Sing for Me (Christina Aguilera song)
|"Sing for Me"|
|Song by Christina Aguilera from the album Lotus|
|Producer||Aeon "Step" Manahan|
|Lotus track listing|
"Sing for Me" is a song recorded by American recording artist Christina Aguilera for her seventh studio album, Lotus (2012). It was written by Ginny Blackmore, Aguilera and producer Aeon "Step" Manahan. Described by Aguilera as being one of the more emotional tracks on Lotus, the song was inspired by the music of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Etta James, to which she had frequently listened while growing up.
"Sing for Me" received positive reviews from music critics, many of whom praised Aguilera's vocal performance. One critic described the song as a new version of "Beautiful" (2002), while many felt that the song was produced in response to the commercial failure of her sixth studio album, Bionic (2010). Upon the release of Lotus, the song debuted on the South Korea international singles chart at number 125 with digital download sales of 2,306.
Following her sixth studio album, Bionic (2010), Aguilera filed for divorce from her husband Jordan Bratman, starred in her first feature film called Burlesque and recorded its accompanying soundtrack. Aguilera became a coach on NBC's singing competition show The Voice and was featured on Maroon 5's single "Moves Like Jagger" (2011), which was on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for four consecutive weeks. After these events, Aguilera revealed that she had begun to work on her seventh studio album, saying that she wanted to find high quality and "personal" songs for to record. Regarding the creative direction, she revealed that the album would be a "culmination of everything I've experienced up until this point ... I've been through a lot since the release of my last album, being on ('The Voice'), having had a divorce ... This is all sort of a free rebirth for me." She further said "I'm embracing many different things, but it's all feel-good, super-expressive [and] super-vulnerable." Aguilera continued to say that the album would be about "self–expression and freedom" because of the personal struggles she had overcome during the last couple of years. Speaking about her new material during an interview on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2012, Aguilera said that the recording process for Lotus was taking a while because "I don't like to just get songs from producers. I like them to come from a personal place ... I'm very excited. It's fun, exciting, introspective, it's going to be great". "Sing for Me" was initially written by Blackmore about her experience with the music industry; upon hearing the song Aguilera had trouble identifying with some of its lyrics, so she and Blackmore met up and rewrote parts of the song.
Production and inspiration
"Sing for Me" was co-written by Aguilera with Aeon "Step" Manahan and Ginny Blackmore, and was produced by Step. Her vocals were recorded by Oscar Ramirez at The Red Lip's Room in Beverly Hills, California and all instrumentation and programming was carried out by Step. For Lotus, Aguilera wrote and recorded a lot of songs that would "hopefully inspire the next generation of vocalists." She revealed that her experience as a coach on The Voice has prompted her to "dig deeper" and find some new inspiration, due to how she feels as though she needs to "uphold a certain vocal standard". In an interview with Billboard, Aguilera further commented on how being a coach encouraged her to record "Sing for Me" and why it is special for her:
Seeing all the singers, you really come face to face with a lot of people that are predominantly younger. That's inspiring, because they come up to you and they're such big fans and they share with you what song touched them the most and how they had to learn every single ad lib and dissect it. As a vocalist it brought me back to, 'Yeah, that's what I used to do to my Whitney Houston record and my Mariah Carey record and my Etta James record.' It brings you back to a place where it becomes your personal responsibility to infuse the next generation with more information about learning every intricate note. That's why a song called 'Sing for Me' is a special song. It's one of those singer's songs where if you're not a vocalist you can't mess with that song.
Composition and lyrical interpretation
"Sing for Me" is a power ballad, with a duration of four minutes (4:00). Its instrumentation consists of "soft" strings, a "delicate" piano melody and "80s power ballad-type drums" at its close. The key in which the structure was composed is changed during the course of the song. Aguilera's vocal performance garnered a comparison to Gabby Douglas and the vocal gymnastics that she projects from Mike Wass for Idolator. He also noted that although Carey would consider the vocals runs as "over-the-top", they fit with the nature of the song. The song features a "thunderous" ironic chorus which consists of the lyrics "'Cause when I open my mouth, my whole heart comes out." According to Chris Younie for 4Music, Aguilera belts the song out "as if her life depends on it." The "reflective ballad" may be what was created as a result of Aguilera singing "Beautiful" alone in her bedroom after the weak commercial response of Bionic. It represents a "fine line" between the "her hurt over the Bionic backlash and the woe-is-me territory she occasionally veers into on some of the album’s worst tracks." Aguilera tries to "shake her insecurities" during the lines "I don't care what the world thinks or how I sound." According to Annie Zaleski for The A.V. Club, Aguilera "discusses working through regret and reclaiming her sense of self."
"Sing for Me" garnered positive reception from music critics. Chris Younie of 4Music expressed admiration for "Sing for Me", writing that Aguilera proves her worth as a singer and that she does not need "hot pants and skintight outfits" to make an impression. Idolator's Mike Wass declared the song as a "standout" on Lotus. Mesfin Fekadu of The Huffington Post described "Sing for Me" as a personal anthem for Aguilera. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times wrote that "Sing for Me" was reminiscent of the "old Christina" and that her "voice veers volcanic." Billboard's Andrew Hampp wrote that if "Army of Me" is Lotus' answer to her 2003 song "Fighter" then "Sing for Me" has "aims of being" a new version of her 2002 song "Beautiful". He also noted that the song is a gift to "diehard" Aguilera fans. Jim Farber of the New York Daily News thought that the singer appeared to be snarling as she sings about "nothing can take away the glory and power she derives from her voice". Melinda Newman of HitFix thought that starts to sound "defensive" as the song progresses, but is "otherwise glorious". The song generated disappointment for Sal Cinquemani for Slant Magazine, writing that although Aguilera's vocals runs are "pretty", they are "enough to save the otherwise too-bombastic and rote power ballad."
Credits and personnel
- Vocals recorded at The Red Lip's Room, Beverly Hills, CA.
- Songwriting – Ginny Blackmore, Christina Aguilera, Aeon "Step" Manhan.
- Production – Aeon "Step" Manhan
- Vocal recording – Oscar Ramirez
- All programming and instruments – Step
Ginny Blackmore version
Blackmore recorded her original version of the song, titled "SFM", and released it as a B-side to her single "Bones" (2013). "SFM" entered the New Zealand Singles Chart dated 18 November 2013 at number forty, and moved up to number twenty-one the following week. It spent a total of five weeks on the chart. The music video was directed by Claire Littler and Ralph Matthews and premiered on Stuff.co.nz on November 8, 2013. Blackmore performed an acoustic version of the track on New Zealand radio station The Edge on November 13, 2013.
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