Christina Aguilera has constantly been trying to differentiate herself from other mainstream pop vocalists. Starting off in a time when young blonde pop singers were a dime a dozen, she has spent more than ten years trying on different musical styles. From R&B to electro-pop, not all were a success commercially. (I loved Bionic, shh!)
Aguilera’s latest “rebirth”, Lotus, is a solid album but on the whole disappoints me. Sia, a friend and collaborator of Aguilera’s, was once quoted saying, “Christina Aguilera could shit in a bottle and her fans would still love it.” And it’s true. I do love this album, but after a commercial bomb, a divorce, a flop film, and a few too many trips to Burger King, I was hoping for something more raw, exposed, vulnerable and reflective (see: Stripped). While Aguilera has always maintained that her last album was a work of art, a success in her eyes, it would seem that its failure to achieve commercial results has either pushed her or her label into making an album where overall… she plays it safe.
The album opens with the repetitive and auto-tuned “Lotus Intro” which begins the tone of rebirth, that you’ll find scattered across the album. Aguilera then jumps into the empowering, funky dance track, “Army of Me”, which I expect to see performed at many drag shows in the future.
She then takes us into my two least favorite songs from the album. “Red Hot Kinda Love” sounds like a bad demo, a complete throwaway in my opinion. “Make The World Move” pairs Aguilera with The Voice co-judge Cee-Lo Green. This track comes off as more of a gimmick than a fusing of two talented vocalists. Their styles don’t seem to match for me. Next up, the Max Martin-produced lead single “Your Body” which I have been enjoying for months. I was actually surprised to find out that these two had never worked together before.
Continuing on with more club bangers, “Let There Be Love” is as textbook club pop anthem as it gets. I still really enjoy the song; it’s just disappointing to see Aguilera playing it so safe on an album so thematically centered on empowerment and rebirth.
In the tail end of the album, where Aguilera begins to hit the nail on the head. On “Sing For Me” the talented songstress slows it down singing, “And now I’m ready now /Im gonna sing it all out?/ Sing it out just for myself?/ I don’t even care what the world thinks about how I sound.” There’s some signature over-singing on this track, but you can’t deny this woman has a gift. She continues with “Blank Page” a piano-ballad that seems to be a reflective look on her divorce and personal life.
“Cease Fire” and “Around the World” are complete Rihanna rejects. I almost would have loved the 90’s alt-rock sound of “Circles” if it weren’t for the horribly tacky lyrics. “Spin around in circles on my middle, middle finger” Come on Christina, you’re 31.
The last two tracks on the album end it off nicely again with the vulnerability, and personality that I think we were all hoping for from this album. On “Best of Me” Aguilera belts another empowering anthem, “Heartbroken and beaten / Knocked down and mistreated / I will rise undefeated / I will not let you bring me down.” The last song on the album, another collaboration with a Voice co-star, Aguilera teams up with Blake Shelton for a stunning duet. The harmonies on this track are beautiful; this is definitely the best song on the album. What a great way to end it.
While the album as a whole wasn’t what I was personally hoping for from her, there are enough solid tracks for me to love it. I think a few of the songs could have been dropped and Aguilera could have released a more concise and cohesive album that stuck to one of her focused personas instead of jumping around musically to play it safe.
Album Rating: 3.5/5 stars