Christina Aguilera

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This article is about the entertainer. For her self-titled debut album, see Christina Aguilera (album).
Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera at the premiere of Burlesque (2010).jpg
Aguilera at the premiere of Burlesque at Empire, Leicester Square, London in 2011
Born Christina María Aguilera
(1980-12-18) December 18, 1980 (age 33)
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
Occupation
  • Singer
  • philanthropist
  • actress
Home town
Spouse(s) Jordan Bratman (m. 2005–11)
Partner(s) Matt Rutler (2010–present; engaged)
Children 1
Musical career
Genres
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1991–present
Labels RCA Records
Associated acts Justin Timberlake
Website christinaaguilera.com

Christina María Aguilera (Spanish pronunciation: [kɾisˈtina aˈɣileɾa]; born December 18, 1980) is an American singer and actress. Born in Staten Island, New York and raised in Rochester and Wexford, Pennsylvania, she appeared on the television series Star Search and The Mickey Mouse Club in her childhood. Aguilera rose to prominence as a bubblegum pop singer in the 1990s; her self-titled debut album (1999) spawned the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles "Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants", and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)", while her follow-up records Mi Reflejo and My Kind of Christmas (2000) experienced moderate success worldwide.

Displeased with her lack of input in her image and music, Aguilera assumed creative control for her fourth studio album, Stripped (2002), which draws influences from many music genres including soul, hip hop, and rock. Aguilera's fifth studio album, Back to Basics (2006), incorporates elements of 1920s–1940s blues, soul, and jazz music. In 2010, Aguilera released her sixth studio album, Bionic, which features elements from electronic genres, and starred alongside Cher in the film Burlesque. Her seventh studio album, Lotus (2012), is primarily a pop album. Since 2011, Aguilera has served as a coach on U.S. television series The Voice, having appeared on four of its six seasons. Besides her work in the entertainment industry, Aguilera was involved in charitable activities through human rights, world issues, and her work as a UN ambassador for the World Food Programme.

Aguilera is an established pop icon;[1] her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including four Grammy Awards, one Latin Grammy Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To date, Aguilera has sold 17.4 million albums in the United States and 50 million records worldwide. Rolling Stone ranked her at number 58 on their list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, becoming the youngest singer to appear on the list, while Billboard recognized Aguilera as the 20th best-selling artist of the 2000s.

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Christina María Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York on December 18, 1980 to United States Army soldier Fausto Xavier Aguilera and violinist and pianist Shelly Loraine (née Fidler).[2][3] Her father is an Ecuadorian,[4] while her American mother has German, English, Irish, Scots-Irish, and French ancestries.[5] Throughout her father's service in the Army, her family moved to various locations, including New Jersey, Texas, New York, and Japan.[6] Her parents divorced when Aguilera was six years old.[4] According to the singer and her mother, her father was very controlling, as well as physically and emotionally abusive; Aguilera used music as a form of escape.[7] Even though her father has made several attempts to reconnect with her, Aguilera ruled out any chance of a reconciliation.[citation needed] Her father later denied the allegations, stating "I never abused them in any way and they know that".[7] Aguilera, her mother and her younger sister Rachel then lived at her grandmother's home in Rochester, Pennsylvania, a town outside of Pittsburgh.[4] Her mother later remarried and changed her name.[8]

Growing up, Aguilera aspired to be a singer, known locally as "the little girl with the big voice",[citation needed] singing in local talent shows and competitions. At the age of 8, Aguilera won her first talent show performing Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody".[6] On March 15, 1990, she appeared on Star Search singing "A Sunday Kind of Love", finishing as runner-up. She subsequently appeared on Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV's Wake Up With Larry Richert, opting to perform the same song. Throughout her youth in Pittsburgh, Aguilera sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, Pittsburgh Steelers football and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games, including during the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals.[9] She attended Rochester Area School District and Marshall Middle School near Wexford.[citation needed] She briefly attended North Allegheny Intermediate High School before being home schooled due to bullying.[citation needed]

1991–2001: Career beginnings, Christina Aguilera, Mi Reflejo and My Kind of Christmas[edit]

In 1991, Aguilera auditioned for a role on The Mickey Mouse Club; however, she did not meet the age requirements. Two years later, she joined the cast, performing musical numbers and sketch comedy, until the show was cancelled in 1994.[10] Her co-stars included Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell.[11] At the age of fourteen, Aguilera recorded her first song, "All I Wanna Do", a duet with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi.[12] In 1999, Aguilera sent a demo of her cover of Whitney Houston's "Run to You" to Disney, who were looking for a singer to record the song the theme "Reflection" for their animated feature film Mulan (1998).[13] Subsequently, Aguilera was given the opportunity to record the song.[14] "Reflection" peaked at number fifteen on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart,[15] and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.[16]

A 23 second sample of "Genie in a Bottle", the lead single from Aguilera's self-titled debut album. It peaked atop record charts of twenty one nations, including the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

After being given the opportunity to record "Reflection", it was reported Aguilera had gained a record deal with RCA Records.[17] The label laid the foundation for the album immediately and started presenting Aguilera with tracks for her self-titled debut album.[14] Released on August 24, 1999, the album peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and Canadian Albums Chart.[15] The release was certified octuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),[18] having sold eight million copies in the United States and seventeen million copies worldwide.[19][20] The lead single "Genie in a Bottle" topped the record charts of twenty one nations, including the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.[21] It became the top-selling debut single of 1999 in the United States, selling over 1.4 million units.[22] Follow-up singles "What a Girl Wants" and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" also topped the Hot 100 in 1999 and 2000, respectively, while single "I Turn to You", a cover of All-4-One song, reached number three on the chart.[15] Consequently, Aguilera became one of the few female artists to have multiple number one singles on the Hot 100.[23] During the Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show, Aguilera and Enrique Iglesias performed "Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand".[24] In an effort to display the range of her voice, Aguilera performed piano-accompanied sets on television shows and private concerts.[25] At the 2000 Grammy Awards, Aguilera won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.[26]

On September 12, 2000, Aguilera released her second studio album and first Spanish-language album, Mi Reflejo, containing Spanish versions of her first five singles from her debut release alongside new Spanish material.[27] According to producer Rudy Pérez, with whom Aguilera recorded the album in Miami, Aguilera was only semi-fluent while recording, but understood the language, having grown up with her Ecuadorian father.[28][29] The release peaked at number twenty seven on the Billboard 200 and topped the Billboard Latin Albums for nineteen weeks.[15] It was certified sextuple platinum in the Latin field by the RIAA and has sold 480,000 units in the United States.[19][18] The album has sold three million copies worldwide.[30] In 2001, it won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album.[31] In support of Christina Aguilera and Mi Reflejo, Aguilera embarked on her first concert tour, Christina Aguilera in Concert, beginning in May 2000 in the United States and concluding in South America and Asia in early 2001.[32] During the tour, Aguilera dated with Jorge Santos, a dancer whom she hired.[33] On October 24, 2000, Aguilera released her third studio album and first Christmas album, My Kind of Christmas, consisting of cover versions of Christmas standards and five new tracks.[34] It reached number twenty eight on the Billboard 200,[15] having sold 991,000 units in the United States.[19]

2001–03: New management and Stripped[edit]

Despite her international success with three debut studio albums, Aguilera was dissatisfied with the music and image her management Steve Kurtz had created for her, having been marketed as a bubblegum pop singer because of the genre's upward financial trend.[35] Aguilera's views of Kurtz's influence in matters of her creative direction, the role of being her exclusive personal manager, and over-scheduling had in part caused her to seek legal means of terminating their management contract. In October 2000, Aguilera filed a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against Kurtz for improper, undue and inappropriate influence over her professional activities, as well as fraud. After terminating Kurtz's services, Irving Azoff was hired as her new manager.[36][37]

Aguilera performing "The Voice Within", the fifth single from Stripped, during The Stripped Tour (2003)

In February 2001, Aguilera appeared on Ricky Martin's single "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely".[38] It peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100,[15] while reaching the top ten of countries including Australia, Canada and Spain.[39] A month later, Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Pink covered Labelle's 1974 single "Lady Marmalade" for the accompanying soundtrack of Moulin Rouge!.[40] The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks,[41] and earned a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards in 2002.[42] That August, Warlock Records released an album containing eleven demo tracks recorded by Aguilera in 1994 and 1995. Aguilera filed a suit against Warlock Records and the album's producers to stop the release.[43] The two parties came to a confidential settlement to release the album, in which Aguilera lent out her name, likeness, and image for an unspecified amount of damages.[44] Just Be Free charted at number seventy one on the Billboard 200,[15] and has sold 128,000 units in the United States.[19] On September 11, 2011, Aguilera and Santos ended their relationship.[45]

Aguilera decided to create her new style of music on the then-upcoming fourth studio album, having more musical and lyrical depth.[45] She named the album Stripped and explained that the album "is a new beginning, a re-introduction of [herself] as a new artist in a way".[46] Aguilera also changed her persona as she cultivated an increasingly provocative image while promoting the record, during which time she adopted the nickname "Xtina", dyed her hair black, and debuted several tattoos and piercings.[47][48] Aguilera claimed that the new persona better reflected her personality than the previous image she felt forced into by RCA Records.[49] Aguilera co-wrote and partially completed "Miss Independent" for the album; however, later it became the debut single by Kelly Clarkson.[50] Released on October 25, 2002, Stripped debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 330,000 copies.[51] The album was certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA,[18] having sold 4.3 million copies in the United States,[19] and 12 million copies worldwide.[52]

"Dirrty" was released as the lead single from Stripped in September 2002. Its accompanying music video generated controversy due to its sexual content, even sparked protest in Thailand.[53][54] The single peaked at number forty eight on the Billboard Hot 100,[15] and reached the top five of multiple countries in Oceania and Europe.[39] The second single, "Beautiful", reached number two in the United States,[15] and peaked atop the charts of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.[39] The song earned Aguilera the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in 2004.[55] The album spawned the follow-up singles "Fighter", "Can't Hold Us Down" and "The Voice Within" in 2003, all of which attended moderate success worldwide.[39]

From 2002, Aguilera started dating with music marketing executive Jordan Bratman.[56] In June 2003, Aguilera co-headlined the Justified and Stripped Tour alongside Justin Timberlake, before embarking on her subsequent solo The Stripped Tour later that year.[57] Aguilera was the host at the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards.[58] During the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City, Aguilera and Britney Spears garnered significant media attention after kissing Madonna during their performance of "Like a Virgin"/"Hollywood" that evening.[59]

2004–09: First marriage, Back to Basics, motherhood and first greatest hits[edit]

In 2004, Aguilera began working on her follow-up album, opting to bring a 1920s, 1930s and 1940s-inspired sound to the project. She adopted retro-style hairdos and makeup to embrace a more mature image inspired by classic Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Mary Pickford, "[I] wanted to capture the authenticity of the Old Hollywood glam era".[60] During this year, Aguilera recorded "Hello (Follow Your Own Star)" for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class car advertisement,[61] and a makeover of Rose Royce's "Car Wash" with Missy Elliott for the animated film Shark Tale.[62] She also appeared in Nelly's single "Tilt Ya Head Back",[63] and song "Somos Novios" by Andrea Bocelli.[64] The cover of Leon Russell's "A Song for You" with Herbie Hancock earned Aguilera a nomination for the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in 2006.[65] On February 11, 2005, Agulera became engaged to Bratman. The couple married on November 19, 2005 at an estate in Napa County, California.[66]

Aguilera performing the lead single from Back to Basics, "Ain't No Other Man", during the Back to Basics Tour in 2006

Aguilera described her fifth studio album, the double album Back to Basics, as "a throwback to the 20s, 30s, and 40s-style jazz, blues, and feel-good soul music, but with a modern twist".[67] Purchased for sales on August 11, 2006,[68] the release debuted atop the U.S. Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 346,000 copies.[69] It has sold 4.5 million units worldwide,[70] 1.7 million of which were shipped in the United States.[19] The lead single "Ain't No Other Man" reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100,[15] charted within the top three of several countries in Europe, including Hungary, Ireland and the United Kingdom,[39] and has sold 1.7 million digital copies in the United States.[19] The track won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in 2007, where Aguilera also delivered a rendition of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" in tribute of its original artist James Brown.[71] Two international follow-up singles "Hurt" and "Candyman" experienced moderate success in countries across Europe and Oceania.[39] "Slow Down Baby" was released exclusively in Australia,[72] while "Oh Mother" was made available in Europe as the final single.[73] In November 2006, Aguilera began to support the album with the Back to Basics Tour. With 81 dates, it ended in October 2008, visited Europe,[74] North America,[75] Asia,[76] Australia,[77] and Middle East.[78]

Aguilera was featured on Diddy's single "Tell Me", released in September 2006.[79] Aguilera performed "Steppin' Out with My Baby" with Tony Bennett at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2007.[80] According to Forbes, Aguilera was the 19th richest woman in entertainment as of January 2007, with a net worth of $60 million.[81] On January 12, 2008, Aguilera gave birth to her son.[82] Later that year, Aguilera appeared in the Martin Scorsese documentary Shine a Light chronicling a two-day Rolling Stones concert in New York City's Beacon Theatre, in which Aguilera performs "Live with Me" alongside the band's member Mick Jagger.[83] In commemoration of a decade-long career in the music industry, Aguilera released her first greatest hits album, Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits on November 11, 2008 through Target retailer.[84] The album included Aguilera's previous singles and four new songs, two of which are remade versions of her two previous tracks. The release peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200,[15] and entered the top ten charts of countries including Australia, Finland and France.[39] Its only single, "Keeps Gettin' Better", peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold 1.1 million digital copies in the United States.[19][15] In December 2009, Billboard announced its list of top selling artists of the 2000s, with Aguilera positioned at number twenty.[85]

2010–11: Bionic, Burlesque, divorce and The Voice[edit]

Aguilera in September 2010

Aguilera announced that her sixth studio album would be "a very futuristic approach to music",[86] drawing inspirations from electronic genres.[87] On June 8, 2010, the album, entitled Bionic, was released. The release struggled to match the chart impact and sales of her previous albums, peaking at number three on the Billboard 200 and has sold 330,000 copies in the United States.[19][15] The lead single "Not Myself Tonight" charted at number twenty three on the Billboard Hot 100 and experienced moderate success worldwide.[15][39] "Woohoo" featuring rapper Nicki Minaj was released as a single in the United States and several European countries,[88][89] while "You Lost Me" was the second single internationally.[90] The last song to be made available from Bionic was "I Hate Boys", which was sent to Australian contemporary hit radio in July 2010.[91] During this time, Aguilera made a cameo appearance in the comedy film Get Him to the Greek.[92]

In November 2010, Aguilera appeared in her first feature film, the musical Burlesque, in which she starred alongside Cher.[93] The film was written and directed by Steve Antin,[94] and grossed $89.7 million.[95] For the film's accompanying soundtrack, Aguilera sings eight tracks, while Cher performs the other two.[96] The soundtrack reached number eighteen on the Billboard 200 and has shipped 609,000 units in the United States.[19][15] At the 68th Golden Globe Awards in 2011, Burlesque received a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, while "Bound to You", a song performed by Aguilera from the soundtrack, received a nomination for Best Original Song.[97] In December 2010, Aguilera appeared on T.I.'s song "Castle Walls" from his album No Mercy.[98]

Having separated in September, Aguilera filed for divorce from Bratman in October 2010, requesting joint legal and physical custody of their son.[99] After reaching a private settlement and custody deal, their divorce was finalized on April 15, 2011.[100] In late 2010, Aguilera started dating with Matthew Rutler, whom she met during the set of Burlesque.[101] On March 1, 2011, the couple was arrested for public intoxication in West Hollywood.[102] They were later released on bail and no charges were filed.[103]

At the Super Bowl XLV, Aguilera performed the national anthem of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner", and accidentally omitted a line.[104] She later apologized, saying, "I got so caught up in the moment of the song that I lost my place. I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through".[105] The following week, Aguilera, alongside Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams and Florence Welch opened the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, paying tribute to Aretha Franklin.[106] From April 2011 to December 2012, Aguilera served as a contestant judge/coach on The Voice for its three first seasons.[107] In June, Aguilera was featured on single "Moves like Jagger" by Maroon 5, which peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100.[108] In 2012, the single sold 7 million copies worldwide, becoming the ninth best selling single of the year.[109]

2012–present: Lotus and eighth studio album[edit]

Aguilera attending the 13th Alma Awards in 2012

In March 2012, Aguilera released a Spanish-language track titled "Casa de Mi Padre", which was released as the title song for the soundtrack and film of the same name.[110] Later that month, Aguilera confirmed that she was working on a follow-up to Bionic,[111] which she named Lotus and called it a "rebirth" for her.[47] Released on November 9, 2012, Lotus became the least successful album by Aguilera,[112] debuting at number seven on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 73,408 units.[113] The album has sold 240,000 copies[114] and 687,000 tracks in the United States.[115] The album's lead single, "Your Body", debuted and peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a moderate hit worldwide.[15][39] The second single "Just a Fool", a duet with Blake Shelton, peaked at number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100.[15]

In late 2012, Aguilera appeared on tracks "Steppin' Out with My Baby" with Tony Bennett from his album Viva Duets,[80] and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Cee Lo Green from his album Cee Lo's Magic Moment.[116] Upon the conclusion of the third season of The Voice in December 2012, Aguilera was replaced by Shakira for the fourth season.[117] In January 2013, Pitbull's single "Feel This Moment" featuring Aguilera was released, which peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.[15] Aguilera appeard on Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández's cover of "Hoy Tengo Ganas de Ti", released as a single from Fernández's album Confidencias in May 2013.[118]

Aguilera returned for the fifth season of The Voice in September 2013.[119] That October, Aguilera recorded "We Remain" for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.[120] A month later, she appeared on the re-recorded version of single "Say Something", a duet with A Great Big World from their debut studio album Is There Anybody Out There?,[121] which peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100,[15] and has sold three million copies in the United States.[122] In January 2014, Aguilera was featured on a remix version of Lady Gaga's single "Do What U Want".[123] On February 14, 2014, Aguilera became engaged to Rutler;[101] they are expecting a baby girl together.[124] In April, Aguilera announced that she started working on her eighth studio album.[125] For the sixth and seventh seasons of The Voice, Aguilera was replaced by Shakira and Gwen Stefani, respectively.[126][127]

Artistry[edit]

Voice[edit]

Aguilera performing "Ain't No Other Man" on her Back to Basics Tour in 2006

Aguilera is a soprano,[128] having a vocal range spanning four octaves.[129] In November 2008, Rolling Stone placed Aguilera at number 58 on its list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, writing that "[Aguilera] has had the finesse and power of a blues queen ever since she was a child star".[130] She has been referred to as "The Voice of a Generation" and a blue-eyed soul singer.[131][132]

Céline Dion wrote an article on Aguilera for Time magazine's 2013 list of their 100 Most Influential People in World, saying, "The first time I heard Christina sing, I was totally blown away. Her voice has got so much power, yet so much sensitivity and technically, I think, she’s flawless."[133] Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker writes, "Aguilera doesn't need to reincarnate Sarah Vaughan to be a serious singer. She already is one, in the tradition of nineteen-nineties pop and R&B, skillfully deploying melisma for razzle-dazzle".[134] Vocal coach Cari Cole, called Aguilera the "Queen of riffing", adding that her vocals are rooted in soul music.[135] The People's Choice Awards honored Aguilera with the People's Voice award, recognizing her vocals and "ability to reach millions of people across a number of genres including pop, soul and R&B".[136] Rolling Stone ranked Aguilera at number 58 as their 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, the youngest singer on the list.[130][137]

Since her debut in 1999, Aguilera has been compared to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.[138] David Browne of The New York Times writes, "Aguilera has been one of the foremost practitioners of the overpowering, Category 5 vocal style known as melisma. Ms. Carey, Ms. Houston and Ms. Aguilera, to name its three main champions, are most associated with the period from the late ’80s through the late ’90s."[139] A review in the Los Angeles Times compared Aguilera's vocal style to Barbra Streisand, Gladys Knight, and Aretha Franklin adding, "Aguilera's Streisand-esque tendencies are a good thing; they're helping her figure out how to become the "great singer" she's been dubbed since she released her first single, the wise-beyond-its-years "Genie in a Bottle", at 18."[140] Although praised for her vocals, Aguilera has been criticized for oversinging in her songs and concerts.[141] The Huffington Post named Aguilera a main proponent for "oversouling", described as the "gratuitous and confected melisma." The term was coined by producer Jerry Wexler who said, "I have found that flagrantly artificial attempts at melisma are either a substitute for real fire and passion or a cover-up for not knowing the melody."[142] The majority of Aguilera's songs are characterized by her loud vocals, though she has used breathy and soft vocals.[143] Longtime producer and writer, Linda Perry, commented on working on the track "Beautiful", saying, "I tried to keep it straight. I told her to get rid of the finger waves. Every time she'd start going into "hoo-ha", I'd stop the tape. I'm like, 'You're doing it again.'"[144] Aguilera co-wrote "Sing For Me" from her album Lotus, a response to critics who labeled her for oversinging. In the song, Aguilera explains why she sings the way she does, saying "I don’t even care what the world thinks about how I sound."[145] She admits to oversinging in her early years adding, "Before, to make up for the kind of music I didn't want to be doing, I would over-riff, to prove that I have talent. It was too much".[146]

Musical style and themes[edit]

Aguilera's music is often pop,[147] and R&B,[148] but also incorporates blues and soul into her songs.[149] Throughout her career, Aguilera has reinvented musical style for each of her releases. Her self-titled debut studio album is primarily a teen pop record,[150] while the follow-up Mi Reflejo draws inspirations from Latin music.[148] After dealing with the new management, Aguilera sought to bring more musical depth into her album Stripped, with elements from a wide range of genres including rock, hip hop and Latin.[35] Her 2006 studio album, Back to Basics, mixes elements from "20s, 30s, and 40s-style jazz, blues, and feel-good soul music" with "a modern twist".[67] By contrast, Bionic (2010) sees heavy influences from "futuristic" electronic genres.[87] Aguilera's releases often consist of both ballads and uptempo tracks.[151]

A prevalent theme in Aguilera's music and lyrics is the subject of love. Other common themes explored include spirituality, motherhood, and grief. The singer co-wrote two songs which dealt with the domestic abuse throughout her childhood. Aguilera describes her sense of responsibility to include glimpses of her personal and vulnerable past so that "people that can relate might not feel as alone in the circumstance."[152] Originally marketed as a teen pop singer during the initial stages of her career, Aguilera expressed her displeasure with the direction of her debut album.[45] After leaving her management, Aguilera took creative control of her music and lyrical content; departing into a broad range of musical genres for her follow-up album Stripped such as soul, rock, metal, Latin, R&B, and hip-hop. A review in Billboard called the album a "creative breakthrough",[153] and was noted as helping distance Aguilera from her then pop contemporaries.[154] Aguilera has often said that she prefers working with producers that are not in popular demand, saying "I don't necessarily go to the main people that are the No.1 chart-toppers in music."[155] The New York Times described her decision to work with DJ Premier on Back to Basics as "a decision to snub some of the big-name producers on whom pop stars often rely."[156] The album included live instrumentation and samples of past jazz and soul records. Some tracks on the album included non-traditional forms of pop music such as swing jazz and big band, drawing comparisons to Madonna's I'm Breathless and the musical film Cabaret.[157]

Her first feature film, Burlesque, influenced by Cabaret, featured several established songs that were updated and worked into dance numbers, a style similar to 2001's Moulin Rouge!. Follow-up albums, Bionic and Lotus, featured mainstream producers including Shellback and Max Martin. On working with Martin, Aguilera added, "He's known about me but we haven't crossed paths. Those records were the kind I wanted to stray apart from. If you look at what I did in the past (after my debut), I always try to do things that will challenge me and challenge the listener, too."[153] Female empowerment is a frequent theme in Aguilera's music. The fourth single from Stripped, "Can't Hold Us Down", was written as a female anthem referencing the double standards placed upon women. The Guardian states that the track, "rewrites feminism to a hip-hop beat."[158] Aguilera has used themes of sexuality in her music, in which she says, "I feel sexuality to be very empowering. Men love to believe that they own our sexuality, but men don't."[159] The Guardian describes Bionic as a "post-feminist party album",[160] adding, "she incites more of a sisterly spirit of collaboration, including riot grrrl feminists Le Tigre. Aguilera's not shy of the odd feministic declaration herself."[161]

Influences[edit]

Aguilera has cited Etta James (pictured) as her biggest musical influence

The singer has credited blues singer Etta James as her main influence and inspiration, whose classic song "At Last" has been covered by Aguilera throughout her career. She elaborated, "Etta is my all-time favorite singer. I've said it for the last seven years – since I had my first debut record out – in every interview."[162] Following James' death in 2012, Aguilera was asked to perform "At Last" at her funeral.[163] Prior to performing Aguilera stated, "There's a line in this song that says 'I found a dream that I could speak to.' And for me that dream, all my life, has been Etta James."[164] The two met in 2006 during an article and interview with InStyle, in which James said to Aguilera, "It's like you were here many years ago. I've never seen a girl sing as tough as you sing. It's like you're an old soul."[162] The majority of her album, Back to Basics, pays tribute to James and other pop standard singers who many originated from the 1950s. In her early years she listened to vintage jazz, blues, and soul music.[165] Aguilera has also mentioned Whitney Houston as another major influence, having performed many of her songs in her early years during talent shows[6] and adopting her vocal style. Critics have noted Houston's influence on Aguilera, likening her tone and style of singing.[138] Aguilera appeared in a video message on the The Oprah Winfrey Show honoring Houston in which she says, "I want to thank you for being my inspiration".[166] Aguilera cites Mariah Carey as another influence.[167] According to author Pier Dominguez, Aguilera stated that it was Carey and her debut single, "Vision of Love", who had the biggest influence on her vocal style.[168] Aguilera has also credited Madonna and Janet Jackson as two of her biggest influences "for being re-inventive and being brave as strong females, to explore whatever, even if they do get bad press. It's just like they were fearless."[169] Her other musical influences include Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone.[170][171]

Aguilera cites the musical The Sound of Music and its lead actress, Julie Andrews as her first inspiration for singing and performing.[172] At the age of six, the film helped Aguilera cope with her violent childhood adding, "Bad things happened in my home; there was violence. The Sound of Music looked like a form of release."[173] Aguilera performed the film's song, "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", during her concert special, My Reflection. She mentioned the "Golden age of Hollywood" as another inspiration in which she says, "I'm referencing Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, Greta Garbo, Veronica Lake".[174] Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located near that of Julie Andrews and is next to Greta Garbo's.[175] In her music video for "Ain't No Other Man" she plays her alter ego, "Baby Jane" in reference to the film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?.[176] The film's stars included actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The third single from Back to Basics, "Candyman", was inspired by pin-up girls, paintings by Alberto Vargas, and the 1941 song, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by The Andrews Sisters.[177] Aguilera has expressed interest in cultural icons Nico, Blondie and artists Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.[178] She has often worked with photographer and close friend, David LaChapelle who once worked with Warhol. Chapelle has shot many of Aguilera's music videos, magazine shoots and advertisements. She is also a fan of graffiti artists Banksy and D*Face. In 2006, she purchased three of Banksy's works during a private art exhibition; one of them included a pornographic picture of Queen Victoria in a lesbian pose with a prostitute.[179] Lucille Ball;[180] and her Burlesque co-star, Cher.[181] Fashion has also been a part of Aguilera's music career and image, which she has used as a form of expression during performances and music videos. In 2003, she became the muse and inspiration for Donatella Versace's 2003 fall line. Versace also designed pieces for her tour the following year. Aguilera is also a fan of Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen, whose designs she has worn throughout her career.[182][183]

Legacy[edit]

Several publications have ranked Aguilera as one of the youngest and greatest singer over the past decade.[184][133][130][185] She was named the Best Latino Singer of All Time by Latina magazine.[186] Aguilera has sold 17.4 million albums in the United States[19][187][188] and over 50 million albums worldwide.[189][190][191] "Genie in a Bottle" was listed at number 38 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s[192] and was the top selling debut single of 1999.[22] Allmusic critic Ed Hogan suggested that "what [made] the song's initial success even more astounding is the fact that it topped the charts weeks before an accompanying music video was made."[193] "Beautiful" was listed at number 52 on Rolling Stone's top 100 songs of the 2000s and number 18 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of '00s list.[194][195] "Lady Marmalade" was listed at number 47 on the same ranking.[196] Aguilera was regarded as a teen idol[197] and became one of the most successful teenage singers of the late 1990s and early 2000s. She was ranked the 20th Artist of the 2000–09 decade by Billboard[198] and became the second top selling single artist of the 2000s, behind Madonna.[199] Aguilera's television and music video impact has also been acknowledged in pop culture. In 2012, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times commented that she "will be remembered for her glamour, her scandalous take on femme-pop and her Brobdingnagian voice, and [...] as the person who almost single-handedly reshaped music-competition reality programming".[200] The Michigan Daily opined that "Aguilera deserves to be known as one of the greatest artists to ever hit the pop industry", adding that "her self-titled debut had more chart-topping, iconic singles than almost any other artist to date."[201] Terry Young, Jr. of the The Hampton Institute, writes that Aguilera "redefined the 21st century female pop performer". He adds that following the release of Stripped, "artists like Spears and Beyoncé became more comfortable expressing sexuality and no longer felt the need to sell the notion of innocence".[202] Vibe magazine considers Aguilera as "one of the most impactful pop stars of the last decade".[191] Aguilera was ranked number eight in VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Music and was one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2013.[133][203][204]

Aguilera's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which she received in 2010

Amongst Aguilera's music videos, "Dirrty" has been noted as one of the most influential videos in pop culture,[205] which MTV, VH1, MSN, FHM and several publications voted and named as the sexiest female music video of all time.[206] MTV named "Dirrty" the sexiest video ever made and was listed second on VH1's 25 Most Scandalously Sexy Music Videos of All Time.[206] She has won two Video Music Awards including Video of the Year and has been nominated eighteen times including Best Director and is considered one of the greatest women of the music video era by VH1.[207] Publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Maxim have regarded Aguilera as a sex symbol.[134][149][208][209] Consistently, she is ranked on the Maxim and FHM Hot 100 list, in 2003 was voted as the Sexiest Woman of the Year by Maxim, and her second cover became, and remains, the biggest-selling issue to date.[210][209] Aguilera has also been regarded as a gay and fashion icon.[211][212][213] She was the first honoree on The Abbey's Gay Walk of Fame for her contributions to gay culture.[213] The music video for "Beautiful" earned Aguilera a GLAAD Media Award for its positive portrayal of the LGBT Community. The UK LGBT rights charity Stonewall named "Beautiful" the most empowering song of the decade.[214] Aguilera's costume from the film Burlesque, was featured in the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition.[215] Aguilera was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is included on the "Women Who Rock" exhibition by the National Museum of Women in the Arts.[216] A wax figure of Aguilera can be found at Madame Tussauds wax museum in London and New York City.[217] Aguilera was among the 50 Most Powerful Mothers of 2014 by Working Mother[218] and was ranked at number 12 on TIME's list of The 100 Most Obsessed-Over People on the Web.[219]

Aguilera has won four Grammy Awards, amongst seventeen nominations. At the age of 19, she received her first, the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, making her the second youngest solo recipient behind LeAnn Rimes and eighth overall. Aguilera was also the youngest artist to win the Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. Her performance at the 2007 Grammy Awards ceremony was named the 3rd Greatest Grammy Moment and listed as one of the greatest Grammy performances of the last 25 years by The Washington Post.[220] She appears twice on Fuse's list of the 25 Best Grammy Moments of all time.[221] During the opening of the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards Aguilera joined Madonna, Britney Spears, and Missy Elliott. MTV listed the performance as the number-one opening moment in the history of the ceremonies.[222] Aguilera's songs have been covered and performed on the television programs Glee and Smash.[223][224][225] Aguilera has inspired various contestants and winners from The Voice, The X Factor and American Idol, including Chris Mann,[226] Kelly Clarkson,[130] Jordin Sparks,[227] and Candice Glover.[228] Her work has influenced artists including Jasmine Trias,[229] Ashley Tisdale,[230] Charice,[231] American figure skater Johnny Weir,[232] and American swimmer Dana Vollmer.[233] and more. Having been compared to Aguilera in the beginning of her career, Lady Gaga has cited the singer as an influence saying, "When I was 15, I was singing "I Turn to You" at the top of my lungs. She was an inspiration to me to have a wider vocal range."[234] Critics compared Gaga's vocals to Aguilera on the song "Do What U Want".[235] Miley Cyrus has named Aguilera an influence[236] and referenced "Dirrty" for her music video "We Can't Stop".[237] Kitty Empire of The Observer writes, "Cyrus liberates her inner Aguilera, blending old-time jazzy balladry, romantic righteousness and dubstep sub-bass."[238] Demi Lovato cites Aguilera as an influence,[239] and dubbed by critics as "The best thing Disney's had since Christina Aguilera".[240]

Other ventures[edit]

Philanthropy[edit]

Aguilera on a promotional poster for World Hunger Relief

Aguilera has been involved with various charities throughout her career. In 2001, she signed a letter from PETA to the South Korean government asking that the country stop its alleged killing of dogs for food.[241] During her Back to Basics Tour in 2007, Aguilera wore a stole designed by Roberto Cavalli, unaware that it was made of fur. After receiving a video about the treatment of foxes from PETA vice president Dan Mathews, she replaced the stole with synthetic fur for the remainder of the tour, adding "I only ever wear fake fur".[242] In 2010, Aguilera auctioned tickets for her planned tour for Christie's A Bid to Save the Earth; proceeds benefited the nonprofit environmental groups Conservation International, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Central Park Conservancy.[243] She has worked alongside nonprofit organization Do Something saying, "Every individual has the power to inspire young people across the country."[244] In 2010, Aguilera was nominated for a VH1 Do Something Award for her work with the organization and her efforts in the response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[245] Aguilera is still a major contributor in her hometown of Pittsburgh contributing regularly to the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.[246] She has worked with Lifetime Television's 'End violence against women' campaign.[247] Regarded as a gay icon, Aguilera was honored at the GLAAD Awards for using gay and transgender images in her music video for "Beautiful". When accepting the award Aguilera said, "My video captures the reality that gay and transgender people are beautiful, even though prejudice and discrimination against them still exists."[248] In 2005, she appeared on a compilation album, Love Rocks, proceeds benefit the Human Rights Campaign. She spoke out against California Proposition 8 which eliminates same-sex marriage in California.[249] Aguilera contributes in the fight against AIDS, by participating in AIDS Project Los Angeles' Artists Against AIDS "What's Going On?" cover project. In 2004, Aguilera became the face for MAC Cosmetics and spokesperson for MAC AIDS Fund. Singer Elton John featured Aguilera in his charity book titled 4 Inches benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[250] John also picked Aguilera, for his annual "Fashion Rocks" charity concert which accompanies music and fashion to benefit the fight against AIDS/HIV.[251]

Hillary Clinton (center) and David Novak (right) presented Aguilera (left) with the George McGovern Leadership Award in October 2012 for her contributions to the United Nations World Hunger Relief effort.

In the run-up to the 2004 United States presidential election, Aguilera was featured on billboards for the "Only You Can Silence Yourself" online voter registration drive run by the nonpartisan, non-profit campaign "Declare Yourself". In these political advertisements, shot by David LaChapelle, Aguilera was shown with her mouth sewn shut to symbolize the effects of not voting. In late 2007, Aguilera became the spokesperson for "Rock the Vote" where she urged young people to vote in the 2008 presidential election.[252] In November 2005, all of her wedding gifts were submitted to various charities around the nation in support of Hurricane Katrina victims.[253] That year, she also performed at "Unite of the Stars" concert in aid of Unite Against Hunger in Johannesburg, South Africa and at the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at the Coca-Cola Dome.[254] Aguilera took part in a charity album (remaking Lennon's "Mother"), proceeds benefit Amnesty International's efforts to end genocide in Darfur. The album, Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, was released June 12, 2007, and featured various artists.[255] In 2008, she headlined London's Africa Rising charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall, which raises awareness for finding substantial issues facing the continent.[256] Later that year, she appeared on the Turkish version of Deal or No Deal, Var mısın? Yok musun?, where proceeds were donated to a charity program for orphans.[257]

In 2009, Aguilera became the global spokesperson for World Hunger Relief appearing in advertisements, online campaigns and a public service announcement.[258] Aguilera and her then-husband traveled to Guatemala with the World Food Programme to bring awareness to issues such as the high malnutrition rate in that country. She met with families of the villages and some of the beneficiaries of WFP's nutrition programs.[259][260] Since becoming a global spokeswoman Aguilera has helped raise over $148 million for WFP and other hunger relief agencies in 45 countries.[261] She was honored at Variety's annual "Power of Women" luncheon in 2009 alongside other women in entertainment for her contribution to philanthropic and charitable causes.[262] In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Aguilera donated a signed Chrysler 300 which was auctioned for relief efforts.[263] She was one of the many artists who appeared on the Hope for Haiti telethon on January 22, 2010, donations directly benefited Oxfam America, Partners In Health, Red Cross and UNICEF. She appeared on a second public service announcement alongside former boxer Muhammad Ali to raise funds for the World Food Programme's efforts to bring food to survivors of the earthquake.[264] Subsequently, Aguilera made her first visit to Haiti as an ambassador against hunger where she visited two schools in the town of Léogâne. During her time there she assisted in the ongoing efforts to help the badly damaged town where she served meals and highlighted reconstruction efforts in the country.[265] That year, Aguilera was appointed UN ambassador for the WFP.[266] Hillary Clinton awarded Aguilera the George McGovern Leadership Award, making her the first singer to receive the award.[267] Following Hurricane Sandy, Aguilera performed "Beautiful" to open the Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together benefit telethon. She introduced the song by saying that she had been born in the devastated borough of Staten Island; all proceeds went to the American Red Cross.[268] In 2013, Aguilera visited Rwanda, toured several Congolese refugee camps with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and released a public service announcement with the World Food Programme.[269][270] Aguilera was honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award.[271]

Product and endorsements[edit]

In 2000, Aguilera was the face for make-up line Fetish, where she worked in choosing colors and packaging for the line; she ended her contract the following year.[272] Throughout her career, Aguilera has endorsed several brands, including Skechers, Mercedes-Benz, Verizon Wireless, Versace,[212] and soft drink giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi in 2001 and 2006, respectively.[273] In 2004, Aguilera earned £200,000 (about $300,000) for opening the summer sale at London's Harrods store[274] and appeared in an advertisement for MAC Cosmetics Viva Glam V campaign. In 2005, she was reportedly paid $3.6 million[275] to sing a three song set for Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko's wedding. Aguilera signed a contract with European cell phone operator Orange to promote the new Sony Ericsson Walkman phone during the 2006 World Cup. Following the birth of her son in 2008, she was reportedly paid $1.5 million by People for his baby pictures, which became the ninth most expensive celebrity baby photographs ever taken.[276] In 2010, Aguilera was paid $1 million by investor Charles Brandes to perform at a private party.[277] In 2011, she was paid €2.4 million (around $3.2 million) by a Spanish multi-millionaire for a private four song concert.[278] In 2008, jewelry designer Stephen Webster and friend of Aguilera released "Shattered", a collection of sterling silver pieces, through Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. Aguilera, who inspired the collection, was featured as a Hitchcock heroine.[279] They reprised their work together for Webster's 2009 spring line.[280] In 2011, Aguilera attended São Paulo Fashion Week to premiere her new line of clothing for Brazilian department store C&A, which launched in April.[281]

Aguilera released two fragrances throughout Europe; the first one, Xpose, was released in late 2004 and sold relatively well.[282][283] Through Procter & Gamble, Aguilera released her signature fragrance, Simply Christina, in 2007.[284] In Christmas 2007, the fragrance became the number one perfume in the United Kingdom,[285] and later in 2009 it became the 4th best selling perfume in the United Kingdom,[286] and Germany where it topped sales for the year.[287] The perfume won as the people's choice for favorite celebrity fragrance at the annual UK Fifi Awards 2008.[288] She released her third fragrance, Inspire, accompanied with a body care collection, on September 1, 2008.[289] The perfume hit shelves in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Northern and Eastern Europe. It was Aguilera's first fragrance released outside of Europe.[290] Her worldwide ad campaign included a television ad shot by David LaChapelle and was released in the United States through Macy's department stores. The release coincided with Macy's 150th anniversary which featured Aguilera in commemorative photos.[291] She released her fourth fragrance, By Night, in October,[292] which became the third best selling fragrance in the United Kingdom in 2009.[286] Both “By Day“ and “By Night“ were nominated for Best Perfume of the Year at the FIFI Awards 2011.[293] The range was further augmented by Royal Desire in 2010,[294] Secret Potion in 2011, Red Sin in 2012,[295] and Unforgettable in 2013.[296] Since 2007, Aguilera's perfumes have earned several awards worldwide, making her the number one awarded celebrity brand.[297]

Discography[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Concert tours[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

  • Scott, Kieran (2001). I Was a Mousketeer!. Disney Press. ISBN 978-0-7868447-0-8. 
  • Dominguez, Pier (2002). Christina Aguilera: A Star is Made: The Unauthorized Biography. Amber Communications Group, Inc. ISBN 978-0-9702224-5-9. 
  • Anne Donovan, Mary (2010). Christina Aguilera: A Biography. ABC-CLIO, LLC. ISBN 978-0-313-38320-5. 

External links[edit]