Many a workers’ commute were made a tad brighter as Christina Aguilera—diva extraordinaire, human balloon, and all-around pro at tossing her gum into a sea of screaming fans—released her new single, “Your Body,” in the wee hours of an otherwise dreary Monday morning.
Along with thousands of gals, gays, and fans of hate-fucking (isn’t that a requirement to be an Xtina fan?) I, too, spent the day zipping through town with my windows down blaring the pop icon’s latest pseudo-R&B/electro club banger, but not without a typical writer’s bout with self-reflection and a need to expel any and all feelings regarding its release via the expertly written (erm, typed) word.
The summer months of 2012 were an explosive rebirth of 90s pop culture indulgences. Thankfully, no one in my circle sported a “Rachel” or a fanny pack, but we did see an exponential increase in the cultural relevance of Madonna (her “Ray of Light” era counts here, right?), No Doubt, and Britney Spears. If you haven’t purchased music from any of these artists and/or watched “The X-Factor” lately, the 90s sends its sincerest apologies for purging itself of your existence.
Christina’s potential return to “form,” however, comes after giving her PR team the toughest two years of their lives after the abysmal performance of her last LP, “Bionic,” her film debut, “Burlesque,” and her divorce & DUI arrest in 2011.
Thankfully, the Gay Gods answered her prayers and sent her a gig as judge on NBC’s surprise hit “The Voice,” which catapulted her asshole antics into every living room in America. While this new platform provided Christina with an extremely important outlet for which to give herself masturbation material (she thinks her critiques are really good), no perk of being on the show could come close to touching her newfound ability to suckle the vitality of the up-and-coming contestants and funnel it into the flaming release of “Your Body.”
The track roars with the audacity the entire “Stripped” album thought it had, albeit tinged with a bit more nearly-middle-aged sexual desperation; My initial reaction to the song went a little something like this: “mmm damn gurl you still got i—‘ALL. I. WANNA. DO. IS FUCK YO BODAAYY’– *SCOOBY DOO EARS* RRHUUUUH?!” Heart attack and panic as I rolled up the windows in embarrassment, the family sitting next to me in idle traffic casting their Jesus rays my way.
I was not prepared, but I guess I always knew Xtina was a forceful top.
It’s just that she’s doing exactly what made “Bionic” an absolute bore; provocative for the sake of being provocative. There’s no substance in trying to sound like Santigold on “Bobblehead” or M.I.A. on “Elastic Love” (a track I still think she penned for Christina knowing how awful it was) beyond making a point of reference that merely indicates the attempt at being provocative, thereby tearing down the veil of authenticity we so desperately desire. Because we want to believe Christina is penning her own tracks, cutting them in the studio with producers, and touring her music in tip-top vocal condition; but the reality of “Bionic” was anything but, seeing the singer instead dilute herself into a cloudy mixture of genres that didn’t suit her, but probably sounded edgy in the pitch meeting. The bottom line remains that her voice defies channeling, especially into already-specific styles of the likes of people such as Santigold and M.I.A.; when Christina mimicked their vocal stylings, she lost what made her stand out, and “Bionic” resulted in a failed attempt at playing ‘catch-up’ than it did a triumphant sprint across the finish line.
Don’t get me wrong, I love indulging in Christina’s asshole antics, but can she really come through with another hit album after this long? One that does something new—or, for the least part, something consistently well—that showcases her as the talent we fell in love with in the first place? She’s poised for success, but lacking the element of originality albums like “Stripped” and “Back to Basics” oozed with so many years ago.
If we’re to judge by “Your Body,” Christina will see a spike in sales if only for her appearance on “The Voice” to thank for it. The show is promotion within promotion, and it’s sad to see a former powerhouse icon rely on another format to provide a crutch or training wheel support for an ascent up the charts a’la Jennifer Lopez during her stint on “American Idol.” To me, being a child of the 90s, Christina’s voice defined a generation when Britney’s cleavage and coochie were busy defining a fleeting instance of blossoming teenage sexuality. “Your Body” is good, listenable, and ultimately an enjoyable pop outing, but lacks the punch of iconic artistry Christina should be pumping out at this stage of her career. The whole “Pussy Eat Everything” mentality isn’t becoming on anyone, let alone a one-in-a-billion talent often compared to the likes of Billie Holiday and Etta James.
For the fun of it, please picture Etta singing the chorus of “Your Body.” Shade, shade, shade.
At the end of the day, we’re all just bitches sitting in a little spinny chair judging the shit out of the dancing monkeys placed before us. And while I still thought I looked cute singing “Your Body” en route to work, channeling my best “Alicia Silverstone in the white jeep from Clueless,” I caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror of what is actually my parent’s old pickup truck; a beautiful contradiction, if you will, one which reminded me that, just like Christina, even the shittiest of vessels can still carry the most beautiful of packages.