Release Date: Nov 13, 2012
Record label: RCA
Don't let the spiritual-rebirth title of Xtina's fifth LP fool you. Christina Aguilera has only one religious affiliation – the cult of the voice. And she has a great diva theme to rap her pipes around: surviving a divorce. "Spin around in circles on my middle, middle finger," she sings on "Circles." Producers like Shellback and Max Martin give her top-line tracks to body-slam, but, sadly, her bombastic breakup ballad with Blake Shelton, "Just a Fool," sounds more like a battle round on The Voice than a friendly duet.
Considering all the trials and tribulations surrounding her 2010 album Bionic, Phoenix may have been a more appropriate title for Christina Aguilera's fifth album than Lotus. Plagued by delays, Bionic underwhelmed upon its 2010 release, as did Xtina's silver screen debut Burlesque, and her career appeared on the brink of meltdown until she signed up to be a voice on the NBC singing competition The Voice. Soon, she was duetting with her co-star Adam Levine on Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger," her star was hotter than ever, and she was determined to not have it dim with Lotus.
Unlike most faceless pop stars today, Christina Aguilera's voice is unmistakable. Ridden with adlibs and vocal aerobatics fit for a musical Cirque du Soleil, the pop veteran's strength is something that most hits on the radio today lack. Her fifth album, Lotus, springs back from the flop of 2010's electro-femme experiment, Bionic, demonstrating a reinvigorated Aguilera, one who's vowed to teach the new generation of voices a lesson or two.
Stars like Christina Aguilera aren't supposed to fall. The status of multi-platinum A-lister comes with an in-built positive feedback mechanism. Success, at this level, tends to maintain. A team ensures your singles sound like hits while fans buy into a star and are reluctant to disinvest because that implies their own taste wasn't trustworthy to begin with.
Christina Aguilera is her own worst enemy. Judging by her recent interviews, in which she calls her 2010 flop, Bionic, “ahead of its time,” and her early work “more daring” than that of her teeny-bopper compatriots, the best promo she could do for her new album, Lotus, is none at all. The admirably forward-thinking, if not forward-sounding, Bionic got a bum rap, but it should be people like me who say it, not her.
You say you want a revolution? Good news! Christina Aguilera has already armed the battle-clones for war on ”Army of Me,” one of many thundering self-empowerment anthems on her fifth studio album, Lotus. ”There’s a thousand faces of me,” she hollers. ”And we’re gonna rise up…/For every time you wronged me/Well, you’re gonna face an army, army of me.” Which begs the question: Rise up against whom? Is the whole world really out to get her, or is this just an excuse to wear camouflage hot pants? If it sounds like Aguilera is in self-defense mode, that’s not a surprise.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA “Lotus” (RCA). Christina Aguilera is one of the most powerful singers of her generation; is a friend to raunch, and an expert at making it broadly palatable; never lets tabloids get the best of her; has made it safe for still relevant midcareer pop stars to take sabbaticals ….