is Christina Aguilera’s fourth full-length English language album and her first in four years since 2006’s blast from the past, . At the time of its release, was completely different than anything Aguilera had done. Similarly, is just as reinventing. Running either 59 minutes or over 80 (depending on the different versions), Aguilera neither waffles nor wavers in her commitment to bringing a new side of herself to the world.
This is not just a concept she flirts with; she fully threw herself into it. She wanted to make something she has passion for, something she genuinely wants to do and wants to do well.
is completely different than any other album Aguilera has put out in the past. Less than half of the songs are inspired by R&B. The majority of the album is a technological dancehall.
Think reggaeton as described by a computer. The album is like a sonic wall of sounds, which can definitely be overwhelming and disorienting for some. But after the initial shock wears off, there are so many details and layers to hear. Even within one song, there are many riffs and instruments that make a quick appearance and then, just when the listener realizes it’s there, it’s gone. Listen to five seconds of “Bionic.”
This is such a great break to hear from a mainstream artist. So much music is so similar that by the end of a listen, it is easy to be singing along. This album is the opposite. It constantly moves within itself, making it hard to predict exactly what is next, but easy to recognize it when it comes.
Generally, when people imagine Christina Aguilera, most people produce a picture of her pointing to the heavens while her sound of her voice is blasting through.
She is well known for her vocal gymnastics, something she does not completely break away from on but successfully keeps under control. She almost sounds uneasy singing such “easy” hooks.
However, there are a few songs where Aguilera lets a little loose. These are the R&B songs which are outnumbered by the faster electronic songs. This handful of songs actually comes as a refreshing interlude.
They breathe a little humanity into an album otherwise filled with a very accompanied voice. The simplicity of these R&B songs juxtaposed with the computational chaos gives the listener a chance to breathe before the beat machine cranks up again.
People throw around the word “reinvention,” but Aguilera really does it here, at least musically.
This album is totally different than any other music she has put out, aside from the material leading up to it. It may not be wholly original, but this music done on the scale of such a huge artist is absolutely fantastic. Aurally, similar sounds are floating around, but getting this variety and polish is really quite unique.
The deluxe version of should be the only version released. Half of the good stuff is in the deluxe version, including “Monday Morning,” “Bobblehead,” “Birds of Prey” and “Stronger than Ever.” These tracks along, with “Bionic” and “Elastic Love,” are the standout tracks. There are plenty of other good songs, and in fact, there are only a few misses, like the high-concept, low-execution “Sex for Breakfast.”
is one of the best albums to come along in a while from one of the best singers of this generation. Did Whitney Houston ever explore this much? The album is controlled chaos and full of energy.
There is so much in this album because of the time and care with which it was produced. There are several writing perspectives it encompasses, including Aguilera herself, Sia, M.I.A. and Le Tigre. is a great listen and challenges other artists to rethink their sound, just as Aguilera did and does continually.