A small part of my Xtina collectionMy 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".
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.