Another Turn Back Time post, although this time we are not travelling too far back as this album was released in this decade, it was just criminally underrated.
Christina Aguilera is a great singer, everybody knows that, and she has a voice that is so distinctive that by just listening to a snippet, it will instantly recognisable. Christina has had a bit of a weird pop career, she started off as one of the greats and everything she touched turned to gold. She was pitted against Britney Spears for many years as rivals to the Princess of Pop title and even ended up kissing Madonna alongside Britney at the 2003 MTV VMA’s (13 years ago, that’s gone quick!). Christina had three stand out albums in her earlier career which were all big successes, her debut “Christina Aguilera”, “Stripped” and “Back To Basics”. She also had a couple of sideline albums that also went on to great success, like her Christmas themed album and her Spanish themed album. Christina had many Grammy nods to her name, highlighting her songwriting capabilities and her personal lyrics (although this was not from her pop debut album) and it seemed in the mid noughties that Christina could do no wrong.
Fast forward to 2010, and Christina was about to release her fourth studio album (not including the sideline albums). Christina had experimented with an electronica sound on her Greatest Hits album which was released in 2008 and she had made it clear that this was the sound she had wanted for her latest album back in the day. The album suffered many setbacks, and kept getting pushed back. You have to bear in mind that at this point, her previous studio album was released in 2006, a whole four year gap! There was rumours that Christina’s record label were not comfortable with the sound she was going for and wanted to find songs that were more mainstream, cue last minute recording sessions with popular contributors at the time. The debut single from the album was released in early April, a song called “Not Myself Tonight”, an R&B/Pop hybrid, it was most definitely riding on the waves of what was “in” at the time, and completely against what Christina was saying her album was going to be like in the lead up to it’s release. Needless to say, the song didn’t do so well, it just sounded so desperate and at the time the production was way too overplayed on the radio, mostly because of the Timbaland sound from a few years before. Dare I say it, the song sounded dated before it was even released.
Here is the song to refresh your memory…
Now you may be forgiven for thinking that I hated the song, I didn’t, not at the time anyway. I was a huge Christina Aguilera fan and was getting sick of all of the delays and push backs that when something did come it was an automatic love, despite it being blind sighted. The album “Bionic” came out in May 2010 and despite reaching #1 in the Official UK Album Chart, it was one of the lowest recorded sales at the time and sank out of the chart quicker than you could say the word Bionic. I’ll tell you the truth, this was a massive shame, the album is one of the best albums out there and the artwork alone should have made it iconic.
The way to describe the album as a whole, is cohesive. The album has a mish-mash of many genres, you can see the R&B/Pop mainstream songs which you could imagine the record label pushed for, but then you have some lovely and surprising electronica, which in their own right would have been big hits, and was well ahead of it’s time in terms of what was going to be commercially successful. One huge example of this is that Christina was one of the first artists to work with the artist Sia on this album, at the time her career being in jeapardy and when she started to branch out as a songwriter. You mention Sia now and she is a household name, producing and writing probably about 50% of what is popular in the charts (OK, so a slight exaggeration) as well as producing two huge albums in her own right.
Going back to Bionic, it is well worth a listen for yourself. The sad thing is that I believe even Christina was gutted that it was a commercial failure and wanted to distance herself from it as soon as it was released, not doing much promotion, cancelling promotion tours and only releasing two singles from the album. Christina would probably say that she was focusing all of her energy into the new Burlesque film that was going to be starring her with Cher, but we all know the film was in Post-Production by the time “Bionic” was released.
Here is the Sia written, sophomore single from the album, which deserved to do a lot better and is one of the best Christina Aguilera songs in my opinion.
The thing is, I know the album is a great album. It has 23 tracks in total (on the Deluxe edition), some are a bit rubbish, but the ones that get you are the well-written personal tracks, the tracks where she contributed with who she wished to contribute with, and if she had it her way we probably would have seen a lot more of a well finished album, brave at the time, but it has been proved that she was ahead of her time in some way and could have led the pack. Stand out tracks from the album for me were “Elastic Love” where she contributed with M.I.A., “Birds Of Prey” with Ladyton on production, “You Lost Me”, “Monday Morning”, “I Am” and “Lift Me Up”. If you get a chance to listen to it (the link to listen to it on Apple Music is embedded in the cover art photo) then I really recommend it.
On a final side note, the album is my most played album of Christina Aguilera thus far, with a total of 1,310 plays to date. Christina has been working in the studio in the last couple of years and so I can only presume that a new album is on the way, which I hope will be a commercial and personal success for her. It’s about time that woman made a comeback!