Christina Aguilera:Biography

Christina Aguilera

Introduction

Christina María Aguilera, born on December 18, 1980, is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and television personality. Recognized as the “Voice of a Generation,” she is known for her four-octave vocal range, high notes, and use of melisma. Aguilera is considered an influential figure in popular music, addressing controversial themes like feminism, sexuality, LGBT culture, and the sex-positive movement.

Having started her career on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club as a child, Aguilera gained fame in 1999 with her debut album, featuring hit singles “Genie in a Bottle,” “What a Girl Wants,” and “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You).” She won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Subsequent albums, including “Mi Reflejo” (2000) and “My Kind of Christmas” (2000), showcased her versatility, with “Mi Reflejo” becoming the best-selling Latin pop album of 2000.

Aguilera’s career evolved with “Stripped” (2002), a departure from her teen idol image, and “Back to Basics” (2006), a critically praised old-school music-inspired release. International successes like “Lady Marmalade,” “Beautiful,” “Dirrty,” and “Fighter” marked her diverse musical journey.

In the early 2010s, Aguilera released albums “Bionic” (2010) and “Lotus” (2012), along with successful singles like “Not Myself Tonight” and “Your Body.” She also starred in the film “Burlesque” (2010) and contributed to its soundtrack. Collaborations like “Feel This Moment,” “Say Something,” and “Moves like Jagger” kept her at the top of charts.

Aguilera’s later projects included albums “Liberation” (2018) and “Aguilera” (2022). She is recognized as one of the best-selling music artists, a pop culture icon, and a triple threat entertainer. Her achievements encompass Grammy Awards, Latin Grammy Awards, ALMA Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Billboard Music Award, Guinness World Record, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Considered one of the greatest vocalists, she is also regarded as one of the most influential Latin artists in the entertainment industry.

Career

Christina Aguilera’s journey to her music career showcases her persistence and talent. After her initial rejection from The All-New Mickey Mouse Club in 1991 due to age requirements, she received a second chance in 1992 and successfully became a “Mouseketeer” alongside future stars like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and others.

In 1997, Aguilera decided to pursue a music career and moved to Japan. Although her duet with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi, titled “All I Wanna Do,” didn’t achieve commercial success, this period allowed her to gain some international exposure.

Despite facing challenges, including an unsuccessful attempt to win a singing contest in Romania in 1997, Aguilera continued to pursue her dream. She recorded demo tapes and sent them to various record labels, including Walt Disney Records. Her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “Run to You” caught the attention of Ron Fair, an A&R executive from RCA Records.

The turning point came when Aguilera recorded “Reflection,” the theme song for Disney’s animated film Mulan (1998). The song’s success, reaching number 15 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, contributed to her recognition in the industry. Ron Fair, impressed by her talent, signed her to RCA Records in late 1998.

With the backing of RCA Records and significant investments in her debut studio album, Aguilera embarked on her journey as a solo artist. This marked the beginning of a highly successful music career that would make her one of the prominent pop stars of her generation.

1999–2001:

In May 1999, Christina Aguilera released “Genie in a Bottle,” the lead single from her debut album. The song quickly rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, maintaining its position for five consecutive weeks and becoming the second best-selling single of 1999. “Genie in a Bottle” achieved international success, topping charts in over 20 countries. However, its lyrical content attracted criticism from conservatives, including celebrities like Debbie Gibson, leading to the song being considered “too provocative” for a teen idol. As a result, Radio Disney replaced the song with a censored version. Despite the controversy, the track was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Christina Aguilera’s self-titled debut album, released on August 24, 1999, received critical acclaim and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. It sold over ten million copies in its first year and was later certified eight times platinum by the RIAA. The album showcased Aguilera’s versatility, blending pop with R&B influences. At the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, Aguilera won the Best New Artist category, solidifying her status as a genuine singer.

Following the album’s success, Aguilera continued to dominate the charts. “What a Girl Wants” topped the Hot 100 and marked the first new number one entry on the chart for the 2000s decade. The song earned her a nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards. Success continued with “I Turn to You,” reaching number three on the Hot 100, and “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You),” her third number-one hit.

In May 2000, Aguilera embarked on her debut concert tour, “Christina Aguilera in Concert,” which spanned North America, Latin America, Europe, and Japan until February 2001. Her second studio album, “Mi Reflejo,” released in September 2000, topped both the Billboard Top Latin Albums and Latin Pop Albums for nineteen consecutive weeks. The album featured Spanish-language versions of songs from her debut album and new tracks, earning her success in the Latin music market. At the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards, “Mi Reflejo” won Best Female Pop Vocal Album.

October 2000 saw the release of Aguilera’s first Christmas album, “My Kind of Christmas,” which reached number one on the US Top Holiday Albums chart. Despite polarized reviews initially, the album has since received retrospective praise. Aguilera also starred in a holiday special, “My Reflection,” which aired on ABC in December 2000.

In 2001, Aguilera collaborated with Ricky Martin on “Nobody Wants to Be Lonely,” which topped charts internationally. She also featured alongside Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and Pink on “Lady Marmalade” from the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack. The song achieved critical and commercial success, winning a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year.

Additionally, in August 2001, Warlock Records released “Just Be Free,” a demo album recorded by Aguilera between 1994 and 1995. The release faced legal challenges, with Aguilera filing a suit against the label and the album’s producers to prevent its release. However, a confidential settlement was reached, allowing the album to be released.

This period marked a significant chapter in Christina Aguilera’s career, establishing her as a powerhouse in the music industry with both domestic and international acclaim.

2002–2004:

With new management and a desire to distance herself from her teen pop image, Christina Aguilera embraced a new persona known as Xtina. This transformation included changes in her appearance, such as dying her hair black, sporting tattoos, and adopting body piercings. In September 2002, she released the controversial song “Dirrty,” which received mixed reviews and peaked at number 48 on the Billboard Hot 100. The accompanying music video stirred controversy for its explicit content, depicting overtly sexual fetishes. Conservative organizations and moralists sought to ban the video on MTV, and it even sparked protests in Thailand, resulting in a ban on local television. Despite the backlash, “Dirrty” topped the charts in the UK and Ireland.

Aguilera’s fourth studio album, “Stripped,” was released on October 22, 2002. She took on an executive production role and co-wrote most of the songs. While the album received mixed reviews, it achieved commercial success, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 and eventually earning a five-times platinum certification from the RIAA. In the UK, “Stripped” sold over two million copies, becoming the second highest-selling album by an American female artist in the 2000s. Globally, it was reported that the album sold 12 million copies.

The album’s second single, “Beautiful,” received widespread acclaim for its empowering lyrics and became an LGBT anthem. The song reached number two on the Hot 100 and topped charts in various international countries. “Beautiful” won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards. Other singles from the album included “Fighter,” “Can’t Hold Us Down,” and “The Voice Within.”

In June 2003, Aguilera co-headlined The Justified & Stripped Tour with Justin Timberlake, exclusively touring North America. The joint tour attracted a significant audience and grossed over $31.8 million, ranking sixteenth on Billboard’s list of Top 25 Tours of 2003. Aguilera then embarked on The Stripped Tour in Europe, Asia, and Australia, with performances at Wembley Arena being recorded and sold as a video album titled “Stripped Live in the U.K.” Unfortunately, a second leg of the tour in North America was canceled due to a vocal cord injury.

At the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, Aguilera opened the show with a performance of “Like a Virgin” and “Hollywood” alongside Britney Spears. The performance gained significant attention when Madonna joined them on stage, and the three shared a controversial kiss, making it one of the most iconic moments in VMA history.

In August 2004, Aguilera recorded a cover of “Car Wash” with rapper Missy Elliott for the “Shark Tale” soundtrack. She also contributed vocals to “Tilt Ya Head Back” with rapper Nelly. Both songs charted on the Billboard Hot 100. In November 2003, Aguilera hosted the MTV Europe Music Awards, attracting media attention for her provocative performance and earning the title of Top Female Pop Act of 2003 by Billboard.

2009–2011:

In 2009, Christina Aguilera was recognized as the twentieth best “Artist of the Decade” by Billboard and received a nomination for the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Act Ever. She announced her sixth studio album, originally titled “Light & Darkness,” which was later retitled and scheduled for release in June 2010. The lead single, “Not Myself Tonight,” was released in April 2010 and peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. Aguilera performed the song on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The album, titled “Bionic,” was released on June 6, 2010, debuting at number three on the Billboard 200 and topping European and UK charts. “Bionic” drew inspiration from electronic music and received mixed reviews from critics.

The album’s singles, “You Lost Me” and “I Hate Boys,” were released in June 2010. Although a tour was initially planned, it was postponed and later canceled due to prior commitments. In November 2010, Aguilera starred in the film “Burlesque” as a waitress turned burlesque performer. She received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame the same week as the film’s premiere. While the film received mixed reviews, Aguilera’s performance was praised, and the film grossed $90 million at the box office. Aguilera recorded eight tracks for the film’s soundtrack, which reached number 18 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA. The song “Bound to You” received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.

In early 2011, Aguilera faced media coverage after omitting a few lines while performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XLV. She apologized for the incident. That same month, she paid tribute to Aretha Franklin at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. In April 2011, Aguilera became a coach on the reality competition show “The Voice” on NBC, returning for several seasons. Her duets with finalists on the show, “Beautiful” and “The Prayer,” charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

Later in 2011, Aguilera featured on Maroon 5’s song “Moves like Jagger,” which received positive reviews and topped the Hot 100 for four non-consecutive weeks. The song was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards and was certified diamond by the RIAA in July 2021.

2016–2021:

In May 2016, Christina Aguilera left “The Voice” after its tenth season, which she won with her contestant Alisan Porter. On the season finale, she performed “I Have Nothing” and “Dangerous Woman,” the latter with Ariana Grande. A month later, Aguilera released the song “Change,” dedicated to the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. In August 2016, she recorded a disco song titled “Telepathy” featuring Nile Rodgers for the soundtrack of the Netflix series “The Get Down,” and the song reached number one on the Dance Club Songs chart.

In July 2017, Aguilera voiced a video-game dancer in “The Emoji Movie” and contributed vocals to the documentary film “Served Like a Girl” for a song titled “America.” In November of the same year, she performed a tribute to Whitney Houston at the 2017 American Music Awards.

In March 2018, Aguilera announced the completion of her eighth studio album, which she referred to as “Liberation.” The album, released on June 15, 2018, received favorable reviews and incorporated R&B and hip-hop elements. “Liberation” debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming Aguilera’s seventh US top-ten album. The lead single, “Accelerate” featuring Ty Dolla Sign and 2 Chainz, became her tenth number one song on the US Billboard Dance Songs Chart. Other singles from the album, “Fall in Line” (with Demi Lovato) and “Like I Do,” received Grammy nominations.

To promote “Liberation,” Aguilera embarked on her first tour in 10 years, The Liberation Tour, from September to November 2018. This was followed by The X Tour in Europe and Mexico from July to December 2019. She also headlined “Christina Aguilera: The Xperience,” a concert residency at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas from May 2019 to March 2020. In October 2019, she released “Haunted Heart” from “The Addams Family” film soundtrack and collaborated again with A Great Big World on “Fall on Me.”

In early 2020, Aguilera recorded two songs for Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan”: “Loyal Brave True” and a re-recording of “Reflection.” She appeared on ABC’s “The Disney Family Singalong” and its follow-up, performing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Remember Me.” In November 2020, Aguilera signed a new management deal with Roc Nation.

In July 2021, she performed two sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Aguilera recorded “The Addams Family Theme” for “The Addams Family 2” soundtrack. In October, she performed “Reflection,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and “Loyal Brave True” in ABC’s Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary special. On December 7, 2021, Aguilera was honored with the People’s Music Icon honorific award at the 47th People’s Choice Awards.

2022–present:

As of September 30, 2022, Christina Aguilera released her ninth studio album, self-titled “Aguilera.” The album was originally a double album and paid tribute to various genres of Latin music. It consisted of three separately released parts: La Fuerza, La Tormenta, and La Luz. The album was preceded by singles “Pa Mis Muchachas,” “Somos Nada,” “Santo” and followed by “Suéltame” and “No Es Que Te Extrañe.” The complete album received critical acclaim and secured nominations at various awards shows, including the 23rd Annual Latin Grammy Awards, where it won for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

Christina Aguilera and her songs received seven nominations at the 23rd Annual Latin Grammy Awards, with the album winning Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. The album also received two nominations at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Latin Pop Album and Best Immersive Audio Album. The single “No Es Que Te Extrañe” was nominated for Record of the Year at the 24th Annual Latin Grammy Awards.

On June 11, 2022, Aguilera headlined the Los Angeles Pride festival with guests Mýa, Kim Petras, and Paris Hilton. The event stirred some controversy due to the use of a strap-on dildo during the performance.

In October 2022, to commemorate the 20-year anniversary, “Stripped” was reissued with additional content, including “I Will Be” (the b-side to “Dirrty”) and Benny Benassi’s remix of “Beautiful.” A new music video for “Beautiful” was also released. On November 10, 2022, Time Studios announced a partnership with Roc Nation to produce a documentary about Aguilera.

On September 22, 2023, Aguilera released “Learning to Fly” as part of the soundtrack for PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie. She also performed at the EuroPride concert in Malta. Towards the end of the month, it was reported that Aguilera would executive produce a stage adaptation of “Burlesque.” In December, she began headlining a second residency at The Venetian Resort’s Voltaire in Las Vegas.

Influences

Christina Aguilera has cited various artists as her role models and influences across different genres. Here are some of the notable figures and genres that have inspired her:

  1. Etta James: Aguilera considers Etta James a role model, and James’s song “At Last” made a significant impression on her. She expressed a desire to be as bold as she wants to be while having James’s memory to back her up.
  2. Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music): The Sound of Music and its lead actress, Julie Andrews, were early references for Aguilera. They played a role in shaping her interest in singing and performing, as well as broadening her interest in Broadway.
  3. Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald: Aguilera cites these iconic singers as major influences on her music. Their vocal styles and contributions to the music industry have left a lasting impact on her.
  4. Madonna and Janet Jackson: As performers, Madonna and Janet Jackson have inspired Aguilera for being positive female artists who aren’t afraid to take chances, be daring, experimental, and sexy.
  5. Cher: Cher played a significant role in encouraging Aguilera to be a performer and a woman who has the courage to explore various aspects of her artistry.
  6. Latin Influences: Aguilera has been influenced by Latin music, with artists like Julio Iglesias, Chavela Vargas, Vicente Fernández, and Rosalía playing a role in shaping her musical tastes.
  7. Rock Bands (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Radiohead): Aguilera has expressed an appreciation for rock bands, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Radiohead, indicating a diverse range of musical influences.
  8. Blues and Soul Music: Aguilera developed a taste for blues and soul music during her childhood visits to record stores. She appreciates the emotional depth and passion present in this genre.
  9. Old Hollywood Actresses: Actresses from the Old Hollywood era, such as Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, and Veronica Lake, have inspired Aguilera. She finds fascination in the golden age of film and strives to capture the authenticity of the glam era.
  10. Contemporary Art: Aguilera draws inspiration from contemporary art, citing artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Banksy. This influence is reflected in various aspects of her artistic expression.
  11. Bette Davis and “Baby Jane” Alter Ego: The character Baby Jane from Bette Davis’s role in the psychological horror film “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” served as inspiration for Aguilera’s alter ego in the “Ain’t No Other Man” music video.
  12. Golden Age of Film: Aguilera expresses a fascination with the golden age of film, seeking to capture the authenticity of the glam era and drawing inspiration from various figures in classic Hollywood.

Voice

These influences showcase the diverse range of inspirations that have contributed to Christina Aguilera’s multifaceted career in music and entertainment.Critics describe Aguilera as a soprano, possessing a four-octave vocal range. She is also able to perform the whistle register. Maura Johnston, a Slate journalist, calls Aguilera’s voice “an instrument that, despite its ability to leap octaves, has a low-end grounding similar to that possessed by opera singers”. The Boston Globe columnist Joan Anderman highlighted her vocal versatility: “She is a real singer… blessed with breathtaking elasticity, golden tones, and sheer power that separate the divas from the dabblers”. In addition to sustaining high notes, Aguilera is recognized for using the melismatic technique. Jon Pareles from The New York Times emphasizes that “she can aim a note as directly as a missile or turn its trajectory into an aerobatic spiral of leaping, quivering, and scalloping melismas”. Ron Fair, A&R executive from RCA Records, was impressed by her “perfect intonation” and concluded: “She’s got the pipes to be the next Barbra Streisand or Céline Dion”.

Aguilera’s singing technique draws comparisons to other singers. Journalist David Browne suggests that, alongside Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, she “forms the team of the main proponents” of the melismatic technique. Richard Harrington from The Washington Post also notices similarities with both artists: “She has a genuinely powerful voice that’s evoked comparisons [to them], though it, for the most part, avoids those singers’ ornamental mannerisms”. The New Yorker columnist Sasha Frere-Jones credits the technique by making her “a serious singer without needing to reincarnate the Sarah Vaughan”. Songwriter Steve Kipner praises Aguilera’s vocal dexterity, including her ability to “internalize[d] all the riffs from Chaka Khan”. Los Angeles Times music critic Ann Powers writes that she possesses a “voice purely powerful as that of Etta James… and she’s moving toward the expressiveness of Gladys Knight, if not Aretha Franklin”. Powers also associates her vocal ability with Donna Summer when she performs records influenced by rhythm and blues.

Aguilera has been criticized for the excessive use of melisma and oversinging during her concerts. The Huffington Post columnist John Eskow calls her “the main proponent of oversouling”. Eskow recognizes Aguilera’s voice as a “great instrument,” although she “[doesn’t] seem to know when to stop” with the use of “gratuitous and confected melisma”. Lucy Davies, music critic from BBC Music, raves about her “stunning voice,” but suggests that “she could be more varied, simply by cutting out some of the ‘ye-e-eeeh, woah’ in her songs”. Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Chris Willman credits Aguilera’s tendency to oversing as an influence of Mariah Carey, noting “her slightly nasal tone that really only becomes obvious when she’s overselling a song”. Alexa Tietjen from VH1 acknowledges that Aguilera “does tend to take it to the extreme at times… but her vocal prowess is what’s gotten her so far. Love them or hate them, the riffs are a part of who she is as a performer”.

Musical style

Aguilera’s discography is generally categorized as pop, contemporary R&B, soul, and hip-hop. According to critics, she has also experimented with other musical genres in her works. In a 2008 interview, she explained that she is “always inspired by new things” in music and enjoys “experimenting with [her] voice”. Alexis Petridis from The Guardian considered the “boldness in [continually] reinventing” her music as “one of her most impressive facets” as an artist. Initially established as a bubblegum pop singer, she mixed teen pop and dance-pop on her first records, Christina Aguilera (1999) and Mi Reflejo (2000), with the latter also taking inspiration from numerous genres in Latin music.

Moving away from the teen niche, Aguilera’s post-2000 material mainly incorporated R&B and hip-hop. Listed as an executive producer on Stripped (2002), she mixed both genres with Latin pop, rock, neo-soul, gospel, among others, while Back to Basics (2006) was described as a “throwback with elements of old-school genres combined with a modern-day twist [and] hard-hitting beats”. She continued merging R&B with other musical styles on Burlesque (2010), as well on Liberation (2018), which also features hip-hop, soul, and blues elements.

The show tune “Lady Marmalade” is noted as Aguilera’s first musical transformation. Referred to as “too urban” by RCA Records executives, the song transitioned her music “from teen pop to a more mature sound”. Despite the renewal in her repertoire, Aguilera continued producing power ballads—which became a signature in her discography—in between her uptempo material. Kelefa Sanneh, music critic from The New York Times, observed the continuous modification in her music, in addition to highlighting her “decision to snub some of the big-name producers on whom pop stars often rely”. Her notable sonically drastic ventures include the subversive futurepop on Bionic (2010), electropop club on Lotus (2012), and Mexican ranchera numbers on Aguilera (2022).

Lyrical themes

Aguilera’s music has been the subject of analysis. Critics have acknowledged domestic violence experienced during childhood as one of the main topics in her music. Mary Anne Donovan, author of Christina Aguilera: A Biography (2010), noted that she “channeled her fear and sadness away from the abuse in her family to instead create the music that became her art and her livelihood”. It also influenced Aguilera’s transition to adulthood and impacted many of her songs, whose lyrics reference female empowerment. In a 2006 interview, she commented: “I feel a responsibility to share some of these things that aren’t kind of the brighter sides of my life. People [who] can relate might not feel as alone in the circumstance”.

Aguilera has also often defended the sex-positive movement and denounced social double standards in her music. Reviewing Stripped (2002), Sophie Wilkinson from Vice opined that its music “explores nuanced articulations of sexual desires and fears while highlighting the social double standards”, in addition to giving “any woman the confidence to take charge of her sexuality and ownership of her body”. Jennifer K. Armstrong, author of Sexy Feminism: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Success, and Style (2013), opined that her music has “reject[ed] the double standards set forth by sexism and patriarchy”.

Chin Wai Wong from Hollins University also observed topics such as romance, introspection of vulnerability, gratitude for support, and sexual liberation in Aguilera’s music, representing “multi-dimensional aspects of life [and] different social responsibilities a woman experiences”. While critics noted the feminist message in her works, Aguilera was acknowledged for her “refusal to sanitize her own sexuality to meet either the norms of mainstream gender politics or mainline Feminism’s resistance”. The Guardian journalist Hermione Hoby opined that she “incites a sisterly spirit of collaboration [and] is not shy of the odd feministic declaration herself”. Other themes addressed in her lyrics include self-respect, body image, and LGBT rights, in addition to “fighting for creative freedom and gender equality”.

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