There has never been a doubt in my mind that Christina Aguilera can sing. From the moment I heard Genie In A Bottle, her debut single, I was hooked on her voice. But what I still can't get down with is her incessant melismatic acrobatics. She wails too much.
Her latest album, a dual disc set called Back To Basics is unexpectedly refreshing part of the time. However, I think it should have been titled Two For One. I'm not sure I'd have purchased the second disc.
There are some great tracks on disc one. The first single 'Ain't No Other Man' is a fun version of Christina playing old school, punctuated by horns here and there. It's got one of those sticky hooks that will bounce around in your head endlessly.
'Slow Down Baby' sounds somewhere in the '50s or '60s with the brass lineup behind her, except there are some creative vocal samples thanks to DJ Premier. In fact, disc one is a beautiful example of how creative DJ Premier really is. I can think of a few women who could have sang this disc and it still would have sounded great at the hands of Premier. But that's not a cut at Christina; she does have exquisite skill when it comes to Gospel tracks.
My spotlight track is 'Makes Me Wanna Pray,' featuring Steve Winwood. Christina singing church music is a moment I've been wanting to experience for a long time. She's got the pipes, and as the track moves forward, a Hammond organ whines, some church piano shines, and the Gospel choir behind her sends the energy soaring. If we could have a whole album of music like this, the world might be a little bit brighter. She needs to record a version of 'Balm In Gilead.' THAT would be church for sure.
The second disc is forgettable except for the track 'Mercy On Me' which is, well, more church. She's brilliant on the track, and like I said before, she needs a whole album dedicated to this genre.
'Back To Basics' is, in my book, a step in the right direction for the powerhouse vocals of Christina Aguilera. She still could pull it all back a bit here and there, but then it wouldn't really be Christina. My advice is to preview it online or in the store and see if you dig both discs before you buy the whole thing.
One little bit of self-promotion here. As many of you know, America's Next Top Model Cycle 7 kicks off on September 20. I'm going to try my best to bring you ANTM audio updates on radiopeter.com, the home of my personal podcast. I might even be adding them to the programming on WindyCityQueercast.com, but that decision is still on the table. Stop by both sites and give me a listen. I'd love to hear some feedback on both shows. And if you have a podcast, let me know!
With you in 4/4,