Genie in a Bottle

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"Genie in a Bottle"
Single by Christina Aguilera
from the album Christina Aguilera
B-side "Blessed" "We're a Miracle" "Don't Make Me Love You" "Genio Atrapado"
Released June 22, 1999 (1999-06-22)
Recorded February 1999 (1999-02)
Length 3:36
Label RCA
  • David Frank
  • Steve Kipner
Christina Aguilera singles chronology
  • "Genie in a Bottle"
  • (1999)

"Genie in a Bottle" is a song by American singer Christina Aguilera from her self-titled debut album (1999). It was written and produced by Steve Kipner and David Frank, with additional writing from Pamela Sheyne. Following the recording of "Reflection" for Disney's animated film Mulan in 1998, RCA Records decided to approach Aguilera to record material for her debut album. The song was released on June 22, 1999 by the label as the album's lead single. "Genie in a Bottle" is a teen pop and dance-pop track which incorporates elements from R&B. Lyrically, it uses sexual references to present the theme of self-respect. Due to the sexual sounds, the song sparked controversy from media outlets, as it was edited on radio stations for younger children.

Upon its release, "Genie in a Bottle" received generally favorable reviews from contemporary music critics. They found the track mature, clever, and provocative; some of whom complimented Aguilera's vocals on the track. It was one of the songs to help Aguilera win a Grammy Award for Best New Artist at the 2000 ceremony. Commercially, the single achieved international success, peaking within the top five of most of the charts worldwide. The song peaked atop the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it remained for five consecutive weeks and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), having sold more than 1.4 million copies in the country. "Genie in a Bottle" also garnered similar success worldwide, peaking atop the charts of 21 nations.[1] To date, "Genie in a Bottle" has sold over 7 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.

An accompanying music video for "Genie in a Bottle" was directed by Diane Martel, who had previously directed Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover". The video, shot in Malibu, California, shows Aguilera and her friends go to a beach party with some boyfriends. Upon its release, the clip garnered positive feedback from critics and gained many plays on music channels such as VH1, BET and Total Request Live (TRL), spending 65 days within the top ten chart of TRL. "Genie in a Bottle" has been widely recognized as one of Aguilera's signature songs, and was credited with establishing her name in the music industry. Two alternative versions of the song were made, a Spanish version entitled "Genio Atrapado" for her Spanish album Mi Reflejo (2000) and an electropop styled version called "Genie 2.0" from her first greatest hits album Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits (2008).


After receiving notification that the final season of The New Mickey Mouse Club (1993–94) would air, Aguilera became determined to release her debut studio album by the time she completed high school during 1994–95.[2] She began recording sessions with producers Roberts Alleca and Michael Brown, but was displeased with the current pace of her career.[2] Despite being offered free studio time with Alleca and Brown, Aguilera ventured to Japan in an effort to boost her career.[2] While there, the pair offered her the opportunity to collaborate with Japanese pop star Keizo Nakanishi on the track "All I Wanna Do" (1994), though the experience failed to achieve commercial success.[2] As her international successes broadened, Aguilera caught the attention of future manager Steve Kurtz; she had previously had a spoken agreement with Ruth Inniss, which subsequently never came to be.[3]

Kurtz spent much of his time devoted to finding Aguilera a record deal, sending demos to multiple companies. Just as communications with RCA Records began, she was offered the chance to record "Reflection", the theme song for the 1998 Disney film Mulan. Its success landed her a multi-album recording contract.[4] RCA's financial state prevented them from contending with major labels at the time. In an attempt to encourage Aguilera to sign with them and maintain the hype surrounding "Reflection", they offered to record and release her debut studio album by January 1999, though such an arrangement ultimately failed to happen.[5][6] Originally, Aguilera "wasn't too crazy" about the demo recording for "Genie in a Bottle", though she eventually became "proud" of the end result.[7] RCA executive Ron Fair sympathized with her reaction to the release and inclusion of the track, finding that the marketing decision would be to release a "sugar candy" number one single, something that wasn't necessarily a "great song" so that her career could strengthen.[8]

Writing and development[edit]

EMI executive Carla Ondrasik introduced two of her most prominent songwriters, David Frank and Steve Kipner.[9] They began working together, and later collaborated with writer Pamelia Sheyne.[9] The evening before their songwriting appointment, Frank awoke with an idea for a song which consisted of an eight bar loop with "a lot of different changes". When presenting the track to Sheyne, she performed the lyrics "If you want to be with me", which Frank liked.[9] The three writers continued adding lyrics to a "really fast" writing session; they agreed that intellect was an afterthought, with the main intention to create a "hit song".[9] They agreed a female should serve as the lead singer, at which point Frank recommended that Aguilera record the track.[10]

Aguilera contributed a spoken hook for the song, commenting that there "wasn't enough time" between the Mulan soundtrack and Christina Aguilera recording sessions for her to provide lyrical offerings. She later claimed that she had a substantial role in the track's production, stating that she adjusted instruments and lyrics after being displeased with its "rough beginnings".[11] Originally presented as "If You Want to Be With Me", Aguilera's management suggested the final name "Genie in a Bottle".[9] The title was conceived to present an Arabian theme, which the label felt they could market with beaded jewelry and clothing to develop the record's theme.[11] Prior to being recorded by Aguilera, the track received much interest from the writers of the up-and-coming girl group Innocence, who felt that the band was more likely to make the song a hit. However, after RCA Records executive Ron Fair pushed for the track, the writers allowed Aguilera to record the track, and had "no doubt" she was the right performer after she completed the recording.[9]


Aguilera performing "Genie in a Bottle" on her Stripped World Tour.

The demo track that the record company had heard originally was used as a basis for Aguilera's actual recording as she simply replaced the vocals on the demo with her own before the writers and producers edited it for improvement, however after the first recording was completed they felt her vocals were too "hard" sounding and a second proved to be "softer" which they had wished for.[9] Kipner co-writer of the track was impressed by Aguilera's performance of complex R&B lines during the recording of the track, something he only saw in older artists comparing her vocals to that of; Chaka Khan, Etta James and Mariah Carey.[8] The recording of "Genie in a Bottle" was detailed in an article by Sound on Sound in which David Frank described the development of the track.[12] Before Frank had met Aguilera most of "Genie in a Bottle" had already been completed, he had heard a tape delivered by RCA featuring Aguilera's performance of "Reflection" but Frank feared she could not perform in a "hip-hop orientated style".[12] The instrumental for "Genie in a Bottle" was almost complete before the entire composition had been finished, it was only when he was contacted by songwriter Pam Sheyne that they progressed in writing the track and later Frank contacted Steve Kipner "a good friend" of his, and after agreeing to collaborate the three continued writing "Genie in a Bottle".[12]


A 22-second sample of "Genie in a Bottle"'s chorus. A teen pop and dance-pop track with elements from R&B, the song uses sexual reference to talk about self-respect.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Genie in a Bottle" is a teen pop and dance-pop song[13] It was record with publications noting the youthful message with The New York Times saying "One of the summer's catchiest singles captures the moment's anxieties about teen-age sex".[14] The track has been described as "blue-eyed-soul" and has been labelled "a skittish dance hit, propelled by indecision "My body's saying let's go [...] but my heart is saying no". The chorus then plays with "bubbly dance beats" as Aguilera metaphorically describes herself as a Genie trapped, and can only be released when rubbed "the right way".[14] She explained "If you listen to the words "My body's saying let's go but my heart is saying no". My heart is saying no. So it's really a song about self-respect and treating me the way I want to be treated before I just give my love away to anybody".[14] Sexual references also come from the "oohs and ahs" in addition to the R&B ad-libbing, celebrities such as Debbie Gibson spoke out against the song saying she was "horrified" with the lyricism being performed by an 18-year-old, the comment went on to upset Aguilera who found her being a female was restricting what she could perform.[14] Lyricism in the track had sexual references which saw controversy arise, Larry Flick from Billboard commented, "Fueled by a chugging groove and richly layered vocals, the tune is punctuated by a breathy command to "rub me the right way"", Aguilera explained "the song is not about sex, It's about self-respect. It's about not giving in to temptation until you're respected.[15] In Malaysia the controversial lyrics gained it a ban which led Aguilera to re-record some of the lyrics such as; "hormones racing" to "heart-beats racing" and "rub the right way" to "treat me the right way".[15]

Critical reception[edit]

'Genie', [Aguilera's] ubiquitous first single, became an instant hit due to its catchy chorus and Aguilera's appeal. Besides being her first hit single, the song also separated her from the other pop stars that were coming out at the same time. The single boasted debatably provocative lyrics ('my body's saying let's go' and other lyrics were considered too provocative to be sung by a teen idol some thought. Radio Disney played a censored version of the song on their station). Aguilera quickly established she was different than your typical pop star."

Yahoo!, Nicole Hogsett describing the song's impact on Aguilera's career[16]

Tom Lanham of Entertainment Weekly gave the song a B+ rating referencing the predictability after other performers from the Mickey Mouse Club writing "Yet another ex-Mouseketeer scampers down the Britney-pop path with a suggestive synth ditty and a husky voice well beyond her 18 years." Lanham wrote her vocal performance is "uncomfortably adult" and called the track "a sinfully sweet confection".[17] A writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gave the song a positive review calling it a "smoldering soul-pop" track and described Aguilera's vocals as being "provocative" whilst calling the song a "pleasure" to listen to.[18] In a review for the album Christina Aguilera critic Robert Christgau called the song a "dazzling clever piece of teen self-exploration cum sexploitation".[19] Nana-Adwoa Ofori of the AOL Radio blog listed the song as her top Christina Aguilera song declaring it as her "signature" track.[20] A writer from Daily News found Aguilera to be more capable vocally than the tracks limits but found the track to be a "a slice of thumping sensuality".[21]

Nicole Hogsett of Yahoo! found the song's appeal was due to the catchy chorus but found the song separated her from other pop stars at the time of the single's release. Hogsett found the song quickly "established she was different than your typical pop star".[16] People called the song "sexy" and "pulsating".[14] A writer for The New York Times "got" the song's youthful message and said "One of the summer's catchiest singles captures the moment's anxieties about teenage sex. 'Genie in a Bottle', sung by the blue-eyed former Mouseketeer Christina Aguilera, is a skittish dance hit propelled by indecision".[14] Pier Dominquez, writer of A Star is Made found the song could be deemed suggestive but stated the track does not promote sex or promiscuity.[14] He found the sensuality of the song came from Aguilera's vocal delivery and found her ad-libbing something that would set her apart from other artists.[22]

Spanish version from album Mi Reflejo received some opinions too. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic highlighted Spanish version on Mi Reflejo.[23] Eliseo Cardona, CDNOW senior editor wasn't satisfied with translation: "...when Aguilera sings her breakout hit "Genie in the Bottle" in a direct Spanish translation, "Genio atrapado," she sounds funny, if not ill at ease. Indeed, the overly literal Spanish lyrics make for both a good laugh and a better yawn."[24] Parry Gettelman of Orlando Sentinel praised her vocals: "Aguilera's powerhouse style works best on the urban-flavored up-tempo numbers. She uses the more attractive lower end of her range on expanses of "Genio Atrapado."[25] SEAN PICCOLI Music Writer of SunSentinel wrote a positive review: "Genio Atrapado, the opener, is as cheesy-sexy-cool as the original, Genie in a Bottle, her first hit. The translation fits the tune, not vice versa, so Aguilera can still revel in her teenage awakening even without a Spanish equivalent of, "Ya gotta rub me the right way."[26]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Throughout the summer of 1999, Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" blared from car stereos. The funky pop hit topped the pop charts for weeks, racking up multi-platinum sales. What makes the song's initial success even more astounding is the fact that it topped the charts weeks before an accompanying music video was made. That such unusual success came about through what could be called a casual act makes the song's beginning even more awe-inspiring."

Ed Hogan describing the success of the track.[10]

Based on strong airplay and CD sales, "Genie in a Bottle" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, stayed there for five consecutive weeks and became the biggest summer song of 1999.[27] At that point, it had the longest stay at number for the entire year, tying Ricky Martin's "Livin' la Vida Loca" and Jennifer Lopez's "If You Had My Love", although Carlos Santana would later in the year take the single, "Smooth", to number one on the chart with a ten-week run. The success of "Genie in a Bottle" marked the third time that year that a new female artist reached number one on the Hot 100 with her debut single, the first being Britney Spears with "...Baby One More Time" and the second being Lopez with "If You Had My Love". On January 22, 2000, Billboard reported that "Genie in a Bottle" was the second best-selling single of 1999, with 1,360,000 units sold, only behind Cher's "Believe" with 1,700,000 copies sold.[28] It also became Aguilera's best-selling physical single to date.[29] The success and achievement for Spears' and Aguilera's debut singles caused a lot of rivalry and comparisons between the two in the media.

The song also crossed-over successfully to other Billboard charts, topping the Top 40 Mainstream, Top 40 Tracks and Rhythmic Top 40 charts. The song even managed to reach the Adult Top 40, and the Spanish version of the song, "Genio Atrapado" (English: "Trapped Genie"), was a modest hit on the Latin chart. Strong sales assured the single a platinum certification. "Genie in a Bottle" stayed on Billboard Hot 100 for 25 weeks, and 24 weeks in the United Kingdom. Internationally, a similar chart dominance was seen, as the track went to number one in both the United Kingdom and Canada for multiple weeks. It charted within the top five in every country it charted. Overall, the song is Aguilera's second-highest charting single, behind "Lady Marmalade", a collaboration with Lil' Kim, Mýa and Pink. "Genie in a Bottle" was certified platinum in Germany for selling over 500,000 units.[30] The single was also certified platinum in Australia for selling over 70,000 units.[31]

"Genie in a Bottle" became Aguilera's first No. 1 on the Worldwide Singles chart, where it stayed on the charts for 29 weeks and ended up at #3 on the Year-End chart. "Genie in a Bottle" was certified platinum in almost every country it was released in, selling 1.4 million copies in the United States alone.[32] It peaked at No. 7 on the Year-End charts in the United States, and No. 7 on the European Year-End charts. n 2007, the song was ranked #38 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s.[33]

Music video[edit]

The music video was shot in Malibu

The music video accompanying the track was directed by Diane Martel in April 1999, who had previously worked on Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover", and was shot in Malibu with surroundings of a beach and a wooden beach house.[34] "I was out on the sand, greased up in, like, baby oil in shorts and a little cut-off top" she recalled, during the video, scenes saw her and others surrounding a campfire and despite this Aguilera recalled the video shoot was "freezing" with crew members all wearing large coats to keep them warm from the cold which Aguilera was struggling with.[34] In most scenes of the video, Aguilera sings and performs a "genie" inspired choreography with her male dancers in front of the beach. As the video advances, the guys (with Christina's love interest in there) join the beach party. Near the end of the video, all the teens go outside and hung out around a bonfire.

Pier Dominquez author of A Star is Made analyzing the video said:[34]

"The lighting of the video prominently featured Christina's golden tresses as her best feature, although the singer herself was rather obscured by the dark shadows, suggesting that the record company still did not know what to do with the singer's image. The choreography featured Christina, wearing orange pants and a beaded blouse, with her dance troop behind her, simulating a genie coming out of the bottle. It was filled with symbolism and her dancing was incredible."

Live performances[edit]

Two days after this Aguilera performed the track again, wearing an orange top and black leather trousers she performed the track on the MTV show TRL among other tracks from the self-titled album.[15] The particular day in which she performed the track host Carson Daly was not present and Aguilera publicly declared she had "missed" him which led to a media frenzy surrounding a rumored romance between Daly and herself.[15] The following month Aguilera performed on the British television show Top of the Pops and during the same episode that her performance was aired on, Mariah Carey's performance of her track "Heartbreaker" which led Aguilera to announce to the media her appreciation and her willingness to meet the performer.[35] Once again her performance on Top of the Pops had gathered more controversy than she had wished and soon a feud erupted from Carey's team which critics noted was due to the lack of success stemming from her album Rainbow and the consistent comparisons between the pair.[35] Aguilera also performed at the National Building Museum for the Children's National Medical Center in the company of ex-president Bill Clinton, later she performed for WFLZ's Y-2 concert in Florida with 15,000 fans viewing, wearing a silver top and gem studded jeans with a blue-sequined bandana performing the track on both occasions.[36] It was announced by MTV in 1999 that Aguilera would perform live on their New Year's Eve Special, wearing "tight" leather trousers Aguilera performed a the track live as the first song in her set which was then followed by "What a Girl Wants".[37]

"Genie in a Bottle" was also performed during her 2002-03 Justified & Stripped Tour, a concert tour which was held in order to support Aguilera's album Stripped (2002) and Justin Timberlake's Justified (2002).[38] The "Egyptian-turned-metal version" performance featured Aguilera in her pink straps attached to her outfit rolling on a giant "X", which portrayed her contemporary alter ego "Xtina".[39] It included Middle Eastern keyboards and 80's hair-metal guitar,[38] where she slowly released herself as a "genie" as male dancers danced around her.[39] On November 23, 2008, she performed the song while promoting her compilation album Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits, at the 36th Annual American Music Awards. She opened the show with a seven-minute medley of her greatest hits, which also included "Beautiful", "Keeps Gettin' Better", "Dirrty", "Ain't No Other Man" and "Fighter".[40]

Usage in media[edit]

In an effort to maintain the "buzz" surrounding both the record and Aguilera, RCA set up a guest spot for her to perform the track on the teen-marketed television shows Beverly Hills 90210. The performance saw Aguilera in a bar performing at a birthday party for a character named David.[15] During 2014 US Open, the song was used whenever Eugenie Bouchard played on the court, Genie being her nickname.[41]

Other versions[edit]

In 1999, she began recording in Miami with Cuban-American producer Rudy Pérez.[42] He composed Spanish versions of five songs from Aguilera's debut album, "Come on Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" ("Ven Conmigo (Solamante Tú)"), "Genie in a Bottle" ("Genio Atrapado"), "I Turn to You" ("Por Siempre Tu"), "What a Girl Wants" ("Una Mujer"), and "Reflection" ("Mi Reflejo").[43] The Spanish version of "Genie in a Bottle", entitled "Genio Atrapado", was written and produced by Pérez among the former producers of the song.[43] Pérez stated that Aguilera did not know any Spanish while recording; he remedied the problem by phonetically writing out lyrics and included a system that allowed Aguilera to pronounce the "r's" in the songs.[44] "Genio Atrapado" peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart.[45] It received a Latin Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 1st Latin Grammy Awards, which was awarded to Shakira for "Ojos Así".[46] A music video for the song was directed by Diane Martel, who also directed the clip for "Genie in a Bottle".[47]

In 2008, Aguilera released her first greatest hits album, Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits. The album features two remix versions of her two previous hits, "Genie in a Bottle" ("Genie 2.0") and "Beautiful" ("You Are What You Are (Beautiful)"), both were remixed produced by Linda Perry.[48] The version features elements from "chilly" electropop[49] and electronic genres.[50] The song was released via iTunes Stores in order to promote the album.[51]

Upon its release, critical response to "Genie 2.0" was favorable. Associated Content praised its "interesting", "more melodic and techno" sound of the song, unlike the original.[52] Nick Butler for Sputnikmusic compared the track's electronic sounds to The Eurythmics's "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", deeming the version "awesome".[53] Nick Levine for Digital Spy commented about the two remakes that "though hardly essential, work better than they have any right to".[54]

In support of the greatest hits album, Aguilera performed "Genie 2.0" and "Keeps Gettin' Better" at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.[55] On November 22, 2008, "Genie 2.0" debuted and peaked at number 161 on the UK Singles Chart.[56]

Formats and track listings[edit]

US Cassette single / CD single[57][58]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Genie in a Bottle"   Steve Kipner, David Frank, Pamela Sheyne 3:36
2. "Blessed"   Travon Potts, Brock Walsh 3:06
Total length:
German Maxi single[59]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Genie in a Bottle"   Steve Kipner, David Frank, Pamela Sheyne 3:36
2. "We're a Miracle"   David Zippel, Christina Aguilera 4:09
3. "Don't Make Me Love You"   Shelly Peiken, Todd Chapman 4:15



Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[31] Platinum 70,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[92] Gold 25,000x
Belgium (BEA)[93] Platinum 50,000*
France (SNEP)[94] Gold 300,000[95]
Germany (BVMI)[96] Platinum 500,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[97] Platinum 15,000*
Sweden (GLF)[98] Platinum 30,000x
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[99] Gold 25,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[100] Platinum 695,000[101]
United States (RIAA)[102] Platinum 1,436,000[103]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Release date Format(s) Label
United States[57][58] June 22, 1999 Cassette single, CD single RCA Records
Germany[59] August 9, 1999 Maxi single RCA International

Speedway version[edit]

""Genie in a Bottle" / "Save Yourself""
Single by Speedway
from the album Save Yourself
Released August 25, 2003
Format CD
Genre Pop-Rock
Length 5:00
Label Innocent Records
Writer(s) David Frank,Steve Kipner, Pamela Sheyne
Producer(s) Ash Howes, Martin Harrington, StarGate, Guy Chambers
Speedway singles chronology
"Genie in a Bottle" / "Save Yourself"
"Can't Turn Back"


The band supported then labelmates Blue on their UK tour in early 2003, played a number of university gigs, and played to over 25,000 people in September 2003 at the KC Stadium in Hull as part of a charity event made by the local radio station, Viking FM. A recent mashup by The Freelance Hellraiser of the Christina Aguilera hit "Genie in a Bottle" and "Hard to Explain" by The Strokes had been a popular online and radio hit, but was refused commercial release by the record label. Seizing on this Speedway covered the Aguilera song to sound as close to the mashup as possible, and as a result it became their first single as a double A-side, with another song, "Save Yourself" and reached #10 in the UK Singles Chart.[104] This was the first official single of the band, from the album Save Yourself.[105]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the cover reached the top 10. Peaking at #10 on the UK Singles Chart and staying in the chart for four weeks.[104]

Music video[edit]

The band released a music video for the single.

Track listing and formats[edit]

UK CD single[106]
  1. "Genie in a Bottle " (Album Version)
  2. "Save Yourself"
  3. "Genie in a Bottle"



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