Thursday, April 19, 2012
Christina Aguilera -- Back to Basics
Alright, this one breaks the rules of this project a little bit. I bought this album for my wife when we were engaged...six (million?) years ago. She played it so many times, though, I feel like I might as well have just bought it for myself. Back to Basics somehow ended up in the bank of music I'm reviewing, so why not revisit it? For pop music, it seemed pretty decent six years ago. What does it sound like now that I'm not being forced to listen to it?
Alright, I do have to join my wife in a recent opinion. Considering most of this album is about Aguilera falling in love with her now ex-husband, and my wife played this non-stop during our own fires of love period, listening to it does make me feel kind of funny. I'll try to look at this album subjectively, but that attempt will probably get boned. Who cares anyway...
I haven't heard any other Christian Aguilera songs except stuff on the radio coming out of other people's cars. What I heard, I didn't really like. I remember seeing some thing on VH1 where Disney had to bring her in to hit some note no one one else could for their Mulan movie, so I know she can sing. Now that I listen to this without my tongue in somebody else's mouth, I can clearly hear that she can sing great, but she also does that thing where she has to get all crazy every two or three minutes. It's not that bad, though, and at least she can do it well. The retro thing she goes for in the music of Back to Basics works for her, too. She name drops a lot of classic artists, but to be honest, the music just kind of sounds like the basic public recollection of what such music should sound like. That isn't an insult (the fact that I say that so much either proves I'm not confident in my points, aren't making them well, or are in fact being insulting...nah, just kidding, it's because I'm that rare combination of honest and nice, right?)--(that parenthetical was so long, don't even act like you remember what the intro to this sentence is, or why there is even a dash here) the weird pastiche she settles on strikes just the right chord of old, lazy-Saturday nostalgia (Sorry if that doesn't make any sense. I mean like a combination of every laid-back Saturday from 1900-2006. Does that make sense? I don't know, my wife and I took a lot of Saturday drives during that Back to Basics time period. Whatever, stop hating on my parentheticals.)
Check this song out. It's modern and old, and all about XTina, just like all the other songs on this album (Also, check out the shallowness. Aguilera name-drops God and how important He is to her throughout the album, then admits that if she lost her lover, she wouldn't believe in Him anymore. Is God her lover? Is her lover god? Does she even know? AM I JUST MAKING EXCUSES TO CREATE A PARENTHETICAL NOW?!?! The song is pretty despite her theological inconsistencies, I guess. If you are looking to Christina for a Bible lesson, you are suffering from a severe lack of role models. Why am I even writing this review?)
Nice retro-keyboard in the bridge! Also, did you read that awesome parenthetical I wrote above about XTina's grasp on theology? I think that might apply to her concept of the term "Dedication to Fans." This is written in XTina's very own parenthetical on disc one's final track, "Thank You (Dedication to Fans)," a song full of answering machine messages where fans praise XTina and tell her how awesome she is. If XTina was a literal title-person, this track would be called "Thank You (Dedicated to MEEEEEE)". Anyway, everything I just said pertains to the FIRST DISC ONLY. There's a second one, and it's different. I left the producers names on the credits below so you can see the writing credit differences (like you care, imaginary reader that somehow impossibly got to this point in the review). Now on to the second disc (The first one does self-consciously end with a fan spouting the phrase, "I am just a huge fan, and I cannot wait to hear what is coming next.").
What's coming next are two more tracks introducing XTina, except now she is in some kind of burlesque-circus, old New York type environment, and the things she is singing about seem a little more naked. I kind of mean literally, because there are a lot of songs about getting it on on this disc, and they involve bodily fluids and she sings these songs just fine, and whether you want to hear songs like this or not, it's definitely true that the second disc of Back to Basics DOES NOT sound like the first disc, just like how in this part of the review I am going to use run-on sentences instead of parentheticals because I have moved on now, jeez get a clue.
It's not just XTina's butt that gets naked though, it's her emotions, too, or something. Seriously the last four tracks are all surprisingly personal confessions about dealing with loss and asking for forgiveness (her second-disc theology is on the same level as the first disc...kind of a 45-degree angle...CRAP, this was supposed to be the parenthetical-free run-on sentence section!!!) and how difficult of a person she is to deal with and how she finally found "The Right Man" (but dangit, that went about as well as me not using parentheticals, and it's such a big song, it's a shame the promises it holds ended up not coming true for her
Anyway, this is pretty good stuff for a big pop album. It sure beats all the Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys and Christina Aguilera stuff that was really big right when I got out of high school. Wait...DOH! Yes, this is better than "Genie In a Bottle" and "I'm Half-Naked and Dirty and Punching People," and all that older Aguilera stuff, and any other fluff pop crap, too. This woman might be a little insane, but it's inarguable that she just went ahead and did whatever she wanted on this album no matter how messy it was and more often than not it works, now there, finally I got my run-on sentence.
1 Intro (Back to Basics) Aguilera, Darnell, DioGuardi, Hawkins… 1:47
2 Makes Me Wanna Pray Aguilera, DioGuardi, Harrison… 4:10
3 Back in the Day Aguilera, Castor, Costa, DioGuardi… 4:13
4 Ain't No Other Man Aguilera, Beatty, DioGuardi, Martin… 3:48
5 Understand Agulera, DioGuardi, Holland… 3:46
6 Slow Down Baby Aguilera, Angry, DioGuardi, Guest… 3:29
7 Oh Mother Aguilera, Barratier, Colais, Rankin… 3:46
8 F.U.S.S. Aguilera, DioGuardi, Roane 2:21
9 On Our Way Aguilera, DioGuardi, Rankin, Thornton… 3:36
10 Without You Aguilera, DioGuardi, Lewis, Ronson 3:56
11 Still Dirrty Aguilera, DioGuardi, Martin 3:46
12 Here to Stay Aguilera, Allen, Holley, Jackson… 3:19
13 Thank You (Dedication to Fans) Aguilera, DioGuardi, Frank, Kipner… 4:58
1 Enter the Circus Aguilera, Perry 1:42
2 Welcome Aguilera, Ill, Perry, Ronson 2:42
3 Candyman Aguilera, Perry 3:14
4 Nasty Naughty Boy Aguilera, Perry 4:45
5 I Got Trouble Aguilera, Perry 3:44
6 Hurt Aguilera, Perry, Ronson 4:03
7 Mercy on Me Aguilera, Perry 4:33
8 Save Me From Myself Aguilera, Bottrell, Perry 3:13
9 The Right Man Aguilera, Perry 3:51