Genie in a Bottle

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"Genie in a Bottle"
Genie in a Bottle.png
Single by Christina Aguilera
from the album Christina Aguilera
B-side"We're a Miracle"
ReleasedJune 1, 1999 (1999-06-01)
RecordedFebruary 1999 (1999-02)
  • David Frank
  • Steve Kipner
Christina Aguilera singles chronology
"Genie in a Bottle"
"What a Girl Wants"

"Genie in a Bottle" is a song by American singer Christina Aguilera from her self-titled debut album released in 1999. It was written by Pam Sheyne, Steve Kipner and David Frank, and produced by Kipner and Frank. The song was released in Australia on June 1, 1999, by RCA Records as the album's lead single. It is a teen pop and dance-pop song which incorporates elements from R&B. Lyrically, "Genie in a Bottle" uses sexual references to talk about the theme of self-respect.

"Genie in a Bottle" received generally favorable reviews from contemporary music critics, most of whom praised the song's lyrics and Aguilera's vocals on the track. The single achieved commercial success, peaking atop the record charts of 21 countries.[2] In the United States, the song peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), having sold more than 1.4 million copies in the country.

A music video for "Genie in a Bottle" was directed by Diane Martel and shot in Malibu, California. The video was well received by media outlets and gained a lot of play on music channels including VH1, BET and was featured heavily on the MTV program Total Request Live. "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. Aguilera recorded two remakes of "Genie in a Bottle" and included them on her albums: a Spanish version entitled "Genio Atrapado" was included on Mi Reflejo (2000), and an electropop-oriented version entitled "Genie 2.0" was included on 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.[3] She began recording sessions with producers Roberts Alleca and Michael Brown, but was displeased with the current pace of her career.[3] Despite being offered free studio time with Alleca and Brown, Aguilera ventured to Japan in an effort to boost her career.[3] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6][7] Originally, Aguilera "wasn't too crazy" about the demo recording for "Genie in a Bottle", though she eventually became "proud" of the end result.[8] 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.[9]

Writing and development[edit]

EMI executive Carla Ondrasik introduced two of her most prominent songwriters, David Frank and Steve Kipner.[10] They began working together, and later collaborated with writer Pamelia Sheyne.[10] 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.[10] 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".[10] They agreed a female should serve as the lead singer, at which point Frank recommended that Aguilera record the track.[11]

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".[12] Originally presented as "If You Want to Be With Me", Aguilera's management suggested the final name "Genie in a Bottle".[10] 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.[12] Prior to being recorded by Aguilera, the track received much interest from the writers of the up-and-coming girl group Innosense, 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.[10]


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.[10] 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.[9] 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.[13] 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".[13] 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".[13]


Reviewers of "Genie in a Bottle" noted 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] 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 said that "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]

"Genie in a Bottle" is written in the key of F minor with a tempo of 88 beats per minute. The song follows a chord progression of Fm – E – D, and Aguilera's vocals span from F3 to B4.[16]

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[17]

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".[18] 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.[19] In a review for the album Christina Aguilera critic Robert Christgau called the song a "dazzling clever piece of teen self-exploration cum sexploitation".[20] Nana-Adwoa Ofori of the AOL Radio blog listed the song as her top Christina Aguilera song declaring it as her "signature" track.[21] A writer from Daily News found Aguilera to be more capable vocally than the tracks limits but found the track to be "a slice of thumping sensuality".[22]

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".[17] 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.[23] Eliseo Cardona, CDNow senior editor, was not 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 Sun-Sentinel, 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] The song was voted as the 18th best song of 1999 by Pazz & Jop.[27]

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.[11]

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.[28] At that point, it had the longest stay at number one 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. According to Billboard, "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.[29] It also became Aguilera's best-selling physical single to date.[30]

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.[31] The single was also certified platinum in Australia for selling over 70,000 units.[32]

"Genie in a Bottle" was certified platinum in almost every country it was released in, later ending at No. 7 on the Year-End charts in the United States, and No. 7 on the European Year-End charts. In the United Kingdom, it sold 172,000 copies in the first week, and spent two weeks at number 1. As of 2019, it was her third biggest song in the country with 906,000 copies sold, and 22.4 million streams.[33]

Music video[edit]

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 hang out around a bonfire.

Analyzing the video, A Star is Made author Pier Dominquez said:

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.

It received heavy rotation on VH1 and reached top position on the MTV's chart of most played videos.[35]

Live performances[edit]

Two days after this Aguilera performed the track again 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.[36] 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.[36] Aguilera also performed at the National Building Museum for the Children's National Medical Center in the company of 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.[37] 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 the track live as the first song in her set which was then followed by "What a Girl Wants".[38]

"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).[39] 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".[40] It included Middle Eastern keyboards and 80's hair-metal guitar,[39] where she slowly released herself as a "genie" as male dancers danced around her.[40] 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".[41]


Cultural influence[edit]

"Genie in a Bottle" has been widely regarded as one of Aguilera's signature songs.[42][43] This song gained her mainstream success and credibility among music critics. It is also credited for redefining the sound of late 1990s music.[44] Rolling Stone says about Aguilera, "Even in her teen-pop "Genie in a Bottle" days, she was modeling her dramatic, melismatic technique on old-school soul heroines like Etta James".[45] It was ranked fifth on Rolling Stone's list of the biggest 1990s summer songs—a sentiment shared by the Billboard magazine in July 2020.[46][47] It was also ranked #38th on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s.[48] In July 2020 a digital publication The Pudding carried out a study on the most iconic songs from the ’90s and songs that are most known by Millennials and the people of Generation Z. "Genie in a Bottle" was the twentieth song with the highest recognisability rate.[49]

Bustle writer Sabienna Bowman called the song "a masterpiece of musical achievement" saying that the song "either about sex or self respect, depending on who you asked — was the anthem of the summer 1999".[50] Bowman added that the song is "still everything that was so good about '90s pop music".[50] Vice writer Nick Levine also agreed that song allowed Aguilera to take on a "full-on pop phenomenon" persona, adding that "Aguilera is the most iconic pop star of her era".[51]

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 the 2014 US Open, the song was used whenever Eugenie Bouchard played on the court, Genie being her nickname.[52] In the fifth season of New Girl, Jessica "Jess" Day (played by Zooey Deschanel) sings Schmidt (Max Greenfield) to sleep with the lyrics.[53] Colleen Ballinger performed the song in the Haters Back Off episode "Staring in a Musicall".[54][55] The song was used in the Off-Broadway adaptation of Cruel Intentions, acted out by Katie Stevens as Kathryn Merteuil.[56][57] In January 2018 Erika Jayne gave a rendition of "Genie in a Bottle" during the Aguilera-themed episode on Lip Sync Battle.[58] Ewelina Lisowska covered the song in the Polish edition of a interactive talent show Your Face Sounds Familiar (2019).[59] A slowed-down cover version of the song was used in the 2019 comedy-drama film Yes, God, Yes.[60]

Other versions[edit]

Dove Cameron (pictured) is noted for her cover of the song for the Disney Channel Descendants franchise in 2016; the video for Cameron's version has over 260 million views

In 2000, Aguilera recorded a Spanish version of "Genie in a Bottle" entitled "Genio Atrapado" for her second studio album, Mi Reflejo.[61] The song's lyrics were translated from English to Spanish by Cuban-American producer Rudy Pérez.[62] "Genio Atrapado" peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart.[63] The song received a Latin Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Latin Grammy Awards of 2000, which was awarded to Shakira for "Ojos Así".[64] A music video for the song was directed by Diane Martel, who also directed the visual for "Genie in a Bottle".[65]

In 2008, Aguilera recorded a remake of "Genie in a Bottle" entitled "Genie 2.0" for her first greatest hits album, Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits. "Genie 2.0" is an electropop-oriented song; a reviewer from Rolling Stone compared the song to works by Lady Gaga.[66] The song was released via the iTunes Store in the United States to promote the album.[67] Nick Butler of Sputnikmusic likened the song's style to that of The Eurythmics's "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and called it "awesome".[68] To promote Keeps Gettin' Better, Aguilera performed "Genie 2.0" at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.[69] The remake debuted at number 161 on the UK Singles Chart.[70]

In the fall of 2001, an unauthorized mashup remix by The Freelance Hellraiser which combined Aguilera's a cappella vocals with The Strokes' 2001 song "Hard to Explain" was released under the title "A Stroke of Genius", receiving considerable attention and some airplay; The Guardian described the remix as having "defined the decade" as an early example of remix culture.[71] Seizing on this, the band Speedway covered the Aguilera song in 2003 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", reaching #10 in the UK Singles Chart.[72][73]

"Genie in a Bottle" is the opening song on John Smith's 2011 album of covers Eavesdropping. In 2016, Dove Cameron covered "Genie in a Bottle" for the Disney Channel short series Descendants: Wicked World. It has over 260 million plays on VEVO. In 2017, after her departure from Fifth Harmony, Camila Cabello released her debut single "Crying in the Club", which samples "Genie in a Bottle". The same year, Sofia Karlberg released a cover of "Genie in a Bottle".[74] Jason Derulo sampled Aguilera's single in his 2019 song "Talk with Your Body".[75][76] In 2020, AZ2A and Keepin It Heale released a dance cover of "Genie in a Bottle".[77]


Credits adapted from CD liner notes[78]

Formats and track listings[edit]

US CD and cassette single[79][80]
  1. "Genie in a Bottle" – 3:36
  2. "Blessed" – 3:06
German maxi single[81]
  1. "Genie in a Bottle" – 3:36
  2. "We're a Miracle" – 4:09
  3. "Don't Make Me Love You" – 4:15
UK CD single
  1. "Genie in a Bottle" – 3:36
  2. "Blessed" – 3:06
  3. "Genie in a Bottle" (Acapella Mix) – 4:16
UK Enhanced CD single, limited edition
  1. "Genie in a Bottle" – 3:36
  2. "Genie in a Bottle" (Eddie Arroyo Radio Club Mix) – 3:59
  3. "Genie in a Bottle" (music video) – 3:36



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[32] Platinum 70,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[146] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[147] Platinum 80,000double-dagger
Belgium (BEA)[148] Platinum 50,000*
France (SNEP)[150] Gold 300,000[149]
Germany (BVMI)[151] Platinum 500,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[152] Platinum 10,000*
Sweden (GLF)[153] Platinum 30,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[154] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[155] Platinum 906,000[33]
United States (RIAA)[157] Platinum 1,436,000[156]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Country Release date Format(s) Label Ref.
Australia June 1, 1999 CD single RCA [82]
United States June 22, 1999 Cassette single [79]
CD single [80]
United Kingdom June 29, 1999
Germany August 9, 1999 Maxi single RCA International [81]
United Kingdom October 11, 1999 CD single – Part 1 and 2
  • RCA
  • Sony BMG


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External links[edit]