Christina María Aguilera (//, Spanish: [aɣiˈleɾa]; born December 18, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, actress and television personality. Her accolades include five Grammy Awards, one Latin Grammy Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Aguilera ranked at number 58 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time in 2008, and was included on Time's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2013. With estimated sales of 75 million records, she is one of the world's best-selling music artists.
Aguilera on her Liberation Tour in 2018
Christina María Aguilera
December 18, 1980
New York City, U.S.
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
(m. 2005; div. 2011)
|Partner(s)||Matthew Rutler (2010–present; engaged)|
Born in Staten Island of New York City and raised in Pennsylvania, Aguilera appeared on television shows in her early years before gaining a recording contract with RCA Records in 1998. Her self-titled debut album, released in 1999, reached number one in the US and spawned three US number-one singles: "Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants", and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)". While recognized as a prominent figure in the contemporary teen pop scene, Aguilera sought to assume artistic control with Stripped (2002) and its lead single "Dirrty", which displayed her sexually emancipated persona and generated considerable controversy. The second single from the album, "Beautiful", received favorable response for its empowering lyrics and became an anthem for the LGBT community.
Aguilera scored her second US number-one album with Back to Basics (2006), which drew inspiration from early 20th-century jazz, soul, and blues, and spawned the top-ten singles "Ain't No Other Man", "Hurt", and "Candyman". Her next three albums, Bionic (2010), Lotus (2012), and Liberation (2018), all experimented with various musical styles and reached the top ten in the US. Besides solo materials, Aguilera earned chart-topping entries with collaborations including "Lady Marmalade", "Moves like Jagger", "Feel This Moment", and "Say Something". Alongside her music career, Aguilera starred in the film Burlesque (2010) and was a coach on six seasons of the singing competition television series The Voice from 2011 to 2016.
Life and career
1980–1998: Early life and career beginnings
Christina María Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York City, on December 18, 1980, to musician Shelly Loraine Kearns (née Fidler) and United States Army soldier Fausto Xavier Aguilera. Her father , and her mother has German, Irish, Welsh, and Dutch ancestry. Her family moved frequently because of her father's military service, and lived in places including New Jersey, Texas, New York, and Japan. Aguilera alleged that her father was physically and emotionally abusive. To cope with her turbulent household, she used music as a form of escape. Following her parents' divorce when she was six years old, Aguilera, her younger sister Rachel, and her mother moved into her grandmother's home in Rochester, a suburb in the Pittsburgh area. Her mother later remarried and had one more child. After years of estrangement, Aguilera expressed interest in reconciling with her father in 2012.
As a child, Aguilera was drawn to soul and blues records her grandmother bought and would practice singing, which earned her a reputation as "the little girl with the big voice" in her neighborhood. She aspired to be a singer, and won her first talent show at age eight with a rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)". Aged 10, she performed "A Sunday Kind of Love" on the competition show Star Search, and was eliminated during the semi-final round. She performed the song again on KDKA-TV's Wake Up with Larry Richert. During her youth in the Pittsburgh area, Aguilera sang the US national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner", before Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, Pittsburgh Steelers football, and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games, and the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. She attended Rochester Area School District in Rochester and Marshall Middle School near Wexford, and briefly attended North Allegheny Intermediate High School before being homeschooled to avoid being bullied.
In 1991, Aguilera auditioned for a position on The Mickey Mouse Club, although she did not meet its age requirements. She joined the television series two years later, where she performed musical numbers and sketch comedy until its cancellation in 1994. Fellow cast members included Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake. After the show ended, Aguilera moved to Japan and recorded her first song, "All I Wanna Do", a duet with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi. In 1998, Aguilera returned to the US to seek a recording contract. She approached RCA Records, who told her to contact Disney instead because they were having financial difficulties. She sent her cover version of Whitney Houston's "Run to You" to Disney in hopes of being selected to record the theme song "Reflection" for their animated film Mulan (1998). Aguilera was ultimately selected to sing "Reflection"; the song was released in June 1998 and charted on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart at number 15.
1999–2001: Christina Aguilera, Mi Reflejo, and My Kind of Christmas
After "Reflection", Aguilera attracted the attention of RCA's A&R Ron Fair and was signed with the label quickly afterwards. RCA was pressured by the contemporary teen pop craze evoked by Aguilera's peer Britney Spears, leading to the label rushing production of the album and aligning Aguilera to be part of the teen pop trend. They released the lead single off the album, "Genie in a Bottle", a trendy pop and R&B track, in June 1999. The single catapulted Aguilera to stardom, peaking atop the US Billboard Hot 100 and charts of 20 other countries. It has sold over seven million copies as of 2014. Aguilera's eponymous debut album followed in August 1999 and peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200. It was certified eight times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and had moved 17 million copies worldwide by 2010. The album produced three other singles: two US number-one singles–"What a Girl Wants" and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)", and one US top-five single–"I Turn to You", a cover of All-4-One's song. At the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in February 2000, Aguilera won Best New Artist.
Aguiera's two following studio albums, Mi Reflejo and My Kind of Christmas, were released in September and October 2000, respectively. The former, a Spanish-language album consisting of re-recorded versions of tracks on Aguilera's debut album and several original songs, topped the Billboard Top Latin Albums for 19 consecutive weeks and was certified six times platinum in the Latin field by the RIAA. It won Best Female Pop Vocal Album at the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2001. The latter contains covers of Christmas popular songs and a few original dance-pop tunes, and was certified platinum by the RIAA. In support of her albums, Aguilera embarked on her first concert tour, Christina Aguilera in Concert, from mid-2000 to early 2001. The tour visited North America, Europe, South America, and Japan. Billboard in 2000 recognized Aguilera as the Top Female Pop Act of the Year. Despite the successes, Aguilera was displeased with the music and image her manager Steve Kurtz had aligned her to, feeling unable to control her own image. In October 2000, she filed a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against Kurtz for improper, undue and inappropriate influence over her professional activities. After terminating Kurtz's services, RCA hired Irving Azoff as Aguilera's new manager.
Aguilera took her first steps in artistic control with the 2001 Moulin Rouge! version of Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" (1974), a collaboration with Pink, Mya, and Lil Kim, produced by hip hop musicians Missy Elliott and Rockwilder. RCA executives initially opposed to Aguilera recording "Lady Marmalade" because it was "too urban", but Aguilera ultimately managed to record the song of her own accord. The collaboration topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks based on airplay alone, becoming the first airplay-only track in history to remain on the chart's top spot for more than one week. It won Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards. In mid-2001, Warlock Records released Just Be Free, a compilation of demo tracks Aguilera recorded in 1994 and 1995, when she was looking forward to an album release after the end of The Mickey Mouse Club. Aguilera filed a suit against Warlock Records and the album's producers to stop the release. The two parties came to a confidential settlement to release the album, in which Aguilera lent out her name, likeness, and image for an unspecified amount of damages.
When planning her fourth studio album, Aguilera leaned towards a new artistic direction that she felt had more musical and lyrical depth. She named the album Stripped and explained that the title represented "a new beginning, a re-introduction of [herself] as a new artist in a way". Aguilera served as the album's executive producer and co-wrote most of the songs. To present her new persona, Aguilera chose to release "Dirrty" as the lead single from the album in September 2002. Its accompanying music video generated controversy for depicting overtly sexual fetishes. Aguilera's new image presented in the video was widely criticized by the public that it began to overshadow her music. She defended her new image: "I'm in the power position, in complete command of everything and everybody around me. To be totally balls-out like that is, for me, the measure of a true artist."
Stripped was released in October 2002. The album incorporates various genres from R&B and flamenco to rock, and lyrically revolves around the theme of self-esteem while also discussing sex and gender equality. It received mixed reviews from music critics, who viewed the employment of various musical styles incoherent, but praised Aguilera's vocals. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and has sold over 4.3 million copies in the US as of 2014. In the UK, the album has sold two million copies as of 2017 and was the second highest-selling album by an American female artist during the 2000s decade, behind Norah Jones with Come Away with Me. By 2006, Stripped had sold over 12 million copies worldwide. The second single from the album, the ballad "Beautiful", received universal acclaim for its empowering lyrics about embracing inner beauty, and became an anthem for the LGBT community. It was the album's best-charting single, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The song won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in 2004.
Stripped was followed by three other singles: "Fighter", "Can't Hold Us Down", and "The Voice Within", all of which were released in 2003 and entered the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. During promotion of Stripped, Aguilera cultivated a new image by adopting the alter ego Xtina, dyeing her hair black, and debuting several tattoos and piercings. She co-headlined the Justified and Stripped Tour alongside Justin Timberlake from June to September 2003 in support of Stripped and Timberlake's album Justified (2002), before embarking on her solo Stripped Tour until December. Aguilera attended the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards in August, where she and Britney Spears kissed Madonna during their performance of "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood", which received considerable media attention. She was the host of the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards, where she won Best Female award, in November. Billboard announced Aguilera as the Top Female Pop Act of 2003.
2004–2009: Marriage, Back to Basics, and first child
In 2004, Aguilera recorded a revised version of Rose Royce's "Car Wash" (1976) with Missy Elliott for the animated film Shark Tale, in which she was a voice actress, and contributed vocals to Nelly's single "Tilt Ya Head Back". She was a featured artist on Herbie Hancock's 2005 cover of Leon Russell's "A Song for You" (1970), which was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2006. During this time, Aguilera started working on her follow-up studio album and embraced a new image inspired by figures of the Classic Hollywood era such as Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, and Mary Pickford, debuting blonde curly hair and retro-styled makeup.
Aguilera became engaged with marketing executive Jordan Bratman, with whom she had dated since 2003, in February 2005. They married on November 19, 2005, at an estate in Napa County, California. Aguilera released the lead single from her fifth studio album, "Ain't No Other Man", in June 2006. The song, like the majority of the album, was inspired by Aguilera's marriage and incorporates elements of early 20th-century soul, blues, and jazz. It reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold 1.7 million digital copies in the US as of 2014. Its music video saw Aguilera debuting her new alter ego, Baby Jane, inspired by the thriller film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).
The album, titled Back to Basics, was released in August 2006. Aguilera described the record, a double album, as a "throwback" to jazz, blues, and soul music of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s that incorporates "a modern twist." She was much inspired by works of such classic blues and soul singers as Otis Redding, Millie Jackson, and Nina Simone during the recording sessions. Back to Basics received generally positive reviews from critics, who commented that the retro-oriented production complements Aguilera's vocals. It debuted atop the Billboard 200 and has sold 1.7 million copies in the US. At the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2007, Aguilera won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Ain't No Other Man", and performed "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" in tribute of the late James Brown. Back to Basics was succeeded by two international top-ten singles: "Hurt" and "Candyman". Two other singles, "Slow Down Baby" and "Oh Mother", were released exclusively in Australia and Europe, respectively. In support of Back to Basics, Aguilera embarked on the Back to Basics Tour, which ran from November 2006 to October 2008. With US$48.1 million grossed, the tour was the highest-grossing solo female tour of 2007.
In January 2008, Aguilera gave birth to her child with Bratman, a son. Later that year, she appeared in the Martin Scorsese documentary Shine a Light chronicling a two-day Rolling Stones concert in New York City's Beacon Theatre, in which Aguilera performs "Live with Me" alongside the band's lead vocalist Mick Jagger. In commemoration of a decade-long career in the music industry, Aguilera released a greatest hits album titled Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits exclusively through Target in November 2008, in the US. In addition to previous singles, it includes four original electropop-oriented songs, two of which are remade versions of two previous singles. Aguilera commented that the newly-recorded tracks' "futurisic, robotic sound" served as a preview for her follow-up studio album. Keeps Gettin' Better peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200, and its titular single "Keeps Gettin' Better" charted at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard in 2009 recognized Aguilera as the 20th most successful artist of the 2000s.
2010–2011: Bionic, Burlesque, and The Voice
Aguilera began work on her sixth studio album during pregnancy, when she frequently listened to electronic music. The lead single from the album, "Not Myself Tonight", was released in March 2010. Heavily influenced by electronic genres, the song signaled Aguilera's musical experiments on her forthcoming album. It peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album, titled Bionic, was released in June 2010. Categorized as a R&B-flavored futurepop album by critics, Bionic lyrically revolves around sexual themes while also discussing feminism. Critical reaction to the album was mixed; reviewers commended Aguilera's experimentation with new styles, but found it forced and unnatural. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and has sold 332,000 copies in the US as of 2019. The album spawned one other international single, "You Lost Me". Two other singles from the album, "Woohoo" featuring rapper Nicki Minaj and "I Hate Boys", were released in the US and Europe, and Australia, respectively.
Aguilera starred alongside Cher in the musical film Burlesque. Written and directed by Steve Antin, the film was released in theaters in November 2010. Aguilera played Ali Rose, who quits her bar service job and moves to Los Angeles, where she aspires to be a performer in a burlesque club owned by Tess Scali (Cher). Burlesque grossed US$90 million in the box office and received mixed reviews from critics, who found it clichéd but praised Aguilera's acting. The film received a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 68th Golden Globe Awards. Aguilera recorded eight tracks for the film's ten-track accompanying soundtrack, and Cher performed the other two. The soundtrack reached number 18 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA.
At the Super Bowl XLV in February 2011, Aguilera omitted a few lines while performing the US national anthem. She apologized for the incident, saying: "I got so caught up in the moment of the song that I lost my place." At the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, she performed alongside Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams, and Florence Welch, in a segment that paid tribute to soul singer Aretha Franklin. Aguilera finalized her divorce from Jordan Bratman, from whom she had been separated since September 2010, on April 15, 2011. She concurrently started dating Matthew Rutler, an assistant on the set of Burlesque. From April 2011 to December 2012, Aguilera served as a coach on the first three seasons of the television competition series The Voice. During the first season, Aguilera was featured on Maroon 5's single "Moves like Jagger" upon the invitation of the group's lead vocalist and Aguilera's fellow The Voice coach Adam Levine. The single peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold seven million digital copies worldwide.
2012–2017: Lotus, second child, and television projects
Upon the third season of The Voice in September 2012, Aguilera released "Your Body" as the lead single from her seventh studio album. The single charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 34. The album, titled Lotus, followed in November 2012. Aguilera described the record as a "rebirth" of herself after the personal struggles she had overcome. Contemporary reviewers found the album generic and conventional, as opposed to Aguilera's previous experimental ventures. Lotus peaked at number seven on the Billboard 200 and has sold 303,000 copies in the US as of 2019. The album was supported by one other single, "Just a Fool" featuring Aguilera's fellow The Voice coach Blake Shelton. In December 2012, Aguilera was replaced by Shakira for the fourth season of The Voice. She returned for the fifth season in September 2013.
In 2013, Aguilera scored three international top-ten singles. She was featured on rapper Pitbull's "Feel This Moment", which peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified platinum by the RIAA. She subsequently appeared on Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández's cover of Miguel Gallardo's "Hoy Tengo Ganas de Ti" (1976), which earned a diamond certification in Mexico. Aguilera collaborated with A Great Big World on the ballad "Say Something", which earned a six-time platinum certification from the RIAA and won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. Aguilera temporarily withdrew from The Voice for the sixth and seventh seasons, citing her desire to devote her time to her family. She was respectively replaced by Shakira and Gwen Stefani during the two seasons. After her engagement to Matthew Rutler in February 2014 and the birth of their daughter in August, she returned for the eighth season in October. Aguilera's one more season with The Voice was the tenth, in which she won with her contestant Alisan Porter in May 2016.
Aguilera played a recurring role as singer Jade St. John, a pop singer who tries to venture out to country music, on the third season of ABC's musical drama series Nashville in April 2015. She and her partner Rutler served as executive producers for a music-based game show, Tracks, which aired on Spike TV in March 2016. Aguilera recorded a song titled "Change", which she dedicated to the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting as well as Christina Grimmie, who was fatally shot in Orlando the day before the nightclub shooting. The proceedings were donated to the National Compassion Fund to benefit the victims' families. Her other works included recording a disco song titled "Telepathy" featuring Nile Rodgers for the soundtrack of Netflix original series The Get Down (2016), being a voice actress for The Emoji Movie (2017), and starring in the romantic science fiction film Zoe (2018).
2018–present: Liberation and The Xperience
Aguilera started work on her new album in the summer of 2015. Its release was preceded by two singles: "Accelerate" featuring Ty Dolla Sign and 2 Chainz and "Fall in Line" featuring Demi Lovato. The album, titled Liberation, was released in June 15, 2018 to favorable reviews. Aguilera heavily incorporated R&B and hip hop on the album to represent her desire for freedom from what she described as the "churning hamster wheel" that was The Voice. Liberation debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming Aguilera's seventh US top-ten album. At the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, "Fall in Line" was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and the album track "Like I Do", which featured GoldLink was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance.
To promote Liberation, Aguilera embarked on a US tour, the Liberation Tour, which ran from September to November 2018, and a European tour, The X Tour, which ran from July to December 2019. She also headlined The Xperience, a 16-date concert residency at the Zappos Theater in Las Vegas beginning in May and concluding in October 2019. In 2019, Aguilera received The Disney Legends Awards for "her remarkable contributions to the Disney legacy". In October 2019, Aguilera released the song "Haunted Heart" from the soundtrack of the computer-animated Addams Family film.
Aguilera is a soprano, possessing a four-octave vocal range spanning from C3 to C♯7. Since the start of her career Aguilera's voice has been compared to that of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. David Browne writing for The New York Times noted that Aguilera's vocal performance was highly influenced by Carey and Houston, sharing that "Aguilera has been one of the foremost practitioners of the overpowering, Category 5 vocal style known as melisma", and "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 journal by Ann Powers for the Los Angeles Times said there are influences of Barbra Streisand, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin on Aguilera's vocal style, opining that the "Aguilera's Streisand-esque tendencies" "[help Aguilera] 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". Sasha Frere-Jones wrote in The New Yorker, "Aguilera doesn't need to reincarnate Sarah Vaughan to be a serious singer. She already is one, in the tradition of nineteen-nineties pop and R&B, skillfully deploying melisma for razzle-dazzle". In 2003, Aguilera was placed fifth on MTV's "Best Voices in Music Ever" list, while ranking atop both COVE and Latina magazine's best Pop and Latina vocalist of all time in 2004 and 2013, respectively. In a review for Liberation, Jon Pareles of The New York Times commented on Aguilera's vocal versatility: "Nothing less than high drama suits Christina Aguilera's voice. She can be brassy, tearful, sultry, gritty, breathy, sweet or furious. She can belt and she can tease; she can aim a note as directly as a missile or turn its trajectory into an aerobatic spiral of leaping, quivering, scalloping melismas. Her voice is not an instrument for making modest statements; it's about peaks of self-affirmation, indescribable sensual pleasures, steely counterattacks and abysses of sorrow".
Aguilera has, however, been criticized for her excessive use of melisma and oversinging on songs and in concerts. John Eskow of The Huffington Post named Aguilera a main proponent for "oversouling", described as the "gratuitous and confected melisma". Lucy Davies, a writer for BBC Music, opined that although Aguilera had "a stunning voice", she "could be more varied, simply by cutting out some of the 'y-e-e-eeeh, woah yeh's'". Longtime producer Linda Perry, who wrote the song "Beautiful", revealed about the recording sessions with Aguilera, "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 song's first take adding, "She had a hard time accepting that as the final track. She's a perfectionist. She knows her voice really well, and she knows what's going on. She can hear things that nobody else would catch." An editor from Entertainment Weekly, Chris Willman, stated that the oversinging on Aguilera's albums was inspired by Carey, writing that "the Mariah venerators don't get away with it so easily. Aguilera, for one thing, has a slightly nasal tone that really only becomes obvious when she's overselling a song".
Aguilera has credited blues singer Etta James as her main influence and inspiration, elaborating, "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". Following James' death in 2012, Aguilera was asked to perform "At Last" at James' funeral. Prior to the performance, Aguilera revealed, "There's a line in this song that says 'I found a dream that I could speak to.' And for me that dream, all my life, has been Etta James". Other classic artists, including Billie Holiday, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and Ella Fitzgerald, are also Aguilera's major influences; her fifth studio album Back to Basics is inspired by vintage jazz, blues and soul music records by them.
Aguilera mentions Whitney Houston as another influence, having performed many of her songs in her early years during talent shows. She also cites Mariah Carey and Celine Dion as an inspiration, and covered the latter's songs: "These Are the Special Times" on My Kind of Christmas, and "The Prayer" on the NBC reality singing competition The Voice. Aguilera's debut album producer Ron Harris revealed that Aguilera during her recording sessions for Christina Aguilera would constantly listen to Brandy's music, studying and trying to replicate her adlibs. According to author Pier Dominguez of the book Christina Aguilera: A Star Is Made, Aguilera stated that Carey and her debut single, "Vision of Love" (1990), had the biggest influence on her vocal style. Aguilera points out the musical film The Sound of Music and its lead actress, Julie Andrews, as her first inspiration for singing and performing. At the age of six, the film helped Aguilera cope with her violent childhood, "Bad things happened in my home; there was violence. The Sound of Music looked like a form of release." Aguilera credits Madonna and Janet Jackson as two biggest inspirations for her image, "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." During the promotion of Back to Basics, her image was also inspired by the "Golden age of Hollywood" actresses including Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, Greta Garbo and Veronica Lake. Aguilera is also inspired by her Burlesque co-star, Cher: "I have always had tremendous respect for her. She is a woman who did everything before anyone else did it. She is an icon and she inspired me through some of my career. We've had similar costumes too!"
Musical style and themes
Aguilera frequently blends elements of pop, R&B, dance-pop and soul music into her projects, and her records typically include a combination of ballads and uptempo tracks. Christina Aguilera (1999) prominently displayed teen pop and dance-pop music, while Mi Reflejo (2000) takes inspiration from Latin music. Her first Christmas album, My Kind of Christmas, combines covers of Christmas standards and several original dance-pop tracks. Aiming for musical diversity and artistic growth, Aguilera worked with R&B, rock, hip hop, and Latin music for Stripped (2002). David Browne from Entertainment Weekly credited the release with distancing Aguilera from her pop contemporaries. Aguilera leaned towards R&B, blues, jazz, and soul on Back to Basics (2006).
In contrast, Bionic (2010) sees significant use from futuristic electronic music, described as an electropop album. The soundtrack for her 2010 feature film Burlesque (2010) was influenced by Cabaret, and featured several established songs that were redone as dance numbers in a fashion similar to Moulin Rouge! (2001). Aguilera partnered with mainstream producers including Shellback and Max Martin during production of Lotus (2012); when discussing her interactions with the latter, she commented that "He's known about me but we haven't crossed paths," adding "Those records were the kind I wanted to stray apart from. If you look at what I did in the past (after my debut), I always try to do things that will challenge me and challenge the listener, too."
Aguilera stated that she feels a sense of responsibility to reference portions of her personal life so that "people that can relate might not feel as alone in the circumstance." Many of her works consequently discuss love; she has also co-written two tracks which dealt with the domestic abuse throughout her childhood. Aguilera has frequently mentioned feminism in her music; she has expressed her belief that sexuality is "very empowering", and has commented that "If I want to be sexual, it's for my own appreciation and enjoyment! That's why I like to talk about the fact that sometimes I am attracted to women. I appreciate their femininity and beauty." She has alluded to her physical attractions to women in other interviews as well. Her "Can't Hold Us Down" from Stripped denounces gender-related double standards, in which men are applauded for their sexual behaviors, while women who behave in a similar fashion are disdained. The main theme of Bionic was also about woman empowerment; Hermione Hoby from The Guardian opined that "she incites more of a sisterly spirit of collaboration, including riot grrrl feminists Le Tigre. Aguilera's not shy of the odd feministic declaration herself." In regards to production, Aguilera has often verbalized her preference of working with more "obscure" collaborators, and noted that she is not necessarily inclined to contact "the No.1 chart-toppers in music" because of their popular demand. The New York Times' Kelefa Sanneh described her decision to work with DJ Premier on Back to Basics as "a decision to snub some of the big-name producers on whom pop stars often rely."
Aguilera has reinvented her public image on numerous occasions throughout her career. In the later 1990s, her then-manager Steve Kurtz marketed her as a bubblegum pop entertainer to capitalize on the genre's financial lure, which earned her recognition as a teen idol. Aguilera introduced her alter ego "Xtina" during 2002 and 2003, which presented an increasingly provocative persona. During this time, she dyed her hair black, debuted several piercings, and participated in several nude pictorials for publications. In 2004, Aguilera embraced a more "mature" image with retro-styled hair and makeup, which was inspired by classic movie stars including Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Mary Pickford. This reinvention was named "Baby Jane" in 2006, an alter ego which was taken from the 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Aguilera received widespread criticism over her curvy figure from gaining weight in 2012. She later received favorable media attention after a significant weight loss in 2013. In 2018, Aguilera appeared bare-faced without makeup and retouching on the cover of Paper magazine and received widespread praise.
Aguilera is considered a pop icon, and has frequently garnered comparisons to Britney Spears. David Browne of Entertainment Weekly said that Aguilera is "too eager not to offend" in her mild-mannered music, making her a "good girl pretending to be bad", and also said that Spears' "artificial-sweetener voice" was a welcome change of pace from Aguilera's "numbing vocal gymnastics". Matthew Horton from Virgin Media suggested that Aguilera was a more impressive performer than Spears despite her lower sales figures. Aguilera has also been regarded as a sex symbol. A 2003 issue of Maxim magazine that she covered became its best-selling issue; Aguilera was named "Sexiest Woman of the Year" by its subscribers later that year, and also earned the magazine its best-selling issue after posing on the cover that year. Additionally recognized as a gay icon, she was the first honoree on The Abbey's Gay Walk of Fame for her contributions to the LGBT community. The music video for "Beautiful" earned Aguilera a GLAAD Media Award for its positive portrayal of the LGBT community.
Fashion has also been a part of Aguilera's music career and image. She has frequently worn clothes designed by Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander McQueen. During the Back to Basics Tour in 2006, Aguilera performed in a stole made of fur designed by Roberto Cavalli, unaware that it was made from real fur of a white fox. After receiving a video about the treatment of foxes from PETA vice president Dan Mathews, Aguilera replaced it with a faux-fur stole, further stating that she was "very upset" because she "only ever wears fake fur". Aguilera's costumes from Burlesque were featured in the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition. Wax figures of Aguilera are located at Madame Tussauds wax museums in London and New York City.
As of 2018, Aguilera had sold over 75 million albums and singles worldwide. Aguilera's works have earned her numerous awards and accolades, including five Grammy Awards. Various artists have noted that they were inspired by Aguilera, including Ariana Grande, Tinashe, Lady Gaga and Sam Smith, among others. Her work has also inspired some athletes, including American figure skater Johnny Weir and American swimmer Dana Vollmer.
Aguilera's use of sexual imagery has helped catalyze public discourse on sexuality and feminism. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, co-founder of The Vagenda, opined that the provocative dance routines in Aguilera's music videos are "empowering". Aguilera is also known for her television and music video impact; in 2012, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times commented that Aguilera "will be remembered for her glamour, her scandalous take on femme-pop and her Brobdingnagian voice, and ... as the person who almost single-handedly reshaped music-competition reality programming". She was considered as one of the greatest women of the music video era by VH1.
Writing for The Hampton Institute, critic Terry Young, Jr. commented that Aguilera "redefined the 21st century female pop performer," adding that following the release of Stripped, "artists like Spears and Beyoncé became more comfortable expressing sexuality and no longer felt the need to sell the notion of innocence".
In November 2008, Rolling Stone placed Aguilera at number 58 on its list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, writing that "[Aguilera] has had the finesse and power of a blues queen ever since she was a child star". In November 2010, Aguilera was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In October 2012, Aguilera's costumes and video collection was included on the "Women Who Rock" exhibition by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. That same year, VH1 named Aguilera the eighth greatest woman in the music industry.
In 2013, Gregory Hicks from The Michigan Daily opined that "Aguilera deserves to be known as one of the greatest artists to ever hit the pop industry." At the 2013 People's Choice Awards, Aguilera was awarded the People's Voice Award, which recognized her ability to reach people across various genres. Also in 2013, Aguilera was one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World. In the article for the magazine, Celine Dion wrote, "Without a doubt, [Aguilera]'s one of the most talented artists the world has ever seen and heard, and I think she's going to continue to amaze us for many, many years to come."
In 2019, the Human Rights Campaign honored Aguilera with its "Ally for Equality" award. She was recognized as an "LGBTQ icon" who used her platform to share a message of hope and inspiration.
In 2000, Aguilera supported a program called Come on Over and Do Something, which aimed to "encourage kids to get involved in their communities and make a difference." A year later, she signed a letter from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to the South Korean government requesting that the country stop its alleged killing of dogs for food. In 2010, Aguilera auctioned tickets for her planned tour for Christie's A Bid to Save the Earth, which benefited the non-profit environmental groups Conservation International, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Central Park Conservancy. Aguilera contributed US$200,000 to the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh in December 2003, and was part of the Lifetime Television's "End violence against women" campaign.
In 2005, Aguilera contributed "Beautiful" to the compilation album Love Rocks, which proceeds benefited the Human Rights Campaign. Aguilera participated in the AIDS Project Los Angeles' Artists Against AIDS "What's Going On?" cover project, and became the face for MAC Cosmetics and spokesperson for MAC AIDS Fund in 2004. Singer Elton John featured Aguilera in his charity book 4 Inches, which benefitted the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
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. In late 2007, Aguilera became the spokesperson for "Rock the Vote", through which she encouraged young people to vote in the 2008 presidential election. In 2005, Aguilera donated her wedding gifts to American charities in support of Hurricane Katrina victims, and performed at "Unite of the Stars" concert for Unite Against Hunger in Johannesburg, South Africa and for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at the Coca-Cola Dome.
In 2008, Aguilera headlined London's Africa Rising charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall, which raised awareness for finding substantial issues facing the continent. That year, Aguilera appeared on the Turkish version of Deal or No Deal, Var mısın? Yok musun?, and donated proceeds to a charity program for orphans. In 2009, Aguilera became the global spokesperson for World Hunger Relief; she and Bratman traveled to Guatemala with the World Food Programme to bring awareness to issues including its high malnutrition rate, and met with local families and beneficiaries of WFP's nutrition programs. Aguilera has helped raise over $148 million for WFP and other hunger relief agencies in 45 countries.
In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Aguilera donated a signed Chrysler 300 which was auctioned for relief efforts. She additionally appeared on the Hope for Haiti telethon that January, where donations directly benefited Oxfam America, Partners In Health, Red Cross and UNICEF. She was featured on a public service announcement alongside former boxer Muhammad Ali to raise funds for the World Food Programme's efforts to bring food to survivors of the earthquake. Aguilera was nominated for a VH1 Do Something Award for her work with the organization and her efforts in response to the earthquake. In 2010, Aguilera was appointed UN ambassador for the World Food Programme. Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Aguilera performed "Beautiful" to open the Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together benefit telethon; all proceeds went to the American Red Cross. That year, Aguilera and David Novak received the George McGovern Leadership Award. The following year Aguilera was honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Products and endorsements
In 2000, Aguilera was the face for make-up line Fetish, where she worked in choosing colors and packaging for the line. That same year, an interactive CD-ROM was produced called Christina Aguilera: Follow Your Dreams released by Simon & Schuster Interactive which features games and quizzes, plus Aguilera herself talking about accomplishing her goals. Throughout her career, Aguilera has endorsed several brands, including Sears, Levi's, Skechers, Mercedes-Benz, Versace, Virgin Mobile, Orange UK, Oreo, Sony Ericsson and soft drink giants Coca-Cola, and Pepsi in 2001 and 2006, respectively. In 2004, Aguilera earned £200,000 (about $300,000) for opening the summer sale at London's Harrods store and appeared in an advertisement for MAC Cosmetics' Viva Glam V campaign. Following the birth of her son in 2008, she was reportedly paid $1.5 million by People for her baby pictures, which became the ninth most expensive celebrity baby photographs ever taken. In 2008, jewelry designer Stephen Webster and friend of Aguilera released "Shattered", a collection of sterling silver pieces, through Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. Aguilera, who inspired the collection, was featured as a Hitchcock heroine. They reprised their work together for Webster's 2009 spring line. In 2011, Aguilera attended São Paulo Fashion Week to premiere her new line of clothing for Brazilian department store C&A, which launched in April of that year.
Aguilera was named the number one awarded celebrity brand, with 13 awards won globally, in 2017. Her first fragrance, Xpose, was released in Europe in late 2004 and sold relatively well. Through Procter & Gamble, Aguilera released her signature fragrance, Simply Christina, in 2007. During the Christmas period of 2007, the fragrance became the number one perfume in the United Kingdom, and later in 2009 it was the country's fourth best selling perfume. It won as the people's choice for favorite celebrity fragrance at the annual UK Fifi Awards 2008. Aguilera released her third fragrance, Inspire, accompanied with a body care collection, in September 2008. It was her first fragrance released outside of Europe. Her worldwide ad campaign included a television ad shot by David LaChapelle and was released in the United States in Macy's department stores. The release coincided with Macy's 150th anniversary which featured Aguilera in commemorative photos. She released her fourth fragrance, By Night, in October 2009, which became the third best selling fragrance in the United Kingdom in 2009. The range has been further augmented yearly by new releases.
Tours and concerts
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