Christina Aguilera has had a tough album cycle. In March, she made the first step in her comeback with a Paper Magazine cover, looking refreshingly barefaced and promising a “transformation.” A couple months later, we got her first single “Accelerate".  Without listening to it again, I couldn’t tell you what that song sounds like if I tried. Does anyone remember “Accelerate”? The lead single off of a new album should be the one people remember. 

The song I do remember is “Fall In Line”, the duet with Demi Lovato that finally felt like a track worthy of Xtina’s talent and the stripped-down feel she promised on Liberation. “Fall In Line” peaked at #17 on the Billboard Charts. Liberation debuted at #6, above her last album and making it her seventh top 10 album of her career, but for a pop star of Xtina’s caliber and visibility, anything below a #1 debut feels like a disappointment, doesn’t it? Ask Nicki Minaj. 

I say all of this because Christina Aguilera is on the cover of the October issue of Cosmopolitan and for a second after I saw the cover, I couldn’t think of what she could be promoting. I forgot about her whole damn album. That’s not a good sign. Xtina is about to head out on the Liberation Tour and thankfully, I don’t think her tour sales will be as lackluster as her album. Christina has HITS and devoted stans. I’m not a diehard Xtina fan and I would show up for this tour. I saw the Justified/Stripped tour (I know, I know, I was in my JT Sunken Place) and Christina is a good tour artist. Her vocals are great. She comes through with the production. And Liberation, even though it has been forgotten, is actually a solid album. 

In the pull quotes they’ve released, Cosmo doesn’t ask Christina about Liberation’s performance on the charts or anything substantial, really. It’s the same talking points we’ve gotten this whole cycle. She’s “stripping back.” Speaking of Stripped, we get the same tired quote about the “Dirrty” era. 

“I remember being hurt by these commercials on MTV, pitting Britney as the good girl and me as the bad girl. It’s like, if I’m going to be demure and innocent, that’s okay. But if I’m going to just be myself, I’m trouble… ‘Dirrty’ was extremely controversial at the time, but it would be nothing now. I hope I paved the way and helped set the ground rules that women can be any version of themselves they wanna be…and proud of it.”

She’s right. It is one of the most interesting narratives of Xtina’s career trajectory – that she was villainized for a video that if Miley Cyrus put out now, no one would blink an eye. But we’ve heard this before. Xtina promised us a “transformation.” She promised something new. She hasn’t delivered. What she has given us is beautiful magazine covers. Like the Paper Magazine cover from March, this Cosmo cover is GORGEOUS. She looks like the Xtina of my youth. It’s trippy. She’s aging backwards. I am also very into this suit. I think Christina Aguilera’s style has evolved during this new era, but we’ve hardly seen her since the album dropped so we wouldn’t know. She’s promising a “fresh perspective” on the Liberation Tour. I hope she finally delivers.