Right, anyone who knows me will know that I despised ‘Not Myself Tonight’, and felt so strongly about the appalling ‘to be’ follow-up ‘Woohoo’ that I wrote a review early. As it turns out, the single plans have changed, which is good news for Christina but bad news for me. So, I will try to be as impartial as I can whilst reviewing the ridiculously long fourth LP from Christina Aguilera, dubbed the Voice.
Side Note: Tracks #6, #9 and #12 did not receive a review because they are just spoken interludes.
01. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPjoKCjrMjk|’Bionic’]] (3.0 STARS)
Auto-tune, retriggering, synthesisers, simplistic lyrics, electronic drum claps, all present on ‘Bi-On-Ic’legs opening track. It’s probably one of the catchier songs to feature on the album with an intimidating chorus and verses – “So bionic, so damn bionic”. Alas, the song’s synthetic bridge sounds like something you’d hear accompanied by a glowing light on the side of a spaceship from other worlds.
The chorus is without doubt the best part, and the music does suit the song’s title and mood, with plenty of blips and SFX tha’’s could’ve been pulled from any 90’s video game. Despite that, the song does it’s job, and will satisfy Christina and R&B fans but it’s unlikely to sway her detractors into liking her after ‘Not Myself Tonight’, but the worst part is the production – it’s all over the place, there is no sense of consistency throughout.
02. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXDdGM-6nKY|’Not Myself Tonight’]] (3.5 STARS)
Christina, upon hearing this track whilst recording the album, felt that ‘she simply had to record it straight away’. In other words her album lacked a decent lead single and she was clutching at straws. But it’s okay, because listening to the rest of the album, it’s clear to see why she needs this song so badly – it the only one that make any sense, features next-to-no auto-tune, and has a typical pop song structure… and a melody.
You’ve all heard this one and many of you received it badly, myself included. The problem is, now it’s sandwiched between tracks as bad as they are, it shines out among the rest, so listening to the whole album because slightly easier. That said, I’m not going to be biased or influence by a simple track-listing.
03. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiEAy1LoOTk|’Woohoo’]] (0.0 STARS)
If you’re going to do a dreary, unoriginal five-minute song (which does absolutely nothing that hasn’t been done before) about your mimsy, it’s probably not a good idea to collaborate with a foul-mouthed rapper like Nicki Minaj. All it’s done is degrade the song and my opinion of Christina even further. Nicki’s foul, and quite frankly, pointless contribution lends the song the same effect a Pitbull collaboration would: an air of wanting to abandon your ears and the sudden urge to pull your hair out.
The most off-putting of all the song’s lines comes before the song’s much anticipated end: “All the boys think it’s cake when they taste my woo-hoo.” Hmmm.. Really? REALLY? That’s quite extended metaphor don’t you think? Anyone for Christina’s battenberg? A swiss roll perhaps? I hope all “the boys” don’t think it’s a stollen cake. They’re full of yeast.
04. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHdsotdBdTE|’Elastic Love’]] (0.5 STARS)
Opening to a maraca with bowel deficiencies, this is song has to be the worst musically. Nothing makes sense. Elastic (no pun intended) sounding synths vibrate and bounce up to extremes of pitches dragging Christina’s robotic vocal cords with it. While she also raps in monotone more blips and bleeps. The chorus, like ‘Bionic’s bringing some form of order, but it’s lost before long once Christina auto-tunes more of her vocals and claims her love is “elastic”, “ever-lastic”, and “spastic”.
Once she’s run out of ideas, she resorts to imitate the synths with some la la la’s, which doesn’t so much add a degree of catchiness to the song because once again, the melody has been attacked by auto-tune. In the part where she does utilise her own vocals, (Oh? She’s remembered she has some of the best pipes in the business has she?) she’s hardly flaunting them and instead we hear her croakily croon over another clumsy production.
05. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnNuEqQ9E5E|’Desnudate’]] (3.0 STARS)
What a breath of fresh air, we may have the same boring beat but at least the gal’s singing! Dirty lyrics on the right side of forgivable and a bouncy bass-line to accompany the beat. The bridge veers towards using auto-tune again, but it’s bearable, unlike the chorus, which is a call and response style march about something known as a ‘Desnudate’ [say “Des-noo-dah-tay”].
The best thing about this song is the fact that whilst is very much a wannabe dance track, it still captures some of Aguilera’s Spanish background. There are horns (probably synthesised but it only matters when the synthetic sound detracts from the listening) and plenty of Spanish words spoken/sung in a very sexy way to add an amount of listenable spice to proceedings.
07. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGYjh1jybYQ|’Glam’]] (1.5 STARS)
Another upbeat, electronic track where Christina wants to ‘get glam’ and warns ‘don’t let the clothes wear you’ (yes, I’m baffled too). Featuring a very catchy bass-line, and the most enticing intro yet. The bridge builds up the tension to what should be a huge chorus but instead the producer’s just added some infuriating finger clicks (electronic, whatever else) and it just feel like a used condom with nothing in it (I knew you’d like that, Randy ;)).
But then along comes a middle eight, where Christina ditches the higher vocal range and exercises those vocals she was born with. Unfortunately, this 30 second interlude cannot save what in reality is a very flacid attempt at another R&B/dance song. The repetitive chorus “Let’s get glam” fails to impress and leaves you wanting more, but after listening to the five track prior to this one, you’re wise enough to know that isn’t going to happen.
08. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApP3wdFhGbg|’Prima Donna’]] (3.0 STARS)
Opening to the most melodic intro we’ve heard since ‘Not Myself Tonight’, Christina human vocals enter cascading a minor vocal line which tantalises well, but this song falls victim to the same problem ‘Glam’ faced – the chorus does absolutely nothing. For a chorus, you should introduce a new instrument, make things louder, in the case of this song she could’ve removed the EQ, but no, she opted to add in a cow-bell.
By the time the song ends, Christina’s got her groove on, and she’s belting it out over what would be just another boring re-hash of unoriginal beats and lyrics. This adds the all-important attitude to the song, a song entitle ‘Prima Donna’ needs to have a personality behind it, and Christina does this quite well, for that, she get and extra half-a-star.
10. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGp622-k2ns|’Sex For Breakfast’]] (2.0 STARS)
The first of five consecutive ballads, this song should be a nice let up from the R&B/dance pop songs that just insulted you ear-drums right? Well, Christina sings like a bath of bubbles: all snuggly and welcoming, but with lyrics like “I want you deep inside of me”, and “I wanna feel your honey drip on my strawberry cream”, any vulnerability Christina had she just lost. Clever, that.
The song may be a nice change of temp from the previous track but it just plods like an old dog, doing absolutely nothing once again and fails to make me want to press the all-important repeat button. And the euphemisms she blurts out one by one so care freely almost makes you sick – this is a 30-year old, mother of one singing about a man’s penis as a honey drip… Next please.
11. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_PKY6Lvi6E|’Lift Me Up’]] (4.5 STARS)
Finally, the song I’ve been waiting for, a chilling, moving ballad sung by the one artist no-one can top, not even Leona can put the amount of emotion Christina can heap onto a song… when she does it right. The lacklustre ‘Sex For Breakfast’ wishes is was this song right now. It’s beautiful lyrics – “If you lift me up/Just get me through this night/I know I’ll rise tomorrow/I’ll be strong enough to try”, tug on the heart-strings from the moment Christina hits the high notes.
A haunting piano introduction and backing keeps thing song from falling into the boring bin… just, and because of the reverberation effect added to Christina’s vocals she sounds like she singing in a church, or something big and echo-y. This is the only stand-out track, and whilst it’s not enough to redeem an album of regurgitated, unoriginal songs, its where Christina has already triumphed, that she comes up trumps once more. Absolutely stunning.
13. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0gtpr9-0m8|’All I Need’]] (3.0 STARS)
Another ballad, this one doesn’t strike as much as ‘Lift Me Up’, instead, it’s a mellower affair, trudging along to a tambourine, each vocal phrase sounding oddly like Shania Twains ‘Still The One I Want’ (Goodness me, what happened to Shania?). The piano melody is much prettier than ‘Lift Me Up’s, hence why Christina vocals are softer to suit the nature of the songs.
However, it doesn’t match the grandeur of her previous ballads – ‘Lift Me Up’ will be added to her greatest ballads should it get released, this one is just another filler ballad which could be done without because whilst it’s piano section brings a major key to in contrast to the minor key of the previous track, it doesn’t carry the brilliance of ‘Lift Me Up’ onto the album’s end.
14. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uuKNxPxHH8|’I Am’]] (4.0 STARS)
This ballad opens with a guitar, this one happily moves along, slightly dreary at first, because of little instrumentation, then it sounds like we’ve skipped a few seconds as a choir joins Christina suddenly and does make the song feel a little disjointed.
With beautiful lyrics delivered in such a way that at some points Christina could pass as P!nk, lines like “I am naked, I am vulnerable”, say – take me as I am. A true message of real love, right there. The fast twinkling of the piano arpeggios during the chorus add a subtle air of further beauty to the laid-back production, unspoilt by synthetic sounds.
15. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teS7YIwDGTQ|’You Lost Me’]] (3.5 STARS)
Alas, as we’ve seen from ‘Sex for Breakfast’, not all Christina ballads are bona-fide hits. This song, announced as the next US single fails to induce the same emotions on the listener as ‘Lift Me Up’ or ‘I Am’. The lack of instrumentation doesn’t work as well on this track for reasons beyond my knowledge. Oh, believe me, it’s a good song, but it’s shine and charm appears diminished by the glowing beacons of the aforementioned tracks.
I will admit though, the prettiest part of this song is when Christina trill her words, putting lots of quavering note to one syllable, and her dulcet tones once again send shivers down my spine, but I can’t help but listen to it knowing that if it were released, ‘Lift Me Up’s possible release would hang in the balance and it being a far superior ballad, I’m helplessly drawn away from this track. Ooh, it’s funny what Christina’s real voice can do, isn’t it?
16. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HogVLFopuAY|’I Hate Boys’]] (0.5 STAR)
NO! NO! NO! Lyrics that were written in two minutes? Check. Awful, displaced production? Check. Generic? Check. Really bad attempt at putting emphasis on the word “suck”? CHECK. This song, announced as the next Australian single, will do nothing for her, it’s sounds very cheaply made, with the most immature lyrics I’ve heard from Christina in like… EVER!
Mind you, at least it’s catchy… But that’s not the point! This song is like having syphilis nailed into your head whilst Christina becomes a ten-year old girl jumping up and down on you like a child when they’re adamant you’ve got sweets in your pocket. And even if you haven’t, she’ll still wail in you’re ear. This song horribly disrupts the gentler flow the album was morphing into.
17. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYZ59MLweKU|’My Girls’]] (3.0 STARS)
Featuring Peaches (Geldof? :L) this song starts with a lot to be desired but after Christina joins in for the chorus, it a far cry from the tragic ‘I Hate Boys’, ‘Elastic Love’ and ‘Woohoo’. Instead, it’s more like another ‘I Hate Boys’ only better. The production is choppier, once it get’s going it easily becomes one of the catchiest moments on the album.
The immature lyrics are also back – “My girls, we’re chasing all the boys/’Cause that’s the way we role”. Christina… YOU’RE 30! NOT 13! Peaches’ spoken interlude is a bit lesbo-erotic and like with most songs with guests rappers – detracts from the momentum created.
18. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjfA9TzjALs|’Vanity’]] (4.0 STARS)
Of all the half-baked ‘dance’ numbers that would be easier to dance to if you walked with a Zimmer-frame, ‘Vanity’ works the best. The album closer, it manages to achieve in one track, what rest album has tried to do in nine. Catchy, melodic, structured, and well-produced, this song sees Christina at her cockiest, “V is for vanity, every time I look at me/I turn myself on/I turn myself on”.
She swears in it way too much; the swearing being the only thing to detract from it. The intro alone is swearing – “I’m not cocky [dumb blonde laugh], I just lurrrrve myself, [pause] Bitch!”. So whilst it’s easily the best up tempo song on ‘Bi-On-Ic’, it’ll never be released as a single because of the profanity.
The problem with this is – and in fact, most of her new album – Christina’s earlier songs like ‘Beautiful’, ‘Dirrty’, and Genie In A Bottle’, showed the public she was an oncoming star and she rode that wave really well. ‘Bi-On-Ic’ is a mellower affair; a limp collection of generic, tried-and-tested, pop/R&B songs that any generic, tried-and-tested pop/R&B singer could sing with a bit of oomph and some auto-tune.
It’s tragic, Christina has a magnificent voice and I was shocked that after so long away from recording, she could still belt out songs like she does, but what I, and most of the public liked about her, was her forward-thinking and her originality, which she displayed to her advantage on the songs I mentioned earlier. This track, and indeed her entire album (a ridiculous 18 tracks in length) display neither forward-thinking nor originality, which is a shame, and just goes to show what a disappointment her album is, that she couldn’t write or sing a mildly interesting track despite piling 18 of them into one album. Even the ballads, which are the unquestioned highlight, fail to deliver that… ‘something’ that Christina had before the ‘Bi-On-Ic era.
The track-listing for her album could do with an over-haul too: five ballads one-after-another is near maddening.
I spent nearly seven non-stop hours on this, Randy, from 04:00am because I couldn’t sleep. I WANT FEEDBACK.
ALBUM RATING: 4.4/10
Download These: ‘Lift Me Up’