Monday, November 19, 2012

It’s True What You Heard, I am a Freak, I’m Disturbed

Lotus - Christina Aguilera

Two years ago Christina Aguilera released Bionic and it sank like a rock. It features songs where it sounded like Christina was trying to out-Gaga Lady GaGa at a time when most people were already tiring of Lady Gaga. It mirrored her debut album where she was riding the teen pop coattails of Britney Spears. But the thing is, Christina Aguilera, unlike the two other pop star (and many that populate the charts for the past decade) can sing. She is even the lynchpin coach on a show called The Voice. A half a year after Bionic dropped off the charts, Adele released 21 showing that people who can sing without all the trappings of a modern day pop singer. I thought to myself, Christina Aguilera should not be competing with the Britney Spears and Lady Gaga’s of the world; she should be competing with Adele.

So how does Christina Aguilera start her first album, Lotus, in the post-Adele era? With a heavy dose of auto-tune. Not only that, the first single was co-written and produced by Max Martin, the pop maestro who have us Baby One More Time. And like most songs from the Max Martin catalogue, Your Body is ultra catchy, but you think less of yourself when you catchy yourself singing along. I guess after three seasons of The Voice I should have seen this coming as everyone on her team have been bland pop singer with the exception of Jesse Campbell and Lindsey Pavao (neither of who inexplicably made the finales of her team) leading her to two straight last place finishes and with the new rule change this season will probably have her entire team voted off before the finals.

Christina did recruit two of her fellow coaches from The Voice to her new album (apparently Moves Like Jagger was enough studio time with Adam Levine). Cee Lo Green shows up on Make the World Move where Cee-Lo plays a glorified hype-man for the club ready track. Just a Fool is the closest thing Christina has ever come to country so it is not surprising she trades verses with the resident country voice on her show Blake Shelton, but I was left after the song was over wishing that Christina would had kept the song for herself as it could have been her one of her strongest ballads.

Even though she goes the ultra-pop route for most of the album, there is a quick Adele-type interlude for two songs in the middle of album starting with Sing for Me where Aguilera shows she is still the best voice of her generation. That is followed by Blank Page, which goes the stripped down Someone Like You route where it is just Christina and a piano (and some subtle strings flourishes). I would much rather have had a whole album like this especially where a song latter she starts a weird reggae segment includes pair of songs, Cease Fire and Circles.

But Lotus, for better or worse, is a pure pop album. Of course the album is littered with self empowering anthems, about half the tracks. While Red Hot Kind of Love harkens back to her Genie in the Bottle days. Army of Me and Make the World Move are good old school dance songs that thankfully do not utilize any of that annoying dub-stop or EDM trends that every pop song has to have these days (unfortunately Let There Be Love does jump on the annoying trend). It is clear from her choices on The Voice, Christina Aguilera still loves pop music, I just wished she would put out a record that rivals Adele.

Song to Download – Blank Page

Lotus gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

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