Website: Christina Aguilera
The Inside Pulse:
From her days as a somewhat innocent teen queen to her days as the Skank du Jour, Christina Aguilera always knew how to work the spotlight. Not only that, but she was able to get away with any image she wanted thanks to her amazing voice. Xtina has rolled into a new figure once again with Back To Basics, shedding some of that “dirrty” image and focusing more on the quality of her music. As the opening tracks will tell you, Ms. Aguilera has decided to go to the roots of soul music for her latest tracks. With a voice like hers, what better direction to go?
Positives: Christina Aguilera + classic soul = GOLD. The horn-infected “Ain’t No Other Man” fuses the sounds of Motown with today’s pop to create gold. “Candyman” borrows from burlesque in a bawdy little ditty, and “Nasty Naughty Boy” conjures images of Xtina lounging on a piano in a slinky red dress. But don’t think that Aguilera has left modern pop behind; “Still Dirrty” confirms not only that but also reminds one that she’s not shying away from crossing the line every now and again, and “Understand” beautifully blends bits and pieces of classic stylings into the pop sound of today. In that vein, the highlight of the disc? “Slow Down Baby.” When she does good, the girl does good.
Negatives: The part of this album that irks the most are the repeated references to “going back.” Honey, just play the soul. Don’t sing songs about how you’re going to make soul songs. We do not need exposition. The quality tracks definitely outnumber the bad, but songs that don’t quite work like “On Our Way” and the random blandness like “Without You” keeps the album from being truly worth two discs of material.
Cross-breed: Take Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Marilyn Monroe, half of Motown and a female James Brown, and stick them in a blender with dirrty Xtina.
Reason To Buy: This is by far Aguilera’s — and most modern pop R&B songstress’ — most interesting and mature outing to date, even if it is peppered with flaws. Mariah’s going to kick herself for not doing this first.