What I’ve always liked about Christina is that she somehow manages to stand above the rest of her pop star peers (Britney, Justin, Jessica Simpson), solely because of her voice. Her album Stripped was a masterpiece. For once we finally got to know a little more about Christina Aguilera. With Back to Basics, I was hoping to get something more out of Christina, like the jazz/blues music that she constantly advertised her album to be. To my surprise, it wasn’t.
First off, I think Christina is confused about what era she’s talking about, and which era she’s trying to give a nod to. None of the songs are a throwback to the 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s. Not even to the 60’s even. Yes, some songs have a vintage, jazzy feel, but majority of the songs are more R&B/hip hop than anything else. So why Christina was advertising her album as a jazz album is beyond me.
Despite that, Christina has many good tracks such as Makes Me Wanna Pray, Oh Mother, Candy Man, and Save Me From Myself. I give credit to Christina for making quite an ambitious album, but I think 2 discs weren’t needed, and there were a bit too many fillers. What a found really annoying about this album was how it somewhat became a bit bloated with Christina’s egotism. We know she has a nice voice, she is one of the best vocalist out there, but her belting/oversinging hurts my ears, and it truly takes away all the emotion that could have been there if she sung with vulnerability. Apparently, Christina is trying to gain critical acclaim for trying something new and different (which she hasn’t earned yet). I love Christina, but she tries too hard. Critical acclaim has to be earned, not forced. Not only that, but it has to be earned with grace and dignity, not pride and egotism. To compare herself to the jazz vocal greats of, say, Ella Fitzgerald, is preposterous. She has one of the best vocal chops in the world, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily make her the next Billie Holiday. Also, if she wants critical acclaim, she should find her own image instead of literally imitating the image of other people, like Marilyn Monroe and Madonna. What Christina is doing now, image wise, is a perfect example of an artist that takes herself way too seriously. The 1920’s, jazzy era was a special time for a reason, and as much as Christina was trying to bring it back, it just doesn’t work. There’s no need to imitate it; it only comes off as someone who’s acting like somebody that has lived in the 1920’s, and a tad bit campy and gimmicky. Lastly, I wish Christina, vocally, can mix it up a bit (I always get deja-vu when she belts and oversings with the ooo eeee ahhhh yyeaah…:/), and lyrically, I wish we could know more about her. We know that she’s “still dirrty”, we know that she’s “here to stay,” and we know about her mother’s domestic abuse. All of this was sung about on Stripped. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it seems as if Christina holds herself back soo much emotionally. She sometimes comes off as being so independent and proud that her emotion are stilted and forced in interviews, performances, and the songs.
Hopefully, my girl Christina will still have that ambition to try new things. Back to the Basics is perhaps her most ambitious, but not best, album. I think there’s something to like for everybody on this album. I didn’t really love or hate the album, it was just okay. I just wish Christina could learn to put her ego out of her music (the song “Thank You” was ridiculous, it should have been called “Thank You (Dedicated To Me)”), and just let her voice shine without being over the top, pretentious, and show offy.