In 2006, Christina Aguilera released her fifth studio album Back to Basics. Remember, it was the album where she dressed like an Old Hollywood starlet she dubbed “Baby Jane” and sang throwback-style R&B jams. Back to Basics was the second reinvention of Xtina’s career, right after the Stripped/ Dirrty era. At the time, Rolling Stone called it a de-skankification. Rude, Rolling Stone.
Now, Christina Aguilera is on reinvention number four or five, I think, and a new interview with Paper magazine gives us a little more insight into what that reinvention might look like. It’s her first magazine cover in years and emblazoned under her name is the word “transformation.”
She looks GREAT. And SO young. I don’t think we’ve seen this Christina since What A Girl Wants. Look at that fresh face! Everyone is very hung up on the fresh face, probably because there have been questions over the years about what Xtina has done or not done to her face. Does this cover put that debate to rest?
Just looking at the cover, it seems like Christina’s transformation is going to involve her stripping back down to basics in ways that she did not on both Stripped and Back to Basics. The “no-makeup” makeup look is very in right now but it’s the exact antithesis of everything we’ve known about Christina Aguilera in the past. In every incarnation of Xtina, the one constant is that she is always heavily made up. Even in the inside images where she is wearing a lot more makeup, it’s a more subdued, freckly version of Xtina.
"I've always been someone that obviously loves to experiment, loves theatrics, loves to create a storyline and play a character in a video or through stage…I'm a performer, that's who I am by nature. But I'm at the place, even musically, where it's a liberating feeling to be able to strip it all back and appreciate who you are and your raw beauty."
After that raw beauty comment, the writer notes that Xtina says she’s still “a girl that likes a beat face, let’s not get it twisted.” That actually made me laugh out loud. Of course she is, as she should be. But the real question is, what can we expect from the new Xtina musically?
I don’t really care to hear Christina Aguilera’s Joanne, which was basically Lady Gaga’s “no-makeup” makeup album. I also don’t want to hear Xtina’s Malibu, which was basically just Miley Cyrus breaking up with hip-hop and the artists that made her music career – with less makeup. Some of Christina Aguilera’s biggest hits also heavily relied on hip-hop artists and producers and in this piece, she says she’s a fan of Cardi B, Childish Gambino and Chance The Rapper.
The organic collaboration of the three would be Cardi B. I can see it. Xtina x Cardi. I’m already very into this idea but a Cardi co-sign doesn’t a new era make. So, where does Chistina Aguilera fit in today’s musical landscape? She was pop’s rebel until Pink came along. She was the one with the best voice until Adele. She was channeling Madonna’s sex appeal before it became a rite of passage for every burgeoning pop star.
Now, Xtina says that new artists “don’t have as much backlash” for their sexually expressive or suggestive videos because she paved the way, like Madonna.
OK, but I still want to know about the music! This feature is clearly step one in the rollout of Xtina’s new era but it barely gives us anything. Some things we do learn: Xtina may want to act again (only in Burlesque 2, please) but this time in comedies with Will Ferrell. Social media trolls are the worst. The Voice was “stifling.” I got BORED halfway through typing that. Ballads or bangers? This is the question I want answered.
You can read Xtina’s full Paper Magazine feature here.