Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christina Aguilera ~ Lotus (Album Review)

What’s up with female singers and their metamorphosis theme?  Just give them one flopped album and the next move they make is pretty predictable. An emancipated me. A reborn me. A free-at-last me. In Christina Aguilera’s case, an unbreakable lotus in her that she finally sets free.  

Rise up, Lotus! Rise! This is the beginning. This is the beginning,” sings a singer who has sold over 50 million albums worldwide and won numerous awards including 5 Grammys during her decade-long career. Sure, a beginning all over again.

After experiencing both professional and personal setbacks and most importantly, after becoming a mother, one would think much deeper, thought-provoking and inspirational subjects would dominate this album. What on sale here is her usual I-am-a-fighter-I-don’t–give-a-fuck theme on repeat. When she is not giving us her middle finger, she whines about how folks try to bring her down but can’t. While her opening message may be loud and clear, the rest of “Lotus” finds Christina Aguilera not being able to quite make up her mind which direction this album should take. In the end, “Lotus” ends up being nothing but a bag of mixed nuts.

The Max Martin-produced first single, “Your Body” is a noteworthy dance track that showcases her glorious voice singing along to a captivating chorus. Her attempt at somewhat country-pop, “Just A Fool”, a duet with Blake Shelton, is the set's another standout; her delivery is earnest and raw blending quite well with Shelton’s effortless country charm. Ironically, both songs were not written or produced by her. “Empty Words” is a decent ballad reminiscent of her signature song “Beautiful”. So is “Army Of Me”, a catchy update of her 2002 hit “Fighter”, glazed with radio-friendly electro beats. “Let There Be Love” of course is the sound of today, a compulsory dance-pop anthem which has the potential to be the next single. (One of those songs that loyally sticks to Don’t-think-Just-dance! motto.)

Her collaboration with Australian singer Sia continues to prove to be a success. “Blank Page” and “Best Of Me” are album’s shining moments and I am afraid, there are not many. “Shut Up” is nothing but a filler, filled with obscenity in the most repulsive way. The same can be said for, Hard Rock-tinged “Circles” in which “M**** F****” is sung as a secondary hook towards the end. Why go down that dirrrty road, Xtina?

Agreed by many as ‘the voice of her generation’ and much delight to her hardcore fans, “Lotus” is definitely not short of her gravity defying vocals. In fact they are all over the place. She cannot seem to hold back, even a little when it comes to singing department. More is definitely more for Aguilera. “Light Up The Sky”, "Sing For Me" and “Make The World Move”, a duet with CeeLo Green in particular are annoyingly oversung. Her usual complex vocal gymnastics that adorn her earlier albums are instead replaced by extreme shouts (Eh… Eh…Eh…Eh! or Yeah...Yeah...Yeah!). Many of her top notes sound screechy and extremely strained that it hurts to hear. Her once powerful flawless voice has begun to show its wears and tears on this album unfortunately. Besides, the juvenile lyrics don’t carry “Lotus” to the full bloom. Apart from a few solid tracks (which can be counted with one hand), no risks are taken as promised musically and vocally. Even her “Burlesque” soundtrack contains more exciting materials than this noise fest.

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