From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia
Christina María Aguilera
December 18, 1980
New York City, U.S.
(m. 2005; div. 2011)
|Partner(s)||Matthew Rutler (2010–present; engaged)|
|Associated acts||Justin Timberlake|
Christina María Aguilera (//; Spanish: [aɣiˈleɾa]; born December 18, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, and television personality. Referred to as the "Voice of a Generation", she is credited as one of the artists responsible for reviving teen pop in the late nineties and adding her vocal ability to address on topics such as sexuality, feminism, and domestic violence. She has frequently reinvented her image, becoming known for her extravagant and unconventional looks. Her works have generated both critical praise and controversy in the media, with which Aguilera is often cited as an influence by other artists.
Born in New York City and raised in Pennsylvania, Aguilera began her career as a child star after appearing in various television programs during the nineties, including The Mickey Mouse Club (1993–94). In 1999, after signing a recording contract with RCA Records, she transitioned to pop music with her self-titled debut album, which had three Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles: "Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants", and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)", establishing her as a bubblegum pop artist. Aguilera assumed artistic control with Stripped (2002), for which she changed the course of her career; in the music video for "Dirrty", she sparked controversy for exploring her sexuality, causing the departure of her image as a teen idol. "Beautiful" and "Fighter" were top-ten songs in various countries, and she was seen as the most successful female artist of 2003.
Her fifth album, Back to Basics (2006), was received with favorable reviews and became the second material of her career to debut atop of the Billboard 200. The album had the successful singles "Ain't No Other Man" and "Hurt". In 2010, Aguilera made her film debut in Burlesque, which was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. As a featured artist Aguilera reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 in three consecutive decades with "Moves Like Jagger", which became one of the best-selling digital singles of all time. She also featured on the top-ten singles "Feel This Moment", "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely", and "Say Something". Outside of her work in the music industry, she was a coach in the television reality show The Voice (2011–16) and as an actress she appeared in the series Nashville (2015). In 2019, she embarked on The Xperience, her first residency at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
With estimated sales around 75 million records, Aguilera is recognized as one of the world's best-selling music artists; in 2009, she was classified by Billboard as the twentieth most successful artist of the 2000s. Throughout her career, she has accumulated numerous awards and accolades, including five Grammy Awards, one Latin Grammy Award, two MTV Video Music Awards (VMA), one Billboard Music Awards, one Guiness World Record, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2019, she was also honoured as a Disney Legend. Aguilera is often considered to be one of the greatest singers of all time by magazines such as Rolling Stone and Consequence of Sound, and was named the greatest of Latin origin by Latina. In 2013, Time elected her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, while she has been listed as one of the most influential artists in the phonographic industry by VH1 and The Independent.
Life and career
1980–1998: Early life and career beginnings
Christina María Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York City on December 18, 1980, the eldest of two daughters to musician Shelly Loraine Kearns (née Fidler) and United States Army soldier Fausto Xavier Aguilera. Her father was born in Ecuador, and her mother has German, Irish, Welsh, and Dutch ancestry. Her family moved frequently because of her father's military service, and lived in places including New Jersey, Texas, New York, and Japan. Aguilera stated that her father was physically and emotionally abusive. To cope with her turbulent household, she used music as a form of escape. Following her parents' divorce when she was six years old, Aguilera, her younger sister Rachel, and her mother moved into her grandmother's home in Rochester, a suburb in the Pittsburgh area. Her mother later remarried to Jim Kearns and had a son with him named Michael. After years of estrangement, Aguilera expressed interest in reconciling with her father in 2012.
As a child, Aguilera was drawn to soul and blues records her grandmother bought and would practice singing, which earned her a reputation as "the little girl with the big voice" in her neighborhood. She aspired to be a singer, and won her first talent show at age eight with a rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)". At age 10, she performed "A Sunday Kind of Love" on the competition show Star Search, and was eliminated during the semi-final round. She performed the song again on KDKA-TV's Wake Up with Larry Richert. During her youth in the Pittsburgh area, Aguilera sang the US national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner", before Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, Pittsburgh Steelers football, and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games, and the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. She attended Rochester Area School District in Rochester and Marshall Middle School near Wexford, and briefly attended North Allegheny Intermediate High School before being homeschooled to avoid being bullied.
In 1991, Aguilera auditioned for a position on The Mickey Mouse Club, although she did not meet its age requirements. She joined the television series two years later, where she performed musical numbers and sketch comedy until its cancellation in 1994. Fellow cast members included Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake. After the show ended, Aguilera moved to Japan and recorded her first song, "All I Wanna Do", a duet with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi. In 1998, Aguilera returned to the US to seek a recording contract. She approached RCA Records, who told her to contact Disney instead because they were having financial difficulties. She sent her cover version of Whitney Houston's "Run to You" to Disney in hopes of being selected to record the theme song "Reflection" for their animated film Mulan (1998). Aguilera was ultimately selected to sing "Reflection"; the song was released in June 1998 and charted on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart at number 15.
1999–2001: Christina Aguilera, Mi Reflejo, and My Kind of Christmas
After "Reflection", Aguilera attracted the attention of RCA's A&R Ron Fair and was signed with the label quickly afterwards. RCA was pressured by the contemporary teen pop craze evoked by Aguilera's peer Britney Spears, leading to the label rushing production of the album and aligning Aguilera to be part of the teen pop trend. They released the lead single from the album, "Genie in a Bottle", a trendy pop and R&B track, in June 1999. The single rose Aguilera to stardom, peaking atop the US Billboard Hot 100 and charts of 20 other countries. It has sold over seven million copies as of 2014. Aguilera's eponymous debut album followed in August 1999 and peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200. It was certified eight times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and had moved 17 million copies worldwide by 2010. The album produced three other singles: two US number-one singles "What a Girl Wants" and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)", and one US top-five single "I Turn to You", a cover of All-4-One's song. At the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in February 2000, Aguilera won Best New Artist.
Aguilera's two following studio albums, Mi Reflejo and My Kind of Christmas, were released in September and October 2000, respectively. The former, a Spanish-language album consisting of re-recorded versions of tracks on Aguilera's debut album and several original songs, topped the Billboard Top Latin Albums for 19 consecutive weeks and was certified six times platinum in the Latin field by the RIAA. It won Best Female Pop Vocal Album at the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2001. The latter contains covers of Christmas popular songs and a few original dance-pop tunes, and was certified platinum by the RIAA. In support of her albums, Aguilera embarked on her first concert tour, Christina Aguilera in Concert, from mid-2000 to early 2001. The tour visited North America, Europe, South America, and Japan. Billboard in 2000 recognized Aguilera as the Top Female Pop Act of the Year. Despite the successes, Aguilera was displeased with the music and image her manager Steve Kurtz had aligned her to, feeling unable to control her own image. In October 2000, she filed a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against Kurtz for improper, undue and inappropriate influence over her professional activities. After terminating Kurtz's services, RCA hired Irving Azoff as Aguilera's new manager.
Aguilera took her first steps in artistic control with a cover of Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" (1974) with Pink, Mýa, and Lil' Kim for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack. RCA executives initially opposed to Aguilera recording "Lady Marmalade" because it was "too urban", but Aguilera ultimately managed to record the song of her own accord. The collaboration topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks based on airplay alone, becoming the first airplay-only track in history to remain on the chart's top spot for more than one week. It won Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards. In mid-2001, Warlock Records released Just Be Free, a compilation of demo tracks Aguilera recorded in 1994 and 1995, when she was looking forward to an album release after the end of The Mickey Mouse Club. Aguilera filed a suit against Warlock Records and the album's producers to stop the release. The two parties came to a confidential settlement to release the album, in which Aguilera lent out her name, likeness, and image for an unspecified amount of damages.
While working on her fourth studio album, Aguilera leaned toward a new artistic direction that she felt had more musical and lyrical depth. She named the album Stripped and explained that the title represented "a new beginning, a re-introduction of [herself] as a new artist in a way". Aguilera served as the album's executive producer and co-wrote most of the songs. To present her new persona, Aguilera released "Dirrty" as the lead single from the album in September 2002. Its accompanying music video generated controversy for depicting overtly sexual fetishes. Aguilera's new image presented in the video was widely criticized by the public that it began to overshadow her music. She defended her new image: "I'm in the power position, in complete command of everything and everybody around me. To be totally balls-out like that is, for me, the measure of a true artist."
Stripped was released in October 2002. The album incorporated various genres from R&B and flamenco to rock, and lyrically revolves around the theme of self-esteem while also discussing sex and gender equality. It received mixed reviews from music critics, who viewed the employment of various musical styles incoherent, but praised Aguilera's vocals. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and has sold over 4.3 million copies in the US as of 2014. In the UK, the album has sold two million copies as of 2017 and was the second highest-selling album by an American female artist during the 2000s decade, behind Norah Jones with Come Away with Me. By 2006, Stripped had sold over 12 million copies worldwide. The second single from the album, the ballad "Beautiful", received universal acclaim for its empowering lyrics about embracing inner beauty, and became an anthem for the LGBT community. It was the album's best-charting single, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The song won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in 2004.
Stripped was followed by three other singles: "Fighter", "Can't Hold Us Down", and "The Voice Within", all of which were released in 2003 and entered the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. During promotion of Stripped, Aguilera cultivated a new image by adopting the alter ego Xtina, dyeing her hair black, and debuting several tattoos and piercings. She co-headlined the Justified and Stripped Tour alongside Justin Timberlake from June to September 2003 in support of Stripped and Timberlake's album Justified (2002), before embarking on her solo Stripped Tour until December. Aguilera attended the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards in August, where she and Britney Spears kissed Madonna during their performance of "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood", which received considerable media attention. She was the host of the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards, where she won Best Female award, in November. Billboard announced Aguilera as the Top Female Pop Act of 2003.
2004–2009: Marriage, Back to Basics, and first child
In 2004, Aguilera recorded a revised version of Rose Royce's "Car Wash" (1976) with Missy Elliott for the animated film Shark Tale, in which she was a voice actress, and contributed vocals to Nelly's single "Tilt Ya Head Back". She was a featured artist on Herbie Hancock's 2005 cover of Leon Russell's "A Song for You" (1970), which was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2006. During this time, Aguilera started working on her follow-up studio album and embraced a new image inspired by figures of the Classic Hollywood era such as Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, and Mary Pickford, debuting blonde curly hair and retro-styled makeup.
Aguilera became engaged to marketing executive Jordan Bratman, who had dated her since 2003, in February 2005. They married on November 19, 2005, at an estate in Napa County, California. Aguilera released the lead single, "Ain't No Other Man", from her fifth studio album, Back to Basics, in June 2006. The song, like the majority of the album, was inspired by Aguilera's marriage and incorporates elements of early 20th-century soul, blues, and jazz. It reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold 1.7 million digital copies in the US as of 2014. Its music video saw Aguilera debuting her new alter ego, Baby Jane, inspired by the thriller film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).
Back to Basics was released in August 2006. Aguilera described the record, a double album, as a "throwback" to jazz, blues, and soul music of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s that incorporates "a modern twist." She was much inspired by works of such classic blues and soul singers as Otis Redding, Millie Jackson, and Nina Simone during the recording sessions. Back to Basics received generally positive reviews from critics, who commented that the retro-oriented production complements Aguilera's vocals. It debuted atop the Billboard 200 and has sold 1.7 million copies in the US. At the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2007, Aguilera won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Ain't No Other Man" and performed "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" as a tribute to the late James Brown. Back to Basics was succeeded by two international top-ten singles: "Hurt" and "Candyman". Two other singles, "Slow Down Baby" and "Oh Mother", were released exclusively in Australia and Europe, respectively. In support of Back to Basics, Aguilera embarked on the Back to Basics Tour, which ran from November 2006 to October 2008. With US$48.1 million grossed, the tour was the highest-grossing solo female tour of 2007.
In January 2008, Aguilera gave birth to her child with Bratman, a son. Later that year, she appeared in the Martin Scorsese documentary Shine a Light chronicling a two-day Rolling Stones concert in New York City's Beacon Theatre, in which Aguilera performs "Live with Me" alongside the band's lead vocalist Mick Jagger. In commemoration of a decade-long career in the music industry, Aguilera released a greatest hits album titled Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits exclusively through Target in November 2008, in the US. In addition to previous singles, it includes four original electropop-oriented songs, two of which are remade versions of two previous singles. Aguilera commented that the newly recorded tracks' "futurisic, robotic sound" served as a preview for her follow-up studio album. Keeps Gettin' Better peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200, and its titular single "Keeps Gettin' Better" charted at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard in 2009 recognized Aguilera as the 20th most successful artist of the 2000s.
2010–2011: Bionic, Burlesque, and The Voice
Aguilera began working on her sixth studio album during her pregnancy when she frequently listened to electronic music. The lead single from the album, "Not Myself Tonight", was released in March 2010. Heavily influenced by electronic genres, the song signaled Aguilera's musical experiments on her forthcoming album. It peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album, titled Bionic, was released in June 2010. Categorized as a R&B-flavored futurepop album by critics, Bionic lyrically revolves around sexual themes while also discussing feminism. Critical reaction to the album was mixed; reviewers commended Aguilera's experimentation with new styles, but found it forced and unnatural. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and has sold 332,000 copies in the US as of 2019. The album spawned one other international single, "You Lost Me". Two other singles from the album, "Woohoo" featuring rapper Nicki Minaj and "I Hate Boys", were released in the US and Europe, and Australia, respectively.
Aguilera starred alongside Cher in the musical film Burlesque. Written and directed by Steve Antin, the film was released in theaters in November 2010. Aguilera played Ali Rose, who quits her bar service job and moves to Los Angeles, where she aspires to be a performer in a burlesque club owned by Tess Scali (Cher). Burlesque grossed US$90 million in the box office and received mixed reviews from critics, who found it clichéd but praised Aguilera's acting. The film received a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 68th Golden Globe Awards. Aguilera recorded eight tracks for the film's ten-track accompanying soundtrack, and Cher performed the other two. The soundtrack reached number 18 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA.
At Super Bowl XLV in February 2011, Aguilera omitted a few lines while performing the US national anthem. She apologized for the incident, saying: "I got so caught up in the moment of the song that I lost my place." At the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, she performed alongside Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams, and Florence Welch in a segment that paid tribute to soul singer Aretha Franklin. Aguilera finalized her divorce from Jordan Bratman, from whom she had been separated since September 2010, on April 15, 2011. She concurrently started dating Matthew Rutler, an assistant on the set of Burlesque. From April 2011 to December 2012, Aguilera served as a coach on the first three seasons of the television competition series The Voice. During the first season, Aguilera was featured on Maroon 5's single "Moves like Jagger" upon the invitation of the group's lead vocalist and Aguilera's fellow The Voice coach Adam Levine. The single peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold seven million digital copies worldwide.
2012–2017: Lotus, second child, and television projects
Upon the third season of The Voice in September 2012, Aguilera released "Your Body" as the lead single from her seventh studio album. The single charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 34. The album, titled Lotus, followed in November 2012. Aguilera described the record as a "rebirth" of herself after the personal struggles she overcame. Contemporary reviewers found the album generic and conventional, as opposed to Aguilera's previous experimental ventures. Lotus peaked at number seven on the Billboard 200 and has sold 303,000 copies in the US as of 2019. The album was supported by another single, "Just a Fool", featuring Aguilera's fellow The Voice coach Blake Shelton. In December 2012, Aguilera was replaced by Shakira for the fourth season of The Voice. She returned for the fifth season in September 2013.
In 2013, Aguilera scored three international top-ten singles. She was featured on rapper Pitbull's "Feel This Moment", which peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified platinum by the RIAA. She subsequently appeared on Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández's cover of Miguel Gallardo's "Hoy Tengo Ganas de Ti" (1976), which earned a diamond certification in Mexico. Aguilera collaborated with A Great Big World on the ballad "Say Something", which earned a six-time platinum certification from the RIAA and won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. Aguilera temporarily withdrew from The Voice for the sixth and seventh seasons, citing her desire to devote her time to her family. She was respectively replaced by Shakira and Gwen Stefani during the two seasons. After her engagement to Matthew Rutler in February 2014 and the birth of their daughter in August, she returned for the eighth season in October. Aguilera's last season on The Voice was the tenth, which she won with her contestant Alisan Porter in May 2016.
Aguilera played a recurring role of Jade St. John, a pop singer who tries to venture out to country music, on the third season of ABC's musical drama series Nashville in April 2015. Two promotional singles were released in order to support her appearance: "The Real Thing" and "Shotgun". She and her partner Rutler served as executive producers for a music-based game show, Tracks, which aired on Spike TV in March 2016. Aguilera recorded a song titled "Change", which she dedicated to the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting as well as Christina Grimmie, who was fatally shot in Orlando the day before the nightclub shooting. The proceeds were donated to the National Compassion Fund to benefit the victims' families. Her other works included recording a disco song titled "Telepathy" featuring Nile Rodgers for the soundtrack of Netflix original series The Get Down (2016), being a voice actress for The Emoji Movie (2017), and starring in the romantic science fiction film Zoe (filmed in 2017, released in 2018). In November 2017, Aguilera performed a medley of The Bodyguard songs during the American Music Awards in honor to celebrate Whitney Houston.
2018–present: Liberation and The Xperience
Aguilera started working on her new album in the summer of 2015. Its release was preceded by two singles: "Accelerate" featuring Ty Dolla Sign and 2 Chainz and "Fall in Line" featuring Demi Lovato. The album, titled Liberation, was released on June 15, 2018, to favorable reviews. Aguilera heavily incorporated R&B and hip hop on the album to represent her desire for freedom from what she described as the "churning hamster wheel" that was The Voice. Liberation debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming Aguilera's seventh US top-ten album. At the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, "Fall in Line" was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and the album track "Like I Do", which featured GoldLink was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance.
To promote Liberation, Aguilera embarked on a US tour, the Liberation Tour, which ran from September to November 2018, and a European tour, The X Tour, which ran from July to December 2019. She also headlined The Xperience, a 25-date concert residency at the Zappos Theater in Las Vegas beginning in May and concluding in March 2020. In October 2019, Aguilera released the soul and blues-inspired song "Haunted Heart" from the soundtrack of the computer-animated Addams Family film, and a month later "Fall on Me"—her second collaboration with A Great Big World—was premiered. On March 6, 2020, Aguilera released "Loyal Brave True" as a promotional single from the live action remake of Mulan; Rolling Stone considered it Oscar-worthy. She released a re-recording of "Reflection" on August 28.
Critics have described Aguilera as a soprano, possessing a four-octave vocal range (from C3 to C♯7), being also able to perform the whistle register. After the release of her self-titled debut album, Ron Fair — executive of RCA Records — said he was betting on the singer due to her "perfect intonation", considering that she had "pipes to be the next Barbra Streisand or Céline Dion". In an article for Slate, Maura Johnston opined that although the singer acts in the contemporary pop music, she has "an instrument that despite its ability to leap octaves has a low-end grounding similar to that possessed by opera singers". Highlighting her vocal versatility, Joan Anderman from The Boston Globe stated that she is "a real singer [...] blessed with the sort of breathtaking elasticity, golden tones, and sheer power that separate the divas from the dabblers". Aguilera is also recognized for making use of melisma in her songs and performances; Jon Pareles, writing for The New York Times, analyzed her vocal abilities, emphasizing that "she can aim a note as directly as a missile or turn its trajectory into an aerobatic spiral of leaping, quivering, scalloping melismas". According to critics of Rolling Stone magazine, she has been modeled her "dramatic and melismatic technique" following steps of artists like Etta James.
Throughout her career, her vocal ability has yielded comparisons with other vocalists. As a result of her use of melismatic technique, David Browne associated her with Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, opining that the three form the team of the main proponents of this vocal modality. Sharing the same point of view, Sasha Frere-Jones, columnist for The New Yorker, expressed that the technique was responsible for making her a "serious singer" without needing to "reincarnate the Sarah Vaughan". Steve Kipner — songwriter responsible for "Genie in a Bottle" (1999) — considered that Aguilera has an "impressive" vocal dexterity, being able to "internalized all the riffs from Chaka Khan". Ann Powers, critic from Los Angeles Times, said that Aguilera has a voice "purely powerful as that of Etta James [...] and she's moving toward the expressiveness of Gladys Knight, if not Aretha Franklin"; however, Powers notes that her vocal ability in ballad songs "connects her to Barbra Streisand", in addition to comparing her to Donna Summer when she works on songs influenced by rhythm and blues.
However, Aguilera has also been criticized for the excessive use of melisma, as well for oversinging in her songs and concerts. Writing for The Huffington Post, John Eskow stated that she is the main proponent of "oversouling" and, despite recognizing that she has a "great instrument", opined that she "don't seem to know when to stop" with the use of "gratuitous and confected melisma". Lucy Davies, author from BBC Music, acknowledges that Aguilera has a "stunning voice", but indicated that "she could be more varied, simply by cutting out some of the 'y-e-e-eeeh, woah yeh's' in her songs". During the recording session of "Beautiful" (2002), Linda Perry recalled that the singer had difficulty in avoiding what she calls "vocal improvisations", stopping the recording every time she started to "oversinging"; Perry ended up using the song's first take, saying, "She had a hard time accepting that as the final track. She's a perfectionist. She knows her voice really well and she knows what's going on. She can hear things that nobody else would catch". In an article for Entertainment Weekly, Chris Willman opined that the Aguilera's tendency to oversinging is due to the influence of Carey in her vocal abilitie, noting "her slightly nasal tone that really only becomes obvious when she's overselling a song". VH1 writer Alexa Tietjen added that Aguilera "does tend to take it to the extreme at times [...] but Christina's vocal prowess is what's gotten her so far. Love them or hate them, the riffs are a part of who she is as a performer."
According to Pier Dominguez, the domestic violence that Aguilera suffered during her childhood directly impacted her developing personality. However, the author states that unlike other children who witness the violence at home, she did not show feelings of guilt, emotional disturbance or aggressive behavior towards people; on the contrary, she created an "internal defense mechanism". On the other hand, Chloé Govan comments that the fact of she has been a victim of bullying at school made Aguilera an introverted and insecure person. Her mother's role was crucial in changing this situation, with whom she have learned a "message about self-respect". Both authors agree that the learning had a strong influence on Aguilera's behavior in the transition to adulthood, as well exerced an impact on her early number-one singles in career, "Genie in a Bottle" and "What a Girl Wants" (both from 1999), whose lyrics made a refer to female empowerment.
Aguilera states that her biggest influence in music was Etta James: "[She's] my all-time favorite singer [...] I'll still be as raunchy as I wanna be, and I'll have her memory to back me up. She's what I want to be someday". As her first references to sing and perform, Aguilera credits the musical The Sound of Music (1959) and its lead actress, Julie Andrews; other of the main inspirations cited throughout her career includes Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Pearl Bailey and the bands Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns N' Roses. Furthermore, Aguilera recalls that she started singing her first songs in Spanish language during the childhood as an influence of her parents who constantly listened to works by Julio Iglesias.
In recognition of what she describes as "positive female artists," Aguilera mentioned Madonna and Janet Jackson as artistic influences; in 2000, during an interview with Jam! Canoe, she demonstrated her respect for both singers for "taken on the stage, the studio and the screen and have been successful in all three [...] artists who aren't afraid to take chances and be daring, experimental and sexy". Cher was also highlighted as one of the Aguilera's source of inspiration in career as she remembered that saw her for the first time in the music video for "If I Could Turn Back Time" (1989), described as a "pivotal moment" that encouraged her as a "woman who's been there, done everything, before everyone else – who had the guts to do it". As influences on her vocal abilities, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald were declared as one of her main references during youth.
Some of her inspirations were portrayed in her artistic work; during the process of developing of her fifth studio album, Back to Basics (2006), Aguilera stated to being influenced by music records from Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Otis Redding. In the audiovisual work for "Candyman" (2007), she performed three different roles as an allusion to the interpretation of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by the group The Andrews Sisters on a brief appearance in the film Buck Privates (1941). Outside the music industry, she mentioned Marilyn Monroe as a reference, paying tribute to the actress in the music video for "Tilt Ya Head Back" (2004) and in movie Burlesque (2010) — where she recorded one of Monroe's most popular songs, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", featured in musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Furthermore, Aguilera highlighted her inspirations in the art world, declaring to be an appreciator of works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Banksy.
Musical style and themes
Generally referred to as a pop music singer, Aguilera has experimented with different musical genres throughout her career. She explains that she always tries to bring something new in her projects and "experiment with [her] voice" because she "get bored" when repeating her inspirations, in addition to verbalizing her preference of working with more "obscure" collaborators and that she is not necessarily inclined to contact "the number-one chart-toppers in music" because of their popular demand. Reviewing her artistically, Alexis Petridis, columnist from The Guardian, recognized that her "boldness in reinventing herself" was always "one of her most impressive facets", while Kelefa Sanneh from The New York Times highlighted her "decision to snub some of the big-name producers on whom pop stars often rely".
On her first records, Christina Aguilera (1999) and Mi Reflejo (2000), its contents were produced in a teen pop style directly influenced by dance-pop, with the latter also referencing her incentive by Latin music. Aiming an artistic growth, Stripped (2002) was described as "substantive and mature [...] with pleasantly surprising depth", where she collaborated with a range of genres, including R&B, hip hop, rock, and soul, and moved away from the teen niche. On her fifth studio album, Back to Basics (2006), Aguilera worked with several producers to create a "throwback with elements of old-school genres combined with a modern-day twist [and] hard-hitting beats". Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic called the project as a "artistic statement [...] a little crass and self-centered, but also catchy, exciting and unique".
In 2010, Aguilera developed the soundtrack for Burlesque, whose content was influenced by Cabaret (1972) and highlighted several songs that were redone as dance numbers in a fashion similar to Moulin Rouge! (2001). At the same year, Bionic saw she working with producers specialized in electronic music to created a futurepop project with elements taken from electro. Sam Lanksy from MTV Buzzworthy described it as "forward-thinking and even timeless", as well emphasized its "subversive [and] ambient production". Aguilera explored and heavily incorporated electropop on Lotus (2012), in addition combined it with other genres. On the other hand, she contributed with Kanye West and Anderson Paak on Liberation (2018), creating a work inspired by R&B and hip-hop, styles that she had included in her previous material less broadly, claming: "There's nothing like an amazing hip-hop beat. At the end of the day, I am a soul singer [...] singing soulfully is where my core, my root and my heart really is".
Regarding the themes of her music, Aguilera stated that she feels a "sense of responsibility" to reference portions of her personal life so that "people that can relate might not feelas alone in the circumstance". In most of her songs, love was present among the subjects covered, as well motherhood, marriage and fidelity; however, she also wrote themes that dealt with the opposite, such as domestic violence and abusive relationship. Her behavior with sex also occupies a part of her repertoire; in an interview with People, she stated, "If I want to be sexual, it's for my own appreciation and enjoyment! That's why I like to talk about the fact that sometimes I am attracted to women. I appreciate their femininity and beauty". Recognized for including feminism in her art, Aguilera denounced the double standard for the first time in "Can't Hold Us Down" (2002), explaining that men are applauded for their sexual behaviors, while women who behave in a similar fashion are disdained. Writing for The Guardian, Hermione Hoby noted that she "incites a sisterly spirit of collaboration [and] not shy of the odd feministic declaration herself".
Aguilera has reinvented her public image numerous times during her career. Early in her career, she was marketed as a bubblegum pop singer due to the genre's high financial return in the late 1990s, becoming an teen idol. However, she was accused of cultivating a sexual image, attracting criticism regarding her revealing clothes; in an interview with MTV News, Debbie Gibson accused her of "influencing girls out there wearing less and less", considering that "she lives and breathes the sexual image". In response to negative comments, Aguilera stated: "Just because I have a certain image, everyone wants me to be this role model. But nobody is perfect, and nobody can live up to that". Furthermore, her music and image received comparisons to Britney Spears. David Browne, author from Entertainment Weekly, noted that she was "a good girl pretending to be bad" when compared to Spears' music and image. In contrast, Christopher J. Farley of Time considered her a more impressive artist than Spears. Megan Turner from New York Post compared the "battle" between both artists in the media with the previous one between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; however, she highlighted the difference in them, opining that "while Britney has a va-va-voom sexuality [...] Aguilera had charm and a youthful appeal". Bustle writer James Tison labelled Aguilera a "diva" saying she "mastered being one in the best way possible". He added that "one of her best diva qualities is her willingness to embrace her own sexuality".
In 2002, Aguilera introduced her alter ego Xtina, for which she adopted increasingly provocative and extravagant looks. During this period, she dyed her hair black, debuted body piercings and photographed nude for several publications. While analyzing her new visual, Vice and Rolling Stone magazines wrote that her new clothes echoed as if she were participating in the Girls Gone Wild franchise. On the other hand, she reinforced her new visual direction by dressing up as a nun during a performance of "Dirrty" (2002) accompanied by a choir and undressed to reveal what she would wear underneath to serving as the host of the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards. In a review of her persona, author Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic opined that Aguilera reached "maturity with transparent sexuality and pounding sounds of nightclubs". Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Adam White was more positive about her image and recognized that her "embracing of an overtly sexual image in the wake of adolescent stardom was a tried and tested route to adult success".
Under a new persona named Baby Jane — a reference to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) — Aguilera again transformed her public image in 2006; sticking to the platinum blonde in her hair, she started to dress inspired by actresses from Old Hollywood. However, in 2010, her new looks were highlighted in the international media for comparisons with those used by Lady Gaga. After gaining weight in 2012, she was criticized by several publications; in the following year, she received favorable media attention after a significant weight loss. During a pictorial for Paper magazine in the March 2018 edition, she appeared bare-faced without makeup and photographic manipulation, receiving widespread praise and attracting attention to artists who would pose the same way on their social media.
Aguilera has been cited as a sex symbol. Through VH1, she was included in the list of the sexiest entertainment artists in 2002 and 2013; in publications from FHM and Complex, she received similar honors in 2004 and 2012, respectively. In 2003, she was chosen as the sexiest woman of the year by Maxim, stamping the cover of the best-selling issue of the magazine's history. Furthermore, she was mentioned as one of the most beautiful people in the world in 2003 and 2007 in People editions. Aguilera also is recognized a gay icon; in 2019, she was awarded by the Human Rights Campaign for using her "platform to share a message of hope and inspiration to those who have been marginalized [...] bringing greater visibility to the LGBTQ community". Her fashion sense has also attracted media attention throughout her artistic life; Jon Caramanica, journalist from The New York Times, concluded that "Aguilera will be remembered for her glamour and her scandalous take on femme-pop", while Janelle Okwodu from Vogue noted that she "has never been afraid to take a fashion risk [and] has filled her videos with jaw-dropping styles and risqué runway looks". Followed by her appearance at New York Fashion Week in 2018, she was recognized as one of the most stylish people of the year according Dazed.
Aguilera has called her fans "Fighters", which has become the nickname used on social media to refer to her fanbase. She is recognized as one of the most popular musicians on Twitter with approximately 17 million followers, in addition to occupiying a place among the most searched artists in the world in 2002, 2004, and 2010 through Google, as well one of the most popular searches in 2003 by Yahoo! Search. After her integration as a coach on The Voice, Aguilera was one of the highest paid American television stars; in 2011, it was reported that she would receive $225,000 per episode, as well as $12 million per season in 2013, $12.5 million in 2014, and $17 million in 2016. In 2007, Forbes included her on its list of richest women in entertainment with a net worth estimated to be $60 million; in the following year, the magazine calculated that she had earnings of $20 million in the prior year. In 2021, Aguilera's fortune was estimated to be around $160 million according to Yahoo! Finance.
Various music journalists and authors have noted Aguilera's legacy in entertainment industry and deemed her as one of the greatest artists in the pop music. In 2004, she was listed as one of the most influential people in music market according The Independent, as well was cited as the eight greatest woman in the phonographic industry by VH1. Early in her career, Aguilera was labeled as a teen idol, and has been cited as one of the artists who revived teen pop in the late nineties; Time magazine stated that she was "pioneer [in] a different type of teen stardom", crediting her vocal ability as responsible for the phenomenon. Since then, she was named as one of the greatest singers in contemporary pop music; by MTV, she was cited as one of the best voices in music since eighties, while Rolling Stone and Consequence of Sound included her in their lists of greatest singers of all time. In 2013, Latina honored her as the best vocalist of Latin origin in history. With the recognition of her vocal ability and influence in the music industry, she has been referred in media with the titles of "Princess of Pop" and "Voice of a Generation".
Upon launching her music career in the late nineties, Aguilera was cited as one of the artists who shaped the "Latin explosion", in addition to contributed to the Latin pop boom in American music in early of the century. Considered as one of the greatests artists of the 2000s, she has been classified between the main references of the Millennials; writing for Vice magazine, Wanna Thompson analyzed her impact in the turn of the century, stating that alongside Britney Spears, "Aguilera dominated mainstream pop-related discussions. [Her] perfectly packaged music and looks appealed to tweens and teens who wanted to be like the pretty, chart-topping pop stars plastered everywhere". The commercial success of her first projects as a bubblegum pop singer caused an effect that influenced record labels to invest in new artists who attracted the same youthful appeal, catapulting names like Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore.
Critics also highlighted the impact of her work in popular culture; while Stripped (2002) was cited as "the blueprint for divas making the transition from teen idol to adult pop star", Aguilera is credited for "paving the way for a generation of pop singers". Jeff Benjamin from Billboard stated that the album explored a "process of self-identification and declaration still influencing today's mainstream scene", in addition to "how of today's biggest pop stars have followed a similar path, exploring and incorporating these strategies into their careers". In 2007, her self-titled debut album was added to the definitive list from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, being recognized as one of the "history's most influential and popular albums". Since then, Aguilera and her work have influenced various recording artists including Ariana Grande, Ava Max, Camila Cabello, Demi Lovato, Dua Lipa, Grimes, Halsey, Karol G, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo, Rina Sawayama, Rosalía, Sabrina Carpenter, Sam Smith, Selena Gomez, and Tinashe, as well some athletes like figure skater Johnny Weir, ice dancers Zachary Donohue and Madison Hubbell, and swimmer Dana Vollmer.
Aguilera has also been praised for emphasizing the importance of feminism in pop music; several journalists agree that her use of sexual imagery has helped catalyze public discourse on the topic, as well about sexuality. Lamar Dawson, columnist from The Huffington Post, praised her feminist efforts in the music industry and recognized that "while Christina isn't the first pop star to place feminist rhetoric into pop culture, she led the charge at the beginning of the 21st century of influencing the next generation of impressionable teens who were too young for Janet [Jackson] and Madonna's curriculum". Gerrick D. Kennedy from Los Angeles Times shared the same point of view and stated that "for a generation who hit puberty during the great 2000 pop explosion, Aguilera was an essential voice with music that tackled self-empowerment, feminism, sex and domestic violence — subject matter her contemporaries were shying away from". Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, co-founder of The Vagenda, opined that the provocative dance routines in Aguilera's music videos was "empowering", as she has been referred to as the forerunner of the slutdrop dance style.
Aguilera's videography impact was also analysed by music critics. While "Dirrty" (2002) was described as "one of the most controversial videos in pop music history", as well one of the greatest music videos of all time, Issy Beech from i-D recognized that the audiovisual work "paved a path for videos like "Anaconda" and "Wrecking Ball" [...] paved the way for open sexuality from women in pop". In the video for "Beautiful" (2002), the highlight scene of a gay kiss has been considered one of the most important moments for LGBT culture, in addition to start Aguilera's image as a gay icon. Both works was elected as one of the greatest music videos of the 21st century by editors from Billboard, while she was named one of the greatest women of the video era according VH1. In 2012, her videographic collection, as well some looks used throughout her career, were part of an exhibition by the National Museum of Women in the Arts aimed at illustrating "the essential roles women have played in moving rock and roll and American culture forward". Jon Caramanica from The New York Times also commented about her contributions to television, observing an expressive number of artists signing with television networks to act as coaches of singing reality competition after her participation in the American version of The Voice franchise.
Aguilera has accumulated several awards and accolades in her career. At the age of nineteen, she won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, being recognized by The Recording Academy as one of the youngest singers to receive such an honor; by the same ceremony, she received four other trophies. Furthermore, she was honored with a Latin Grammy Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, one Billboard Music Awards, one Guinness World Records, and was also nominated to the Golden Globe Awards. In 2010, she received a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in "recognition of her achievements in the recording industry"; in 2019, she was also immortalized as a Disney Legend in "honor for her remarkable contributions to the Walt Disney Company". In addition to being often cited as one of the most prominent Latin artists in the entertainment industry, Aguilera was elected as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2013.
Aguilera is recognized as one of the world's best-selling music artists, with estimated sales around 75 million records. According to Nielsen Soundscan, she has sold over 18.3 million albums in the United States; her self-titled debut album (1999) was certified eight times platinum and listed as one of the best-selling in the country by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Regarding her digital sales, it is estimated that she has sold around 21.4 million tracks in the country until 2014. In United Kingdom, Aguilera has sold over 9.4 million records as of 2013, which 3.3 million in albums sales and 6.1 million in singles sales; also, according The Official Charts Company, her fourth studio album Stripped (2002) is one of the few to surpass the 2 million copies sold, becoming the second highest-selling album by an American female artist during the 2000s, as well one of the best-selling albums of the millennium in the country. Furthermore, "Moves Like Jagger" (2011) — her collaboration with band Maroon 5 — was cited as one of the best-selling singles in Australia, Canada, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well one of the best-selling digital singles with over 14.4 million copies.
After being listed as the top female artist of 2000 and 2003, Billboard classified Aguilera as the twentieth most successful artist of the 2000s. Through the same publication, she was considered as one of the most successful artists of the decade on Billboard 200, Hot 100, and Mainstream Top 40 charts, as well the second best-selling singles artist in the United States, behind only Madonna. In 2016, she was also nominated as one of the greatest artists in history of the Mainstream Top 40 and Dance Club Songs charts. In addition, Aguilera was recognized by the magazine as one of the four female artists in history to have a number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 in three consecutive decades. In 2020, she was cited by Pollstar as one of the top female artists of the 21st century in the concert industry; according to the publication, she sold more than 1.8 million tickets for her performances throughout her career, with an earning exceeding $113.8 million. In Morocco, Aguilera held her largest audience concert, attracting 250,000 people to her performance at Mawazine Festival, becoming the record audience in history of the event.
Investments and endorsements
Outside of her projects in the music industry, Aguilera has worked in other activities. In 2016, after founding her own production company, MX Productions, she signed a contract with Lions Gate Entertainment to develop a music competition program, named Tracks, which was aired on Spike TV. At the same year, it was reported that she was an investor of multiple companies, including Pinterest, DraftKings, Lyft and MasterClass — for which she also developed a singing class. Throughout her career, she has worked with the sale of your own products; in 2011, she attended São Paulo Fashion Week to unveil her first clothes line which was commercialized at the Brazilian department store C&A. In 2004, she started her perfume line through Procter & Gamble (P&G), which is maintained with annual releases since then; in addition to being awarded numerous times at the FiFi Awards by The Fragrance Foundation, her fragrances ranked among the United Kingdom's best-sellers in 2007 and 2009. In 2016, Aguilera's fragrance business was acquired by Elizabeth Arden, Inc., where it was estimated that the brand had $80 million in sales and $10 million in earnings in January of that year.
Aguilera has also been involved in marketing initiatives during her career, endorsing numerous brands, including Sears and Levi's (2000), Skechers (2003), Mercedes-Benz, Virgin Mobile (both in 2004), Pepsi, Orange UK, Sony Ericsson (both in 2006), Oreo (2017), and SweeTarts (2021). In 2001, she signed with Coca-Cola to star in a series of television commercials in a deal reported to worth up £50 million. Furthermore, Aguilera inspired a line clothes by Versace in 2003, starring as a model in its advertising campaign; likewise, in 2008, she influenced and appeared in a campaign to promete a collection of sterling silver pieces designed by Stephen Webster. In 2004, it was reported that she earned over £200,000 pounds to open a summer sale at London's department store Harrods. Following the birth of her first child in 2008, Aguilera was paid $1.5 million to submit her baby pictures to People magazine, which became the ninth most expensive celebrity baby photographs ever taken.
Aguilera has also done philanthropic work during her career. In 2001, she signed an open letter organized by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) destined to South Korea, appealing on national government to ban the consumption of dogs and cats. In 2006, she replaced a costume designed by Roberto Cavalli for her Back to Basics Tour after discovering that he had used fox fur in its composition. In 2010, Aguilera auctioned tickets to her concerts through Christie's, earmaking the proceeds to non-profit environmental organizations, including Conservation International and the Natural Resources Defense Council. She has also worked to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS; in 2004, she was the face of a make-up line by MAC Cosmetics, whose profits were destined to fight the virus. In the following year, Aguilera participated in a photo book aimed to raising funds for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, in addition to star in a campaign organized by YouthAIDS.
Recognized for her supporting work to women and children, in 2003, Aguilera visited and donated over $200,000 dollars to the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, a support center for victims of domestic violence. In 2019, she donated part of the proceeds from her residency concert to an organization based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Furthermore, she has starred in commercials on the Lifetime channel calling for an end to violence against women, as well collaborated with institutions that fight breast cancer. In 2005, she participated in a gala event designed to raise funds for child support organizations, including Nelson Mandela Children's Fund; similarly, in 2008, she participated in the Turkish version of the game show Deal or No Deal, where she earned ₺180,000 lire — an amount converted into donations to the country's orphanages. In a Montblanc initiative, she participated in a charity event promoting children's access to music education in 2010. Aguilera was also involved in campaigns to encourage people to vote; during the 2004 United States presidential election, she was featured on advertising panels for Declare Yourself, as well served as a spokesperson for Rock the Vote in the 2008 presidential election.
In 2005, Aguilera donated her wedding gifts to charities in support of families affected by Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, as a result of the disaster caused by Hurricane Sandy, she participated in a special organized by National Broadcasting Company (NBC), where she performed the song "Beautiful" (2002) and asked for donations to the American Red Cross. In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she auctioned off a Chrysler 300 and used the money raised to help disaster victims. She additionally appeared on the Hope for Haiti Now telethon, where donations directly benefited Oxfam America, Partners In Health, Red Cross, and UNICEF. In 2009, she became the global spokesperson for the World Food Program, a branch of the United Nations (UN). Through the program, she traveled to several countries with high rates of malnutrition, such as Guatemala, Ecuador, and Rwanda. Since then, it is estimated that she has helped raise more than $148 million for the organization and other hunger relief agencies in 45 countries. In 2012, her role in the project earned her the George McGovern Leadership Award, which she received in the White House from former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
- Christina Aguilera (1999)
- Mi Reflejo (2000)
- My Kind of Christmas (2000)
- Stripped (2002)
- Back to Basics (2006)
- Bionic (2010)
- Lotus (2012)
- Liberation (2018)
Tours and residencies
- Honorific nicknames in popular music
- List of artists who reached number one in the United States
- List of artists who reached number one on the UK Singles Chart
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