Christina Aguilera trades glam for Goth with her return to pop
RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Christina Aguilera steps back into the pop arena four years after her Back to Basics album, trading the vintage pinup glam for a sexually charged dominatrix that extends to her music in Bionic.
The title song is a strong erratic opener declaring she’s back in the game and don’t rule her out of the pop princess arena. I’m bionic / Hit you like a rocket is thrust into our eardrums. Instead of beginning
with a vocally amazing tune, she refrains into more staccato singing. She follows up with the assertive “I’m Not the Same Girl,” also the album’s first single. Aguilera has definite intention here: She won’t let you forget her.
Bionic feels at times desperate, but only slightly. Attempting to take on Katy Perry and Lady Gaga at their levels, Aguilera overdoes her declaration with “Prima Donna,” which continues the postmodern pop tone of the first track to the point of monotony. Otherwise, she succeeds in bringing a sexy industrial sense to pop music and stays away from her usual vocal runs.
When the ballads and slow grooves kick in, it’s still special to hear the familiar beauty of her voice. Christina ventures into eroticism with “Sex for Breakfast” and mommy-time with the endearing “All I Need” (among the album’s more honest moments).
Aguilera is professional enough though to keep her own sound and collaborations with the likes of M.I.A., Le Tigre and Peaches keep her music smart and evolving. She moves into womanhood here and Bionic gives her some new game with this sound. She doesn’t need to worry about the competition.
I’m never sure why gay Pride doesn’t extend much to gay music. We love our divas and hags, but with the pool of amazing gay talent out there, why aren’t some of our own bigger stars? Instead of giving all the music love to the Gagas, Mariahs and Gaynors, try these LGBT artists looking for a piece of the Pride pie. Don’t worry — you’ll recognize a few.
“Run” – Vampire Weekend: Out member Rostam Batmanglij produces, writes and plays well with the boys in this band that’s kept its buzz going into 2010 with their second album, Contra.
“Not a Love Song” – Uh Huh Her: Camila Grey and The L Word’s Leisha Hailey surprise with this addictive electropop opener to their 2008 album Common Reaction.
“Function” – Jason Antone: Dance music and gay boys go hand-in-hand, but Antone transcends cliché with this track from last year’s Start to Move.
“This Modern Love” – Bloc Party: When frontman Kele Okereke came out, he defined a whole new image of the gay black musician.
“Diva” – Dana International, pictured: The trans Israeli artist hit it big when this song won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998 — which is a whole lot bigger than American Idol.
“Mr. Mistress” – Ari Gold: R&B and pop mix nicely with audacious lyrics in Gold’s 2007 release. Gold has been defined as the first U.S. pop star to be out since the beginning. Cool.
“My Denial in Argyle” – Woodpigeon: Fuzzy Mark Andrew Hamilton brings the bear side to indie rock. He heads the Canadian band which is more obscure than it deserves to be.
“Son of a Preacher Man” – Dusty Springfield: We sometimes forget this class act was one of our own.
“One Vision” – Queen: Bisexual frontman Freddie Mercury will always be one of rock’s greatest vocalists.
— Rich Lopez
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.