It was out of fear for my mental stamina that I’ve never properly attempted to listen to a Christina album. A bit odd really, she’s been one of the biggest pop stars of the 21st century, and I’ve certainly not been left wanting from her impressive selection of hit singles. I just thought there might be just a bit too much shouting/vocal acrobatics to endure.
I did briefly own “Stripped” but never really listened to it properly. But now is the time, and rather than go for one of her acclaimed (and lengthy) studio albums, I started with her worst-performing album to date, “Lotus”. And you know what? I’ve quite enjoyed it! Sure there was a lot of shouting, all said and done, but I made it through and feel all the more empowered for the journey.
08 Lotus intro – Aren’t intros supposed to be, you know, short? This is longer than one of the normal tracks! Either way, Xtina sets out her mission statement. She’s been kicked but she’s not giving up. In a remarkable show of self-confidence she compares herself to the titular lotus plant, famed for its divine beauty despite growing out of the dirt (or dirrt). How modest! She dials it down a bit, it’s quite a chilled out intro but a decent lead-in to the theme of the album.
10 Army of me – OMGZ Xtina was made for these hit-chasing EDM tracks, she can shout as loud as she likes and it just keeps getting better, HA! She explores her usual theme of how people have been a bit shitty to her, but watch your back because every blow only makes her stronger and she’ll scream your bones clean out of your body. It’s a typically Guetta-esque euphoric dance song and it grows beautifully, while letting her not hold back on the vocals. The middle-eight is a well-deserved breather, and that final chorus… love it. Why wasn’t this a single?!
09 Red hot kinda love – This reminds me a bit of Kylie’s “Body Language” in a weird way, I think it’s the percussion. It’s got an unstoppable little rhythm to it, and a cheerful “la la la” refrain. I love the later “la la la” where she tries to do it with full vox and it’s a bit ‘nails down a blackboard’, but in an amazing way. I had this down as a bit of a B-list track but it’s quite fun in an ‘I’ve had a lot of vodka before I started typing’ kind of way.
07 Make the world move – There’s one major thing wrong with this, it starts with Cee and ends in Lo. It starts promisingly as another empowerment to world peace via a grassroots approach of people just being excellent to each other. I just don’t like Cee-Lo on it. Or anything for that matter. The rhythm is just a bit ploddy and annoying, and spoils an otherwise decent song.
10 Your Body – OMG I love this one, a pure slut anthem like never before. The video really is something quite incredible too. Xtina just wants a fuck and she doesn’t care who knows it, SAY! She doesn’t care what your name is, just get it done. I love that Xtina, not exactly in the most solid of positions after “Bionic” launches her new album with something so unlikely to be played on the radio. It’s a great song too.
12 Let there be love – I feel stupid, I’ve pissed away two 10/10 scores when this is surely due a 12/10. If “Army of me” was dancefloor-ready, it’s got nothing on this. This is so much better than that shitty Pitbull song, catchier than her cameo in “Moves like Jagger”, it’s just a full-on, fanny-out, glitter-cannon-firing dancefloor H-bomb. This not being a single is criminal, WTF guys? Singable even for lesser mortals who can’t scream for 3 minutes, and the biggest hit-in-waiting on this album.
07 Sing for me – Phew, time for a lay down after that. Is that a respirator effect at the start? I need air. She doesn’t though, even in a tender ballad her voice is bellowing out her emotion. Almost to be taken literally, she sings “when I open my mouth, my whole heart comes out”. Probably other organs too. She’s not apologising though, she’s empowered and proud of her position as a international megastar singer/judge/super-bitch. Nice song but what minimal production there is gets totally steamrollered by La Aguilera.
09 Blank Page – She always needs a good ballad, but she hasn’t got there on this album yet. Well this is as close as you’ll get. It’s no “Hurt”, but it’s got a Sia co-write. I could imagine her singing it certainly. Again it feels like Chrissy steamrollers this one, but she has moments subtlety in the post-chorus comedowns. But she’s on the ropes, she’s messed up and ruined a relationship, and she’s so sorry. That lovely roughness to her voice works so well, and after all the ballbuster tracks so far, there is a genuine vulnerability to this one.
09 Cease Fire – It’s not an immediate one but this song has stayed with me more than most on this album. I love the climactic military drum-beat at the start, those verses are awesome, they make me take notice every time. It’s odd this was produced by the same trio as my least favourite tracks so far (Lotus intro and Make the world move), but they get it really right here. There’s a great weariness about it, the slow rhythm tired from the fighting and just wants to make up. The choral middle-eight works well too, leading into that amazing… I don’t know what it is, it’s bordering on a rap or something. Great though, love this.
06 Around the world – Hmm well, not sure about this one, a bit of a rhythm crashing mess, a bit of a generic dance track, like that feature on that Pitbull song. A bit more urban-tinged, it just doesn’t feel like it’s quite got the personality of the album, it’s quite faceless. International love … are you sure this wasn’t meant for Pitbull?
08 Circles – A surprising change in tempo now with a subdued and cheeky little track for the haters. Spin on her middle finger, h8erz! It’s hard to dislike this one too much, it’s just so ridiculously obnoxious! FUCK YOU EVERYONE! I love her semi-rap verses, what is she, Britney? I love how clipped her tones are, “I suggest you go and grow the FUCK UP!” Shouty and horrid but somehow quite good.
07 Best of me – After that dazzling display of fight-fire-with-fire hateration against the haters, without even blinking she runs into this hurt ballad, uttering “words cut through my skin”. Be nice everyone (or grow the fuck up and spin on my middle finger), Christina is a delicate little flower, like the lotus. HEY WHAT? At least she’s got a sense of humour putting these songs together, I’m not buying it for a second.
08 Just a fool – Head spinning, I blunder into the final track, an unexpected foray into the Country market, duetting with Blake Shelton, whoever he is. I guess as a sales-chasing measure, going country isn’t a bad idea in the US, but it doesn’t quite work to British ears. But it’s quite nice really, you get a little break from Xtina bellowing when Blake’s singing. It’s quite a decent duet though really, even though it absolutely doesn’t fit on this album. Worth a try though, eh? No, probably not.
Well there we have it, I made it through my first Christina album. I really enjoyed it, all said and done. Maybe I’ll be able to give one of her more lengthy efforts a go next. But maybe I’ll just recede back a few years and try “Bionic”. But not because Perez told me.
Keepers for the iPod: Army of me, Red hot kinda love, Your Body, Let there be love, Blank Page, Cease Fire, Circles, Just a fool