see. She's tiny. Big heels, white calf-length jeans, tank top, white vest, Fifties blonde ‘do', lots of lipstick: hot. But my God she stunk like a 12-year-old girl's bedroom on school-disco night. Why do women do that? It was a perfectly pleasant smell, you understand, but unnecessarily pungent – you could practically see the fog of eau de parfum that surrounded her, like mosquitoes at twilight, through the spotlights on stage.
Anyway, once she'd said her bit, which mostly consisted of giving us a "heads up" – nasty American phrase – about how she's put her "heart and soul" into making this record, the first thing to report is that, from the 11 or so tracks I heard, the album's actually really good. It's split in two, with the first disc the work of DJ Premier, the producing half of legendary NY hip-hop duo Gang Starr.
It all sounds a lot like the excellent first single, Ain't No Other Man (which he produced, out July 24), but judging from the snippets they played of each disc it's not necessarily the best track. Which is a good thing. The first CD is essentially a hip-hop record, with plenty of Prem's usual beats and scratching, some nice samples and Aguilera on top. It's the sort of thing that worked on Dirrty from 2002's Stripped album, and it works on this.
Disc two is produced by Linda Perry and, perhaps surprisingly considering her role of songwriter du jour to a host of female ‘empower me please' singers, is cracking. More swing than her stuff with Pink, more funk that anything she did with Sheryl Crow, it's her take on prohibition-era America, a burlesque carnival of sauce and seduction. The track Nasty Naughty Boy is classic Aguilera – a proper striptease, tailor-made for a suitably grubby video, all pantyhose, push-up bras, feathers and big pots of tar, and chocolate eclairs.
What was played of the second disc was genuinely interesting, different and almost entirely worth hearing (although no doubt there'll be a couple of ballads that they kept hidden from us). It was also significantly sexier than anything Perry's ever been involved with before, though that's probably a fair bit to do with the fact that Aguilera is clearly a dirty cow and Sheryl Crow clearly isn't. Look at the picture above – anyone who wears heels like this is A-OK in our world.
And that was that. Aguilera tottered back on stage, collected a bedraggled-looking bunch of flowers, did a couple of cute curtsies, and tottered off, leaving nothing but the lingering smell of something expensive wafting under the spotlights, like a new breed of sexy mosquitoes.
Source: Arena Magazine UK
Last Teen Queen Standing
In Defense of Christina Aguilera
By Kurt B. Reighley
Special to MSN Music
Christina Aguilera is a bona fide musician.
OK. Take a deep breath. That probably wasn't an easy sentence to read. It hurt to type it. But it's true. Her days as a "teen pop sensation" are long over. She turns 26 this year. She has built a credible pop catalog, one that has shown growth and a willingness to take risks. She has not dallied with TV shows, or children's books or pug rescue charities. Who among her contemporaries can say the same?
Britney Spears? No. Britney's last two albums were a padded Greatest Hits and the desperate stopgap measure "B in the Mix: The Remixes." Musically, she hasn't made a ripple since "Toxic" in 2004. Learning to juggle babies, figuring out which flavor of Moon Pie tastes best deep-fried and making sure your husband doesn't blow your entire fortune on his own questionable recording career are all worthy pastimes, but Britney would have to mount a one-woman production of Wagner's Ring Cycle to accrue anything close to credibility at this point.
Jessica Simpson? Let's see. In between her reality TV show -- which, one might note, resuscitated her waning public image, slight as it was -- her fragrance, her line of knock-off designer shoes, the Pizza Hut commercials and fine films such as "The Dukes of Hazzard" -- she makes records. Usually of other people's songs: Robbie Williams ("Angels"), Berlin ("Take My Breath Away"), Nancy Sinatra ("These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"). Just wait until you hear her forthcoming cover of Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)." That's not a joke.
Jessica's new single, the title track from her Aug. 29 release "A Public Affair," continues this desperate recycling. Technically, "A Public Affair" is an original song ... written by eight people, two of whom are R&B vets Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. And what does it sound like? Madonna's "Holiday." It took eight people and the bridge from "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" to knock out a cheap imitation of a Madonna classic? Sheesh.
Plus, the flimsy lyrics continue the embarrassing trend of pop stars airing their personal grievances publicly (see also: Lindsay Lohan's "Rumors," Nick Lachey's "What's Left of Me"). Boring. To quote Detroit critic Jimmy Draper, "I'm tired of feeling like I have to subscribe to US Weekly just to understand what these people are singing about."
And then there's Christina. When she emerged in the late '90s, Aguilera seemed like just another Mouseketeer made good. She had to bite and scratch to carve out her own place in a market glutted with pretty teenagers who could carry a tune ... or at least lip-sync well. Besides Jessica, Britney and Mandy Moore, we got imports from Sweden (Robyn), England (Billie Piper) and Ireland (Samantha Mumba). Hell, even Don Ho's daughter, Hoku, got into the game. (Her sole hit, "Another Dumb Blonde," was better than 90 percent of the challengers; bless you, Radio Disney.) As one fell away -- or went off to a state college -- another would rise in her place, like some beast from Greek mythology. Goodbye Willa Ford, hello Hilary Duff.
Like her or hate her, Aguilera has just gone from strength to strength. In the world of entertainment, there's good and there's dull, and Christina is rarely dull. She quickly graduated from "What a Girl Wants" to talking about her genital piercing. Even when she seemed to spiral out of control, there were signs of life, and -- oh this is hard -- integrity. Patti LaBelle is an unstoppable force of nature, yet an entire generation of listeners will never associate "Lady Marmalade" with LaBelle because of Aguilera and company's overhaul of that classic for "Moulin Rouge." She cut a whole album aimed at the Latin market. She recorded a very credible duet with jazz great Herbie Hancock -- who does not have to work with people below his métier. Hell, she even won the Grammy for Best New Artist and survived. Somewhere, the Starland Vocal Band is very jealous.
Admittedly, Christina isn't the only teen pop queen to forge ahead. Pink has done well for herself, roping in the Indigo Girls to play on her recent album, shooting the hilarious "Stupid Girls" video and verbally berating President Bush at every opportunity. But while the current role model for young women seems to skew closer to the tough, Avril Lavigne-type, don't overlook that Kelly Clarkson's big emancipation number, "Since U Been Gone," was produced by Max Martin, the same Swedish mastermind responsible for key hits by Spears, *NSync and Backstreet Boys.
After years of paying lip service to Etta James, Aguilera truly flexes her R&B chops on her recent hit, "Ain't No Other Man" (listen to the single). Yes, she still does that ridiculous, operatic wail of melisma that most post-Whitney/Mariah disciples do to mark their territory, but the song is solid; it integrates a pair of esoteric funk samples, but it doesn't bite anyone else's style. Frankly, it's not hard to image James -- or a '60s soul sister such as Laura Lee ("Women's Love Rights") -- singing these exact same sentiments, about how bad-ass her lover-man is, and how she'll fight to keep competitors at bay.
Christina's new album, "Back to Basics," is a double-CD, one disc featuring hip-hop producers (specifically DJ Premier of Gang Starr), the other with all live instrumentation. She has said in interviews the set taps heavily into her love of sounds and images from the 1920s, '30s and '40s. While making the record, she papered her walls with pictures of Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday and Pearl Bailey. Will Jessica or Britney ever be able to whip up anything comparable? Doubtful. Hell, between the pair, if you asked them to identify Pearl Bailey, they'd probably guess it was a type of tapioca pudding. Which makes sense. Those girls know all about being round, creamy, sweet and bland. But Christina? Now there's a W-O-M-A-N with flavor.
View "The Many Faces of Christina Aguilera" photo gallery
Aguilera Hits London
Christina Aguilera played an exclusive, invite-only gig at KOKO in London July 20.
The pop princess aired material from her upcoming new album "Back To Basics" at the gig, during a short, seven track set, to a rapturous reception.
Amongst the new songs played were new single "Ain't No Other Man", plus old favourites "Beautiful" and "Lady Marmalade".
The setlist, according to the NME, was as follows:
"Ain't No Other Man"
"Slow Down Baby"
Source: Yahoo! Music
Aguilera Rocks London
Jul 21st 2006 by TMZ Staff
Christina was looking hot as she got ready for an exclusive gig at London's Koko club, sharing her Marilyn Monroe imitation with the Brits.
Aguilera was across the pond to promote her upcoming CD, Back to Basics, which definitely mirrors her new pin-up look.
"With each record I like to change a challenge myself and evolve in to a new thing," she said, "a different sound and a different look ... Specifically getting visual influences from the 20's, 30's and 40's to go along with sound and look and feel so it's a lot of fun."
The singer opened the show with her first single from the album, "Ain't No Other Man" and played a 40 minute set to a packed crowd. Her album comes out August 15th.
Click HERE to see footage from the show
First Night: Christina Aguilera, Koko, London
Gone in thirty minutes, but still a masterclass from this true pop diva
By James McNair
Only a fool would bet against Christina Aguilera's successful return. If last month's cover shoot for American GQ and lucrative deals with Sony Ericsson/Orange mobile phones were the prep work for her latest campaign, her still-sublime, four-octave voice, and sassy, hook-laden new single "Ain't No Other Man" should take care of the rest.
We're told the 25-year-old's new double album is partly "a throwback to Twenties, Thirties and Forties-style jazz and blues", but it's not quite adieu to "Xtina", the leather chaps-wearing minx who built up such a head of steam on 2002's Stripped. While Back To Basics pays musical homage to the likes of Etta James and Aguilera's current platinum blonde look is pure 40s Hollywood glamour á la Marilyn Monroe, tracks such as "Still Dirrty" are hardly coy. You suspect that, were Aguilera to let her skirt balloon-up over an air-vent, she'd probably have nothing on underneath.
In person she's a charismatic, if unshakeably diminutive character, her gold high heels taking her to about 5ft 3in. Most of this is legs though - something you can't help but notice given Aguilera's tight - fitting black shorts. Joined by an ace cast that includes a horn-section and a troupe of sassy dancers, she opens with the single, and then dedicates "Understand", the powerful, waltz-time ballad, "to a certain man in my life who I love very much". This is music executive Jordan Bratman, her husband since November 2005.
Things get a whole lot sexier on "Candy Man", another new track somewhat reminiscent of Madonna's "Hanky-Panky", but with tight, 1940s-style vocal harmonies. Aguilera has now donned a white and navy-blue sailor's hat and set it at a jaunty angle, and she signals the song's end with an animated, almost vaudevillian wink.
In some ways, it is more like watching a video-shoot than a gig, but hey, vive la difference. There is a lot to be said for glamour, meticulous burlesque-style choreography and a set that doesn't look like it was designed on the back of a fag packet. Like the premature veteran she is (our host had nailed every riff and note of Mariah Carey's "Vision Of Love" by the age of 10, remember) Aguilera owns her stage, her every bump and grind cognisant of eyes that scrutinise her as closely as any camera. When she lets loose on her 2001 hit "Lady Marmalade", moreover, you are reminded she, rather than her collaborators Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink, was the vocal dynamo of the record.
"Oh Mother", Aguilera tells us, is about her own mother. "She got us out of a domestic violence situation at home," adds the singer, whose parents divorced when she was seven. "I've only sung this song a couple of times, and whenever I do, I have to stop myself from crying." With "Beautiful" and "Slow Down Baby" concluding matters, Aguilera's set is finished in 30 minutes, but less is undoubtedly more. She went for the easy emotional score at times, but with its vocal athleticism and super-slick delivery, this was a pop diva master class.
Source: The Independent
Guardian Review: Koko, London Showcase
Saturday July 22, 2006
Making an entrance worthy of Kylie, Christina Aguilera looks stunning. Having reined in her penchant for leather and cleavage and adopted a look inspired by wartime pin-ups, the artist formerly known as Dirrty is now properly glamorous. The stage is a-swirl with dancers in jazz-era fringed skirts and fedoras, but even with her back to the crowd and arms aloft, she outshines the lot. Her new stylishness - hair coyly dipping over one eye; retro black and silver shorts - plays its part, but it's her recalibrated attitude that makes the difference.
It seems that Aguilera, who's here for a half-hour set to unveil her new double album, Back to Basics, has decided that her unassailable talent should be complemented by a fresh approach. Out, for the most part, go aimless R&B numbers and their brassiness. In come songs with a swinging 1940s aesthetic and a cheeky, burlesque-inflected charm.
Impressions are sketchy in such a brief set, but her record label must be relieved to know that she hasn't entirely abandoned the sexed-up funk that sold all those records. She should have vetoed the sub-Beyoncé item that opened the show, though. It's mainly distinguished by yelps of such volume that she holds the mic a foot away from her mouth to avoid melting down the amplifiers. But the song is easily ignored, and plenty of people do, concentrating on sneaking photos instead. Candyman, an Andrews Sisters pastiche with three-part harmonies and a naughty lyric, shows what she's capable of vocally, while a slow-burning cover of Lady Marmalade further heightens the feeling of being in an unusually large and humid New York jazz club circa 1950. Beautiful, her last UK No 1, was a stylishly restrained version of itself, after which Aguilera shimmied off stage, all vestiges of her overripe "Xtina" phase wiped from the house's collective memory.
Why I Love Dirrty Girls
Exclusive Christina tells Russell her saucy secrets
By Eva Simpson & Caroline Hedley
So what happened when the world's Dirrtiest singer met sex addict Russell Brand. Yep, you guessed it... the conversation soon turned filthy.
The 25-year-old pop star couldn't wait to spill her saucy secrets when she was grilled on Russell's MTV show, 1 Leicester Square, in London.
Much to randy Russ's delight, Christina confessed to preferring the female form to a man's physique.
But that will be little consolation to her poor husband of a mere eight months, 28-year-old music executive Jordan Bratman.
"The female form is much more erotic than the male, who doesn't think that?" purred Christina, who has already famously snogged Madonna and Britney Spears.
Then the conversation switched to X-rated Xtina's intimate body piercings - as it does when 31-year-old Russell is asking the questions.
The ladies' man - who has bedded supermodel Kate Moss and was branded a "vile predator" by Dannii Minogue - asked about her infamous nipple ring and another piercing that's in a slightly more private region. Ouch!
Christina hinted that she has removed these, er, adornments and declared: "This is my new image now. That was in my past. I am an artist who's forever changing."
If poor Russell looked somewhat deflated at that reply, his chin really hit the floor when Mrs Bratman announced that she is considering quitting music to stay at home and raise a family. She told him: "I'm going to do one more album and then consider settling down and having kids."
Fortunately, it takes more than a few saucy questions to phase Christina, whose new single, Ain't No Other Man, is out next Monday.
She went on to play a storming gig in Camden's Koko nightclub, which showcased songs from her new double album Back To Basics.
She may be small in stature but the American sexpot proved that her voice is larger than life.
She opened with her new single, the upbeat and funky Ain't No Other Man, followed by the mellower Understand - a beautiful ballad about heartache.
And on Candy Man, the pop poppet revealed a newfound love of 20s jazz and blues.
Never one to let her fans down, she also belted out Lady Marmalade - she recorded a version of the classic track with Pink, Missy Elliott and Mya in 2001.
Then she slowed things down with a soulful rendition of her No.1 single Beautiful, before leaving the crowd wanting more with the haunting track Slow Down Baby.
All that and not a hint of naughtiness between songs. Call yourself Dirrty...
Source: Daily Mirror
Christina: She Is Brilliant
Christina Aguilera's new album reveals the little girl with the big voice is better than ever.
The petite American jetted into the UK to showcase songs from double CD Back To Basics at a London jazz club.
She's been brave and chosen to follow her heart by recording an album of jazz and blues-influenced tracks which show off her sensational voice.
There are a few Lady Marmalade-style numbers which will keep the fans happy — and no doubt be released as singles.
Stand-out songs for me include a huge power-ballad called Hurt, plus Nasty Naughty Boy and the first single from the album, Ain't No Other Man, which is out now.
Christina has nothing to prove after selling 25 million albums worldwide but when I met her at Ronnie Scott's this week, it was clear she was eager for approval.
She said: "I hope you all like it. This album has been my life for the past 18 months."
The CD is due out [in the UK] on August 14.
Christina Aguilera Comes Of Age
With a retro look and a retro album, Christina Aguilera—seriously—has grown up. The 'Dirrty' girl comes clean.
By Lorraine Ali
July 31, 2006 issue - Christina Aguilera shows up for dinner at an L.A. restaurant looking like Jean Harlow. Her platinum-blond hair is curled just so, her lipstick a perfect shade of retro red; her eyelashes are so long they cast shadows on the wall. The 5-foot-2 bombshell turns heads among the clientele: some recognize her, some just assume that anyone who looks like this must be famous. Aguilera, 25, seems cool and composed. Then she orders a banana split for dinner. "Wanna share?" she asks. When it arrives, it's so big she finds it "a turnoff"; she talks about "pushing artistic boundaries" and "thinking outside the box" while stirring the melting ice cream. At one point, she pulls one of her own shimmering hairs out of the dish. "Ew." She scrunches her face. "I mean, like, ew! Now it's even more gross."
Aguilera has been a Mouseketeer in starlet's clothing, a bubblegum pop star in S&M gear ... and so on. She's changed her look as often as other girls change handbags, and with each new image comes a new sound. This Harlow glam fits her new double CD, "Back to Basics," a set of new songs that pay tribute to vintage blues and jazz. It's a risky move for a pop star, but Aguilera's taken chances before. If any of her peers had tried to pull off the deliberately ugly makeover on the cover of her last record, "Stripped" (ratted black hair, dirty fingernails), they'd now be doing infomercials. But unlike Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson, Aguilera can really sing. "She has one of the best voices out there," says Linda Perry (who's worked with Pink, Gwen Stefani), who wrote the songs with Aguilera and produced disc two. "Her competition is no longer Britney. She's on another level, one where she can compete with those great old voices from the past."
On "Back to Basics" Aguilera takes her cues from Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James, who's now a friend of hers. Her take on the blues is not as sacrilegious as you'd think. The first disc, produced by DJ Premier (D'Angelo, Mos Def), mixes hip-hop beats and vintage samples while the second uses all live instruments; together they add up to a unique take on swing and speak-easy blues. Aguilera's vocal range is still awe-inspiring, but there's more to her performance than acrobatics. You can feel these songs. When Aguilera's sexy, she's supersexy; when she's down, she's all the way down, and when she's rowdy, she blows the roof off the joint.
"At a really early age I connected with old soul and blues," Aguilera says. "My grandma used to take me to little record stores around Pittsburgh and buy me old records. I was 6, and I'd sing the songs at block parties. My grandma would get a kick out of hearing me do material that was far beyond my years. I was known around the neighborhood as the little girl with the big voice, and I always liked that contrast." But Aguilera had deeper reasons for gravitating toward the blues: a truly painful childhood. "There's a lot of pain and angst in those songs," she explains. "They spoke to my life before I moved in with my grandma—my father, all the abuse I endured." On one track, "Oh Mother," Aguilera sings about that period directly. "On that song, I thank my mom for leaving him, for getting us out of that situation because it was life-threatening." Aguilera, who got married last November, still avoids contact with her father. "He tries to send letters every once in a while, but I have amazing people around me now and I'm happy, so I don't really long for that relationship. I just don't see the need."
At 12, Aguilera managed to put on a happy face—and plastic ears—when she became a Mouseketeer and shared the stage with Spears, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez. Her media training from that period seems to have stuck with her: when she's at a loss for words during interviews, she'll fall back on such phrases as "staying true to your heart" and "believing in yourself." Aguilera still has contact with her old Disney clan. "Justin's always been a friend," she says. "I know if I ever needed to call him for anything, I could. Britney and I, we've sent each other wedding gifts." So she and Spears didn't hate each other? Aguilera rolls her eyes. "We were like best friends, but the media saw a navel and blond hair and had to create some drama."
The media's never quite gotten Aguilera. Her self-titled solo debut, in 1999, was dismissed as bubblegum—it sold more than 8 million copies—and Aguilera, then 18, wasn't feeling the music either. "Trust me, I thought that record was fluffy too," she says now. "It was made for that pop time when there was no real substance behind the music." Her first taste of critical respect came with her powerhouse remake of Patti LaBelle's 1976 classic "Lady Marmalade" on the 2001 "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack. But that was soon upstaged by the controversy surrounding Aguilera's sophomore record, "Stripped" (2002), a down and dirty reaction to what Aguilera perceived as her unshakable clean-teen image. She posed topless on the album cover and her "Dirrty" video looked like a black-market adult film. Dressed in leather chaps, red undies and a bikini top, she writhed around in a skeezy boxing ring surrounded by signs that read, in Thai, YOUNG UNDERAGE GIRLS. "Skank" was one of the milder epithets aimed at her. Aguilera admits the image initially detracted from the music, but she has no regrets. "I was proud of myself for having the balls to do it. And you know what I love about that record? Everybody had an opinion. If you liked it, you wanted to root for me—'Look, she's empowered.' If not, well, you'd stick all those labels on me."
Call Aguilera what you want, but there's no denying she's a great talent. And the newfound sophistication of "Back to Basics" should turn some scoffers into believers. "The sexuality coming forward on this record is more softened," she says. "It's more pinup, tongue-in-cheek. It's playful. People take sex far too seriously." If people haven't taken Aguilera seriously enough up till now, you just watch. And listen.
Aguilera Goes Old School On 'Back To Basics'
Singer Channels A Bygone Era On Double-Disc Set
By Melinda Newman
Christina Aguilera goes "Back to Basics" with her first album in nearly four years. Out Aug. 15, the two-disc RCA set was inspired by her love of music and imagery from the 1920s, '30s and '40s. Irresistible first single, "Ain't No Other Man," appears on the first disc, produced largely by DJ Premier, which combines traditional musical styles with hip-hop, samples and modern day arrangements.
The second disc reunites Aguilera with producer/songwriter Linda Perry ("Beautiful") and features all live instrumentation. In this expanded version of an interview that appears in the July 29 issue of Billboard, Aguilera speaks extensively about the new project and her life since marrying music executive Jordan Bratman last November.
In February, you called your label team together and told them your vision for this album. What was that vision?
My vision for this record was to go back to old blues, jazz and soul music, the music that I love and am inspired by wholeheartedly, [and] combine [that] with the visuals of some of the best era, I think, with the throwback to old Hollywood glam-that kind of retro, pin-up style of sexuality. You know, I thought the '20s, '30s and '40s were such interesting elements to combine with the feel, look and sound, so it was just very exciting and I wanted the entire label to get on the same page with me and be in for this crazy ride that I wanted to go on with the record.
How did you pick the producers?
Whenever I first got this vision, I set out for the producers first. I compiled a two-disc CD, a compilation of 30 or more soul-inspired songs that are throwbacks [up] to more current day, modern, with a twist, of all the kind of songs that have influenced me in some level in a soul, blues and jazz-driven way.
I sent it out to producers that I thought might be able to get into this headspace with me because I didn't want another old sample that's totally recognizable and let's throw a beat over it -- I wanted to get obscure pieces of music and get people who would really, really use their imaginations in reinventing the wheel. I didn't want any covers. I didn't want to do anything that would remotely sound recognizable.
That's where DJ Premier came along. He was one of the people that I reached out to. After I'd given Linda these CDs, she really was the one that really, really listened to what I was trying to say. We just went from scratch, from ground up. There's no beat machines, no samples whatsoever. We just really went in there and recreated ourselves to get this old throwback sound. I'm most proud of things like "I've Got Trouble," where we really used old vintage microphones [and] covered them up with old ratty cloths to get that muffled old crackly sound.
We started seeing photos of you close to a year and a half ago, where you already seemed to be in this image: platinum hair, red lipstick. Were you preparing for the studio?
You're absolutely right. It definitely was a preparation for me, because... I take this seriously, I really do. Everytime I went to record a song or what not, [I wanted] to really get into the mode and character of what these songs were conveying: the poppy, pin-up imagery sometimes or the burlesque place that we're taking a song like "Naughty Boy," to that Mae West place. I wanted to put on my red lipstick and do up my blonde hair sometimes, just to get into that saucy mode or that old Hollywood glam kind of effect.
I would surround myself also with old imagery of your Billie Holidays, and your Pearl Baileys and people like that. I would have these tearsheets and pictures of even Louis Armstrong and Coltrane and Miles Davis and all these amazing jazz musicians. I just wanted to get into the heart and soul of the music, literally, and I guess the best way to describe it, what actors call method acting, it was kind of like my way of method singing in a way.
The album is very ambitious. There is the sense that you were holding nothing back.
I totally went to bat every single day, I put my whole heart into it. I really opened myself up a lot and I appreciate and admire artists who are ambitious and are able to really take chances and think outside of their own comfort zone. I think the only time we really pave the way for future music and to encourage future artists to be their own individual selves and to express themselves to their fullest capacity is to encourage them to think outside of that safety box. And, yeah, it can feel naked sometimes, but I think it's for the good of music sometimes and for the good of being an artist, period.
Do you sing any songs from start to finish when you record, like the artists you're paying tribute to did?
We definitely tried some of that on this new record. I have to say, and I shoot myself in the foot with it sometimes to the point where I'm pulling out my own hair myself, but I'm an extreme perfectionist, so I do like to go and pick up tiny things here and there. But for the most part of it, on Linda's portion of the album, those were one-take songs where we took it all the way through and no matter what little crack or imperfection might come up, Linda has taught me the beauty in certain imperfections.
"The Right Man" is stream-of-consciousness song about your wedding day.
It's a beautiful thing when you find the right person, "The Right Man" was inspired by, my God, I never really had this father figure, which never bothered me. I was like, whatever, it's cool. I had my mom, I had people that did love me and care for me, but then it becomes your wedding day.
I was never like the kind of girl that was like, oh, I'm going to wear this dress, have this cake. I was very focused on my career from a very young age. I knew that I wanted to be a singer [and a] recording artist. And when the time came and everybody asked me who's going to walk you down the aisle, you know, I started off really cool, calm and collected, I was like, oh, I'm a performer, I can totally walk myself down the aisle. But when the time came, I started writing the song because all these emotions started coming up of, wow, it would be really nice have that male protector in your life, to have that one person give you away to the next man that's going to take care of you. I never really had that strong male presence to ever shelter me and I never really felt a need for that until this day.
"Oh Mother" is also a very powerful song on which you praise your mother for being so strong in the face and aftermath of your father's abuse. What was your mom's reaction to that?
What's interesting is I haven't really been able to play it for her yet [laughs]. She lives in Pittsburgh. On the last record I touched on the abuse for a moment and she cried and thought it was beautiful and it really touched her a lot. She gets that I'm an artist and that I do need to speak about these things, but "Oh Mother" is really paying tribute to how strong she was. It's got a more positive message than "I'm OK" [from the 2002 album "Stripped"], which was more therapeutic for me to get out there. I think it's important for me to speak out about domestic violence because it's still such a hush-hush subject, and it goes on in the privacy of your home and I think it needs to be brought up as much as possible.
On "Thank You," you feature messages to you from fans about how your music has helped them. How did that come about?
I ran a contest on my Web site. I told them was it was for. I said, look, I want to do a song dedicated to my fans and I'd like you guys to be a part of it. If you can share with me some stories of how my music has touched your life or how it's affected your life, you may hear your voice or your message on my next album. They all signed a release so they were all cool [laughs], making sure we took care of business first.
As you get more and more famous, is it harder to keep that connection with your fans?
It's definitely hard for me sometimes to respond to many of the fan letters as I want to or partake sometimes with more success and what not. Thank God for it, but your schedule is jam-packed and you become exhausted and especially I realize that I don't have the same stamina I had when I was 17.
Exactly. I look at people like Madonna. I saw her last tour. I go to check out her visuals, and I'm thinking, Wow. I'm looking at this woman, she's got two kids at home, she's still able to do it. She's got the stamina to be on that stage, she looks amazing and it's just really inspiring. And so I look at that and go, Wow, I'm 25. What am I complaining about? I better get off my butt. The world touring schedule is crazy. You're in a new country every day. It becomes crazy, but thank God I get to do what I love to do. So yeah, the "Thank You" song was totally my way of thanking my fans -- giving a little bit back for a minute.
You sampled "Genie in a Bottle" on "Thank You." Can you still imagine doing that song live or is that a lifetime ago?
[Laughs]. Well, if I were to do that song live, I would not do it the way I did it when I was what, 17 years old. I would definitely reinvent it with my band. I think you can totally reinvent music to get it to the place to which I've grown today.
On so many of these songs here, you share your experiences. Is there any kind of self-editing that goes on?
You know, no, there's not. "I'm OK" was probably the toughest song that I ever put to record. I definitely had a tough time writing it. Linda really encouraged me to get behind that mic to do it because right before I was about to really go there, I kind of had a little breakdown. I was like, Man, I don't know if I can really share this, you know. I broke down in tears, rather. It was hard for me. It was very vulnerable and it brought back memories of my past with my father and the abuse.
I definitely talked with Linda about it and said it's really hard for me to do this. She said, You know what? It needs to come out of you, and it did help when I finally had it out there. I'm proud of that piece because it was important for me to get it out there on the table. Some of the letters I get from my fans, it makes it completely worthwhile when I hear that they connected with that song in some way and that that song gives them hope. It's really important for me to feel no holds barred whenever I get behind that mic.
That's very courageous.
Thank you. I honestly think I wouldn't be as driven. I know some people handle painful situations and abuse and what not in their lives in different ways, but I really, really would not be the person that I am today if I hadn't gone through that. It instilled such a drive in me to feel like I have to succeed, I have to do this, I have to accomplish my dream and it still drives me to this day.
Then how do you give yourself a break?
You know, I'm really bad at that [laughs]. I'm really bad at just giving myself a break, but you know, being that I have this incredible man in my life, who is my backbone, who is my partner, in every way, I'm able to at least unwind and feel I do have that someone I can at least turn to and relax, that tells me sometimes when I just need to quit stressing things [and] feeling like I always need to work. It's really true. That's how I constantly feel. I feel funny when I start relaxing and getting too comfortable because then I start feeling like I'm procrastinating and being lazy when really I'm just taking a break.
Are you concerned that people won't listen to both discs?
I think it's unfair if you walk into this record and listen to three songs and make a judgment. You have to really take in this album as a whole [and] give it time before you make any opinion or any judgment on it whatsoever. You have to listen to disc one and you gotta listen to disc two. That's why I wanted to make it. They're like fraternal twins. They're the same theme but attacked in very different styles.
What happened to the pictures of your musical heroes that you took into the studio with you? Do you carry any of them around with you now?
I do actually, because I'm still getting ideas for the tour -- still getting ideas for all the visuals, screens, the dancers, characters, things I want to portray on stage, things I want to see come to life on stage. Just because the record's done doesn't mean I can just put these things away. I'm still living it.
By Jasmine Dotiwala
"I would never marry a man who would change me as an artist in any way"
This month has been a social and working travelling whirl of monstrous, staggering, stupefying proportions! Brobdingnagian even.
MTV was invited to go to South Africa with Sean Paul, tour around Europe with Busta, chat to OutKast in Atlanta, follow Sean Paul around Europe, party with Rihanna in London and then head back across the Atlantic to catch up with the vocally dexterous Christina Aguilera.
Hectic doesn't even begin to describe my life right now but MTV provides you with so many amazing opportunities that it's hard to say no to anything! I'd much rather work and see the world than have a life – not always a good look!
Sean Paul has been blazing up venues all around Europe this month with his hyper-than-hype sets. Fresh from his manic schedule we dumped our luggage in the UK, repacked and flew off to New York City where Ms Aguilera told us all about her return to the music scene, explaining her long absence like this:
"I like to take time in between my records, to make sure I come back with something really meaningful to say. Something with substance, very true about my life and what I've been dealing with and how I've grown since the last project. Now I'm ready to be back and so I'm very excited."
Christina looked relaxed which she talked of her recent marriage. "It's brought an extreme amount of happiness into my life. I feel more at peace than I've ever been. I'm 25 years old now. There's been quite a growth process at this point in my life, I've healed a lot over the last few years so I'm just in a very happy, content space right now."
In response to press claims she's mellowed a lot due to marriage she retorted: "I wouldn't say so, I think that this look definitely reflects where I'm at musically, it reflects influences and elements of the 1920s 30s and 40s throw-back appeal to the old Hollywood glam style – some of the old screen sirens.
"I would never marry a man who would change me as an artist in any way. Yes he's influenced me in that he has brought a lot of peace, and a lot of healing to my world. I'm not as angst driven as I was before."
Interestingly for Christina she didn't go with all the usual suspect producers like Neptunes/ Timbaland/ Scott Storch etc and went completely down the hip-hop legend path by enlisting DJ Premier.
"You know it's very boring and unimaginative when artists say ‘let's go to who's hot right now.' I get very bored with a lot of the sounds and DJ Premier has never been introduced to the pop world, he's never done anything that crosses over like that – Premier really has a talent and a genius for going in and taking obscure bits and pieces. He'll chop it up and make it so different sounding, which takes skill and talent. I have a lot of respect for that."
As it's MTV's 25th anniversary this year we asked Christina her favourite MTV memories. "Watching Madonna's performance of Vogue as a kid using all those old powdered wigs and you know the corsets and the big puffy skirts was just so amazing. It was provocative and it was definitely pushing the envelope – it was bold and it made quite a statement, especially as a woman I thought it was really, really amazing."
Christina recalled when she was "around six or seven years old performing locally around my hometown. I started getting the notoriety of ‘the little girl with the big voice' in the little local papers and one time this guy totally thought that I was lip synching so he went behind me and here I am standing this little thing and he unplugs the amp from where I'm singing from. I proved to him that I was singing but you know it's kind of a funny memory for me to look back on."
And with that Ms Aguilera left me clucking like a hen thinking about the future, marriage and babies.
Source: The Voice
Christina Voted Among MTV's Most Influential
U2 frontman Bono has topped a survey of the most influential pop stars of the last 25 years, commissioned to mark music channel MTV's quarter-centenary.
Michael Jackson and Madonna come second and third in the poll, celebrated in an artwork that places the top 15 stars on the balcony of Buckingham Palace (PHOTO).
More than 4,000 people took part in the Rock Royalty survey.
MTV celebrated its 25th anniversary on 1 August.
The 12 other celebrities featured in the MTV artwork are as follows: Kurt Cobain, Prince, Eminem, Kylie Minogue, Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, Sir Elton John, Beyonce Knowles, Robbie Williams, Pete Doherty, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.
Source: BBC News
Christina On Upcoming Diddy Album
Christina will be featured on the track "Tell Me" from Diddy's upcoming new album 'Press Play,' scheduled for release on October 3. The song had been considered for the first single from the album, but "Come To Me" featuring Nicole from the Pussycat Dolls was the final decision.
Aguilera Goes Global
Jul 14th 2006 by TMZ Staff
In a new international spot for Pepsi, Christina Aguilera travels around the world in 60 seconds. Donning costumes ranging from a dancer in Rio to an Indian princess, the former Coca-Cola spokesperson shakes it to the tune "Here to Stay," from her new album "Back to Basics." Through the promotion, the song will be available for download on mobile phones.
For the former "Dirrrty" girl, stepping into all the different costumes was an exciting experience and she cited a Geisha get-up as her favorite. "I think the one that got me and all my crew really excited was the Japanese set ... I have such a huge love for Japan, I lived there from ages three to six when I was younger and I just had such a past for this."
The ad premiered worldwide July 14 though there are no plans for it to air in the US.
Click HERE to watch the ad
Singing the Joys of Pepsi
It's the summer of sexy Christina Aguilera!
She's burning up the charts with her hit song "Ain't No Other Man" and gracing the cover of GQ magazine.
Now, "Extra" uncovers the many faces of Christina as a beautiful belly dancer, a gorgeous geisha and a sexy samba queen.
The pop princess is shaking off serious sex appeal as she grooves, shimmies and belly dances her way around the globe in her sizzling new Pepsi campaign.
"It's got a great, great energy, and a feel good sense about it too," Christina revealed.
We were on the set with Ms. Aguilera as she was magically transported to exotic locales with the help of a cell phone download.
"I'm always trying to take chances and take risks and thinking outside the box," she said.
Moving to her latest track, "Here to Stay," Christina's first stop recreates an Arabian Desert scene. "Some costumes were more comfortable than others, but it was so much fun," she said, adding, "I love playing dress up."
From the desert, it was off to Prague and then quickly Brazil and India.
While you have to love the mystery of the desert and the sexiness of Rio, Christina's favorite recreation was Japan, where she spent three years as a child. "They really express themselves however way they want," she explained. "There are no hold backs about it."
But after a whirlwind shoot, all Christina was really looking forward to was "finally getting back in my own costume as Christina."
Aguilera Downloads Herself For New Commercial
(Los Angeles, July 16) - As commercial products, entertainment and technology becomes more intertwined, Pepsi's latest promotion Christina Aguilera. The ad, aptly called 'Downloaded' sees Aguilera connected - quite literally - with her international fans through mobile phones.
In the advert Aguilera is transported from a sound studio, where she is recording her new track 'Here to Stay', to an array of exotic locations around the world, where the singer herself is also transformed. Each time Aguilera is whisked off to a different location she gives a series of one-to-one performances to fans who, in downloading her song onto their mobile phones, get more than they could have dreamed of when they end up downloading the pop sensation herself.
'Downloaded' sees Aguilera changed from a Bedouin temptress in the Arabian desert to a Carnival samba dancer on the beach in Rio, to a modern-style geisha 'live' in Tokyo, before ending up as an Indian princess.
For Aguilera the project wasn't entirely all work and no play.
"I definitely make sure that I have a say in everything that I do and everything that, you know, reflects my artistry and what-not, so I made sure that I checked all the sketches before the costumes were made and the costume designer was great," she said. "I was really happy with every costume that came into play and some costumes were more comfortable than others but it was so much fun and I'm one that-- I love playing dress ups where everyday was like Halloween for me."
As for future plans, she said to stay tuned. "I've been through my ups and downs, I've seen a lot of things and done lot of things and no matter what people might say, good or bad, I'll still be around". she said. "I'm a hard worker and I think that-- I'm going to keep working until I just can't anymore."
Aguilera isn't the only music celebrity appearing in the commercial, with a surprise cameo appearance at the end of the ad by one of the music world's most famous couples.
The segment was directed by Tarsem Singh who also directed R.E.M.'s 'Losing My Religion' music video and the visually surreal horror film 'The Cell' with Jennifer Lopez.
With this latest ad, Aguilera joins a long list of music artists who have lent their talents to Pepsi commercial projects, including David Bowie, Shakira, Ricky Martin, Janet Jackson, Robbie Williams, Pink, Beyoncé Knowles, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and the Spice Girls.
Source: Zee News
More Insight From Linda Perry On 'Beautiful' Recording
From the Rocknworld.com feature MorleyView: Linda Perry:
Today, she is one of the most sought after songwriters/producer. Take a look at her track record to what she's done. From Pink and Gwen Stefani to Jewel and Cheap Trick and many more, she has lent her considerable melodic sensibilities to each, all with critical and commercial acclaim…in a very short time, I might add. There was no greater measure of her abilities, however, than the song that launched Christina Aguilera into the stratosphere of super-stardom, "Beautiful". It was awesome to see Linda playing piano when Christina did the song on the Grammies that year. Looking ahead, greater glories are expected with the next records by Aguilera and Courtney Love.
antiMUSIC: Unquestionably your most impressive success with somebody else was with Christina Aguilera. What was running through your mind when you were on stage with her playing "Beautiful" at the Grammies? Was there a part of you that was going that should be me over there singing that? That's my song.
Linda: No. The hard part about "Beautiful" is that it's so deeply personal. That song, I didn't mean to give it to Christina at all. In fact, the way it actually happened was the first time Christina came to my house for the very first time, because at the time I had a studio in my house. And she was very nervous. She was aware of my band I was in and she happened to like my voice, so she was feeling a little insecure, and nervous and vulnerable, and she asked me: "Could you sing me a song to break the ice, to make me feel a little comfortable?" And I said, sure, okay. I had a couple months prior, written "Beautiful" and so I sat down at the piano. And of course that's the song that's closest to my heart, so that's the song I played for her. And she started from across the room and, as the song kept going, she got closer and closer and closer to me. And it was actually very sweet. So by the end of the song, she was standing right next to me at the piano. Can you write the words out and put it on demo…demo it down. And I'm all "Why?" Got all defensive (laughs). And I'm all WHY? And she says, because I want that song. And I was like, "No,no, no. this is MY song." And she's like, "It's perfect for me." And I was really taken aback by that. And I called up my manager the next day and said, Christina wants "Beautiful". And she's like, "Well, why don't you just hear her sing it. Just sit at the piano, and let her sing it, and you make your decision from there." And I said, "OK." So I demoed the piano down and Christina came down over the next day. I gave her the words. And again we're all in one room, because that's where my studio was, it was not separated. It was like when you sing, I was right there. And she had a friend with her. The music starts. She literally looks at her friend because she's nervous and says "Don't look at me." And she starts the song. Well when I heard that take go down, I got goose bumps all over me. And I knew that was my vocal. And for seven months I fought for that vocal. So that vocal that made it on the record is the scratch vocal, the very, very first time she sang that song. She was fighting me on that so hard because she's saying "It's not perfect, I didn't even know the song." And I said that's what's perfect about it. You were so vulnerable, and I believe you." I said "Christina, you've got trust me on this." This vocal is going to fucking sell the song because everybody knows you can sing. But nobody knows you can FEEL what you're singing. And that's why this vocal is so perfect. Because this song isn't supposed to be perfect, Christina." And finally after seven months, she said, "Okay, you're right". And I'm like: "Thank you!" So that was a great example of getting into, finding somebody's…sometimes finding people's weaknesses can be such a strain. And I'm not trying to find people's weakness to use it against them. I'm trying to find their weakness FOR them, so they can grow stronger from it.
antiMUSIC: Do you have a wish list of people you'd like to work with?
Linda: I don't honestly pick the people I work with. They kinda of pick me. If I were left to pick people who I'd want to work with, well most of those people are dead, and the other ones are probably retired, you know, cause I love seventies music. That's my style of music. There's not a lot of that going on. So I mean, Courtney, probably. But I did approach Christina too. I definitely did approach her. I didn't expect her to want to work with me, but I did come up to her and say, "Hey what are you doing? You need to really tap into your dark, depressed, insecure thing." And she's all "What?" And I'm like "It's obvious you're depressed." And she's like "How can you see that?" And I said: "I see it all over you. You're a very dark girl, very depressed and unhappy." And I think that's what got her to want to work with me. I wasn't you know telling her to come work with me. I was just pushing a button. That's what I do, I push people's buttons. And I want them to dig a little deeper.
More Reviews: Ain't No Other Man
The Baltimore Sun, Rashod D. Ollison:
Christina Aguilera, "Ain't No Other Man": On this DJ Premier-produced banger, Aguilera unleashes her inner Lyn Collins, wailing away over hard, economically arranged drums and punchy horns. It's from her coming album, Back to Basics. Ever unpredictable, the former teen-pop queen will probably swerve in and out of several styles on the double-disc album. On "Ain't No Other Man," Aguilera proves she can deliver the funk when she wants to.
LA Weekly, Alec Hanley Bemis:
Christina Aguilera, "Ain't No Other Man" (RCA Records) - Nelly Furtado used to seem like a quality alternative to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, but times change. Nowadays it seems like Britney is done for — popping gum on national television and dropping babies both figuratively and literally. And somehow, Christina Aguilera has become the quality alternative to Christina Aguilera. We last heard from the former Mouseketeer in 2002, when she did the impossible, recording a Linda Perry tune that didn't induce clinical insanity after a half dozen spins. (Perry, the songwriter behind 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up?" and Pink's "Get the Party Started," is a true craftsman, but her hits have a shorter shelf life than tropical fruit.) The song was called "Beautiful," and even committed avant-gardists had to admit it was a classic pop ballad — sincere, patient and universal. Aguilera's new single is its perfect flipside. Produced by hip-hop auteur DJ Premiere, "Ain't No Other Man" is jazzy and concise, clocking in at a speedy 130 beats per minute. Best of all, it marks a full retreat from the melisma war she and Mariah Carey waged for almost a decade. Aguilera sounds as soulful as her idol Aretha Frankin, as "real" as her contemporary Mary J. Blige. I'm ready to proclaim her the first artist to come out of fin-de-siècle teen pop with a viable career.
musicOMH, John Murphy:
Poor old Britney. She marries a wannabe rap star, and goes from being one of the most famous pop stars on the planet to the sort of trailer trash more usually seen on the Jerry Springer Show. Meanwhile, her arch-rival Christina Aguilera gets married and returns with one of the best pop singles of the year so far.
From the opening bursts of brass it's clear that Ain't No Other Man is one of those singles that make you sit up and take notice. There's a jazzy, retro feel to the track that's a long way from Dirrty, but shows Aguilera's voice off to its best possible advantage. She does come a bit too close at times to Mariah Carey-style histrionics, but it's just a good, hook-filled song that you don't really notice.
Even the rather cheesy lyrics, an obvious declaration of fidelity to the new Mr Aguilera, can be overlooked - this is a fine return from one of the most interesting pop stars out there right now.
The first single from Aguilera's upcoming double disc, Back to Basics (due Aug.15), is surely the funkiest thing she's ever done. This horn-infused retro-soul workout really lets Aguilera blow, conjuring up shades of vintage Aretha and Chaka. (4/4 stars)
'Back To Basics' Front Cover Revealed!
(Click the image for larger view of album cover.)
Christina Channels Marilyn Monroe For Intimate Album Cover
When Christina Aguilera started working on her bluesy, soulful follow-up to Stripped in February 2005, the singer was inspired not only by the sounds of the 1920s, '30s and '40s, but the look of those eras as well.
So when it came time to shoot the artwork for Back to Basics a year later, Aguilera knew exactly what she wanted.
"The glamour from those eras was so amazing as well [as the music], so I'm referencing Marlene Dietrich ... Marilyn [Monroe] ... Carole Lombard ... Greta Garbo, Veronica Lake, there's so many," Aguilera said during a break from shooting, citing the most popular actresses of the era. "Whenever you collect all your tear sheets and your references and all that, to see everything come to life it's just really, really amazing and fun."
For the pictures, Aguilera handpicked German photographer Ellen von Unwerth, who has captured Janet Jackson and Penelope Cruz, among others, with her erotic feminist style. Aguilera also chose the album's producers, including Linda Perry and DJ Premier.
"Ellen's my favorite photographer, 'cause she's just so playful and so fun and she can really go there visually," Aguilera said. "And she's such an artist in her own right. She just doesn't take a picture. She really gets into the whole mood and vibe and the playfulness of the whole spirit of the whole thing. So I knew she would be perfect."
Aguilera and von Unwerth spent three days taking potential pictures for Back to Basics, beginning at a historic hotel called the Hollywood Dell.
"With the first setup, we just wanted to [give the photographs] warm lighting, very inviting, just kind of relaxed, an old-Hollywood feel where you're kind of in the bed but also being really inviting, [because] I'm kind of smiling," Aguilera explained. "For the Stripped record it was a very real and honest place for me, but it was also a darker place. So I feel really lifted, things are lighter for me. I'm happier now than I've ever really been."
Aguilera spent most of the first day in a bed, peering through the iron bars of a headboard, a shot inspired by a famous Marilyn Monroe picture. The Back to Basics cover shot, a sensual image that features her dressed in white and lounging on a bed, was taken during the same session.
After all that lying around, by the second day, the singer was ready to get up.
"We got to play a little bit more of dress-up," Aguilera said. "A huge element also of this record is it's really fun and playful, with a 1920s circus theme."
For the third day, Aguilera and von Unwerth moved to Forty Deuce, a Hollywood hotspot that puts a modern twist on a 1920s burlesque club.
"We set up the vibe to create that old jazzy blues club," Aguilera said, noting that's where she also shot a series of pictures with four Navy sailors. "The whole vibe of that time period, it's just so special to me."
Back to Basics is due August 15.
—Corey Moss, with reporting by Eric Araya
Source: MTV News
Billboard Chart Update
The Billboard Hot 100:
• "Ain't No Other Man"
this week: 9
last week: 13
weeks on: 3
Hot 100 Airplay:
• "Ain't No Other Man"
this week: 34
last week: 41
weeks on: 3
• "Ain't No Other Man"
this week: 6
last week: 8
weeks on: 3
Pop 100 Airplay:
• "Ain't No Other Man"
this week: 12
last week: 15
weeks on: 3
Hot Digital Tracks:
• "Ain't No Other Man"
this week: 4
last week: 5
weeks on: 3
Hot Digital Songs:
• "Ain't No Other Man"
this week: 5
last week: 7
weeks on: 3
Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks:
• "Ain't No Other Man"
this week: 31
last week: 34
weeks on: 2
Christina Hits No. 1 On TRL
After debuting at No. 6 on MTV's TRL on June 22, Christina's "Ain't No Other Man" video jumped to No. 1 in its second day on the countdown on June 26, and again reached the top spot on June 29. Be sure to keep voting!
Seeking Another Turn In The Spotlight
By KELEFA SANNEH
The New York Times
I can't get over you. Every time I see you, everything starts making sense. Here's an opportunity that you don't wanna miss. Call on me, anytime that you please. Listen, dear, I need you to hear: I cannot disappear.
By accident or by design, it's comeback season on the pop charts. Which means that right now five A-list (or formerly A-list) pop stars are clamoring for our attention. They are, in the order their pleas were quoted, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Janet Jackson and Jewel. And they are, all of them, telling us how much they missed us, in hopes that we'll tell them the same thing.
For Beyoncé and Ms. Aguilera, both of whom are returning after hit albums, the task is simple: they just have to prove they can still do what they did last time. That explains "Deja Vu" (Columbia), Beyoncé's new single, which is a sequel to her 2003 smash "Crazy in Love." Like that song, this one is a duet with her boyfriend, Jay-Z, who sounds uncharacteristically deferential whenever he's around her.
Listeners in search of the next "Crazy in Love" should be looking instead to Ms. Aguilera, the unpredictable former teen-pop star. Her 2002 album, "Stripped," included a garish club track ("Dirrty"), an inspirational ballad ("Beautiful," accompanied by a pro-gay video) and a feminist hip-hop collaboration ("Can't Hold Us Down," featuring Lil' Kim).
Ms. Aguilera's new single, "Ain't No Other Man" (RCA), comes from her forthcoming double-album, "Back to Basics." It's devastating: all hard drums and horn blasts, with Ms. Aguilera delivering a series of nimble vocal runs and roaring ad-libs. (The song was produced by the pioneering hip-hop producer DJ Premier.) The period-piece video, directed by Bryan Barber, casts Ms. Aguilera as Baby Jane, a jazz singer tearing up a Harlem speakeasy. And for now her only problem is a happy one: How on earth will she top this?
The Girls Of Summer
Thanks to the return of some familiar faces, it looks as if it's going to be a girly summer on the pop charts. Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Janet Jackson, and Jessica Simpson are all back with new singles and, soon, albums, and celebutante Paris Hilton is finally dropping her long-rumored "music" on an already beleaguered public. Interestingly, as different as these women are, their songs have one thing in common: Everybody's going retro.
"Ain't No Other Man." The formerly "Dirrty" girl roars back with this sizzling slice of dance-pop that nods to both '70s soul and '40s swing. Wedding funky horn samples to spare snare grooves, Xtina raves about a man with style, soul, and class. If this is just the first missive, we can't wait to hear the rest of her forthcoming double album, "Back to Basics," due out Aug. 15. As the song says, "Do your thing, honey!"
Source: The Boston Globe
Richmond Times-Dispatch Review: Ain't No Other Man
Don Henley and baseball have that boys-of-summer thing covered, but if you flip on the radio right now, it's ladies day and night.
Some of these girls have been MIA for a couple of years -- at least from the charts, because as long as Us Weekly exists, so will they -- so these first singles from upcoming albums mean more than just another 30-second story on "Entertainment Tonight."
Surprisingly, the one most easily mocked turns out to be a respectable singer for her genre, while the one with the old-school chops is stuck on repeat.
"Ain't No Other Man"
From: "Back To Basics"
Due: Aug. 14
Since she's been gone, Aguilera's place as the pop tart who can sing has been severely threatened by Kelly Clarkson, whose grip on the charts isn't loosening anytime soon.
So now that Aguilera has reinvented herself as the anti-skank, crooning Billie Holiday songs and flaunting a waxy blonde mane and curve-hugging gowns, you had to wonder -- with a bit of worry -- what type of music she would concoct.
Her first example is a thick summertime jam full of funk and sass. It's still coated with that undeniable X-Tina sound (are we still allowed to call her that now that she's all classy?), but the old-school brass mixed with beats that never get in the way of the song give this a fresh hip-hop-pop sound.
By choosing noted rap producer DJ Premier to work the knobs, Aguilera proves she was always the savviest cookie. Don't miss the classic vocal runs and Prince-ly groove at song's end -- they're a fitting wrap to an impressive return.
99-cent Solution: Christina Aguilera
Download this: People wondered when Christina Aguilera captured the Grammy for best new artist. They winced when she got all sexed up for her second album, the overheated "Stripped." Now X'tina is finally showing off her vocal chops without oversinging on the new single, "Ain't No Other Man." Sounds like she's channeling LaBelle circa "Lady Marmalade" with some old-school hip-hop beats to match her sass. This girl can sing.
Source: Star Tribune
Phonica Review: Ain't No Other Man
Well, who would've thought a Christina record would make its way onto Phonica's shelves but if you're looking for this years summer r&b anthem along the lines of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" or Amerie's "One Thing" then look no further - as in the other two anthems, its all about choosing the right funk riff or brass stab and it definitely hits the spot (just check the instrumental), complete with Christina's strong vocal. Its gonna be big!
Watch Christina In VH1 Platinum Weird Special
Have you heard about Platinum Weird? (See: Stewart creates biopic for fictitious band) Watch what Christina Aguilera has to say about who Platinum Weird is.
Don't miss out! Click HERE to watch the trailer of Platinum Weird's story to be aired on VH1 on Wednesday, July 5th at 6:00pm.
The feature will include commentary from Christina and other top entertainers.
Christina Can Die Happy - She's Bonded With 'Bad Girl' Idol Etta James
Christina Aguilera says she can die happy now — because she's met her idol, legendary R&B singer Etta James.
The two posed together for a photo spread in the July issue of InStyle, which matched up singers with their musical mentors. The pairings include Mary J. Blige with Chaka Khan, John Legend with Quincy Jones, Fergie with Rita Marley, and Faith Hill with Aretha Franklin.
But Aguilera's coupling with James nearly brought the singer to tears because James seemed to idolize her too.
"Etta is my all-time favorite singer," Aguilera explained. "I've said it for the last seven years — since I had my first debut record out — in every interview, in every story, in every on- and off-camera question. I mean, all of Etta's old songs, countless songs I could name, I grew up listening to. That music was always such a huge escape for me, even from a young age."
When she was about 7 years old, Aguilera's grandmother used to take her to look for vintage records, which was how she got introduced to soul, jazz and blues. "There was such soul, emotion and raw heart in it," Aguilera said. "So much real heart and emotion that's lacking in music today. You used to have to sing and convey emotion, and now, well, technically you can do anything with technology. It sucks for music today, but that's why that old music feels so good to me."
Aguilera said she was a "bundle of nerves" before meeting James. Little did she know, James had already been won over.
"When I first heard her stuff, and I heard her say on TV, [in response to the question] where she got her style, 'I grew up on Etta James,' that made me feel so good," James said. "The last person who said that was Janis Joplin, but Christina can sing. Janis was good, but there's a difference in the quality of voice. I couldn't believe that big sound, that big voice was coming out of her. Tell me who you've seen that sings like her, because we don't have anybody.
"It's like you were here many years ago," she told Aguilera. "You don't look exactly like them, but there's something about you that's like Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, those kinds of chicks. I've never seen a girl sing as tough as you sing, as little as you are. It's like you're an old soul."
"I'm going to cry now," Aguilera gasped, and James put her head on her shoulder adoringly.
During the photo shoot, James sat at a piano and sang R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" while Aguilera looked on in awe. Even though it wasn't one of Aguilera's favorite songs that Etta sings — those would be "At Last," "Fool That I Am," "I Prefer You," "Trust in Me" and "Something's Got a Hold on Me" — she joined in for an impromptu gospel number.
Perhaps it was a warm-up for Aguilera's upcoming tour of blues and jazz clubs to promote her Back to Basics LP, due August 15. Aguilera said she plans to be "sitting on a stool, doing bluesy versions of my old hits, like 'What a Girl Wants,' with just a piano."
And that dream doesn't end with this album or tour — it's what Aguilera hopes she's doing until she's as old as James. "I'll still be as raunchy as I wanna be, and I'll have the memory of Etta James to back me up. ... She's what I want to be someday."
James says Aguilera is already well on her way. "She reminds me of myself when I was young," she said. "I've always been a complainer, too, that's what I liked about her. The bad-girl syndrome was a controversy then, but that was always the hip thing. Everybody wanted to be the bad girl!"
"It's funny," Aguilera said. "Etta had told me she had heard I was 'a little hotheaded,' and you know what she said? 'Just like me — a girl after my own heart!'"
Source: MTV News
Must Glamour Girl
by Chris Willman
Christina Aguilera wants to amend her order and get some fries to go with that filet mignon. But she turns down a dinner guest's offer to fetch a waiter on her behalf. "I'll get his attention," the singer cheerfully vows, and for a moment you hope you'll get a reenactment of Claudette Colbert showing Clark Gable how to flag down a car in It Happened One Night. But no flash of leg is necessary to keep the servers hovering. Maybe that's the natural effect of divadom — to have mortals orbiting like moths around a light bulb — or maybe it's simply to do with the glow of her new old-Hollywood 'do. Because however Aguilera's upcoming album might sell, her hair is already quadruple platinum.
It's not just the black dreads of the Stripped era that are ancient history. For her upcoming two-CD set, Back to Basics (due Aug. 15), Aguilera's dolled herself up and is embracing being beautiful — without any "no matter what they say" caveats required. "What I'm going for with the red lips and platinum blond look is the old screen sirens — the Jean Harlows, the Veronica Lakes, Marilyn," says Aguilera, 25, drawing stares from across Wolfgang Puck's new Beverly Hills steak house, despite wearing nothing more ostentatious than a Vivienne Westwood teddy-bear pendant over a form-fitting white top. (Her nose and lip rings have been retired.) "I even have a Bettie Page-goes-blond look in the next video. It's important to me that the imagery coincides with what I'm going for musically."
Yet it's inevitable that there will be some level of disconnect between her new look and the sound of her latest album. Because when Aguilera starts listing the actual musical touchstones for Back to Basics, the names date back to the same eras — mostly, the '20s through '60s — but the number of blondes dramatically diminishes. The project's initial spark was some free verse she penned in her diary, "which is how I get a lot of my lyrics. The poem was called 'Back to Basics,' [asking] what is it that makes you sing, makes you want to dance? And it's old Billie, it's old jazz, it's Coltrane, Miles Davis, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Millie Jackson, and" — her girlhood idol — "Etta James. I would listen to a CD of those people, then listen to what was on the radio, and I'd be like..." She makes a deflating sound effect. "What happened?"
The idea of an ex-Mouseketeer forging a spiritual connection with African-American blues, jazz, and soul greats would sound ripe for satire...unless you're one of the tens of millions of people who've actually heard Aguilera open her mouth. She's the only currently reigning female star with enough ambition and chops even to attempt pulling off an album that mixes authentic old -old-school stuff with a hip-hop sensibility. (One possible exception: Madonna, who went halfheartedly '40s retro in 1990 with I'm Breathless, then moseyed along.)
That ambition led to Aguilera expanding her vision to a format that's been many an artist's triumph or Waterloo: the double album. "Everyone's like, 'Oh, since you're married now"' — last year she wed 29-year-old Jordan Bratman, an exec at her management company — "'are you gonna have children?' I'm like, this is my child, because I've been working so hard on it. Having twins! It's so exciting. Oh, my God, I want a steak like crazy right now."
The two records are fraternal, not identical, siblings. One disc features contemporary, beat-heavy stuff, produced by hip-hop stalwarts like DJ Premier (who crafted the first single, "Ain't No Other Man"), where retro influences show up primarily as spice via sampled horns and the like. The second disc "more authentically re-creates the old vibe" with all-live instrumentation, including strings and brass. This half was produced and co-written by Linda Perry, who oversaw Aguilera's transition from teen-pop princess to grown-up scrapper on 2002's polarizing but four-times-platinum Stripped.
Perry is a usually reliable crafter of Top 40 smashes (including Stripped's biggest track, "Beautiful"), but as Aguilera's co-conspirator on the less commercial half of Basics, she admits, "I don't even know if any of my songs are hits. But nobody makes albums anymore, and that's why it was a pleasure to work on this, because Christina didn't want to just make a bunch of singles. When she came to me with this idea, she had it all exactly mapped out. She put a CD [of influences] together, and wrote out a two-page thing of why she likes Billie Holiday, why she likes Nina Simone. I said, Count me in. If she'd said, 'I want to do Stripped again, because I sold a lot of records — write me another "Beautiful,"' I would have told her the same thing I told Pink: 'We did it, that's it — I don't need to do that again.' But this was a ballsy move."
"Stripped represented a darker place for me," says Aguilera, not just meaning hair color. "I was in a sadder place for that record, because I had been burnt by people that I thought I could really trust, and I had a lot of angst as a 21-year-old who was fed up with fake people in general. But now I'm in the happiest place I've ever been." Much of this is due to her marriage to Bratman, for whom Aguilera wrote the new album's most vulnerable number, "Save Me From Myself." "Jordy is a rock," she says. "It is hard to find a man in this world that can take a woman in the spotlight. He just wants to be my hubby and do what he needs to do in his career. He's not trying to be in the spotlight. He's not trying to put out an album." (We have no idea who she could be alluding to.)
But while Aguilera and her new husband haven't given the tabloids much to work with, recently there has been one particularly scurrilous allegation going around. When word leaked that she was working on an album that traffics in nostalgia, early buzz suggested the singer who shocked the pop world with "Dirrty" might be getting down and...decent. Aguilera stops picking at her steak — pained, it seems, about those allegations of newfound wholesomeness. "Over the past year I've heard a few things written about me," she says, "and I haven't really been out there to defend myself or to let people know where I'm coming from with this album. It's interesting to see headlines like 'From Crass to Class,' all these things saying that I've cleaned up my act and I'm proper." Such slander will not stand. "I'm an artist, and I'm never gonna play it safe or by the rules."
And just in case anyone truly believed the singer sometimes known as Xtina has taken up with Mr. Clean, as it were, Aguilera has drafted a response on Basics, called..."Still Dirrty." "It's a tongue-in-cheek way of saying I'm still gonna be provocative, and getting married doesn't change that in any way," she says. "If anything, I've found a man who is proud of the fact that I have the balls to do what I do." Which will be important if it's remotely true that, as Linda Perry insists, "the lyrical content is even nastier and dirtier [this time]. Christina's not getting cleaner, she's just put it in a more sophisticated manner."
Any reaction to these new songs should pale alongside the response to "Dirrty" when it came out in 2002, with a raunchy video that seemed to have its own mildew budget. There were mean jokes, allegations of skankiness, suggestions that she had ruined her career by rebelling too hard, too fast, too smuttily against her teen-pop origins. Then "Beautiful" came out as Stripped 's second single, and it peaked at No. 2, saving the album and, most likely, her career.
So...regrets? She's had exactly none. "When I face difficult things like [the 'Dirrty' jokes], you would think I'd want to cower," she says. "But I thrive off those situations. And ['Dirrty'] really had a strong message, in that I wasn't in someone else's video being a sexual object. It was my video. I was in charge." (Madonna has taught her well.) "Sexuality will always be part of how I express myself artistically. I don't think it's something to be ashamed of. When the negative reactions came in, the label people definitely freaked out. But I promoted the hell out of it, and I overcame it, man, and sold how many records because of it? I stood behind every single thing that I did. I still do."
Aguilera's steak and fries have gone mostly uneaten. But her appetite for audacity—that's undiminished. "If I had to do it all over again," she declares, looking as sweet as any Hays Code-era screen siren ever could have, "I would do it twice as hard and twice as aggressive, and jolt my hips twice as provocatively." No. She corrects herself. "Three times."
Source: Entertainment Weekly