Aguilera attending the launch of the Montblanc John Lennon edition in September 2010.
|Birth name||Christina María Aguilera|
|Also known as||Xtina|
|Origin|| Wexford, Pennsylvania
|Genres||Pop, R&B, soul, dance-pop, hip hop|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, dancer, actress|
Christina María Aguilera (born December 18, 1980) is an American recording artist and actress. Aguilera first appeared on national television in 1990 as a contestant on the Star Search program, and went on to star in Disney Channel's television series The Mickey Mouse Club from 1993–1994. Aguilera signed to RCA Records after recording " Reflection", the theme song for the animated film Mulan (1998).
In 1999, Aguilera came to prominence following her debut album Christina Aguilera, which was a commercial success spawning three number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100—" Genie in a Bottle", " What a Girl Wants", and " Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)." A Latin pop album, Mi Reflejo (2001), and several collaborations followed which garnered Aguilera worldwide success, though she was displeased with her lack of input in her music and image. After parting from her management, Aguilera took creative control over her second studio album, Stripped (2002). The album's second single, " Beautiful," was a commercial success and helped the album's commercial performance amidst controversy over Aguilera's image. Aguilera followed up Stripped with Back to Basics (2006), which was released to positive critical acclaim and included elements of soul, jazz, and blues music. Aguilera's fourth studio album Bionic (2010), which incorporated aspects of R&B, electropop, and synthpop, was met with mixed reviews and poor sales.
Aside from being known for her vocal ability, music videos and image, musically, she includes themes of dealing with public scrutiny, her childhood, and female empowerment in her music. Apart from her work in music, she has also dedicated much of her time as a philanthropist for charities, human rights and world issues. She made her feature film debut in the musical Burlesque (2010), earning Aguilera a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song. Aguilera's work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, four Grammy Awards and a Latin Grammy Award, amongst fifteen and three nominations respectively. Rolling Stone ranked her number fifty-eight on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, ranking as the youngest and only artist on the list under the age of thirty. She was ranked the 20th Artist of the 2000–09 decade by Billboard and is the second top selling single artist of the 2000's behind Madonna. Aguilera has sold nearly 50 million albums worldwide making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
Aguilera has been referred to as the "voice of her generation" and a blue eyed soul singer. Aguilera also topped COVE's list of the 100 Best Pop Vocalists with a score of 50/50 and came fifth in MTV's 22 Greatest Voices in Music. Her rendition of "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" at the 49th Grammy Awards ranked third in the Grammy's Greatest Moments List behind Celine Dion's performance of " My Heart Will Go On" and Green Day's performance of " American Idiot". In an interview, Dion described Aguilera as "probably the best vocalist in the world." Rolling Stone ranked Aguilera at 58 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, the youngest singer on the list.
Describing Aguilera's voice, singing teachers Phyllis Fulford and Michael Mailler said, "The low register is light and tired, the belting register is ample and full, but very scratchy because she screams; and head voice as well as whistle register are light, pure and bright. Her vocal range extends from G below middle C to C♯ one octave above soprano high C (C3 - C♯7). She can belt to F one octave and a third above middle C (F5). She possesses a good-sized technical arsenal. Her trill is solid, she has a big mastery of melisma, and can sustain very long notes." Los Angeles Times writer Margaret Wappler adds Aguilera can deliver "a well-executed legato."
Since her debut in 1999 Aguilera has been compared to the likes of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. David Browne of The New York Times writes, "Aguilera has been one of the foremost practitioners of the overpowering, Category 5 vocal style known as melisma. Ms. Carey, Ms. Houston and Ms. Aguilera, to name its three main champions, are most associated with the period from the late ’80s through the late ’90s." A review in the Los Angeles Times compared Aguilera's vocal stylings to Barbra Streisand, Gladys Knight, and Aretha Franklin adding, "Aguilera's Streisand-esque tendencies are a good thing; they're helping her figure out how to become the "great singer" she's been dubbed since she released her first single, the wise-beyond-its-years " Genie in a Bottle", at 18." Although praised for her vocals, Aguilera has been labeled for oversinging in her songs and concerts. Longtime producer and writer, Linda Perry, commented on working on the record, "Beautiful", saying, "I tried to keep it straight. I told her to get rid of the finger waves. Every time she'd start going into "hoo-ha", I'd stop the tape. I'm like, 'You're doing it again.'" Perry ended up using the first take saying, "She had a hard time accepting that as the final track. It's not a perfect vocal – it's very raw. She knows her voice really well, and she knows what's going on. She can hear things that nobody else would catch."
Themes and musical style
The constant theme in Aguilera's music and lyrics is love, although she has written on other subjects including spirituality, female empowerment, and grief. Aguilera has also written about her childhood in two of her records which dealt with domestic abuse. In an interview Aguilera admitted she feels responsible to reveal her most vulnerable feelings and to share the darker sides of her life adding "People that can relate might not feel as alone in the circumstance." She has been noted to constantly changing her sound in her music and lyrical content. Originally marketed as a bubblegum pop singer during the late 90's pop scene, she quickly departed into a broad range of musical genres for her follow-up album Stripped. A review states, "Clearly afflicted with Premature Serious Artist Syndrome, Aguilera wants to demonstrate the range of her interests – vampy soul, quasi-metal, piano-bar intimacy, quiet-storm R&B, bounce-bounce hip-hop, and semi-exotic rock, all of it dutifully accomplished."
The majority of the songs are characterized by Aguilera's loud vocals, though she has used breathy and soft vocals. Her 2006 release, Back to Basics included producer DJ Premier. The New York Times exclaims, "Her decision to work with the low-key DJ Premier was also a decision to snub some of the big-name producers on whom pop stars often rely." Aguilera has often cited that she prefers working with producers that aren't in popular demand, saying "I don't necessarily go to the main people that are the No. 1 chart-toppers in music." The album included live instrumentation and samples of past jazz and soul records. Some tracks on the album included non-traditional forms of pop music such as swing jazz and big band, drawing comparisons to Madonna's I'm Breathless and the musical film Cabaret. Her first feature film, Burlesque, influenced by Cabaret, featured mainstream producers Tricky Stewart and Danja on the soundtrack where several established songs were updated and worked into dance numbers, a style similar to 2001's Moulin Rouge! " Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" was performed by Aguilera in the film, a musical number also performed by Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!
One of Aguilera's major influences and idol is blues singer Etta James, whose classic song " At Last" has been covered by Aguilera throughout her career. Aguilera says, "Etta is my all-time favorite singer. I've said it for the last seven years — since I had my first debut record out — in every interview. I mean, all of Etta's old songs, countless songs I could name, I grew up listening to." The majority of her album, Back to Basics, pays tribute to James and other pop standard singers who many originated from the 1950s. In her early years she listened to vintage jazz, blues, and soul music. The album included an unreleased song, " Slow Down Baby", which sampled a Gladys Knight & the Pips song. A review in The Guardian declared, "Practically everything recorded before Aguilera was born blurs into one amorphous genre, which she categorises, somewhat inadequately, as "fun music". Aguilera has also named Madonna and Janet Jackson as two of her biggest influences "for being re-inventive and being brave as strong females, to explore whatever, even if they do get bad press. It's just like they were fearless." Her other musical influences include Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Nina Simone.
Aguilera cites the musical The Sound of Music and its lead actress, Julie Andrews as an early inspiration for singing and performing. She mentioned the "Golden age of Hollywood" as another inspiration in which she says, "I'm referencing Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, Greta Garbo, Veronica Lake". In her music video for " Ain't No Other Man" she plays her alter ego, " Baby Jane" in reference to the film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. The film's stars included actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The third single off Back to Basics, " Candyman" was inspired by the 1941 song, " Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by The Andrews Sisters which was played during World War II. She was also inspired by pin-up girls and several paintings by Alberto Vargas. Aguilera has expressed interest in cultural icons Nico, Blondie and artists Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. She has often worked with photographer and close friend, David LaChapelle who once worked with Warhol. Chapelle has shot many of Aguilera's music videos, magazine shoots and advertisements. She is also a fan of graffiti artist Banksy. In 2006 she purchased three of Banksy's works during a private art exhibition, one of them included a pornographic picture of Queen Victoria in a lesbian pose with a prostitute. She has mentioned in several interviews that she is a fan of actress Angelina Jolie. Fashion has also been a part of Aguilera's music career and image which she has used as a form of expression during performances and music videos. In 2003 she became the muse and inspiration for Donatella Versace's 2003 fall line. Versace also designed pieces her tour the following year. Aguilera is also a fan of Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander McQueen whose designs she has worn throughout her career.
Throughout her career, Aguilera has been involved with several charities. She signed a letter from PETA to the South Korean government asking that the country stop its alleged killing of dogs for food. During her 2007 tour she unknowingly wore a fur stole during the beginning of her tour, which designer Roberto Cavalli provided without informing Aguilera. After receiving a video from PETA Vice President Dan Mathews on the treatment of foxes, she replaced the stole with faux fur for the remainder of her tour. Aguilera was reportedly upset adding, "I only ever wear fake fur". In 2010 Aguilera auctioned off tickets for her upcoming tour for Christie's A Bid to Save the Earth. Proceeds benefit nonprofit environmental groups Conservation International, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Central Park Conservancy. Aguilera also supports Defenders of Wildlife, Missing Kids, National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations, Women's Cancer Research Fund, and Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Research Institute. She has also worked alongside nonprofit organization Do Something saying, "Every individual has the power to inspire young people across the country." In 2010 she was nominated for a VH1 Do Something Award for her work with the organization and her efforts in the response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. She was featured in the campaign for photographer, Brie Childers with the goal of helping women of all ages, races and lifestyles feel beautiful and confident about themselves and the body and skin they were born with. Proceeds from benefit several women's charities nationwide.
Aguilera is still a major contributor in her hometown of Pittsburgh contributing regularly to the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. According to her official website, she toured the centre and donated $200,000 to the shelter. She also has auctioned off front row seats and back stage passes for the Pittsburgh-based charity. She has continued her donations and visits to the shelter, and plans to open an additional one. She also supports the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Refuge UK. Since then she has worked with Lifetime Television's 'End violence against women' campaign. Her work there included a public service announcement which aired on the network and during her 2007 tour.
Aguilera is a supporter of the LGBT community and is considered a gay icon by many. She was honored at the GLAAD Awards for using gay and transgender images in her music video for "Beautiful". When accepting the award Aguilera said, "My video captures the reality that gay and transgender people are beautiful, even though prejudice and discrimination against them still exists." In 2005 she appeared on a compilation album titled, Love Rocks, proceeds benefit the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to fighting for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. In 2008 she publicly spoke out against California's Proposition 8 which eliminates same-sex marriage in California saying, "Why you would put so much money behind something [aimed at] stopping from people loving each other and bonding together? I just don't understand it. It's hard for me to grasp. But I would've been out there with my rally sign as well."
Aguilera contributes in the fight against AIDS, by participating in AIDS Project Los Angeles' Artists Against AIDS " What's Going On?" cover project. In 2004, Aguilera became the new face for cosmetic company M·A·C and spokesperson for M·A·C AIDS Fund. Aguilera appeared in advertisements of the M·A·C's Viva Glam V lipstick and lipgloss, and was featured on Vanity Fair in recognition of her campaign work. In addition, Aguilera contributed to YouthAIDS by posing for a joint YouthAIDS and Aldo Shoes campaign for "Empowerment Tags" in Canada, the U.S. and the UK. She was featured with one of three ubiquitous slogans, "Speak No Evil?" and stated, "HIV is something that people don’t want to talk about, hear about, or face." Singer Elton John featured Aguilera in his charity book titled "Four Inches" benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Elton also hand-picked Aguilera, for his annual " Fashion Rocks" charity concert which accompanies music and fashion to benefit the fight against AIDS/HIV.
In the run-up to the 2004 United States presidential election, Aguilera was featured on billboards for the "Only You Can Silence Yourself" online voter registration drive run by the nonpartisan, non-profit campaign " Declare Yourself". In these political advertisements, shot by David LaChapelle, Aguilera was shown with her mouth sewn shut, to symbolize the effects of not voting. She appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the importance of voting. In late 2007 Aguilera became the spokesperson for " Rock the Vote" where she urged young people to vote in the 2008 presidential election. In partnership with "Rock the Vote", she appeared in a public service announcement which aired in summer 2008. The advert showed Aguilera with her son, Max Bratman, wrapped in an American flag, while singing " America the Beautiful".
In November 2005, all of her wedding gifts were submitted to various charities around the nation in support of Hurricane Katrina victims. That year she also performed at "Unite of the Stars" concert in aid of Unite Against Hunger in Johannesburg, South Africa and at the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at the Coca-Cola Dome. In March 2007 Aguilera took part in a charity album (remaking Lennon's " Mother"), proceeds benefit Amnesty International's efforts to end genocide in Darfur. The album titled, Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, was released June 12, 2007 and featured various artists. In 2008 she headlined London's Africa Rising charity concert at Royal Albert Hall which raises awareness for finding substantial issues facing the continent. Later that year she appeared on the Turkish version of Deal or No Deal " Var mısın? Yok musun?" , where she won $180,000. Proceeds were donated to a charity program for orphans.
In 2009 Aguilera became the global spokesperson for World Hunger Relief appearing in advertisements, online campaigns and a public service announcement. Aguilera and her husband traveled to Guatemala with the World Food Programme to bring awareness to issues such as the high malnutrition rate in that country. She met with families of the villages and some of the beneficiaries of WFP's nutrition programs. Aguilera adds, "The people of WFP do such a great job helping hungry children and mothers. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful project." Since becoming a global spokeswoman Aguilera has helped raise over $22 million which helped provide over 90 million meals. She was honored at Variety's annual "Power of Women" luncheon in late 2009 alongside other women in entertainment for her contribution to philanthropic and charitable causes. In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Aguilera donated a signed Chrysler 300 which was auctioned for relief efforts. She was one of the many artists who appeared on the Hope for Haiti telethon on January 22, 2010, donations directly benefited Oxfam America, Partners In Health, Red Cross and UNICEF. She later appeared on a second public service announcement alongside sports icon Muhammad Ali to raise funds for the World Food Programme's efforts to bring food to survivors of the earthquake. Later that year Aguilera made her first visit to Haiti as an ambassador against hunger where she visited two schools in the town of Léogâne. During her time there she assisted in the ongoing efforts to help the badly damaged town where she served meals and highlighted reconstruction efforts in the country.
- Christina Aguilera (1999)
- Mi Reflejo (2000)
- My Kind of Christmas (2000)
- Stripped (2002)
- Back to Basics (2006)
- Bionic (2010)