Christina Aguilera Christina AguileraBionic
Christina Aguilera has made a conscientious effort to brainwash us over these past few months, warning us that “Bionic” was going to be the most futuristic thing that mainstream pop had given birth to in decades. The truth is, she’s not so far off, that is if you’re living in 2007 and you haven’t heard “Blackout” produced by Danja –featuring Miss Britney Spears, of course, because she was there for decoration. Xtina, the eternal wannabe, has always had to live in the shadow of the competition. So when she brought in MIA, Ladytron, Peaches or Le Tigre for her new pop project, we hoped that she was getting ready to give all those other princesses a good swift kick in the behind. But when I heard “Not Myself Tonight”, all of these optimistic hopes went right down the drain: Aguilera had resorted to tacky sex-shop aesthetics in a desperate attempt to call attention to herself, with a video that was a low-cost hybrid of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” and “Human Nature”. Her advisors should have warned her that latex isn’t in anymore, unless you are still stuck in the 90s or you frequent dark rooms.
Our gal has always had problems choosing her track list. Instead of sending all of those filling songs to the wastebasket – “Glam” was supposed to be the new “Vogue” and only got yawns from her friends in the ghetto—she pushes them off on us without any hesitation. 18 songs in total, 24 in her special edition –including three interludes– make this album an exercise in infinite patience for the listener. And keep in mind what happened to Rihanna a few months ago with her “Rated R” album, which is still suffering because it lacks radio-friendly hit material. The next single from “Bionic” is scheduled to be the krump ode to cunnilingus called “Woohoo”, featuring Nicki Minaj. To me, it smells like a media suicide.
Aguilera is back and dirtier than ever, which is hard after “Dirrty” itself. Check out the Spanglish attack called “Desnúdate”,intended to raise heads in any tacky discotheque full of cheap jewellery. “Give it to me hard,” followed by “you’ve got me wet,” are the lyrical highlights of a song we would only expect to come from the mouth of Shakira or one of the “hos” that accompany Pitbull. It’s one thing to be sexy, and another altogether to border on the vulgarity of Belladonna movie actress who’s come down in the world. To beat away these accusations - “Vanity” is in the same vein- in the middle section of the album, Xtina has a brainwave and knocks out five of her standard brand-name ballads.
Without needing autotuners or studio effects –which dominate the first few cuts– Christina shows us that she was and remains the best voice of the “Super Pop” generation. None of these pieces will be able to equal “Beautiful”, but they at least leave us with a pleasant taste in the mouth, thanks to “Lift Me Up” –produced by Pink’s close personal friend, Linda Perry, 4 Non Blondes vocalist– which sounds much stronger in the studio than when she was introduced it on a Haiti disaster fund telethon. The ballads written by the Australian Sia Furler are amongst the album’s strongest points. Without resorting to acute histrionics, we find “All I Need” and, especially, “I Am”, the best choice by far for a future melodramatic single, and we wouldn’t expect less of her.
Although the album brings out all the bile I have inside because of my high expectations for it, Aguilera leaves us with a few pearls that should have been a blueprint for the whole record. We have the infallible “Elastic Love”, slowed-neuron electro pop that tastes glorious thanks to a collaboration with MIA. Alongside this, the songs produced by John Hill and Switch – “Bionic”, “Monday Morning” and “Bobblehead”, three tracks included in the special edition– fill the gap left by Kelis when she discovered the greatness of “made in Ibiza” dance music. “My Girls” is a cheap feminist manifesto, besides being really sticky funk, with Le Tigre at the controls and Peaches collaborating. There’s no trace of Goldfrapp, and the saddest thing of all is to find that to hear the two songs produced by Ladytron – “Birds Of Prey” and “Little Dreamer”– we’re going to have to get the extended version of the album, though they surely could have passed the cut on their own merits to form a part of the standard edition of the inconsistent “Bionic”, which doesn’t at all fulfil the promise of being the greatest comeback of the year so far. Why did Christina put off the start of her tour? There’s no reason for me to say any more to answer that question.
Sergio del Amo