Christina Aguilera – Stripped

July 27, 2012 at 8:53 PM | Posted in Christina Aguilera | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Christina Aguilera – Stripped

1. Stripped Intro
2. Can’t Hold Us Down (feat. Lil’ Kim)
3. Walk Away
4. Fighter
5. Primer Amor Interlude
6. Infatuation
7. Loves Embrace Interlude
8. Loving Me 4 Me
9. Impossible
10. Underappreciated
11. Beautiful
12. Make Over
13. Cruz
14. Soar
15. Get Mine, Get Yours
16. Dirrty (feat. Redman)
17. Stripped Pt. 2
18. The Voice Within
19. I’m OK
20. Keep On Singin’ My Song

♦ ♦ ♦

Stripped is the second English album and fourth album overall by American singer Christina Aguilera, released on October 26, 2002. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 330,000 copies in its first week, and eventually earned a 4x Platinum certification from the RIAA, with sales over 4 millions copies. It has sold over 14 million copies worldwide.

One of the strongest and most personal introduction tracks is Stripped Intro, opening with news reports overlapping each other, before Christina ‘tells her side of the story’. ‘So here it is, no hype, no gloss, no pretends | Just me… Stripped.‘.

I love love LOVE Can’t Hold Us Down (feat. Lil’ Kim) for its message towards women: some men still see them (us) as less worthy, ‘thinking all women should be seen, not heard‘, men can do anything and if a girl does the same she’s a whore. NOT. =)  It’s an amazing hiphop track with additional great raps by Lil’ Kim, taking a real stand. It’s so edgy and right in your face, you can’t get around this one. The perfect first full length track.

‘What do you do when you know something’s bad for you | And you still can’t let go?’. Walk Away is a dark and haunting song about being unable to leave a relationship that’s not good for you, and I like how Christina delivers a better and vulnerable (almost fragile) vocal performance here instead of her constant belting. After Can’t Hold Us Down this track is pretty dramatic but it remains one of my favorites on this album.

Fighter is another right-in-your-face track, filled with great rock sounds and blazing electric guitars (it might be the heaviest rock influenced song on the album). This time, Christina uses her belting very well to add more dimension to the anger in her voice for expressing the lyrics. The part right after the more quiet bridge, in which X-tina sings in a higher and lighter voice, both her vocals and the electric guitar go all the way with the volume. Great track, I adore it.

Primer Amor Interlude tells the story of her ‘first love with big brown eyes’, all spoken monologue in Spanish. It’s a nice interlude to the next track, being Infatuation. It continues the Spanish guitar sound of the interlude in this rather infectuous song. I like how she combines both English and Spanish in her lyrics, especially in the chorus. I like when she sings that he tells her ‘I am full blood Boricua’ | Read the tattoo on his arm | He tells me ‘mami I need ya’ ‘ Nice to hear some elements of ‘Mi Reflejo’ on this album.

Chirping birds and chimes provide the soothing atmosphere for Loves Embrace Interlude, like a lovely spring day, so soothing. The airy sound continues in Loving Me 4 Me, one of the more mellow songs on the album and so lighthearted when compared to heavier tracks like Walk Away and Fighter. X-tina sings in a lighter and airy voice, all the way through the song. It shows a different side of both her image and her vocals, I like that vulnerable side of hers.

Impossible is a collaboration between Chris and Alicia Keys, which is easily recognizeable by all the soft jazz elements in the song, Alicia’s wonderful piano melodies and her background vocals that blend very well with Christina’s main vocals. It’s such a simple song that it took some time for it to grow on me, but now I must say there’s certainly something about the way Christina expresses herself in this track: very strong and straightforward.

Underappreciated was one of the less well-known songs to me until now. It borrows the light jazz sound from the previous track, especially the brassy elements, although this one had a little more tempo and spice to it. It’s still not one of my favorite songs on the album but now I know it at least has something enjoyable.

The next song is the first one most people think of when they think of this album: the wonderful track Beautiful. It’s a track everyone can relate to at one point in their life, knowing ‘you’re beautiful, no matter what they say | words can’t bring you down‘. The piano and strings add a little dramatics to the track, while it has a good build-up towards the end when Christina goes all the way with her emotional vocals again. Favorite ❤

Make Over is like Infatuation gone agressive and rebellious, it has the same Spanish sound to it (thanks to the acoustic guitars in the background) but this is the first time we actually hear Christina scream her lyrics, which is very convincing. ‘I just wanna get away | Saving all your bullshit for another day‘. I used to skip this track because of its agressive sound,  but now I appreciate it a little more.

Cruz brings back the mellow midtempo track section, and somehow this is one of the songs I’ve always liked. Its arrangement is made up from piano, strings and soft percussion, which keep building up towards the ultimate highlight, that already starts when the song gets into the second chorus. Christina’s vocals are solid but still held back enough to allow just that much of emotion, but you can hear she sang this with a lot of dedication. One of the album only tracks that should be appreciated more.

Another track like that is Soar, one of my absolute favorites since the first moment I heard it. It’s neither a real ballad and a midtempo track, but it has a great message (‘Don’t be scared to fly alone | Find the path that is your own […] | Spread your wings and soar‘. It almost has something angelic about it when you hear the piano and strings arrangement combined with the background choir. I love that high whistle note Christina hits flawlessly after the bridge. Perfection.

Get Mine, Get Yours kicks off the sexy part of the album, with this one being the teasing one and the next living up to its title. It’s all about sexual references, and it’s one of those songs that is clearly showing in which direction Christina went with her image. I like this song better when performed live (that’s the fault of her 2003 live tour to support this album), but the studio version is very sexy too.

The most controversial song of its time was definitely Dirrty (feat. Redman), even I was shocked at being only 8 years old because I was used to the image she had when she recorded that song for the Disney movie Mulan. It’s quite agressive but in a rather raunchy way, and that’s positive. It has a great sense of energy and sex appeal, it almost oozes sex. Redman’s rap contributed to that even more, he adds more dimension to the track. I don’t know why I like this song, but it’s so awesome she decided to record this!

Sorry if I ain’t perfect | Sorry I don’t give a (what) | Sorry I ain’t a diva | Sorry just know what I want
Sorry I’m not a virgin | Sorry I’m not a slut | I won’t let you break me, think what you want’
Stripped Pt. 2 is the perfect continuation of the intro track, and I just had to post the lyrics since they’re so awesome and in-you-face. I especially like the second line, that’s just so true.

Then the album takes an unexpected turn with The Voice Within, which is such a heartfelt and emotional track. This track’s message is meant to lift your spirit, hold on and don’t let go, I love that. Christina’s vocals start off as intimate as the piano melody that accompanies her, but then she lets it all out when the arrangement and the choir supporting her build up towards the ultimate highlight.

I’m OK is extremely haunting at first, that kind of decreases afterwards but it remains a very sad song. I had to cry when listening to this, it’s such a sad but true story about Christina’s abusive father. ‘Bruises fade father, but the pain remains the same‘. It’s just heartbreaking, especially when she almost breaks out in tears while singing ‘I’m OK…’. Apparently she recorded this while lying on the floor, actually crying. Heartbreaking, I get all emotional now..

After that, it’s nice to hear Keep On Singin’ My Song taking a more uplifting turn last minute. It reminds me of songs like Cruz and Soar, having the same kind of instruments in the arrangement and the angelic background choir. The song is very long at 6:30 minutes, but it lifts my spirit again after the previous track. Christina sings she will keep on singing her song, she will go on no matter what. Good message to close the album.

I am more pleased with this album then I was with her debut album to be honest. Stripped had everything: pop, hiphop, rock, jazz, ballads, Latin music.. Christina proved herself a true artist with this album, I just don’t get why the professional critics had to give this album mixed to negative reviews. They’re just a bunch of conservative weenies, sorry. Christina was 21 when this album came out, she’s not gonna make sweet teen pop forever! She took creative control over her image and music, and that’s why I think this album deserves even more credit. It remains my favorite Christina album, period.

Favorite tracks: Can’t Hold Us Down (feat. Lil’ Kim) | Walk Away | Fighter | Infatuation | Beautiful | Cruz | Soar | Dirrty (feat. Redman) | The Voice Within

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

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