Christina Aguilera: Bionic

0
Posted September 13, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

christinaaguilera00This time around, the newly-crowned Voice focuses way too much on dance pop and urban disco workouts while running across new diva comparisons

Never mind the fact that Christina Aguilera is probably the closest a singer has been to being a heir of Whitney Houston – at her career’s best. You can tell she isn’t comfortable with being a safe pop singer – which explains her “Dirrty” image campaign via Stripped, her expeditions into other genres (primarily showcased on 2006’s double-disc Back to Basics) and her willingness to become transparent before her fans. Vocally, she owns the chops that equally tugs at the heart of pop balladry and unapologetic gospel belting. It is that distance in between both tendencies that best describes the vast artistry of Christina Aguilera. Even though some of her objectives and decison-making remains questionable in the eye of the beholder, the former good girl of Disney’s New Mickey Club House, without any question, remains one of the most versatile female singers of our time.

Her latest venture and fourth disc to date, Bionic, is a step forward into the future for Aguilera’s following. Back to Basics may have been all cutesy in its trip through the musical museum of the past, Bionic is a fast-forward leap into cyborg-designed synth pop and electro disco with heavy influence on modern pop and R&B. She continues to control her own individual creative process; focusing on more brash bad girl chapters and a long list of producers including Tricky Stewart, Polow da Don and Switch to get her point across. But in the process of putting out Lady Gaga and Ke$ha dancefloor buzzers, she runs into ugly pop star comparisons and no longer looks like the leader of the crop. Sure Aguilera will be quick to state to the press that she’s showcasing her various personalities with each album release, but it’s all a bit too funky and risque’ for the new mom and wife. Not just lyrically, but even sound-wise – with all of the computer-mechanical tricks and reverb surrounding her big voice.

Much of the material sounds good, even if it’s borderline nasty in its design. Tracks like the dance-pitched “Not Myself Tonight” (sounding like a millennium update of Whitney’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight”) and “Desnudate” kick out high-energy eroticism perfect for those sweaty never-ending, same tempo club medleys. “Glam,” a bit faster, struts shamelessly like Madonna’s “Vogue” but with more ego-enhancing elements and a bit heavier on the gay (and you thought “Vouge” was gay enough). Bionic is more about Aguilera’s ambition to prove herself to the haters. You can sense that urgency on “Prima Donna” (“I’m a prima donna/I can rule the world/Don’t care who’s around me/I can rule the world”) and with “Vanity” (“Mirror mirror, on the wall/Who’s the flyest bitch of them all/Never mind, I am”). Based off of those offerings alone, you can tell these fiery numbers are mere campaign chants designed to win back the core of her base who’s now gone goo-goo for Gaga.

The album is far too long on uptempo club grooves, you would think Bionic was only an electronic/dance record. It’s not. Halfway into the disc, Bernard Edwards, Jr., known as the producer Focus… and son of Chic co-founder, ushers in the R&B quiet storm ballad “Sex for Breakfast.” The experience is better than what its narrow-minded title allows, offering up cuddly Jill Scott sultriness. A studio version of Linda Perry’s “Lift Me Up” (first revealed on the live charity telethon Hope for Haiti Now), “You Lost Me” with its swooping romantic string arrangements and the soft pop tune “All I Need” is sandwiched in between the morning sex and the closing three Ke$ha-wannabe tracks are. Some will call it boring, some will welcome her return to something resembling “Beautiful,” but these entries smudged between all of the party pop and four-on-the-floor workouts seems a bit careless – especially when you consider all of the uptempo tracks surrounding the five songs.

There are good songs injected into the mix and some will definitely find its place in the galaxy of pop radio, but maybe this time around, there’s just too much focus on personality and not enough on song memorability. Most of the dance cuts easily mirror one another and when she proves she’s the baddest bitch of them all, you want her to just move on instead of spending three more tracks trying to her point. And even with “Woohoo” featuring bad girl pro Nicki Minaj and “I Hate Boys,” she goes a step further – probably so far that an exceptional veteran publicist couldn’t save her now. But the naughty playfulness is just what defines the nightlife and Aguilera does a good job, even if it resurrects those pesky comparisons, in adding more sensation to the Gaga franchise. So, in the meantime, crank up the strobe lights, get a little tipsy and work the floor for all its worth. Don’t be afraid of the Terminator album cover – Bionic isn’t as futuristic and creative as it’s made up to be.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 04 Jun 2010
  • Label: RCA
  • Producers: Christina Aguilera, Polow da Don, Focus…, Sia Furler, Samuel Dixon, Ladytron, Linda Perry, Tricky Stewart, John Hill, Switch, Le Tigre, Ester Dean
  • Track Favs: Not Myself Tonight, Desnudate, Sex for Breakfast, You Lost Me, All I Need

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


0 Comments



Be the first to comment!


Leave a Response


(required)

Close
Please support HIFI Magazine
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better

Twitter

Facebook

Google+