Christina Aguilera Stripped Review

BBC Review

Keen to distance herself from her teenybopper peers and show the world she is a real...

Jacqueline Hodges 2002

Christina, Christina. What's happened? She burst into the big time three years ago with perhaps the only good song of her career, "Genie in a Bottle". Hot on the heels of Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson - teenage, female, innocent and blonde - she rode on the crest of teen success filling the charts.

2002 and the sweet innocence is long gone. Last years' "Lady Marmalade" collaboration gave a good indication that Christina Aguilera is keen to distance herself from her teenybopper peers and show the world that she is a real diva. However, it's easy to forget her vocal talents when she makes a habit of hitting the headlines as the butt (literally) of Eminem's jokes or for her freaky dress sense.

From start to finish Stripped is as full-on bold and over the top as most of Christina's outfits. Although recent single "Dirrty", featuring Redman, might have misled some into expecting a sleek and sleazy R&B album, much of this seems to be an exercise in stretching the vocal chords to weak backing tracks. The album intro kicks off with an obvious attempt to put the record straight on preconceptions of herself, "sorry you can't define me, sorry I broke the mold". Lacking the class of Destiny's Child or Aaliyah, it's true; there is no-one else like Aguilera around at the moment but then, who would want to follow in those footsteps?

"Can't Hold Us Down" brings in the assistance of Lil Kim to add a bit of edge but does little to deviate from the monotony of tracks like "Underappreciated" and the hilarious "Fighter". Things become slightly more interesting in "Make Over", where recent Pink tunesmith Linda Perry has been roped in to bring out the Courtney Love in Christina. Here, the rough, rock vocals make a pleasant change from the gymnastic warbling and sultry panting that plagues the rest of the album. The success is then spoilt by "Cruz", a big Michael Bolton cringe worthy rock ballad, and thus the agony of Stripped continues.

It's the sign of a bad album when the sense of peace that falls as the CD finishes is the most fulfilling feeling of the last hour and ten minutes of your life. This, unfortunately, is one of those albums.

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