Christina Aguilera

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For the 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 2010
Born Christina María Aguilera
(1980-12-18) December 18, 1980 (age 33)
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
Occupation
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • 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 www.christinaaguilera.com

Christina María Aguilera (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) debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, and spawned the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles "Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants", and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)". She experienced moderate success worldwide with her follow-up records Mi Reflejo and My Kind of Christmas (2000), and earned her fourth number-one single in the United States with a cover version of "Lady Marmalade" in 2001. 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 genres including soul, hip hop, Latin, rock, and R&B. One of its singles, "Beautiful", charted in the top-ten on several international record charts.

Aguilera earned her second number-one record in the United States with her fifth studio album, Back to Basics (2006), which incorporates elements of 1920s–1940s blues, soul, and jazz music. Two of its singles, "Ain't No Other Man" and "Hurt", charted in the upper registers of record charts worldwide. In 2010, Aguilera released her electronic-inspired sixth studio album, Bionic, although it made little commercial impact. Later that year, Aguilera starred alongside Cher in the film Burlesque. In 2011, Aguilera became an original coach on the U.S. television series The Voice, and has since appeared on four of its six seasons. That year, she earned her fifth number-one single in the United States with her Maroon 5 collaboration "Moves Like Jagger". Aguilera returned to the pop sound of her debut record with her seventh studio album, Lotus (2012), although it became the lowest-selling album of her career. She experienced revitalized commercial success as the featured vocalist on the U.S. top-ten singles "Feel This Moment" and "Say Something" in 2013 and 2014.

Aguilera is an established pop icon; 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. Besides her work in the entertainment industry, Aguilera is involved in charitable activities through human rights, world issues, and her work as a UN ambassador for the World Food Programme.

Life and career

1980–98: Early life and career beginnings

Christina María Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York on December 18, 1980 to United States Army soldier Fausto Xavier Aguilera and musician Shelly Loraine (née Fidler).[1] Her father is Ecuadorian, while her mother is of Irish ancestry.[2] Her family moved frequently because of her father's military service, and lived in places including New Jersey, Texas, New York, and Japan.[3] Aguilera and her mother alleged that her father was physically and emotionally abusive,[4] claims which he denied; Aguilera used music as a form of escape from her turbulent household.[4] Following her parents' divorce when she was six years old,[2] Aguilera, her younger sister Rachel, and her mother (who later remarried)[5] into her grandmother's home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Rochester, Pennsylvania.[2] After several years of being estranged, Aguilera expressed interest in reconciling with her father in 2012.[6]

Growing up, Aguilera aspired to be a singer, known locally as "the little girl with the big voice",[7] singing in local talent shows and competitions. She won her first talent show at the age of 8, in which she performed Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody".[3] In 1990, she appeared on Star Search singing "A Sunday Kind of Love", and was eliminated during the semi-final rounds.[8] She later performed the same song during an appearance on Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV's Wake Up With Larry Richert.[9] Throughout her youth in Pittsburgh, Aguilera sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, Pittsburgh Steelers football and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games, in addition to the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals.[10] She attended Rochester Area School District and Marshall Middle School near Wexford, and briefly attended North Allegheny Intermediate High School before being home schooled due to bullying.[11]

In 1991, Aguilera auditioned for a position on The Mickey Mouse Club, although she did not meet its age requirements. She joined the television series two years later, where she performed musical numbers and sketch comedy until its cancellation in 1994.[12] Her co-stars included Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.[13] When she was fourteen, Aguilera recorded her first song, the duet "All I Wanna Do" with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi.[14] She later sent her cover version of Houston's "Run to You" to Walt Disney Pictures in hopes of being selected to record the theme song "Reflection" for their animated feature film Mulan (1998).[15] After being given the opportunity to record the track,[16] "Reflection" peaked at number 15 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart,[17] and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.[18]

1999–2000: Christina Aguilera, Mi Reflejo, and My Kind of Christmas

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.

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Aguilera signed a recording contract with RCA Records after recording "Reflection";[19] the label quickly began coordinating her self-titled debut album, which was released on August 24, 1999.[16] The album peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and Canadian Albums Chart;[17] it has been certified octuple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling eight million copies in the United States,[20] and has moved seventeen million copies worldwide.[21][22] The lead single "Genie in a Bottle" topped record charts in 21 nations, including the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.[23] It became the top-selling debut single of 1999 in the United States, selling over 1.4 million units.[24] Follow-up singles "What a Girl Wants" and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 2000, while single "I Turn to You" reached number three.[17] This made Aguilera one of few female artists to have three number-one singles from one album on the Billboard Hot 100.[25] During the Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show in January 2000, Aguilera and Enrique Iglesias performed "Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand".[26] Looking to publicize her vocal range, Aguilera later performed piano-accompanied sets on television shows and private concerts.[27] At the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards that February, Aguilera won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.[28]

Aguilera's second studio album and first Spanish-language album, Mi Reflejo, was released on September 12, 2000. It contained Spanish versions of her first five singles from Christina Aguilera alongside new Spanish material.[29] Producer Rudy Pérez, with whom Aguilera recorded the album in Miami, noted that Aguilera was only semi-fluent while recording, but understood the language, having grown up with her Ecuadorian father.[30][31] The release peaked at number 27 on the Billboard 200 and topped the Billboard Latin Albums for nineteen weeks.[17] It was certified sextuple-platinum in the Latin field by the RIAA, has sold 480,000 units in the United States,[20][21] and has moved three million copies worldwide.[32] In 2001, it won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album.[33] 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.[34] During the tour, Aguilera dated with Jorge Santos, a dancer whom she hired.[35] 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.[36] It reached number 28 on the Billboard 200,[17] and was certified platinum by the RIAA.[20][21] Billboard recognized Aguilera as the Top Female Pop Act of 2000.[37]

Despite her international success with first three 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.[38] 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.[39][40]

2001–03: Stripped

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".[41] It peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100,[17] while reaching the top ten of several countries including Australia, Canada and Spain.[42] A month later, Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Pink covered Labelle's 1974 single "Lady Marmalade" for the accompanying soundtrack of Moulin Rouge!.[43] The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks[44] and became the first airplay-only track in history to stay number one for more than one week.[45] "Lady Marmalade" earned all four performers a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards.[46] 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.[47] 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.[48] On September 11, 2001, Aguilera and Santos ended their relationship.[49]

When planning her fourth studio album, Aguilera leaned towards a new artistic direction that she felt had more musical and lyrical depth.[49] 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".[50] Aguilera cultivated an increasingly provocative image while promoting the record, at which time she adopted the nickname "Xtina", dyed her hair black, and debuted several tattoos and piercings.[51][52] Aguilera claimed that the new persona better reflected her personality than the previous image she felt forced into by RCA Records.[53] Aguilera drew inspiration from R&B, soul, pop rock and hip hop.[54] The album was produced primarily by Scott Storch and singer-songwriter Linda Perry. Aguilera co-wrote and partially completed the track "Miss Independent" for the album, although it later became the debut single by Kelly Clarkson.[55] Released on October 25, 2002, Stripped debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 330,000 copies.[56] The album was certified quadruple-platinum by the RIAA,[20] in recognition of selling 4.3 million copies in the United States,[21] and has sold 12 million copies worldwide.[57]

"Dirrty" was released as the lead single from Stripped in September 2002. Its accompanying music video generated controversy due to its sexual content, and sparked protest in Thailand.[58][59] The single peaked at number 48 on the Billboard Hot 100,[17] and reached the top five of multiple countries in Oceania and Europe.[42] The second single, "Beautiful", reached number two in the United States,[17] and peaked atop the charts of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.[42] The song earned Aguilera the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in 2004.[60] The album spawned the follow-up singles "Fighter", "Can't Hold Us Down" and "The Voice Within" in 2003, all of which attained moderate success worldwide.[42] That June, Aguilera co-headlined the Justified and Stripped Tour alongside Justin Timberlake before embarking on her solo The Stripped Tour later in 2003.[61] Aguilera was the host of the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards.[62] 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" and "Hollywood".[63] Billboard named Aguilera the Top Female Pop Act of 2003.[64]

2004–09: First marriage, Back to Basics, and motherhood

Aguilera performing during the Sanremo Story festival in 2006

Opting for a 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s-inspired sound, Aguilera began working on her follow-up album in 2004. She embraced a more mature image inspired by public figures including Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Mary Pickford to "capture the authenticity of the Old Hollywood glam era".[65] That year, Aguilera recorded "Hello (Follow Your Own Star)" for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class car advertisement,[66] and a revised version of Rose Royce's "Car Wash" with Missy Elliott for the animated film Shark Tale.[67] She also appeared on Nelly's single "Tilt Ya Head Back",[68] and Andrea Bocelli's song "Somos Novios".[69] On February 11, 2005, Agulera became engaged to music marketing executive Jordan Bratman,[70] whom she began dating in 2002.[71] The couple married on November 19, 2005 at an estate in Napa County, California.[70]

A 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.[72] She later described her fifth studio 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".[73] The double album was released on August 11, 2006 and debuted atop the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 346,000 copies.[74] It has sold 4.5 million units worldwide,[75] 1.7 million of which were shipped in the United States.[21] The lead single "Ain't No Other Man" reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100,[17] charted within the top three of several countries in Europe, including Hungary, Ireland and the United Kingdom,[42] and has sold 1.7 million digital copies in the United States.[21] The track won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in 2007, where Aguilera performed a rendition of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" in tribute of its original artist James Brown.[76]

In September 2006, Aguilera released the second single from Back to Basics, "Hurt",[42] and was featured on Diddy's single "Tell Me".[77] "Candyman" was serviced as the third international single from Back to Basics and experienced moderate success in countries across Europe and Oceania.[42] "Slow Down Baby" was released exclusively in Australia,[78] while "Oh Mother" was released in Europe as the final single.[79] In November 2006, Aguilera supported the album through the Back to Basics Tour; with 81 dates, it ended in October 2008, visited Europe,[80] North America,[81] Asia,[82] Australia,[83] and the Middle East.[84] According to Billboard Boxscore, it was one of the Top 10 Grossing and Top Grossing solo female tour of that year.[85]

Aguilera performed "Steppin' Out with My Baby" with Tony Bennett at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2007.[86] According to Forbes, Aguilera was the nineteenth-richest woman in entertainment as of January 2007, with a net worth of $60 million.[87] On January 12, 2008, Aguilera gave birth to her first child, a son.[88] Later that year, she 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.[89] 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 exclusively through Target in the United States.[90] It included Aguilera's previous singles and four new songs, two of which are remade versions of two previous singles. The release peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200,[17] and entered the top ten charts of countries including Australia, Finland and France.[42] 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.[17][21] In December 2009, Billboard ranked Aguilera the twentieth most successful artist and the twenty-sixth most successful Billboard Hot 100 artist of the 2000s.[91][92]

2010–11: Bionic, Burlesque, divorce, and The Voice

Aguilera in September 2010

Aguilera announced that her sixth studio album would be "a very futuristic approach to music",[93] drawing inspirations from electronic genres.[94] The final product, Bionic, was released on June 8, 2010. The release struggled to match the chart impact and sales of her previous albums, peaking at number three on the Billboard 200 and having since sold 330,000 copies in the United States.[17][21] The lead single, "Not Myself Tonight", charted at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and experienced moderate success worldwide.[17][42] "Woohoo" featuring rapper Nicki Minaj was released as a single in the United States and several European countries,[95][96] while "You Lost Me" was the second single internationally.[97] The last song serviced from Bionic was "I Hate Boys", which was sent to Australian contemporary hit radio in July 2010.[98] That year, Aguilera made a cameo appearance in the comedy film Get Him to the Greek.[99]

In November 2010, Aguilera starred alongside Cher in her first feature film, the musical Burlesque.[100] The film was written and directed by Steve Antin,[101] and grossed $89.7 million.[102] Aguilera sang eight tracks for the film's accompanying soundtrack, while Cher performed the other two.[103] The soundtrack reached number 18 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA.[20] It has since sold 609,000 units in the United States.[17][21] 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 for the soundtrack and earned Aguilera a nomination for Best Original Song.[104] In December 2010, Aguilera appeared on T.I.'s song "Castle Walls" from his album No Mercy.[105]

Having separated in September, Aguilera filed for divorce from Bratman in October 2010, requesting joint legal and physical custody of their son Max.[106] After reaching a private settlement and custody deal, their divorce was finalized on April 15, 2011.[107] In late 2010, Aguilera started dating with Matthew Rutler, whom she met during the set of Burlesque.[108] On March 1, 2011, the couple was arrested for public intoxication in West Hollywood.[109] They were later released on bail and no charges were filed.[110]

At the Super Bowl XLV, Aguilera accidentally omitted a line while performing the U.S. national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner".[111] 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".[112] 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.[113] From April 2011 through December 2012, Aguilera served as a coach on the television series The Voice for its three first seasons.[114] In June, she was featured on Maroon 5's single "Moves like Jagger", which peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100.[115] In 2012, the single sold seven million copies worldwide, becoming the ninth best-selling single of the year.[116]

2012–present: Lotus and eighth studio album

In March 2012, Aguilera released the Spanish-language track "Casa de Mi Padre" as the title song for the soundtrack and film of the same name.[117] Later that month, Aguilera confirmed that she was working on a follow-up to Bionic,[118] which she named Lotus and described as a personal "rebirth".[51] Released on November 9, 2012, Lotus became her least successful album,[119] debuting at number seven on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 73,408 units.[120] The album has sold 240,000 copies and 687,000 tracks in the United States.[121][122] Its lead single, "Your Body", debuted and peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a moderate hit worldwide.[17][42] The second single "Just a Fool", a duet with Blake Shelton, peaked at number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100.[17]

In late 2012, Aguilera appeared on the tracks "Steppin' Out with My Baby" with Tony Bennett from his album Viva Duets,[86] and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Cee Lo Green from his album Cee Lo's Magic Moment.[123] Upon the conclusion of the third season of The Voice in December 2012, Aguilera was replaced by Shakira for the fourth season.[124] In January 2013, Aguilera was featured on Pitbull's single "Feel This Moment", which peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.[17] She appeared on Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández's cover of "Hoy Tengo Ganas de Ti" from his album Confidencias that May.[125]

Aguilera returned for the fifth season of The Voice in September 2013.[126] That October, Aguilera recorded "We Remain" for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.[127] 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?;[128] it peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100[17] and was certified quadruple-platinum for sales of over 4 million units in the United States.[129] In January 2014, Aguilera was featured on a remix version of Lady Gaga's single "Do What U Want".[130] Aguilera became engaged to Rutler on February 14, 2014,[108] and announced her pregnancy the following month.[131] In April, she announced that she started working on her eighth studio album.[132] For the sixth and seventh seasons of The Voice, Aguilera was respectively replaced by Shakira and Gwen Stefani.[133][134]

Artistry

Influences

Aguilera has credited blues singer Etta James as her main influence and inspiration, elaborating, "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".[135] Following James' death in 2012, Aguilera was asked to perform "At Last" at James' funeral.[136] Prior to the performance, Aguilera revealed, "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".[137] Other classic artists, including Billie Holiday, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald also significantly influence Aguilera; her sixth studio album Back to Basics is inspired by vintage jazz, blues and soul music records by them.[138][139]

Aguilera mentions Whitney Houston as another major influence,[140] having performed many of her songs in her early years during talent shows.[3] She also cites Mariah Carey as an inspiration.[141] According to author Pier Dominguez of the book Christina Aguilera: A Star is Made, Aguilera stated that Carey and her debut single, "Vision of Love" (1990), had the biggest influence on her vocal style.[142][143] Aguilera points out the musical film The Sound of Music and its lead actress, Julie Andrews, as her first inspiration for singing and performing.[144] At the age of six, the film helped Aguilera cope with her violent childhood, "Bad things happened in my home; there was violence. The Sound of Music looked like a form of release".[145]

Aguilera credits Madonna and Janet Jackson as two biggest inspirations for her image, "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".[146] During the promotion of Back to Basics, her image was also inspired by the "Golden age of Hollywood" actresses including Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, Greta Garbo and Veronica Lake.[147] In acting, Aguilera is inspired by her Burlesque co-star, Cher.[148]

Voice

In the ballad "You Lost Me", the verses are sung by Aguilera using melisma.[149]

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Aguilera is a soprano,[150] having a vocal range spanning four octaves (from C3 to C♯7).[151][152] She frequently uses melisma in her songs.[153] Critics opine that Aguilera's vocal ability is fully expressed on downtempo ballads,[154] and compare her voice to that of her idols, including Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.[155] David Browne writing for The New York Times noted that Aguilera's vocal performance was highly influenced by Carey and Houston, sharing that "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".[155] A journal by Ann Powers for the Los Angeles Times pointed out the influences of Barbra Streisand, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin on Aguilera's vocal style, opining that the "Aguilera's Streisand-esque tendencies" "[help] her [Aguilera] 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".[156] Sasha Frere-Jones from The New Yorker wrote, "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".[157] 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".[158] She has been referred to as "The Voice of a Generation".[159]

On the other hand, Aguilera is criticized for oversinging on her songs and concerts.[160][161][162] John Eskow from The Huffington Post named Aguilera a main proponent for "oversouling", described as the "gratuitous and confected melisma".[163] Lucy Davies, a writer for BBC Music, opined that although Aguilera had "a stunning voice", she "could be more varied, simply by cutting out some of the 'y-e-e-eeeh, woah yeh's'".[164] Longtime producer Linda Perry, who wrote the song "Beautiful", revealed about the recording sessions with Aguilera, "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'". Perry ended up using the song's first take adding, "She had a hard time accepting that as the final track. She's a perfectionist. She knows her voice really well, and she knows what's going on. She can hear things that nobody else would catch."[165] An editor from Entertainment Weekly, Chris Willman, opined that the oversinging on Aguilera's albums was inspired by Carey, writing that "the Mariah venerators don't get away with it so easily. Aguilera, for one thing, has a slightly nasal tone that really only becomes obvious when she's overselling a song".[160] Aguilera co-wrote "Sing for Me" from her album Lotus, explaining "I don’t even care what the world thinks about how I sound".[166]

Musical style and themes

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

Aguilera frequently blends elements of pop, R&B, and soul music into her projects;[167][168] her records typically include a combination of ballads and uptempo tracks.[169] Christina Aguilera (1999) prominently displayed teen pop influences,[170] while Mi Reflejo (2000) takes inspiration from Latin music.[171] Aiming for musical diversity and artistic growth, Aguilera worked with rock, hip hop, and Latin music for Stripped (2002).[38] Andrew Hampp from Billboard hailed the album as a "creative breakthrough",[172] while David Browne from Entertainment Weekly credited the release with distancing Aguilera from her pop contemporaries.[54] Aguilera leaned towards blues, jazz, and soul on Back to Basics (2006).[73][173] Its tracks integrated live instrumentation and samples of past jazz and soul recordings, some of which placed emphasis on swing jazz and big band elements. Some critics compared the overall project to the musical Cabaret.[174]

In contrast, Bionic (2010) sees significant influence from futuristic electronic music;[94] Kitty Empire from The Guardian described it as a "post-feminist party album",[175] while Hermione Hoby from the same publication opined that "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."[176] The soundtrack for her first feature film Burlesque (2010) was influenced by Cabaret, and featured several established songs that were redone as dance numbers in a fashion similar to Moulin Rouge! (2001).[174] Aguilera partnered with mainstream producers including Shellback and Max Martin during production of Lotus (2012); when discussing her interactions with the latter, she commented that "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."[172]

Aguilera has commented that she feels a sense of responsibility to reference portions of her personal life so that "people that can relate might not feel as alone in the circumstance." Many of her works consequently discuss love, spirituality, motherhood, and grief; she has also co-written two tracks which dealt with the domestic abuse throughout her childhood.[177] Aguilera has frequently mentioned feminism in her music; she has expressed her belief that sexuality is "very empowering", and has commented that "Men love to believe that they own our sexuality, but men don't."[178] For example, "Can't Hold Us Down" from Stripped denounces gender-related double standards, particularly regarding female promiscuity. On behalf of The Guardian, Betty Clarke stated that the track "rewrites feminism to a hip-hop beat."[179] In regards to production, Aguilera has often verbalized her her preference of working with more obscure collaborators, and noted that she is not necessarily inclined to contact "the No.1 chart-toppers in music" because of their popular demand.[180] The New York Times' Kelefa Sanneh 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."[181]

Public image

Aguilera at the Motorola 8th Anniversary Party in 2006

Aguilera is well known for reinventing her image throughout her career.[182] During the promotion of her three debut albums during 1999 and 2000, Aguilera's image was marketed as a bubblegum pop singer, an effort pushed by her then manager Steve Kurtz due to the genre's financial lure.[49] At this time, Aguilera's was considered as a teen idol,[183] and her image was compared to that of her teenybopper contemporaries including Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, and Mandy Moore.[184] Displeased with the lack of input in her image, Aguilera decided to create a new image for her next album, Stripped, during 2002 and 2003.[49] During this time, she dyed her hair black, debuted several piercings on her body and posted naked photoshots for magazine covers.[51] She eventually used a newly established alter ego, "Xtina", which she claimed that her new persona better reflected her personality than the previous image she felt forced into by RCA Records.[185]

From 2004 to 2007, while working on Back to Basics, Aguilera opted to create a more "mature" image inspired by 1920s, 1930s and 1940s movie stars, including Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Mary Pickford.[65] Adopting a new alter ego "Baby Jane", taken from the 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?,[186] she put on retro-styled hairdo and makeup.[65] In 2012, Aguilera gained weight and appeared in a more "curvy" figure, which generated controversy. In respond, she said that "I got tired of being a skinny, white girl".[187] Nearly a year later, she appeared again in a more balanced figure,[188] as she had a weight loss of 49 pounds.[189]

Aguilera has been established as a pop icon,[190] and her image is frequently compared to that of her contemporary Britney Spears.[191][192] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly observed "Christina Aguilera may flash skin and belly button, but in her music and manner, she's too eager not to offend — she's a good girl pretending to be bad. Spears, however, comes across as a bad girl acting good ... Spears' artificial-sweetener voice is much less interesting than the settings, yet that blandness is actually a relief compared with Aguilera's numbing vocal gymnastics".[193] Virgin Media' Matthew Horton opined that although Aguilera's album sales are lower than Spears, Aguilera was still the more prominent pop star for her voice and style of performing.[191]

Aguilera has been widely regarded as a sex symbol.[157][194] In 2003, Maxim named Aguilera the Sexiest Woman of the Year, based on readers' votes.[195] The cover of the magazine features Aguilera in 2003 became the best selling issue of Maxim.[196] Also recognized as a gay icon,[197][198] she was the first honoree on The Abbey's Gay Walk of Fame for her contributions to the LGBT community.[199] The music video for "Beautiful" earned Aguilera a GLAAD Media Award for its positive portrayal of the LGBT community.[200]

Fashion has also been a part of Aguilera's music career and image.[201] She has frequently worn clothes designed by Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander McQueen.[202][203] During the Back to Basics Tour in 2006, Aguilera performed in a stole made of fur designed by Roberto Cavalli, unaware that it was made from real fur of a white fox. After receiving a video about the treatment of foxes from PETA vice president Dan Mathews, Aguilera replaced it with a faux-fur stole, further stating that she was “very upset” because she “only ever wears fake fur".[204] Aguilera's costumes from the film Burlesque was featured in the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition.[205] A wax figure of Aguilera can be found at Madame Tussauds wax museum in London.[206]

Legacy

Several publications have ranked Aguilera as one of the youngest and greatest singer over the past decade.[158][207][208][209] She was named the Best Latino Singer of All Time by Latina magazine.[210] Aguilera has sold 17.4 million albums in the United States[21][211][212] and over 50 million albums worldwide.[213][214][215] "Genie in a Bottle" was listed at number 38 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s[216] and was the top selling debut single of 1999.[24] 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."[217] "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.[218][219] "Lady Marmalade" was listed at number 47 on the same ranking.[220] She was ranked the 20th Artist of the 2000–09 decade by Billboard[221] and became the second top selling single artist of the 2000s, behind Madonna.[222] 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".[223] 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."[224] 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".[225] Vibe magazine considers Aguilera as "one of the most impactful pop stars of the last decade".[215] 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.[208][226][227]

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,[228] which MTV, VH1, MSN, FHM and several publications voted and named as the sexiest female music video of all time.[229] MTV named "Dirrty" the sexiest video ever made and was listed second on VH1's 25 Most Scandalously Sexy Music Videos of All Time.[229] 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.[230] 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.[231] Aguilera was among the 50 Most Powerful Mothers of 2014 by Working Mother[232] and was ranked at number 12 on TIME's list of The 100 Most Obsessed-Over People on the Web.[233]

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.[234] She appears twice on Fuse's list of the 25 Best Grammy Moments of all time.[235] 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.[236] Aguilera's songs have been covered and performed on the television programs Glee and Smash.[237][238][239] Aguilera has inspired various contestants and winners from The Voice, The X Factor and American Idol, including Chris Mann,[240] Kelly Clarkson,[158] Jordin Sparks,[241] and Candice Glover.[242] Her work has influenced artists including Jasmine Trias,[243] Ashley Tisdale,[244] Charice,[245] American figure skater Johnny Weir,[246] and American swimmer Dana Vollmer.[247] 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."[248] Critics compared Gaga's vocals to Aguilera on the song "Do What U Want".[249] Miley Cyrus has named Aguilera an influence[250] and referenced "Dirrty" for her music video "We Can't Stop".[251] Kitty Empire of The Observer writes, "Cyrus liberates her inner Aguilera, blending old-time jazzy balladry, romantic righteousness and dubstep sub-bass."[252] Demi Lovato cites Aguilera as an influence[253] and has been dubbed by critics as "The best thing Disney's had since Christina Aguilera".[254]

Other ventures

Philanthropy

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.[255] 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".[256] 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.[257] She has worked alongside nonprofit organization Do Something saying, "Every individual has the power to inspire young people across the country."[258] 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.[259] Aguilera is still a major contributor in her hometown of Pittsburgh contributing regularly to the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.[260] She has worked with Lifetime Television's 'End violence against women' campaign.[261] 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."[262] 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.[263] 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.[264] John also picked Aguilera, for his annual "Fashion Rocks" charity concert which accompanies music and fashion to benefit the fight against AIDS/HIV.[265]

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.[266] In November 2005, all of her wedding gifts were submitted to various charities around the nation in support of Hurricane Katrina victims.[267] 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.[268] 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.[269] 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.[270] 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.[271]

In 2009, Aguilera became the global spokesperson for World Hunger Relief appearing in advertisements, online campaigns and a public service announcement.[272] 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.[273][274] Since becoming a global spokeswoman Aguilera has helped raise over $148 million for WFP and other hunger relief agencies in 45 countries.[275] 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.[276] In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Aguilera donated a signed Chrysler 300 which was auctioned for relief efforts.[277] 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.[278] 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.[279] That year, Aguilera was appointed UN ambassador for the WFP.[280] Hillary Clinton awarded Aguilera the George McGovern Leadership Award, making her the first singer to receive the award.[281] 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.[282] 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.[283][284] Aguilera was honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award.[285]

Product and endorsements

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.[286] Throughout her career, Aguilera has endorsed several brands, including Skechers, Mercedes-Benz, Verizon Wireless, Versace,[287] and soft drink giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi in 2001 and 2006, respectively.[288] In 2004, Aguilera earned £200,000 (about $300,000) for opening the summer sale at London's Harrods store[289] and appeared in an advertisement for MAC Cosmetics Viva Glam V campaign. In 2005, she was reportedly paid $3.6 million[290] 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.[291] In 2010, Aguilera was paid $1 million by investor Charles Brandes to perform at a private party.[292] In 2011, she was paid €2.4 million (around $3.2 million) by a Spanish multi-millionaire for a private four song concert.[293] 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.[294] They reprised their work together for Webster's 2009 spring line.[295] 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.[296]

Aguilera released two fragrances throughout Europe; the first one, Xpose, was released in late 2004 and sold relatively well.[297][298] Through Procter & Gamble, Aguilera released her signature fragrance, Simply Christina, in 2007.[299] In Christmas 2007, the fragrance became the number one perfume in the United Kingdom,[300] and later in 2009 it became the 4th best selling perfume in the United Kingdom,[301] and Germany where it topped sales for the year.[302] The perfume won as the people's choice for favorite celebrity fragrance at the annual UK Fifi Awards 2008.[303] She released her third fragrance, Inspire, accompanied with a body care collection, on September 1, 2008.[304] 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.[305] 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.[306] She released her fourth fragrance, By Night, in October,[307] which became the third best selling fragrance in the United Kingdom in 2009.[301] Both “By Day“ and “By Night“ were nominated for Best Perfume of the Year at the FIFI Awards 2011.[308] The range was further augmented by Royal Desire in 2010,[309] Secret Potion in 2011, Red Sin in 2012,[310] and Unforgettable in 2013.[311] Since 2007, Aguilera's perfumes have earned several awards worldwide, making her the number one awarded celebrity brand.[312]

Discography

Filmography

Tours and concerts

See also

References

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Further reading

  • 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