Fighter (song)

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This article is about the song by Christina Aguilera. For the song by Gym Class Heroes, see The Fighter (song).
"Fighter"
Single by Christina Aguilera
from the album Stripped
Released March 13, 2003 (2003-03-13)
Format CD single
Recorded The Enterprise Studios (Burbank)
Conway Studios (Hollywood)
Length 4:05
Label RCA
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Scott Storch
Christina Aguilera singles chronology
"Beautiful"
(2002)
"Fighter"
(2003)
"Can't Hold Us Down"
(2003)

"Fighter" is a song by American recording artist Christina Aguilera, taken from her fourth studio album Stripped (2002). The song was written by Aguilera and Scott Storch and was produced by the latter. RCA Records released it to US contemporary hit radio stations on March 13, 2003 as the third single from the album. Musically inspired by band Guns N' Roses' song "November Rain", "Fighter" combines influences from R&B, rock, arena rock and rock and roll genres. Lyrically, Aguilera thanks a man doing wrong to her for making her stronger.

Music critics were mostly positive toward "Fighter", praising the song's empowering message and Aguilera's vocal delivery. It peaked at number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments exceeding 500,000 copies in the United States. The single reached the top ten of several national music charts, including those in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.

A music video for "Fighter" was directed by Floria Sigismondi, inspired by Sigismondi's dark theatrics. Aguilera performed the track on three of her major concert tours: Justified and Stripped Tour (2003), The Stripped Tour (2003) and Back to Basics Tour (2006–08). "Fighter" has been covered by several artists, including Jordin Sparks and Darren Criss. The stylistic similarities of "Fighter" to her song "Army of Me" from her 2012 album Lotus would later lead Aguilera to compare the two and consider "Army of Me" as a genuine sequel, describing it as "Fighter 2.0".

Writing and recording[edit]

In the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song, Aguilera revealed the occasion, theme and meaning of "Fighter". She talked about her "very chaotic and abusive" home, where she didn't feel "safe".[1] In school, Aguilera was picked on and alienated because of her musical passion.[1] However, it made her become "smarter and stronger".[1] To release herself, Aguilera started to write songs at the age of 15, both music and lyrics; and it was the way how she found her voice.[1] The writing process of "Fighter" began during her promotion for her debut album in 1999,[1] when she was "a part of the big craze pop phenomenon".[1] According to Aguilera, her debut album helped her a lot to develop the process.[1] She wanted to make an "emotionally rich and positive empowering" song, especially for women, in order for them to speak for themselves be strong.[1] About the idea of the track, she revealed, "I was coming up with titles and ideas and deciding what I wanted to write about. I had to sit down and make sense of my feelings and experiences. I learned a lot from the first record that helped me to develop. I took the good and the bad and considered some of the choices I made and became better because of it.[1]

In 2012, Aguilera wrote and recorded a song titled "Army of Me", which was included on her album Lotus.[2][3] She described it as "Fighter 2.0", a response to "Fighter".[3] Aguilera revealed that she wrote the song in order to her newer, younger fans would have an empowering song to listen, in case they're unsatisfied with her previous works.[3] She told Billboard:[2]

Absolutely. There's a song called 'Army of Me,' which is sort of a 'Fighter 2.0.' There is a new generation of fans from a younger demographic that might not have been with me all the way but that watch me on the show now. I feel like every generation should be able to enjoy and have their piece of 'Fighter' within. This time, the way it musically came together it just felt right for this time and this generation. There's always going to be a fighter in me getting through some obstacle and some hurdle. All these 6-year-olds who know me from pushing my button and turning around in a big red chair who weren't around for the actual 'Fighter,' this is my chance to recharge it, rejuvenate it and do something modernized for them.

"Fighter" was recorded by Wassim Zreik and Oscar Ramirez at The Enterprise Studios in Burbank, California and Conway Studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.[4] It was written by Aguilera and Scott Storch, with its production carried out by the latter.[4] Aguilera produced her own vocals, and arranged all of the instruments, alongside E. Dawk.[4] Dave Navarro, Aaron Fishbein, John Goux played guitars, while Larry Gold took string instruments.[4] Kameron Houff was credited as the drummer, and Tarus Mateen played the bass.[4] Tony Maserati mixed the song, with Anthony Killhoffer as the assistant.[4] Other audio engineering was completed by Aaron Leply, John Morichal, Kevin Szymansai and Scott Whitting.[4]

Composition[edit]

"Fighter" is inspired by various genres: R&B, rock, arena rock and rock n roll. Lyrically, it talks about a man who has done something wrong to the protagonist.

Problems playing this file? See media help.
Chuck Taylor for Billboard and Brian Hiatt for Entertainment Weekly compared "Fighter" to Janet Jackson's "Black Cat".

"Fighter" incorporates elements from R&B,[5] rock,[5][6][7] arena rock[8][9] and rock n roll.[10] The song was Aguilera's first rock-inspired song,[11] and it was inspired by band Guns N' Roses' song "November Rain" (1992).[12] Its instrumentation includes drums, bass, guitars and strings.[4] Written in the key of E minor, "Fighter" is a midtempo track, with a moderate tempo of 96 beats per minute.[13] Katie Hasty for Billboard named it a "punchy anthem".[14] "Fighter" also draw comparisons to Janet Jackson's "Black Cat".[7][15] Aguilera's vocals on the track span from the low-note of A3 to the high-note of E5.[13] The verses are sung by Aguilera using melisma.[13] David Brownie for Entertainment Weekly deemed her vocals on "Fighter" strong and powerful,[16] while Chuck Taylor for Billboard labelled Aguilera's vocals "tornado of a vocal".[15]

At the beginning of "Fighter", the guitar sound was arranged in the chord progression of Em–G/D–D–C–Em/B–B–Am–C/G–G–B7.[13] Aguilera speaks the lyrics, "After all you put me through, you'd think I'd despise you/ But in the end, I wanna thank you, 'cause you made me that much stronger" on the guitar theme by Dave Navarro.[13][17] Lyrically, the song talks about a man who has done something wrong to the protagonist.[11] Later, she wants to thank the man to did her wrong rather than insult him, because he helped make her stronger and work harder, thus making her a fighter.[18] At the chorus, she sings, "'Cause it makes me that much stronger/ Makes me work a little bit harder/ Makes me that much wiser/ So thanks for making me a fighter".[13] The chords in the guitar part are E5–F#5–G5–A5–B5–C5–B5–A5–G5–F#5–E5. She continues, "Made me learn a little bit faster/ Made my skin a little bit thicker/ Makes me that much smarter/ So thanks for making me a fighter".[15] The lyrics of "Fighter" have been recognized as "empowering".[19]

Critical reception[edit]

"Fighter" received generally positive reviews from music critics. David Brownie from Entertainment Weekly called it "spunkier than one would expect from a dance-floor strumpet who loves to flaunt her lung power".[16] "Chuck Taylor complimented "Fighter" for demonstrating that Aguilera "[has] got the goods to rise above what so many lesser acts depend on for celebrity".[15] TJ from Neon Limelight praised "Fighter" as a "masterpiece",[20] while Digital Spy's critic Nick Levine named it a "strutting arena rock",[9] and Nick Butler from Sputnikmusic called it "great."[21] The New York Times editor Kelefa Sanneh was positive toward the track's meaning, calling it "fearless" and "full of mildly rebellious rhetoric".[22] Andrew Unterberger for Billboard wrote that "Fighter" and "Can't Hold Us Down" are two tracks that showed the very different side of Aguilera, "expand audience expectations of her image and sound", in contrast to her debut album.[23] BBC Music's Jacqueline Hodges called the song "hilarious",[24] while Jancee Dunn from Rolling Stone wrote that the song "is a sterile foray into rock".[25] Nana-Adwoa Ofori of AOL ranked "Fighter" number three on a list of Aguilera's best songs,[10] while Bill Lamp placed the song at number six on the same list for About.com, calling it "Aguilera's first single with strong rock elements" that "deals with the common pop single".[11] He continues, "However, the unique twist is the song celebrates the hard times for creating a 'fighter'".[11]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, "Fighter" debuted at number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on April 12, 2003, becoming the week's best-debuting single.[26] In the following week, it jumped to number 56.[27] On the issue dated April 26, 2003, the single charted at number 46.[28] In its fourth week charting, "Fighter" raised to number 38.[29] The single grew ten positions, charting at number 28 on May 10.[30] On May 17, 2003, it charted at number 22.[31] "Fighter" finally peaked at number 20 in its seventh week charting,[32] becoming Aguilera's ninth top-twenty hit on the chart.[33] On the Pop Songs chart, it peaked at number five.[34] The single also peaked at number 28 on the Adult Pop Songs.[35] On November 1, 2003, "Fighter" was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipping more than 500,000 copies in the country.[36] On the Canadian Singles Chart, it peaked at number three.[37]

Throughout Europe, "Fighter" also attained moderate success on charts, peaking within the top 15 in most of the countries where it charted. It reached number 11 in Belgium (Flanders)[38] and Switzerland,[39] number 12 in Norway[40] and Sweden,[41] number 13 in Germany,[42] and number 15 in Denmark,[43] Italy[44] and Spain.[45] In Hungary, it peaked at number 8 on the Mega Top 100 Singles.[46] The single also reached the top five in the Netherlands.[47] On the UK Singles Chart, "Fighter" was a commercial success, peaking at number three and remained there for 13 weeks, becoming the longest-running single from Stripped on the chart.[48] The single also garnered success in Australia and New Zealand, peaking at number five and 14 respectively in the two regions.[49][50] Due to its chart success in Australia, the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) certified "Fighter" gold for its shipments of 35,000 copies there.[51]

Music video[edit]

Aguilera in her black velvet kimono, followed by Gothic ballerinas.

The music video for "Fighter" was directed by Floria Sigismondi, who revealed that it would display Aguilera "like I don't think she's been portrayed before".[17] The video was filmed in Los Angeles, California and was inspired by the director's signature dark theatrics and the life circle of moths.[17] Sigismondi explained the theme and plot of the clip to MTV News:[17]

"The song is sort of about transformation, so I took that in a nature kind of way, the way nature deals with transformation. It's basically about coming from a very poisoned place to an empowerment, a place of strength. I've always had this fear of moths, and I subconsciously wrote this thing with these moths in it, so I guess I have to deal with it. They're furry and they carry dust. I found out in old mythology they are supposed to represent the soul. I think that's very appropriate".

The video begins with Aguilera wearing a black velvet kimono, with a pale complexion and long black hair, refers to a larva.[52] Three pins are lodged in her back, making her hunch.[52] Initially, she is trapped in a glass box, and her kimono is billowing like a balloon. Three Gothic ballerinas eat fruit and then collapse.[52] Aguilera then breaks free from the box by pounding on it until it breaks. She tosses aside her kimono after furiously removing the pins on her back and throwing them away.[52] A tattered, white, moth-covered dress is revealed, symbolizing her metaphoric evolution from the larva to a pupa.[52] In addition, her hair becomes white, and moths fly around her.[52] Near the end, Aguilera wears an Elvira-type spider dress, again proclaiming that she is a "fighter".[52]

The music video for "Fighter" garnered numerous awards. At the 2003 Belgian TMF Awards, the clip won Best Video International.[53] It garnered Aguilera and Sigismondi a Juno Award for Video of the Year at the 2004 ceremony, which was held at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.[54] It also earned four MVPA Awards for Best Pop Video, Best Cinematography, Best Make-Up and Best Styling in a Video in 2004, held at Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, California.[55][56]

Live performances[edit]

Aguilera performed "Fighter" on a number of shows. The singer performed the song for the first time at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 28, 2003, in a medley with "Dirrty".[57][58] The performance featured Redman as a featured artist, and Dave Navarro as the guitarist.[57][59] There, she also performed with Madonna, Britney Spears and Missy Elliott a medley of Madonna's songs "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood", and Elliott's "Work It".[59] "Fighter" was also performed on Aguilera and Justin Timberlake's 2003 summer tour Justified and Stripped Tour, in order to support Stripped and Timberlake's album Justified.[60] In late 2003, Aguilera performed the track during the tour's extension, The Stripped Tour, which happened without Timberlake.[61][62] The performance is included on her first full-length DVD Stripped Live in the U.K. (2004).[61] On June 1, 2007, during the promotion of Back to Basics, Aguilera performed "Fighter" along with "Ain't No Other Man", "Hurt" and "Candyman" at the 2007 Muz-TV Awards.[63] Later, during her 2006–07 Back to Basics Tour, the track was performed as the last song in the encore.[64] Barry Walters for Rolling Stone labelled the performance of "Fighter" "ended the show on a hard-rocking high".[64] It is included on the video release Back to Basics: Live and Down Under (2008).[65]

On June 8, 2010, the singer sang the track with four other songs, "Bionic", "Not Myself Tonight", "Beautiful" and "You Lost Me" on The Today Show.[66][67] She performed in her "hinestone tights" and "red hot pants".[67] Selected as the opener of the show,[66] James Dinh for MTV News named it "aggressive",[66] while Erika Brooks Adickman for Idolator called the performance a "hot-mess show wardrobe".[67] On June 11, 2010, Aguilera performed "Fighter", "You Lost Me", "Not Myself Tonight" along with a medley of "Genie in a Bottle" and "What a Girl Wants" on The Early Show.[68] Later that year, on June 13, she performed all of her biggest hits on VH1 Storytellers, including "Fighter".[20] Before performing the song, Aguilera revealed to the crowd, "When I was younger there were a lot of people, as I mentioned before, that were sort of around me for the wrong reasons. There’s always a positive to those negative times because throughout it you come out so much stronger and wiser".[20] During the Justin Timberlake & Friends benefit show–held by Justin Timberlake on October 24, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada–Aguilera was invited to perform several of her hits, including "Beautiful", "Fighter" and "Ain't No Other Man".[69] At the show beginning, Timberlake declared, "No contest, the best vocalist of my generation".[69] On April 16, 2012, Aguilera performed "Fighter" again on the second season of US reality show The Voice, on which she is one of the judges and coaches, with her "Team Xtina" and Crenshaw High School choir.[70] She wore a "bedazzled bustier with hot pants".[70] Jonathan Hofmann called the performance "insane and bizarre as it sounds".[71]

Cultural impact[edit]

American actor Darren Criss (photo) portrayed as his fictional character Blaine Anderson and covered "Fighter" in the episode "Big Brother" on the third season of US television show Glee.

Since it release, "Fighter" has been recognized as one of Aguilera's most empowering songs for women due to its lyrics.[72][73] It was also featured on several shows. On April 6, 2003, a 90-second music video featuring Aguilera preparing for a center court performance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles was premiered for National Basketball Association (NBA)'s "Love It Live" promotional section.[74] The clip also featured several NBA famous acts, including Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and Yao Ming.[74] "Fighter" was also included in the American reality show, The Biggest Loser, which aired by NBC.[10]

"Fighter" has been covered on numerous occasions. On May 23, 2007, singer Jordin Sparks covered "Fighter" during the season finale of the sixth season of US singing contest American Idol, which made her the winner.[14] On May 26, 2010, five female contestants of the ninth season of American Idol: Lacey Brown, Didi Benami, Katie Stevens, Siobhan Magnus and Crystal Bowersox performed a medley of Aguilera's hits "Beautiful" and "Fighter", where Aguilera also performed her 2010 single "You Lost Me".[75] "Fighter" was also covered by her team's contestants on the second season of The Voice, where she is one of the coaches as well as one of the performers, on April 16, 2012.[71]

During the second blind auditions of The Voice UK, which was aired on March 31, 2012, Denise Pearson (credited as Denis Pearson) covered "Fighter".[76] She was selected to Sir Tom Jones team as a result.[76] American actor Darren Criss, portrayed as his fictional character Blaine Anderson, performed the song on the episode "Big Brother" of US popular TV show Glee, aired on April 10, 2012.[77][78] The version peaked at number 58 on the Hot Digital Songs[79] and at number 85 on the Canadian Hot 100.[80] Singer CeCe Frey, a participant of the second season of US show The X Factor, made a cover of the song.[81] Sylvia Yacoub from Aguilera's team on the third season of The Voice also recorded a version of the song.[82]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording
Personnel
  • Christina Aguilera – Vocalist, songwriter, vocal producer, arranger
  • Scott Storch – Songwriter, producer
  • E. Dawk – Vocal producer, arranger
  • Tony Maserati – Mixer
    • Anthony Kilhoffer – Mixing assistant
  • Wassim Zreik, Oscar Ramirez – Recorder
  • Aaron Leply, John Morichal, Kevin Szymansai, Scott Whitting – Additional engineers
  • Larry Gold – Strings
  • Kameron Houff – Drums
  • Dave Navarro, Aaron Fishbein, John Goux – Guitars
  • Tarus Mateen – Bass

Source:[4]

Track listings and formats[edit]

CD single[83]
  1. "Fighter" – 4:05
Maxi single[84]
  1. "Fighter" – 4:05
  2. "Fighter" (Freelance Hellraiser "Thug Pop" Mix) – 5:11
  3. "Beautiful" (Valentin Mix) – 5:51

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United States[91] March 13, 2003 Contemporary hit radio RCA Records
United Kingdom[92] May 5, 2003 12-inch single
United States[83] June 4, 2003 CD single
United Kingdom[84][93] June 9, 2003 Maxi single, DVD
Germany[94] June 9, 2003 Maxi single
France[95] June 9, 2003 DVD
Germany[96] June 10, 2003 CD single
France[97][98] June 10, 2003 CD single, maxi single

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

  • Canfield, Jack; Victor Hansen, Mark; Geffen, Jo-Ann (November 1, 2009). "Christina Aguilera: Fighter". Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song. United States: Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing LLC. ISBN 978-1-935-09640-5. 

External links[edit]