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Album review: Christina Aguilera's 'Bionic'

Aguilera_bionic_240_ On "Elastic Love," the fourth cut on "Bionic," Christina Aguilera's new set of postmodern future-pop, the vocalist sings in monotone and then stretches her voice over a seductively lashing beat from British producer Switch. His frequent collaborator, M.I.A., also appears on the track, though it's nearly impossible to tell whether it's her or Aguilera singing on any given verse.

This should signal how far Aguilera wants to wander from her traditional reputation as the ratty-tatty diva of vocal runs, or her spell as a piano bar chanteuse. Say what you want about M.I.A.'s Maya Arulpragasam — and this is not meant as another order of fries in the overblown Trufflegate saga — but vocal power has never been her strong suit.

Which isn't to say that Aguilera's voice doesn't have some obvious showcases on "Bionic." "Lift Me Up," an "American Idol"-ready ballad written by old pal Linda Perry, is a classic demonstration of the singer's range from tender to throaty. But for the most part — and in the album's most successful vein — Aguilera plays a hyper-sexed lover bot ready to tie you to the bed posts rather than tie your ears into knots with a well-executed legato.

Other ideas are also in play on "Bionic," including the sumptuous bedroom purrs of "Sex for Breakfast" and some redundantly vampy tracks with producer Tricky, but her dominant message, helped by collaborators like Le Tigre and Peaches, seems to be clear: Lady Gaga isn't the only one who's got friends in Williamsburg.

—Margaret Wappler

Christina Aguilera
"Bionic"
RCA
Three stars (Out of four)


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Comments () | Archives (26)

The reason I like this review is because it speaks the truth about what her album is about. There is a purpose to holding back her vocals and stretching them in a more subtle and fun way. She is trying something different and succeeding at producing an album that demonstrates clearly her different personalities as a women.

I just had to say that I never was a big fan of her music, though I always recognized her singing abilities...that is undeniable. However, Bionic rocks!!! Christina does an amazing job showing her diversity and sense of self at the same time. She's unapologetic and bold and I give this album two thumbs way, way, up!!! Hope it sells like hot cakes and I am not some teenaged fan waging some pop princess war, the girl's got it going on...gotta give props where they are due!

Christina could make an album full of ballads or even some radio-ready tracks, but why? We all know she can blow all of these other girls out the water with her vocals, but instead she keeps it interesting. Music is about making it fun and trying new sounds and that's exactly what we see here in this album. Xtina puts together an awesome mix of funky beats and also throws in a few Sia infused tracks to remind us those vocals are still there, and always will be.

I think her vocals are way overrated. Its basically monotone with that d-chill whiny high tone.
She is a younger Cher

Christina is a legend. Better than anyone in the business, in today's music especially. She doesn't need to prove anything, because it's already been proven. You'll forever live on Christina.

Wow, does anyone remember the time back in November when Bad Romance was played on the radio? Or when Get The Party Started was a smash hit?
Christina has failed us and she doesn't even have the courtesy to listen to what us "peasants" have to say. I think it is sad because when "Beautiful" hit Mtv it spoke to me. Then I realized it was a rip off of P!NK's "Family Portrait".
We all witnessed what happened to Bjork. She had a great career and it ended with "Volta" an electronica bomb that literally sucked. But I would listen to Volta and enjoy it when it compares to the screeching migrane producing "Bionic". This album is firewood. It makes news and people fight about it and defend it but in the end its not gonna effect anyone as Lady Gaga has. Lady Gaga has changed the face of music as Christina did not back in 1999 when she was fresh and young. Christina was hot. nothing else. Stop defending stuff that will combust.
I hope you realize that this album will never win a Grammy Award. And I would be embaressed to drive through my city (Minneapolis) with this album playing. Its just so cliche.
CLICHE!
La Roux, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Cher, M.I.A., Robyn, Lily Allen, Ting Tings, Pussycat Dollls, Black Eyed Peas, LMFAO, Bjork, Goldfrap, Santifold, Feist, Sade, Usher, Ciara,... They all are underated. UNDERATED and NOT CLICHE.

Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Lindsay Lohan.... Whatever they do... whatever they sing.... it will always be loved.... no matter gow cliche.

Thank you so very much for being fair and unbiased, majority of your all too brief review focused very heavily on the music actually within the BIONIC album and not just solely on Xtina's image or the overblown vs. Gaga feud. WTF? Can't Christina ever stand on her own w/o comparisons to other blond female pop tarts? This is a good album, not great but good, it stands with Xtina's others, she's always had some gems along with ample filler sprinkled throughout her discs. That's par for the course with any modern pop album.

Not sure if its RCA purposefully sabotaging Xtina with the release of NMT & Woohoo...ummm no no or this unnecessary, overtly sexual image she's pimping. But BIONIC needs a quick STRIPPED like turnaround with a ballad release then a refocusing of what this album is really about. It's not too late !!! The American Idol & MTV Movie Awards performances virtually guaranteed the silencing of critics who questioned Xtina's place in pop. Standouts tracks Monday Morning, You Lost Me, Elastic Love & Prima Donna are all pop gold and radio ready. Let's reshift RCA, Azoff Mgmt & Aguilera and get it together.

Wont buy it! Its not great work at all. Thats wonderful for her competitors.

her voice is special ,our country has no this style,but i like her ablum

I love this album, its worth getting...

I usually don't like Xtina's album but my buddy made us listen to this all weekend and I love it now. It is a different sound for her but for those of you who think she is jocking Gaga or M.I.A. I say hardly, she's been around for a hot minute and will always have a place in my heart!

Overall Bionic has something to offer everyone. I’ve listen to the whole album and can’t say that I am disappointed with the final product. This is a sound many have been yearning to hear from Christina. It becomes very tiresome when artist in general release new material that many feel that it’s essential to compare it to other great music previously released by other unique artist, instead of listening to what is right now. The select few artists that Christina is being compared to are great in their own right and have released some amazing music but at the end of the day that is there music and this is hers. Unlike many artists today Christina has vocal abilities that can blow just about everyone else out of the water. That dose not mean those others out their cant sing they just have other abilities that give them that so called IT factor “if that’s what you want to call it”. Christina has a voice, the beauty to evolve in an ever-changing Industry and at the end of the day those who have been able adapt to those changes are truly the great ones. Bionic is an album filled with arrangements consisting of energy, catchiness, heart, and much more allowing her fans and others to enjoy each record and to take out what ever it may mean to them. Being an artist you want to create something amazing that people can listen to and say “I get what your saying” Overall I give Christina 5 Stars for creating a master piece and staying true to who she is as a person, Mother, Daughter, Wife and beyond. With all that said I hope she never stops and keeps recreating that Christina brand we have all grown to love.

Much Love: Peace

"Other ideas"? Funny - she and most of the current crop of oh-so-praised "divas" sing about sex. Period. There's no intellect and precious little creativity to just singing about screwing. If any of this group of nookie-divas have any "other ideas" (or any genuine musical creativity) I've yet to encounter them - and the sad thing is they all think they're being original.

I'm loving this Album from start to finish, i think "Not Myself tonight" and "Woohoo" are nice cuts and singles, but there are also other tracks that will make great singles for the album like "Bionic", "Glam", "Vanity", "Elastic Love" and "I hate boys" or the catchy "Desnudate" for spanish audience. also the Ballads "Lift me up", "You lost me" and "Little Dreamer" make this album really special. five stars out of five. totally recommended

You should correct the "with producer Tricky" part. Tricky STEWART is a producer on this record, Tricky, the groundbreaking British DJ/producer/rapper, I'm assuming is nowhere to be found on this record. Just sayin. Don't get my hopes up like that.

Christina needs to leave the kiddy stuff alone become a Jazz songtress. Has strong vocals definately I think she would do good singing with Bob James, Ronnie Laws. Maybe even do some old school

This album is inspiring to me in ways I can only begin to explain.
It's so sophisticated and subtle, restrained and FUN.
It's like a Prince album with notes of MJ strewn in.
I see light and magic and paintings and PBS.
This is Christina's masterpiece!

I have been an avid Christina fan, but I was very disappointed by most of the tracks on this album. She truly glows when she embraces her bluesy voice in her three ballads. She captures a new sound while also being true and genuine. Although the album is full of hits and misses, I do admire her for stepping out of her comfort zone, which many of her other contemporaries have not done, and reinventing herself on practically every album she has done.

Personally, I think this album is full of subtsance (minus I Hate Boys. It does not fit in with the rest of the album)whether people want to get past the over-sexed/fun lyrics on some of these songs or not. Take a good look at the song 'Bobblehead'. It's fun and catchy, but has a strong meaning behind; you don't need to act like a stupid woman to get what you want. That's something that Xtina has alwayss enforced. And, her sexuality dated even to her first album with the song 'When you put your hands on me'. No pop sensation was as sexual as she was back then. She always put it out there.

I am SOO tired of people saying that Lady G raised the bar in the music industry. Have you noticed that ever since the '09 VMA performance of Paparazzi is when she really blew up? That video was out May '09 and no one, unless you liked the Lady or went on PerezHilton.com (where I watched it the day it debuted), knew about it. All of a sudden she goes even more crazy with her outfit and performance and BAM! she's outta control famous. Now the same Lady G I fell in love with back in the summer of '08 when Just Dance came out is gone. Those, back then, who knew about the Lady would look at me and be like 'she's weird' UM YA. Now everyone loves her, and it's overkill at this point. She has videos with product placements. So sad. I want the old Lady back.

And, I would also like to say: For those who think 'Beautiful' was the best song on Stripped, you are out of your minds. That album, God, was her..stripped. She had a song "I'm OK" where she is literally crying. This chick had an abusive father, lived through it, came out a strong woman, and talks about it. THAT is truth in music and THAT you will not find in music today.

Great comments, with the exception of a few. Ken you are an idiot and know nothing about great vocals. Look up the definition of monotone because you obviously don't know what it means.

This album is extremely underrated. It is so funny how the human mind is fooled by stigmas. The media created a huge mess and it makes christina look so bad. This is actually an AMAZING album. all it takes is an open mind. I love how the album is half pop, half indie. It is actually brilliantly done. Even the pop tracks are unique and well put together. The production is flawless, all the vocals are still there, but not overdone. You can tell she had fun with this album, which is why I enjoy it so much
The only criticism i have is the lack of flow from the pop tracks into the ballads. The styles are so different and not very complimentary. I find it difficult to listen straight through the album, as I am in one mood for one sound and not the other. I believe there is a way to have different genres without feeling like there are two separate albums in one.
All in all, I am sad that this album has received such a bad rap. I find so much beauty in it, and the indie tracks are so much fun! If you wont buy it because of the media-made stigma then unfortunately, that's your loss.

Fan-tas-tic. That's all I can say. I love it. Buy the Deluxe version. It is an album that sneaks up on you how much you love it. It needs more than one listen to really appreciate all the different tracks. I don't get the hate on this CD by reviewers. She wanted to experiment. And I like it except for maybe two tracks.

whoever wrote this article has a fat check in their pocket from christina. i listened to her new album, and it is WAY below par. ive heard demos that play better then her cd. the only song worth listening to is 'you lost me'.

BIONIC-BIG DISAPPOINTMENT!!!-Criticism of her work has to be compared to other female singers out there as well as what is popular today and enjoyable to listen to. Always admired Christina's voice and choice in making hits. However, I am very disappointed in Bionic because I do not feel that any of the songs will be hits or even remembered. Sorry to say that she will have to make a BIG comeback in someway because with this CD her career will go down the Drain. Yes!! a big comeback just like Madonna had to PROVE a few years ago with Frozen. Christina has a great voice and talent..why this failure in song choices??? Songs that will put you to sleep
:( There is much better music out there...she definitely needs a makeover in her music and song taste

Great...more Illuminati bull crap.

 
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