Liberation (Christina Aguilera album)

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Liberation
Christina Aguilera - Liberation (Official Album Cover).png
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 15, 2018 (2018-06-15)
Recorded2014[1]–2017
Genre
Length49:19
LabelRCA
Producer
Christina Aguilera chronology
Lotus
(2012)
Liberation
(2018)
Singles from Liberation
  1. "Accelerate"
    Released: May 3, 2018
  2. "Fall in Line"
    Released: May 16, 2018

Liberation is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Christina Aguilera. It was released on June 15, 2018, through RCA Records.[3][4] It is Aguilera's first album in six years, following Lotus (2012). The singer started recording the album in late 2014, and throughout 2015 and 2017, Aguilera collaborated with a handful of producers and songwriters to reach her desired sound; Pharrell Williams and Linda Perry were in the studio in early stages and ended up not being on the album, while new collaborators such as Anderson Paak, Kanye West, Che Pope, Mike Dean and Tayla Parx were confirmed to be on the album. It features collaborations with Demi Lovato, Keida, Shenseea, GoldLink, Ty Dolla Sign, 2 Chainz, and XNDA.

Liberation was preceded by the singles "Accelerate" and "Fall in Line", and other two promotional singles, "Twice" and "Like I Do". Critical reception towards the album was generally positive, with music critics complimenting Aguilera's vocals, the album's experimental styles and the cohesive sound. Comercially, it performed moderately worldwide, and positioned within the top-ten in seven countries, including the United States, peaking at number six on the Billboard 200 chart. The album's second single "Fall in Line" and album cut "Like I Do" featuring GoldLink, earned nominations for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 61st Grammy Awards, respectively. To promote the album, Aguilera embarked on her fifth concert tour, the Liberation Tour, beginning in September 2018. It is her first tour in nearly ten years after the Back To Basics Tour.

Background and development[edit]

Following the release of her seventh album Lotus (2012), Aguilera took a career hiatus to focus on music and her family.[5] Later in April 2014, Aguilera confirmed that she was recording two albums: one in English and one in Spanish (which was slated to be her second after 2000's Mi Reflejo).[6] During the interview, she also elaborated on the album's working process, saying: "I've been loosely working and sort of accumulating ideas for what my next album will be over the last couple of years. I'm excited for my fans to finally be getting something from me — it's been a while!"[7] In 2016, she returned to The Voice season ten, winning the series with her contestant Alisan Porter, making Aguilera the first female coach to win the series at that time.[8] During a promotional interview for the TV show, Aguilera stated about the album: "It will be an album of freedom."[9]

On June 16, 2016, Aguilera released the song "Change", dedicated to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting,[10] while on August 23, 2016, she released "Telepathy" for the TV series The Get Down soundtrack, which topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.[11] In February 2018, media reported that Aguilera was collaborating with Demi Lovato who confirmed a collaboration.[12] In March 2018, a low-quality snippet of a song called "Masochist" leaked online, as well as the full-length demo of the song "Fall in Line", which prompted rumours that the tracks were supposed to be on the album.[13] On May 3, 2018, Aguilera released the first promotional single "Accelerate" featuring American singer Ty Dolla Sign and rapper 2 Chainz, as well as its music video,[14] while also confirming the album's title, Liberation, and its art, track listing and announced the album was available for pre-order online.[15]

Recording and production[edit]

Kanye West (left) and Anderson Paak (right) produced two tracks each.

Recording for the album initially took place in early 2014.[1] At early stages, the first producer that was confirmed to be working with Aguilera was Pharrell Williams, which according to the singer, had one song that she loved.[16] In 2015, Aguilera confirmed that she was still writing and gathering songs for the album to eventually record them.[16] In late November 2015, Aguilera confirmed she was working again with long time collaborator Linda Perry.[17] In February 2017, Aguilera claimed she was adding the final touches to the album,[18] however in the same month, Tayla Parx confirmed she had worked with Aguilera, as well as Da Internz, Kanye West and PartyNextDoor.[19] Billboard would later revealed that Aguilera met West in Rick Rubin's Shangri La studio in Malibu, California, a few months before West released The Life of Pablo in 2016.[20] About West, she commented: "I've always been a huge fan of Kanye. Outside of, you know, his controversial aspects, I just think he's a great artist and musicmaker and beatmaker. The artists that he chooses to pluck from different walks of life are so interesting."[20] He produced "Accelerate" as well as "Maria", which is Aguilera's personal favorite.[20]

Later in September 2017, Aguilera entered the studio again to work with Mark Ronson and Anderson Paak.[21] Aguilera also mentioned about working with Paak, which produced two tracks, by saying: "He and I connected big-time. He was like, 'I used to watch you on TRL!' He's a great lyricist, soul singer and rapper. And he murders the drums."[22] Billboard also revealed that Liberation would have a collaboration with Demi Lovato, which was in the same song co-written by singer and songwriter Julia Michaels.[20] Commenting about choosing Lovato, Aguilera claimed: "We went through a few names of women. I needed a belty singer, and she took it to the next level. I almost cried when I first heard her on the record."[22] American singer and songwriter Jon Bellion confirmed in a now-deleted tweet that he is the producer behind "Fall in Line".[23] The singer revealed that during the album's working process she regretted not having Cardi B and Childish Gambino on the album; the first "got lost in the shuffle", after being discouraged by a producer to work with her, while the latter was working on the TV series Atlanta and the two never had the time to materialize the collaboration.[22] It was reported in the media in June 2018 that Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton had performed on the track "Pipe", under the name XNDA,[24] though Hamilton has not confirmed this is true.[25]

Composition[edit]

Liberation was described as a "hip-hop and R&B inspired" album by Billboard.[20] Aguilera commented: "To me, there's nothing like an amazing hip-hop beat," while also claiming: "At the end of the day, I am a soul singer. When you strip back the words 'pop star' and the many things that I've done, singing soulfully is where my core, my root and my heart really is. And as you can see, it's what I'm inspired by."[20] Billboard described the third track, "Maria", as "a pulsing, intricately orchestrated piece that includes a Michael Jackson sample and an extended introduction in which Aguilera sings from The Sound of Music."[20] Aguilera commented that the influence behind the title was Julie Andrews' character in the film as well as her middle name, adding: "Within my house a form of escape for me was opening my bedroom's window and singing out to the world pretending that I was her. It's about getting back to that little girl who just wants to sing for all the right reasons, not necessarily for charting and all the things that this business kind of does to you over the years and shaping how you look at making music..."[26]

The introduction to "Fall in Line", the duet with Lovato, is the track "Dreamers", which "features a group of young girls declaring goals like 'I want to be a journalist,' 'I want to be heard,' 'I want to be president.'"[20] "Fall in Line" has been described as a feminist anthem.[20] Aguilera stated that the track was recorded a few years ago and before movements such as Time's Up and the Me Too movement came out. She added: "It was the song that needed to be heard. Because of what I witnessed when I was growing up I always felt really driven to have a voice that my mom kind of never had in my childhood. So I've always wanted to be that advocate for women and anybody that was struggling to have their own voice."[26] She also explained that the song "Sick of Sittin'" "was born out of feeling stagnant in one place for too long, feeling a little asleep at the wheel. Anytime that you get just too comfortable in a place where you just feel that you're not living up to your full potential it's time to flip the script and move."[26]

Title and artwork[edit]

About the title of the album Aguilera explained, "I wanted to have a title that meant freeing myself from anything that wasn't my truth. That's a constant I think in everyone's life: every time you feel stifled in a current situation where you feel you're not quite yourself or being bogged down by other people's opinions. Or when you feel like you're stuck in a stagnant place."[27]

On the May 2018 cover of Paper magazine, Aguilera appeared bare-faced without makeup and retouching, saying "I'm at the place, even musically, where it's a liberating feeling to be able to strip it all back and appreciate who you are and your raw beauty."[28] The similar photography style was chosen for the Liberation artwork—posing with a natural look, Aguilera is seen in closeup. The cover of the standard edition was revealed on Aguilera's website on May 3, 2018.[29]

Release and promotion[edit]

On April 28, 2018, Aguilera had a concert at Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix where she unveiled a promo video as an intro for the upcoming album.[30] On May 3, 2018, Liberation's release date in the United States was confirmed on to be June 15 and a teaser trailer titled "Liberation: Where's Maria?" was released on May 4 which she spoke the inspiration and concept of the album.[31] Aguilera performed "Fall in Line" with Lovato at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards on May 20, 2018.[32] On May 9, 2018, Aguilera announced she will embark on the Liberation Tour to support the album, which is her first tour since 2006's Back to Basics Tour.[33] On 14 June, Aguilera performed "Think", "Fighter" and "Fall in Line" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[34] The next day, she performed on Today Show and was interviewed on Total Request Live.[35] On 12 September, Aguilera was interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[36]

Singles[edit]

"Accelerate" featuring singer Ty Dolla Sign and rapper 2 Chainz was released on May 3, 2018, as the lead single from the album.[37] The music video premiered on Aguilera's Vevo channel on the same day.[38] It reached number-one on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart for the issue dated September 1, 2018, becoming Aguilera's tenth song to do so[39], as well as Ty Dolla Sign and 2 Chainz's first number-one song.[40][41] On May 11, 2018, "Twice" was released as a promotional single from the album.[42][43] "Fall in Line" featuring singer-songwriter Demi Lovato was released on May 16, 2018, as the second official single from Liberation.[44] A lyric video was uploaded on Aguilera's Vevo channel on the same day[45], while the music video premiered on May 23, 2018[46]. A week prior the album release, on June 7, 2018, "Like I Do" featuring rapper GoldLink was released as the second promotional single.[47][48] The lyric video for the song was released on June 21, 2018.[49]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?6.6/10[50]
Metacritic71/100[51]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[52]
HipHopDX3.7/5[53]
The Guardian3/5 stars[54]
The Independent3/5 stars[55]
NME3/5 stars[56]
The Observer4/5 stars[57]
Pitchfork6.7/10[58]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[59]
Slant Magazine3/5 stars[60]
The Daily Telegraph3/5 stars[61]

Liberation has received positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, Liberation has an average score of 71 based on 17 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[51] Alim Kheraj from The Observer lauded the album for being "at her most artistically emancipated".[57] Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone labelled the album "Xtina at her peak" and claimed that Aguilera's "greatest attributes is that she has rarely played it safe".[59] Mesfin Fekadu found the album "masterfully cohesive" in The Washington Post, while comparing it to Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, "her 2005 comeback album that reminded the world to never count out the diva".[62] The New York Times critic Jon Pareles complimented the album's experimental styles incorporating various genres and wrote that "[Aguilera's] extravagant vocal flourishes connect with sweeping emotion".[63] HipHopDX writer Trent Clark opined that despite "occasional cheese-smothered lyric", the album featured Aguilera's "heavenly" vocals that was "a well-calculated offering from a living legend whose abilities are still very much intact".[53] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic discussed that while Liberation appeared to be personal, it still "resonate emotionally" despite not being "an easy route".[52] Claire Lobenfeld from Pitchfork, while unimpressed towards the album's "progressive moments" like "Pipe" or "Accelerate", claimed that the album's "sturdy moments" as on "Fall in Line" created "a promising first step toward a genuine pop rebirth—moments" that were comparable to Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope or Whitney Houston's My Love Is Your Love.[58]

Nick Levine from NME commented that while Liberation "may lack the grand ambition and massive pop bangers of her glory days", the album was "cohesive and surprisingly low-key" that may revitalize Aguilera's career.[56] The Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick, by contrast, disapproved of the album's music styles incorporating "rock, R&B, soul, hip hop, reggaeton and anthemic balladry" that "never settles into a coherent listening experience".[61] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine shared a similar viewpoint, commenting that the album lacked cohesion by being both "forward-minded" and "frustratingly safe".[60]

Year-end lists[edit]

Liberation is included on several publications' year-end lists.

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, Liberation debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 chart,[70] selling 68,000 album-equivalent units, according to Nielsen Soundscan.[citation needed] It became Aguilera's seventh top 10 album in the nation, and was the highest ranked solo female album on the week ending June 30.[70] Liberation was also the third best-selling album of the week. It debuted at number three on Billboard's Top Album Sales chart, becoming her first album since Bionic to land in top-three.[71] Furthermore, the release saw Aguilera re-enter and peak at number eight on the Billboard Artist 100 chart.[72] On the Canadian Albums Chart compiled by Billboard, the record debuted and peaked at number five, becoming her highest charting album since Bionic and overall, her fifth album that peaks inside the top-five.[73][74]

The album performed moderately on charts across the world. Liberation debuted and peaked at number 17 on the UK Albums Chart, the week's fifth highest debut, and second highest debut outside the top 10[75]. In Australia, the album debuted at number nine on the Australian Albums Chart, becoming her fourth top 10 album and earning her highest charting studio effort since Bionic.[76] Elsewhere, it became Aguilera's highest-charting album in Spain, entering the Spanish Albums Chart at number one. It also became her third top 10 album, following Back to Basics and Bionic[77]. In Switzerland, Liberation debuted and peaked at number three on the Swiss Albums, becoming her fifth consecutive top 10 album and also spending a total of seven weeks on the chart.[78] In Austria, it entered the Austrian Albums at number nine, her highest charting album since Bionic. Subsequently, Liberation stayed on the chart for a total of three weeks.[79]

Track listing[edit]

Liberation[3][4]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Liberation"Nicholas BritellBritell1:47
2."Searching for Maria" 0:25
3."Maria"
4:34
4."Sick of Sittin'"
  • Paak
  • Mell Beats
4:00
5."Dreamers"  0:36
6."Fall in Line" (featuring Demi Lovato)
4:06
7."Right Moves" (featuring Keida and Shenseea)
  • Bryan "Composer" Nelson
  • Kosine
  • Pope[a]
3:48
8."Like I Do" (featuring GoldLink)
4:49
9."Deserve"MNEK4:23
10."Twice"Kirby Lauryen
  • Lauryen
  • Sandy Chila[b]
4:02
11."I Don't Need It Anymore (Interlude)"AguileraAguilera0:54
12."Accelerate" (featuring Ty Dolla Sign and 2 Chainz)
4:03
13."Pipe" (featuring XNDA)
4:05
14."Masochist"
  • Aguilera
  • Tim Anderson
  • Darhyl "Hey DJ" Camper Jr.
  • Juber
  • Camper
  • T. Anderson
3:30
15."Unless It's with You"Ricky Reed4:17
Total length:49:19

[80]

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer
  • ^[b] signifies an additional producer
  • ^[c] signifies a vocal producer for Demi Lovato
Sampling credits
  • "Maria" contains a sample of "Maria (You Were the Only One)", written by Lawrence Brown, Linda Glover, Horgay Gordy and Allen Story, as performed by Michael Jackson.
  • "Sick of Sittin'" contains a sample of "No Registration", written and performed by Janne Schaffer.
  • "Accelerate" contains a sample of "I Like Funky Music" by Uncle Louie, and "I Feel So Good Inside", written by Ronald Brown, as performed by The Techniques IV.

Charts[edit]

Chart (2018) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[76] 9
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[79] 9
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[81] 13
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[82] 16
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[74] 5
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[83] 27
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[84] 11
French Albums (SNEP)[85] 47
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[86] 11
Greek Albums (IFPI Greece)[87] 22
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[88] 19
Irish Albums (OCC)[89] 28
Italian Albums (FIMI)[90] 12
Japanese Hot Albums (Billboard)[91] 48
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[92] 23
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[93] 24
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[94] 7
Scottish Albums (OCC)[95] 16
Slovak Albums (ČNS IFPI)[96] 24
South Korean Albums (Gaon)[97] 60
South Korean International Albums (Gaon)[98] 1
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[77] 1
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[99] 41
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[78] 3
UK Albums (OCC)[75] 17
US Billboard 200[70] 6

Release history[edit]

List of release dates, showing region, formats, labels and references
Region Date Formats Labels Ref.
Various June 15, 2018 RCA [3][100][4][101]
United States September 28, 2018 LP RCA [102][103]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]