Monday, June 14, 2010

Christina Aguilera's Bionic - Pop Trash Review

A small part of my Xtina collection

My reason for posting the above pic - apart from the fact that I think it looks pretty - is to underline how much I love Christina. She was the only decent thing to emerge from the late 90s/early noughties teen pop explosion. Unlike Britney, she has talent and continues to evolve as an artist and try new things. It's an amazing achievement to move away from the bubblegum pop of her debut to the urban tinged grit of "Stripped" in the space of one album. And while "Back To Basics" is widely regarded as one hell of a hot mess, you can still salvage 10 great songs (ie. Disc 2 + "Ain't No Other Man" and "Oh Mother") from it. The same - sadly - can not be said for "Bionic". I've been listening to Xtina's 4th album on repeat for the past couple of weeks hoping in vain for it to click but I just find it more depressing with each listen. There are a couple of very good songs but the vast majority of them cover old ground or imitate other artists in a desperate attempt at "innovation". I understand the appeal of collaborating with your favourite singers but Christina got lost in the process. This shit sounds like a 21 year old lesbian's favourite mixtape. All that's missing is some Indigo Girls and a couple of P!nk numbers. And what's with the stomach churning sexual references? The dirrty one did this so much better on "Stripped". It just sounds pathetic now. As far as I'm concerned, after you've pushed a baby out of your woo hoo you really should stop singing about it. Anyway - with a heavy heart - here is my track by track review of "Bionic".

Bionic

The album's title track is three and a half minutes of mindless noise. I'm sure Christina thought she was being revolutionary and cutting edge by ignoring essential song elements like a melody and a chorus but it just makes me want to press 'skip'. A bad omen of things to come.

Not Myself Tonight

I don't care if it sounds like a "Blackout" B-side. "Not Myself Tonight" was a return to Trashtina. You know, the happy-go-lucky ho that sang fun songs like "Fighter" and "Dirrty"? I've missed that bitch and I have a feeling this will go down as a cult classic. Hell, I even like the video. Xtina's fake tits look amazing against her bony ribcage! My only issue with it is the slightly dated production and the fact that it doesn't really fit the rest of the album. This is the epitome of a hot mess.

Woo Hoo (ft. Nicky Minaj)

"Woo Hoo" is another Polow da Don production but it couldn't sound more different from "Not Myself Tonight". This time around, the superstar tries to re-connect with the urban pop crowd by roping in rap diva du jour Nicky Minaj (she's ok but bitch is no Khia) and singing about her pussy. It's forced and more than a little embarrassing but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like it. The chorus is fun and the lyrics should connect with drunk whores from Berlin to Bankstown. Which makes its inability to dent the charts all the more perplexing. Are the kids over Xtina or does the song just need a softcore porn video to take off?

Elastic Love

Christina's first celebrity songwriting collaboration is with underground icon MIA. I had high hopes for this but the result is utter shit. The electro sound is more in tune with the album's supposed theme but the song goes nowhere. The lyrics are meaningless and the production is Peaches circa "Fatherfucker". I suspect MIA was taking the piss and Xtina's head was too far up her cunt to notice.

Desnudate

Christopher "Tricky" Stewart is one of my favourite urban pop producers despite torpedoing Mimi's career by re-recording the same song ten times on "Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel" and "Desnudate" is much needed injection of fun. I love it when Xtina unleashes her inner Latina and this is the kind of catchy, upbeat fluff the album is sorely missing. The brass is great and any lyrics with the word 'papi' in them are OK by me!

Love & Glamour (Intro)

I thought Janet's last three mega-flop albums had finally killed intros once and for all. No?

Glam

Another Tricky effort, "Glam" is a throbbing little electro number that will no doubt be the soundtrack to many a drag queen walk off. It's expertly produced high camp trash and I can imagine Xtina listening to this every morning as she applies her make-up with a trowel and spray gun. I'd normally put this down as decent filler but given the lack of competition it's almost single worthy.


Prima Donna

Tricky's third straight collaboration is a pointless re-hash of "Fighter" with bad lyrics about Xtina ruling the world. Not with this shit, bitch.

Morning Desert (Intro)

It disturbs me to think this is dedicated to Jordan Bratman. Dude must be hung like a donkey because you couldn't pay me to wake up next to him, let alone serve him 'morning desert'.

Sex For Breakfast

Yuck. I usually love a good slut anthem but this is just rancid. "Sex For Breakfast" reminds me of the filth polluting every album Janet has released since 1996. Slow, boring and way too much information.

Lift Me Up

By this point, I was almost ready to throw my copy of "Bionic" out the window but - mercifully - the second half is considerably less shit than the first. Take this Linda Perry penned gem. The album was crying out for its own "Beautiful" or "Hurt" and "Lift Me Up" does nicely. It's almost a shock to hear Christina sing something meaningful after so much rubbish about woo hoos and morning sex. This is a potent reminder of why Xtina doesn't need to jump on the latest trend. She has God given talent. I love her voice on this.

My Heart (Intro)

Christina's husband and son make a cameo on this intro. Cute but pointless.

All I Need

Ever since it was announced that Australia's favourite ex-lesbian was working with Xtina on "Bionic", I suspected they could come up with something amazing. And I was wrong. While Sia's tracks are widely regarded as the album's saving grace, I have to disagree. They are very pretty and a welcome relief after the tidal wave of crap that precedes them but these all sound like Sia B-sides. She has since moved on to a fabulous nu-disco sound, so why is Christina wasting her time on her shabby seconds? "All I Need" is nice. And that's not the adjective I expected to be using when I first heard that these titans had joined forces.

I Am

This is my favourite Sia/Christina collaboration. Unlike the other two, this has something quintessentially Aguilera about it. "I Am" also has a rawness that reminds me of "Stripped". The diva spends so much of "Bionic" hiding behind her new robotastic persona and celebrity songwriters that it's easy to forget that she knows her way around an insightful lyric when she puts her mind to it. Simple but beautiful.

You Lost Me

Pretty piano, great lyrics and beautiful vocal delivery. I've just heard it all before on an album called "Some People Have Real Problems".

I Hate Boys

Polow da Don returns for a trashtastic jam about bad boys. This would be a hot tune for a 15 year old newcomer but I'm not sure it's suitable for a happily married 30 year old mother. That said, it is vintage pop trash and I love the tacky lyrics. I really can't decide if I love it or hate it. I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and lead towards the former.

My Girls (ft. Peaches)

Peaches should be ashamed. As should Le Tigre. Seriously, this is fucking dreadful.


Vanity

And the award for the album's guiltiest pleasure goes to "Vanity". I know this hot mess is all kinds of shit but I love it! The tragic lyrics make me laugh ("now I take myself to be my lawfully wedded bitch!" and "if the shoe fits, wear it bitch!"), the chorus is annoyingly catchy and her son's cameo is so tacky and inappropriate it hurts. Please release this crap as the next single.

Monday Morning

Santigold's contribution to the album is very low key but I like it more each time I hear it. The shouty chorus is fun and the verses flow seamlessly. "Monday Morning" isn't particularly memorable but it's interesting filler.

Bobblehead

This is easily my favourite bonus track. It's cheap, tacky and clearly aimed at the lowest common demoninator - ie. me. In fact, "Bobblehead" is one of the few tracks that could actually be a hit. It's just stupid and inane enough to be a radio smash. Dumb sluts and cheap bimbos around the world have a new anthem.

Birds Of Prey

Hmmm. Another highly anticipated collaboration (this time with Ladytron) turns out to be a stinker. Bertie Blackman did this
first and better.

Stronger Than Ever

Another Sia ballad. This has grown on me rather spectacularly. It's less sedate than the other three and allows Christina exercise her pipes. The lyrics are also clearly autobiographical. I just wish there was more of this on "Bionic".

I Am (Stripped)

"I Am" sounds even better in its acoustic form. If you're going to shell out $20 for this musical trainwreck (or $60 for the amazingly beautiful fan edition if you're a sucker like me), go for the Deluxe Edition. The bonus tracks are worth having.

Little Dreamer

The album's iTunes only bonus track is a perky little electro-pop number courtesy of Ladytron. "Little Dreamer" is very cute and I kind of love it. Why wasn't it on the standard album? Whoever oversaw this project was either on very good or very bad drugs. Anyway, give it a listen below.

5.5/10

28 comments:

ip said...

Love the pic of your collection and love the review - I mostly agree with what you say. Christina is almost dead to me. Stripped forever!!

Justin said...

The bonus tracks are better than some of the shot that made the actual tracklist. Makes me wonder who oversaw this mess but I actually like the album bar the shittiness.

Glam has to be one of my favourites off the album, it's a fierce queen power anthem yeh

bomitoni said...

I LOOOOOOOOVE this hot mess of an album. Yeah it's all over the place but it works. I think there were only 2 or 3 songs I didn't like (Sex for Breakfast, Prima Donna, Lift Me Up). That said there are some fabulous tracks like 'Glam', 'Elastic Love', 'Bobblehead', 'You Lost Me', 'Little Dreamer', 'Monday Morning' etc.

Yet the greatest 2 tracks on the album are indeed the trashiest. 'Vanity', don't even get me started. Ever since I heard it I find myself quoting it non-stop! And "Desnudate" is the best song Kat DeLuna's never recorded! Xtina is always sluttier en español. When she said the following I nearly lost my shit: "Damelo duro, me tienes tan mojada" (Give it to me hard, you got me so wet)!

The "bonus" tracks should have been on the standard edition as they were some of the best of the bunch.

Sexbox said...

Christina makes my stomach churn no matter what she does but I will admit that overall I enjoyed this album.

Jump! said...

I've tried listening to this a few times. Each time i get about a minute into the song, get bored and skip to the next song. This happens about 17 times and then i think "if only i could put this album down my pants cuz it really sucks".

I think "glam" is really the only "decent" jam (using that word loosely) on this CD. Overall a hooker-fest gone into scary Motel 6land and with a nasty ass album cover to boot!

Better luck next time xtina.

John said...

I haven't even bothered with this. The stuff I've heard has been so non-impressive that I would much rather focus on all of the other amazing music out there right now.

tommie said...

Ha! Vanity is my guily pleasure too - mostly because you know that she *isn't* being a bit sarcastic at all.

The Prophet said...

I knew Desnudete would be your favorite.

Me said...

She really is Not Herself Tonight - or at any point during the recording of this album!

At least the fabulous Candyman sounded like her doing retro 40s flappa slappa - this sounds like one of CaCa's infinitely more talented backing dancers doing a Blake.

Anonymous said...

whats the single lost in the camera glare and the one above it?

Guy said...

Wow, Little Dreamer is great.

But as for the album, I'm surprised at how spectacularly the thing has flopped, even before it was actually released. Sure the singles were shit, but Britters can get away with phoning anything in and she'll still have some loyalty...

So true about intros...

Mike said...

Anon - that's the German "Oh Mother" single. The one above it is "The Christmas Song" - I think from Taiwan or Japan. I can't remember.

And "Desnudate" is even more delightful now I know the translation! LOL. Thanks, Joe.

Yeah "Little Dreamer" is extremely cute. I think it's my new favourite from the album. Although you can't beat "Vanity" for the amusement factor.

Blake said...

Hi Mike, are you going to post a track by track review of The Family Jewels? Looking forward to seeing what you think about it. And We Are Born as well.

Christian Stovitz said...

Vanity is the worst piece of crap she has recorded. ever.
imho the only great song on it is "Lift Me Up", the rest is just lame and awkward to listen.

A1 said...

"not myself tonight" is actually one her best songs ever..why it got slammed, god knows, but hey im up for it as you said being a CULT CLASSIC....i'll get back to you on the rest :)

Oliveira said...

Oh hey A1!

Funny how you (not A1 ;) ) dislike exactly the songs I like and vice versa. I think Glam stinks and Little Dreamer's popularity among the fans baffles me. But Birds of Prey is one of the 5 best songs of the year so far. It is just sooo awesome: best Ladytron song ever coupled with someone on vocals that can actually sing. If only there was more stuff like this on the album.

Anonymous said...

The album is a complete and utter mess. Totally disagree with "Elastic Love", that is the albums saving grace. Love the stationary metaphor.

The ballads are the best things about the album. Glam is embarassing, and all those tongue-in-cheek ones come off really forced. Bitch thinks she's Kesha or something?

- Petro

Clueless said...

I've only listened to the standard edition, and it is pretty bad. I agree with most of your track reviews, but "Elastic Love" is really good, "All I Need" is amazing, and "My Girls" is okay once you disregard how random it is.

"I Hate Boys" is HORRIBLE. "Bionic" is just a whack version of any Santigold song. "NMT" is just bad. "Sex For Breakfast" is just boring.

Nicki Minaj saves "Woohoo". "Glam" is really fun.

And how cheap is her use of her son? Tacky, tacky, tacky. The "My Love" intro is not that bad, but the final line of "Vanity".....

bomitoni said...

I predit BIONIC will be to Xtina what MISTAKEN IDENITY was to Donna Summer or WORKIN' OVERTIME was to Diana Ross. A trashtastic gem!

Nasty G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nasty G said...

Oh Joe, this is so your thing! If this fails miserably it will be your fave Xtina album ever! LOL I have found that the more I listen to it the LESS I like it. I have been begged by my significant other to take it off more than once, and I actually now happily oblige. I tried to give it a chance, really I did. The only bearable songs are Elastic Love, My Girls, Monday Morning and Little Dreamer, and that's only because they don't sound like her. Shut the fuck up and stop oversinging, bitch!

D'luv said...

It's funny you say listening to this is depressing because that's how the ball and chain summed it up the other day. Ever worse -- as predicted, it completely tanked here on the charts, coming in behind the Glee EP (a fucking EP!!!!!!! beat her) and the Eclipse soundtrack (which contains a far better Sia track than anything on Bionic). I've tried like four or five times with this album but it's not clicking. I don't know how many more listens I have in me. I don't think I'll ever be bored enough to try again.

"Woohoo" is kind of catchy, though.

Paul said...

I do like Vanity and a few others. I've wittled it down to a decent-ish 9 track album but i do think it will be looked upon differently in years to come!

the writer said...

A big part of the album is real shit but i can say that i am in love with Litle Dreamer. But isn't she old enough to sing about her p...y and lyrics like "i hate boys, the boys love me"? Her son maybe will start watching porno movies!

Anonymous said...

Oh com' on! "Birds Of Prey" is AMAZING!Haunting,clubby,dark.

Nicolas

babyblue558 said...

This albums mostly complete shit with a few really great tracks that kinda rub in how good it could have been. It's not all appalling, but she could do so much better. Check out my blog! http://thepoplounge.blogspot.com/
:)

Rob Bruin said...

Really, one can enjoy this album A LOT! The only thing that needs to be done, is trace back. Trace back to when X-tina started out her 'electronic phase', which is her previous "Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits" album. She said that she would be moving towards a more dance-sound, and she did. Take her remixes, now called "Genie 2.0" (it's BRILL!!) and "You Are What You Are (Beautiful)" (I'm not at all fond of that version!), and the new singles "Keeps Gettin' Better" and "Dynamite".

The thing is: many artists went before her. In fact, so many artists went before her, that (this is my guess) she just couldn't release a pure dancepop/electronica-sound album. So she went back to what she does best: doin' R&B-like ballads. That is what literally and figuratively devides this album in two non-consistent parts.

But back to my point: take he following songs into one account, and I promise, you'll have a blast of an album (a pity that she didn't release the album like that)!!

1. Bionic
2. Not Myself Tonight
3. Woohoo
4. Elastic Love
5. Desnudate
6. Love & Glamour (Intro)
7. Glam
8. Prima Donna
9. My Heart (Intro)
10. I Am
11. I Hate Boys
12. My Girls
13. Vanity
14. Monday Morning
15. Bobblehead
16. Birds Of Prey
17. Stronger Than Ever
18. Little Dreamer
19. Keeps Gettin' Better
20. Dynamite
21. Genie 2.0

To be frank: I haven't read poptrashaddicted.com's review of this album (I will, though :D), but this list that I just gave, I reckon is the best 'urban-electronic yet allround' album there is right now. You have the best ballads of the album ("I Am", "Stronger Than Ever"), some 'Gwen Stefani wanted it, but never recorded-tracks' ("Woohoo", "Bobblehead"), some new-wave that Blondie just missed ("My Girls", and especially the Heart of Glass-like "Monday Morning"), some emo-dancepop ("Birds Of Prey" and "Little Dreamer"), electropop (the BRILL "Elastic Love") and, of course, some dancepop ("Not Myself Tonight", "Desnudate","I Hate Boys", the ABSOLUTE BRILL "Vanity"!!!), "Keeps Gettin' Better", and "Dynamite"). Let's also not forget the very Xtina-esque "BI-ON-IC", "Glam", and "Prima Donna" (and all the intros on the album), and the should be on this album-song "Genie 2.0".

Really, if one could see it like this, one should know that this all shows just how capable Xtina is in mány genres! It looks as if she hasn't been evolving in music, and perhaps even Britney outrates her at specific points (or so it seems), but listening to this list anyone knows: she DID grow. Yes, she must have gone blinded by the hypes of the day, but putting a needle to the bubble, and knowing what Xtina wanted to present, I think this list is satisfying to both many gays ánd many straight people!

Why this album flopped? Xtina just didn't know how to deliver this. It's exactly in the Xtina line, and with just a few more songs (like I said; from her "Decade Of.."), and without SO MUCH ballads (!!!) she could've sold it as her new phase! Because she talked about it for months, or years even! But she was afraid of sounding like many others, but it resulted in just that. But again: try my playlist, and I hope you'll like it just as much as I did. :)

Christina Aguilera Fan said...

I am a huge Christina fan myself and feel the same way you do, Bionic just did not do it for me. The album did not do her justice, i think she really needs to go back to old school Christina and let her voice shine again.