Hurt (Christina Aguilera song)
|Single by Christina Aguilera|
|from the album Back to Basics|
|Released||September 19, 2006|
|Length||4:03 (album version)|
|Christina Aguilera singles chronology|
"Hurt" is a song by American recording artist Christina Aguilera. It was written by Aguilera, Linda Perry and Mark Ronson, and produced by Perry for Aguilera's fifth studio album, Back to Basics (2006). "Hurt" was released as the album's second single on September 19, 2006 by RCA Records instead of "Candyman", which was planned to be the second one. The song's lyrical content came after Aguilera's desire to record a song about losing someone and describes how one deals with the loss of a loved one. Perry developed the first draft of the song while Aguilera rewrote some of the lyrics, and the final version is a tribute to the pair's symbiotic teamwork. Its instrumentation comes from bass, cello, contrabass, drums, guitar, piano, viola and violin.
"Hurt" received positive reviews from music critics, who praised Aguilera's vocals and the song's production. Commercially, the song attained moderate success in the United States, peaking at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100; it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), having sold more than 1.1 million copies in the United States alone, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The song was a top-ten hit worldwide, reaching the top ten in Austria, Belgium and France, and received a certification in regions including Australia, Canada and Switzerland.
An accompanying music video for the song was directed by Floria Sigismondi and co-directed by Aguilera in September 2006. It depicts Aguilera as a showgirl in a circus inspired by the 1920s and 1930s, suffering from her father's death, and realizing she was too wrapped up in her stardom to deal with what matters. It was well received and was nominated for a number of awards. "Hurt" has been performed by Aguilera on several occasions, including at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards and during her 2006–07 Back to Basics Tour. The song has been covered by aspiring singers on many music competitions around the world.
- 1 Background and release
- 2 Composition
- 3 Critical reception
- 4 Chart performance
- 5 Music video
- 6 Live performances and covers
- 7 Track listings and formats
- 8 Credits and personnel
- 9 Charts
- 10 Certifications
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Background and release
Aguilera's fifth studio album, Back to Basics, is made up of two discs. Aguilera worked with "more beat-driven" producers on the first disc, such as DJ Premier and Mark Ronson, who included samples in the production. The second disc consists solely of collaborations with producer Linda Perry. Aguilera sent letters to different producers that she hoped could help her with the direction she was taking for the project, encouraging them to experiment, re-invent and create a modern soul feel. She described the second disc as "a '20s, '30s vibe with an authentic and organic twist". Aguilera wanted to record a song about losing someone, and she asked Perry for help. Perry developed the idea while thinking about her father, who had died less than a year before the song's writing process. Perry commented,
And she came to me, and had these two chords that her and this guy wrote, and she was like 'I really like these chords, can you turn this into a song? I want the song to be about losing someone'. And inside of me, I'm going 'You little fucking bitch, you totally know I lost my dad, and now you're gonna milk me my emotions'".
Originally, "Candyman" was planned to be released as the second single from Back to Basics in late 2006, following the commercial success of the album's lead single "Ain't No Other Man" in June of that year. However, RCA Records decided to release "Hurt" instead because the label thought that "Hurt" would be a commercial success, similar to Aguilera's previous ballad hit "Beautiful" (2002). On September 17, 2006, RCA serviced "Hurt" to US contemporary hit radio. In November, the label released the single for CD single in Australia, Germany, and United Kingdom. An extended play (EP) containing remixes of the song was purchased for digital download onto iTunes Stores worldwide on November 21, 2006. In France, the CD-single of "Hurt" was released on January 8, 2007.
A 28-second sample of "Hurt".
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"Hurt" is a pop ballad, lasting for a duration of 4:03 (four minutes and three seconds). According to the music sheet published at Musicnotes.com by Alfred Publishing, "Hurt" is set in the key of E minor. It has a moderate tempo of 72 beats per minute. Aguilera's vocals span from G#3 to E#5. Its instrumentation comes from bass, cello, contrabass, drums, guitar, piano, viola and violin. It starts with a single piano with the backing of strings and, as noted by Bill Lamb of About.com, "as the words work their way to a climax accented by percussion then gently fade away again leaving the listener in stunned silence from the beauty of the moment." Lyrically, "Hurt" is an evocation of pain and guilt that can accompany the loss of a loved one. Joan Anderman from The Boston Globe commented that "Hurt" resembles her previous song "Beautiful" (2002), while Lindsay Levan of News & Record considered it a "intensely personal tune". In addition, Chuck Taylor of Billboard thought that the song was about "moving past a relationship in ruins."
"Hurt" received acclaim from music critics, with praise going to its haunting lyrics and Aguilera's vocal performance. Chuck Taylor from Billboard provided a positive review toward "Hurt", praising its production and Aguilera's vocal delivery, noting that the song gives "testament to Aguilera's stupefying gifts as an emotive, mature powerhouse singer." Jody Rosen of Entertainment Weekly said that the song's "self-help bromides Aguilera delivers with melodrama that would make Barbra Streisand shudder; fewer still could make it so compelling". Writing for Newsday, Glenn Gamboa opined that Back to Basics would not be completed without some "big" ballads, such as "Hurt", described as a "wrenching" number. Describing the song as a "the centerpiece of the second disc of Aguilera's double album 'Back to Basics'," About.com reviewer Bill Lamb gave the song a five stars out of five rating, writing that the song "is the type of big production that does not always fit easily into the typical pop radio, but it is a song that is very likely to generate significant listener requests." He also predicted that "'Hurt' is near the type of the pop singles chart by Christmas 2006".
Naomi West writing for The Daily Telegraph simply named "Hurt" a "supersized" ballad, while Dan Gennoe from Yahoo! Music called it "over the top" (OTT). In a review of the album for musicOMH, John Murphy named the song a "touching ode", but was not impressed with the "sugary-sweet" string arrangement that "overwhelms" the song. Judy Faber from CBS News shared that the second disc of the album did not bring back the old-school sound, particularly with the "overwrought weeper" "Hurt". Writing for Rolling Stone magazine, Jenny Eliscu called "Hurt" an "incongruous schmaltzfest". Spence D, writing for IGN, commented that "Sadly numbers like "Hurt" falter and end up sounding like generic pop effluvia". Thomas Inskeep from Stylus Magazine opined that "Hurt" and "The Right Man" were "overblown" ballads. The song was also placed at numbers 1 and 10 on AXS and About.com lists of Aguilera's best songs, respectively.
In the United States, "Hurt" debuted at number 100 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on the chart issue dated October 14, 2006. During the week of December 16, the single reached its peak at number 19 after spending ten weeks on the chart. The single additionally peaked at number one the Hot Dance Club Songs, number six on the Adult Contemporary, and number ten on the Mainstream Top 40. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipping more than 500,000 units in the country. As of August 2014, "Hurt" has sold over 1,187,000 million digital copies in the US. In Canada, "Hurt" peaked at number 28 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and was certified gold by the Music Canada for exceeding shipments of 40,000 copies there.
In the United Kingdom, "Hurt" peaked at number 11 on the UK Singles Chart for two consecutive weeks, and had spent 15 weeks inside the top 100, longer than her previous singles "Dirrty", "Beautiful", "What a Girl Wants" and "Fighter". It was the 150th best-selling single in the country in 2006. The song re-entered the chart on three separate occasions since, reaching a peak of number 39 in December 2007 after being performed by girl group Hope, contestants on popular talent show, The X Factor. "Hurt" re-entered the chart again in October 2009 at number 25, this time due to exposure of the song by 2009 X Factor finalist Jamie Archer. In Australia, "Hurt" entered the chart on November 16, 2006 at number eleven. The following week it went to its peak of number nine, and fell out of the charts after 15 weeks on February 25, 2007, at number 49. The song was certified Gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 35,000 units.
On November 17, 2006, the song debuted at number four on the Ö3 Austria Top 40 chart, ultimately peaking at number two and spending a total of 27 weeks on the chart. "Hurt" achieved success in both the Flemish and Wallonian territories in Belgium, peaking at number three and five, respectively. The song received a Gold certification by Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA), for sales of 35,000 copies in the country. "Hurt" peaked at number three and charted for a total of 25 weeks in France, before falling out on June 9, 2007. The song was certified Silver by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP) for shipments of 100,000 units. Additionally, "Hurt" managed to chart 26 weeks in the Germany, becoming Aguilera's longest-charting single on German Charts. It later received a Gold certification for shipments of 150,000 copies. "Hurt" showed great longevity in Switzerland, reaching the top of the chart, remaining 40 weeks in the charts and re-entering the charts on the week of August 19, 2007 and March 13, 2008. It also received a Gold ceritifcation for sales of 15,000 units.
The music video for "Hurt" was shot over five days in September 2006. It was co-directed by Aguilera alongside Floria Sigismondi, who had previously directed the music video for "Fighter" (2003). She also learned stunts for the video. According to Aguilera, she "froze her butt off" during its shooting, due to the cold weather. During the first day of filming, the big top tent that the video was being staged in "blew away" because of the wind, and resulted in a delay in shooting and a change of location. The circus-themed video for "Hurt" premiered on October 17, 2006 on MTV's Total Request Live (TRL). Aguilera talked about the development of the video:
"I definitely had a story for it - a specific story - that's why I felt that it was important for her and I to co-direct this particular video and song and she completely got it. She got my vision for it. She [Sigismondi] got where I was trying to go and what she brings to the table is so incredible and she's so creative and outstanding. And I always have a great time working with her. There was no ego involved, you know, me - that was the first video that I'd ever stepped up to the plate to literally co-direct. I'd always been very opinionated and very you know, I always voice my ideas and whatnot in my videos, but this was the first one I actually took credit for in co-directing. And she was just so great and generous in teaching me some of the ropes and learning about the different camera angles and you know, all the facets and details that go into making a video. So, she was really great and we had such fun with that. [...] And she's amazing. I can't you know, she came to the set dressed in different outfits that related to the circus everyday, so she's such an imaginative, creative spirit that I just have such fun working with energy like that".
The video begins with the ending instrumental of "Enter the Circus"/"Welcome", over which a carnival barker (voiced by Linda Perry) introduces a spectacular circus, and begins in black and white. The transition to color begins when Aguilera appears in an old-fashioned dressing room, receiving flowers and then an important telegram saying, "In respect to inform you of the death of your father on the day of 02/09/1967". A flashback then shows young Aguilera, played by Laci Kay, with her father, played by Timothy V. Murphy, raptured by the sight of the tightrope walker, played by Elizabeth Glassco. With her father's encouragement, Aguilera begins to train herself to do the same.
When the video switches to older Aguilera, we see her descending from the top of a circus tent on a rope, onto the back of an elephant, in Pointe shoes and a structured jeweled outfit, with her father watching adoringly in the audience. She later attempts to greet him but is pulled away by fans and photographers keen to meet the star. The content of the telegram is then revealed to be a message of her father's death, and as Aguilera realizes that she was too wrapped up in her stardom to deal with what matters, she races through the circus in a belated attempt to find her father. The video ends with a shot of Aguilera sitting on a circus box, singing and crying, before fading out to Aguilera's grief-stricken form on the ground outside the circus tent. The camera then zooms out and Aguilera is seen on the ground.
Shortly after its release, Michael Slezak from Entertainment Weekly noted that "This is one of those videos where all the details seamlessly come together, from the little elephant necklace, to the shot of Xtina's hand being pulled away from her father's, to the spinning camera that's used to convey our gal's confusion and grief". He complimented with "Better still, the video actually makes me like the song more than I did when I heard it on its own". The video also won two prizes at the 2007 MVPA Awards in the categories Best Video and Best Direction of a Female Artist. It was also nominated for Video of the Year on the Juno Awards of 2007.
Live performances and covers
Aguilera premiered the song at the MTV Video Music Awards on August 31, 2006, "boosted by stabs of strings and bathed in a sea of smoke", according to James Montgomery from MTV News. He also listed it as one of the "high-gloss" moments of the event. Aguilera also promoted the song during the holidays later that year, by performing on the TV special Christmas at Rockefeller Center, on November 29, 2006 on NBC. She also gave a performance on the German entertainment show Wetten, dass..? on December 9, 2006. Aguilera also appeared as a musical guest at Saturday Night Live in 2006 and performed "Hurt". "Hurt" has been performed by Aguilera on her Back to Basics Tour throughout 2006 and 2007. She sang the song dressed in a plume outfit designed by Roberto Cavalli, while as a giant crescent moon descended from the ceiling. The performance was described as "typically rousing" by Kelefa Sanneh from The New York Times, and was included on the Back to Basics: Live and Down Under DVD release from the tour, recorded during Aguilera's Australian shows in July 2007.
French singer Caroline Costa performed the song when she was 11 years old on French talent show La France a un incroyable talent. In December 2007, girl group contestant Hope on the fourth season of The X Factor (UK) performed a cover version. On the sixth season of the same show, Jamie Archer did a performance of the song. On the first season of the X Factor (Germany), Mati Gavriel performed the song. On the second season of the same edition the show, Monique Simon covered the song. It was also performed in the second season of the X Factor (Poland) by semifinalist Ewelina Lisowska on the fifth week of the show. On the second season finale of the X Factor (Australia), Sally Chatfield performed the song. Nikki Ponte performed the song on the 14th week of the third season of the Greek X Factor. In September 2012, contestant Denitta N Antony sang the song during the final auditions of the Clean & Clear Bangalore Times Fresh Face 2012 which took place in CMRIMS College, in Bangalore, India. In 2015, Aguilera's contestant on The Voice, India Carney, sang "Hurt" on the show's Live Playoffs.
Track listings and formats
Credits and personnel
- Christina Aguilera – songwriter
- Linda Perry – songwriter, producer, piano, audio engineer
- Eric Schermerhorn – guitar
- Paul III – bass
- Nathan Wetherington – drums
- Kristofer Kaufman – audio assistant
- Peter Moktan – mixing
- Seth Waldmann – mixing assistant
- Sam Holland – mixing assistant
Credits and personnel adapted from Back to Basics album liner notes.
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Gold||15,000x|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||40,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Gold||15,000x|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||1,187,000*|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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