PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Featured: Top of Home Page

Christina Aguilera: self-titled

Nikki Tranter

Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera

Label: RCA
US Release Date: 1999-08-24

It's the era alterna-fans dreaded. The pop universe is back and it's bloody huge. Pop is a funny genre. A really good pop song can be spotted from miles away, yet it's the bad ones that usually end up dominating the charts. Why? 'Cause that one good song is rehashed, reverbed, redubbed and remixed into eight other songs until it's all just crap.

Teen pop is the new hair rock, it seems, and it's everywhere. One of the many culprits is that Coke can in a wig, Miss Christina Aguilera. Reviewing this album, I opted for headphones and a notebook. Following this, I had an epiphany -- she's so much better when you don't have to watch her strut about like a trained poodle. Seriously! But why does it have to be good when it'll sell by the boatload anyway? It's not about the music any more, that's why -- it's about the lipstick. Meow.

Christina burst on to the scene in 1999 with the release of "Genie in a Bottle", the first single from this, her debut album. The song opens the album and is a horribly soulless attempt at making this little girl sound all grown up, with enough sexual innuendo ("you gotta rub me the right way baby") to justify the nearly naked, writhing, be-pantied Christina in its video. Old men drooled, 15-year-olds tapped their 15-year-old feet and reasonably enlightened beings scoffed opting for UPN over MTV.

"What a Girl Wants" continues the midriff theme, and though annoyingly catchy, seems rather stagnant. Christina's voice is obviously well-cultivated and able, yet here she's holding back. This is a voice clearly caged inside a studio. Sad, really.

As expected on any "good" pop album, the ballads are a-plenty starting with "I Turn to You". It's a nice little song ruined by that horrid pop beat threatening to destroy cheesy love songs for all time. That beat alone drags Christina's Etta James potential back down to Mariah Carey quality. That blasted beat shows up on almost every damn song.

"So Emotional" continues to soak Christina dry of anything remotely resembling credibility with lyrics like "I'm sinking fast into an ocean full of you" that she would have done better simply ripping off the Whitney Houston song than recording this soulless slime. Diane Warren fails to deliver Christina the goods on "Somebody's Somebody" and the inane "la la la" lyrics throughout the Robin Thicke effort "When You Put Your Hands on Me" are purely putrid. Christina sums up her own need for something better by singing "I don't know if a doll can unwind or how to make a person go (huh?), I don't know how to be what you like and simply open the depths of my soul." Umm, yep.

There are lots of oohs and plenty of ahhs and just enough I wants and you likes to keep the kids happy.

However, before you relegate Miss Christina to the bottom of the CD shelf, thanks to my choice of headphones (mostly fearing humiliation if anyone passing by my room at 3.30am actually heard what I was listening to) and that aforementioned epiphany, there are some redeeming features held deep (very deep) within.

The Disney-produced "Reflections", written by the wondrous Matthew Wilder, manages to break out a little. It's a nice song, without said icky-pop beat that Christina effortlessly does justice to.

"Obvious" is a song I'd like to hear Linda Eder or Marti Webb perform on stage minus Christina's again Mariah-inspired vocal gymnastics.

Carl Sturken's (Debbie Gibson, Anastacia) "Love Will Find a Way" and "Love for All Season" surprisingly aren't all that bad. The guitar work is quite stunning harking back the '80s creating two very interesting songs. The lyrics do have a tendency to border on the sublime ("you make me feel the way a woman is supposed to feel") but what can you really expect from a grown man writing for a teenage girl in a boob tube?

"Come On Over (All I Want Is You)" is a catchy teenage party song and clearly the best on the album. It's reminiscent in style to old school Janet Jackson with a hint of Deniece Williams thrown in for good measure. A great song complete with suggestive humping sounds and a bridge Destiny's Child would risk breaking a nail for.

While Christina continues to come off (especially following the rancid update of "Lady Marmalade" for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack) as a rich tart capable only of crimping her hair in the dark and screeching like a banshee waving her right hand in the air whenever placed in front of a microphone, she has a voice that deserves better. Give this girl her Gucci's put her in a field by a bonfire sans backing tape and let the chords run wild. I'd pay to see that.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.