Not Myself Tonight

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"Not Myself Tonight"
Single by Christina Aguilera
from the album Bionic
Released April 6, 2010 (2010-04-06)
Recorded 2009
Length 3:05
Label RCA
Producer(s) Polow da Don
Christina Aguilera singles chronology
  • "Not Myself Tonight"
  • (2010)

"Not Myself Tonight" is a song by American recording artist Christina Aguilera, taken from her sixth studio album, Bionic (2010). It was released on April 6, 2010 by RCA Records as the lead single from the record. The song was written and produced by Polow da Don, with additional songwriting provided by Ester Dean, Jason Perry, and Greg Curtis. "Not Myself Tonight" is an electropop song which discusses the adopting of a different persona on the dance floor.

"Not Myself Tonight" received generally mixed reviews from contemporary music critics, who were ambivalent towards its overall production. Furthermore, it generated varied commentaries for its attempt of associating Aguilera with a sexually provocative image, which was prominently displayed during the promotion of her fourth studio album, Stripped (2002). The song peaked at number 23 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and respectively reached numbers one and fourteen on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs and Mainstream Top 40 component charts. The track charted moderately on international record charts, and reached the top-twenty in countries including Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The track was additionally certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments exceeding 35,000 copies.

An accompanying music video for "Not Myself Tonight" was directed by Hype Williams, and was premiered through Vevo on April 28, 2010. It received generally mixed reviews from critics, who were ambivalent towards its sadomasochistic (S&M) concept and prominent inspiration by the visuals for "Express Yourself", "Like a Prayer", "Erotica" and "Human Nature" by Madonna. Aguilera performed "Not Myself Tonight" during several television appearances, including the 2010 MTV Movie Awards and an episode of VH1 Storytellers.

Background and release[edit]

After the birth of her son, Max Bratman, Aguilera stated in an interview with Ryan Seacrest that her forthcoming album would include a totally new aspect of herself as an artist, because of the pregnancy with her son.[1] During an interview with People in 2008, Aguilera stated that she was going to start recording new material for her forthcoming album at her home in Beverly Hills.[2] On the album, entitled Bionic, Aguilera was inspired by electronic genres, which she heard a lot during her pregnancy.[3][4]

Aguilera originally considered servicing the track "Glam" as the lead single from Bionic.[5] However, after the conclusion of a day-long countdown on her website on March 23, 2010, it was announced that "Not Myself Tonight" would be released as the official lead single instead.[6] The single cover was simultaneously released, featuring a black-and-white image depicting Aguilera as a devil, dressed in a black leather suit with devil ears and a tail.[7] Tamar Anitai from MTV Buzzworthy compared Aguilera's look on the cover to Madonna and Lady Gaga.[8] The lyrics of "Not Myself Tonight" were released the following day,[9] and an eighteen second snippet of the song was previewed on March 26.[10] On March 30, the track was streamed in its entirety through Aguilera's official website.[11] The single officially impacted US contemporary hit radio on April 6, 2010.[12]


A 19 second sample of "Not Myself Tonight", an uptempo electropop song with tribal house elements

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Not Myself Tonight" is an uptempo electropop[13][14] and electro-R&B[15] song incorporating tribal house elements.[16] Written in the key of G minor, it has a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute.[17] Aguilera's vocals on the track span from the low-note of G3 to the high-note of D5.[17] The track features "dripping" synthesizers, "pulsing" basslines and house drums in its instrumentation.[18] Aguilera opted to explore and create a "fresh, sexy feel using both electronic and organic elements with subject matter ranging from playful to introspective" in the track.[19] Eric Henderson from Slant Magazine compared "Not Myself Tonight" to Britney Spears songs "Gimme More" and "If U Seek Amy" for having similar musical style.[20]

Lyrically, "Not Myself Tonight" talks about Aguilera adopting a new persona and new musical experiments.[21] At the beginning, Aguilera admits that "Tonight I'm feeling a little out of control".[16] At the pre-chorus, she sings "The old me's gone and I feel brand new, and if you don't like it, fuck you", which takes aim at anyone who dismisses her new style.[21] At the chorus, she declares her musical departure from her previous old school inspired album Back to Basics (2006) with the line, "I'm not myself tonight, tonight I'm not the same girl".[21] The song also evokes sexual theme,[22] with lyrics such as "I'm dancin' a lot, I'm takin' shots and I'm feelin' fine/ I'm kissin' all the boys and girls".[16] Writing for Billboard magazine, Michael Menachem opined that Aguilera channeled a "more 'Euro-glamorous' version" of her previous alter ego "Xtina", featured in her 2002 hit "Dirrty" from Stripped.[18]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Billboard (76/100)[18]
BBC 3/5 stars[23]
The Village Voice (negative)[22]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic picked "Not Myself Tonight" as one of the highlights from Bionic.[24] Michael Menachem from Billboard complimented Aguilera's vocal delivery and suggested that the track proved that "the current dance-pop craze would be incomplete without [Aguilera]".[18] Mesfin Fekadu from The Boston Globe praised the single for being "mediocre at best"."[25] Digital Spy editor Nick Levine gave the single a four out of five stars rating, writing that "on first listen, it feels a bit too ordinary to be trailing such a potentially audacious long-player. However, after a few spins it becomes clear that this is far from a flop".[15] Sarah-Louise James from the UK Daily Star lauded the musical style of "Not Myself Tonight" but opined that it was overshadowed by the accompanying music video.[14]

A writer from BBC Music, Fraser McAlpine, praised the song's composition yet criticized its lyrics for "[not] escaping the feeling that she's only getting up in our collective grill once again with the sexy and the [atti]'tude".[23] Gavin Martin from the Daily Mirror wrote that "Not Myself Tonight" "shows the post-natal Aguilera has pumped up her sex appeal. And, although her top-shelf strategy is hardly startling in its originality, it's accomplished with more class than her obvious competitors".[26] Writing for The Village Voice, Drew Hinshaw criticized "Not Myself Tonight" as "three oversung and oversexed minutes".[22] Dan Martin from NME opined that with the new musical style of Bionic and its lead single, Aguilera had very little chance to explore her vocal ability.[27] Writing for Drowned in Sound, Richard Wink was concerned that "Not Myself Tonight" showcased an "apparent identity crisis" that Aguilera experienced during the production of Bionic; he questioned whether the alter ego "Xtina" was "the character that represents a freewheeling, risk taking, carefree party girl" or the contrasting "mask a desperate popstar wears when they are struggling to maintain relevance".[28]

Commercial performance[edit]

During its first week on the radio, "Not Myself Tonight" became the most added song on Mainstream Top 40 (886 plays in its first six days) and Rhythmic Radio stations in the United States,[29] debuting at number 27 on the Pop Songs chart.[30] Digitally, it sold 77,000 copies in its first week, entering the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 23, becoming Aguilera's third solo highest chart debut behind 2008's "Keeps Gettin' Better" (which debut at number seven) and 2006's "Ain't No Other Man" (which opened at number 19).[30] As of March 2011, the song has sold 368,000 copies in the US.[31] In Canada, "Not Myself Tonight" managed to peak higher at number 11, whilst in the United Kingdom, the song debuted and peaked at number 12, becoming her highest charting-single since 2006's "Hurt".[32]

In Australia, "Not Myself Tonight" debuted and peaked at number 22 on the ARIA Charts, remaining at its peak position for a further week. However, the song became one of her few singles to miss the top-twenty.[33] In New Zealand, the song only managed to remain on the RIANZ chart for one week, in its peak position at number 32; one of her lowest-charting singles, alongside 2008's "Keeps Gettin' Better" (number 36) and 2012's "Your Body" (number 33).[34] In Austria, it was also her lowest-charting solo single since 2000's "Come on Over Baby (All I Want Is You)", peaking at number 26.[35] However, in South Korea, the song fared better, debuting at number 4, with sales of 89,000 copies.[36] As of June 26, 2010, the single has sold 1,011,126 copies in South Korea.[37]

Music video[edit]


The music video for "Not Myself Tonight" was filmed from April 7 to April 9, 2010 in Los Angeles, directed by Hype Williams.[38] It officially premiered on Vevo on April 30, 2010.[39] On working with Williams and the new looks she developed in the video, Aguilera stated, "...someone with that much of a catalog under his belt and success as a video maker, he's like a legend. So again entering into the collaborating factor, I didn't know what to expect ... and he's probably thinking the same about me. And when we walked away from working with each other, it was just a love connection. I wanted to maintain and keep consistent with the look of the album packaging and book, and I really wanted to keep all that in line, and so he really paid attention, and I think it's really iconic and classic. We totally made magic together on a creative level, it was absolutely amazing. He really got in and listened to where my music was at".[40]

Influences and concept[edit]

Aguilera also stated that some of the inspiration for the film came from her work in Burlesque, stating, "There is dancing, and I learned so much also as a dancer doing the 'Burlesque' film, moving my body in ways that were, I feel, never as precise before. Dancing always came sort of secondary to me. Vocals were my first love and where my heart really was. I never was as passionate about dancing, per se, but after 'Burlesque,' I really fell in love and I adapted that in the dancing for 'Not Myself Tonight,' but it was really, really fun to take what I learned from the movie."[41] She also commented, "A lot of that [video] was based on my visual inspiration," she explained. "I took Hype into my salon area in my home ... it's like my creative den. He took the ideas and then took other ideas and related to the ideas, and it just was really iconic imagery."[41] The video itself features a strong sexual theme with scenes of S&M and bondage, as well as scenes in a church and several prestigious-looking buildings. Aguilera wore several hairstyles and outfits, including many which were dominatrix-style.[42]

The music video was a tribute to American pop star Madonna, having references to some of her music videos, namely "Like a Prayer", "Express Yourself" (above) and "Human Nature".

According to Aguilera, the music video of "Not Myself Tonight" is a tribute to the pop star Madonna, citing her music videos as its major influence, most notably "Express Yourself" (1989).[43][44] She said "One of my favourite videos ever is 'Express Yourself' by Madonna which came across as really strong and empowering which I always try to incorporate through my expression of sexuality [...] I love the direct reference I made to Madonna with the eye glass moment and the smoke and stairs. I was paying tribute to a very strong woman who has paved the way before."[43] James Montgomery from MTV News noted "Truthfully, there are several Madonna videos referenced in "Not Myself Tonight," but especially this iconic 1989 clip helmed by David Fincher [Express Yourself]. More than anything, it appears to be the primary influence on Aguilera's clip, from the monocle Xtina [Aguilera] wears to the Fritz Lang-ian sets."[45] He also said that the S&M features in the video were reminiscent of her video for "Human Nature", commenting, "The influence on "Tonight" is pretty evident, most notably in Christina's leather get-ups, her dominatrix attitude and the sultry chair-related activities she engages in throughout."[45]

Aguilera goes back and forth between several hairstyles in the video, which have been compared to styles of Bettie Page, Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani. She also appears in a similar style as in her video for "Lady Marmalade".[45] Aguilera also recalls her "Dirrty" video, in which she rides on the front and back of a sweaty shirtless man.[2] Gil Kaufman of MTV News ran through the video, naming, "riding crops, a handful of F-bombs, sexy, see-through skimpy raincoats, shirtless dancing in the rain and a throwdown in a church that ends with a writhing group grope." Kaufman also commented, "Most of the clip, in fact, unfolds as a virtual video catalog for fetishwear, including black leather undies, a chainmail bikini top and a bedazzled outfit that consists of little more than strategically placed silver chains and pasties connected to wrist and ankle manacles."[2]


As with the song itself, several critics praised the video for its return to Aguilera's Stripped era, however some disliked the video's unoriginality and dirty vibe. James Montgomery of MTV News called the video "jaw-dropping" with Aguilera "the pop star getting back to her "Dirrty" roots".[45] Bill Lamb of dismissed claims that the video was trying to "out dirty" artists such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Rihanna, stating that the song gave a good indication of what the video might be like. Lamb also commented, "Bondage and fetish wear are increasingly prevalent across the spectrum in pop music and pop culture imagery." He also said that the video was aesthetically "gorgeous" and that director Hype Williams "gives the clip a crisp, clean, colorful look that is arresting."[46]

Tanner Stransky of Entertainment Weekly, commented that the video was very much like Lady Gaga, but said it was even more like Madonna. He also noted that, "When it comes to Madonna, nearly every pop star has taken pieces of her performances/styling/etc", and "With the Gaga argument, can we really fault Christina for taking from Gaga, when Gaga herself has so ripped from a variety of other artists?" Stransky also noted that Aguilera did indeed seem desperate in the "unoriginal" clip, saying that she had been gone for a long time and now "clawing for relevancy", but "maybe she should have gone in a totally different direction to avoid comparisons".[47] Daniel Kreps from Rolling Stone stated that "Aguilera assumes no less than a dozen different guises, all scantily clad, ranging from carbon copies of Lady Gaga (borrowing heavily from her unique wardrobe), Madonna, Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, the girls from Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible" video and Michelle Pfeiffer's S&M-inspired Catwoman from Batman Returns. Despite the video's attempt to shock, it's unlikely Aguilera will ever out-Gaga Gaga or out-controversy Madonna. ... Hopefully next time she steps in front of the lens she'll be more herself and less like everyone else"[48] Kreps did state that the video's "steaminess" made up for the unoriginality. NME put it at number eight on its list of the "50 Worst Music Videos Ever".[49]

Live performances[edit]

Aguilera first performed the song live on The Oprah Winfrey Show on May 7, 2010, in a black one-piece and long black trench coat with high boots, accompanied by green laser lights, smoke and Matrix-esque dancers. She ad-libbed several times during the performance, at one point explaining the song's concept, stating to the audience, "This song is all about letting go and expressing yourself!", as she confidently "stomped and fro across the stage".[50] Aguilera also performed the song on her concert on The Today Show on June 8, 2010.[51] She also performed the song on Live With Regis and Kelly on June 10, 2010, and as a part of her concert on CBS's The Early Show on June 11, 2010.[52] Aguilera performed "Not Myself Tonight" as a part of a melody with "Bionic" and "Woohoo" at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards.[53] Aguilera again performed the song as a part of her edition of VH1 Storytellers.[54]

Formats and track listings[edit]

  • Digital download[55]
  1. "Not Myself Tonight" (Clean or Explicit) – 3:04
  • Australian CD single[56]
  1. "Not Myself Tonight" (Clean Version)
  2. "Not Myself Tonight" (Super Clean Version)
  3. "Not Myself Tonight"
  4. "Not Myself Tonight" (Instrumental)
  5. "Not Myself Tonight" (Call Out Hook)
  • German maxi single[57]
  1. "Not Myself Tonight"
  2. "Not Myself Tonight" (Mark Roberts Ultimix) [Dirty]
  3. "Not Myself Tonight" (Jody den Broeder Radio)



Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[77] Gold 35,000^
South Korea (Gaon Chart) 1,011,126[78]

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

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
United States April 6, 2010 Mainstream radio RCA [12]
Australia April 12, 2010 Digital download [79]
New Zealand [80]
United Kingdom [81]
Germany May 7, 2010 EP [82]
Belgium May 18, 2010 Remixes EP [83]
Finland [84]
Germany [85]
Norway [86]
Portugal [87]
Spain [88]
Sweden [89]
Switzerland [90]
Canada May 11, 2010 CD single [91]
United Kingdom May 17, 2010 [23]
Germany May 21, 2010 [92]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]