Christina Aguilera – Back To Basics

August 17, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Posted in Christina Aguilera | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Christina Aguilera – Back To Basics

~DISC 1~
1. Intro (Back To Basics)
2. Makes Me Wanna Pray
3. Back In The Day
4. Ain’t No Other Man
5. Understand
6. Slow Down Baby
7. Oh Mother
8. F.U.S.S.
9. On Our Way
10. Without You
11. Still Dirrty
12. Here To Stay
13. Thank You (Dedication To Fans…)

~DISC 2~
1. Enter The Circus
2. Welcome
3. Candyman
4. Nasty Naughty Boy
5. Hurt
6. I Got Trouble
7. Mercy On Me
8. Save Me From Myself
9. The Right Man

♦ ♦ ♦

Back To Basics is the third English album and fifth overall by American singer Christina Aguilera, released on August 10, 2006. The album has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide and topped the charts in 11 countries.

Intro (Back To Basics) is the perfect introduction to an album, and just like Stripped was the right one for her previous album, this introduction sums up about everything there is for this one. It’s definitely in the style of what is to come and it tells about what moved Christina to make this album: ‘I waited for some time | To get inside the mind | Of every legend I’ve ever wanted to stand beside‘, she sings to a smooth beat with fingersnap details.

The next track follows a slightly different path since it’s more inspired by gospel than R&B. Makes Me Wanna Pray features this amazing full gospel choir and piano melodies, it gives me such a great feeling listening to this track. Christina puts so much effort in her vocal performance, she fits right into the energy of the track. Take me to church Christina!

Back In The Day is this amazing old school track that brings back the legends of blues and jazz, the lyrics include names like Ray Charles, Etta James, Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin. I like the constant scratching in the background together with the smooth drum beat, the overall track is pretty simple but the arrangement makes it so interesting and catchy. And quite ‘groovy’ if I may use the word.

Ain’t No Other Man was the first single off the album, with Christina singing about her then-husband Jordan Bratman to an uptempo and catchy jazz tune. It’s filled with brass instruments, scratches, grea old school drum beats and lots of belting from Christina. This could be her most energetic song to date when it comes to the vocals, she shows off her talent by singing those crazy high notes.

One of the ballads on this album and also one of my personal favorites is Understand, and I love it so much because it uses the sample of Betty Harris’ song ‘Nearer To You’ in such a genius way. I adore some good samples in music, and this one is what gives this track such a nostalgic feel. Christina tends to oversing at times, but you can also call it an emotional performance if you’d like. Catchy piano tune too.

Slow Down Baby was a single in Oceania only, but it’s actually such a good track it should’ve been released worldwide (but then again we in Europa had Oh Mother, more about that later). Basically you get this track when you mix Ain’t No Other Man and Makes Me Wanna Pray: choirs, but also some great jazzy tunes and horns. Like a hybrid of jazz, gospel and hiphop in some way. I really enjoy this one.

Then we get to Oh Mother, an emotional song about the abusive relationship Christina’s mother had with her husband Fausto Aguilera. It’s not exactly a ballad but it is a moderately slow song, focusing perfectly on the dramatics that the lyrics and the arrangement bring about, the latter especially through the strings in the background. Christina’s vocals get really emotional near the end, she really brings tears to my eyes when she sings ‘You got me | I got you | Together we’ll always pull through‘. *sobbs*

Even though I know how tempting it is to put out your anger to someone, F.U.S.S. (which stands for Fuck U Scott Storch) is really below the belt. Though, when you leave that tiny little deail out, here’s quite a catchy interlude track with good beats and a rather dark undertone. The lyrics are creative, referring to some of the songs Christina and Scott wrote for her previous album: ‘We wrote Loving Me 4 Me, don’t Walk Away | Can’t Hold us Down, all part of our history | Don’t forget Infatuation, I’m a Fighter | Feeling Underappreciated‘.

On Our Way has a long but amazing introduction with again that old school feeling to it.. Scratches, vintage piano melodies and heavy drum beats make up this track while Christina gives another great vocal performance. I wouldn’t exactly say this track is one of my favorites, but the arrangement is what makes it really worth while and pretty addictive in some way.

Without You actually reminds me of ‘Loves Embrace Interlude’ of her previous album, in the sense of that it has the same harmonious and laid back feel to it. Both tracks make me think of butterflies, really (good lawd, what did they put into my choco..?) xD  The track is so soft and sweet, with Christina singing her famous high whistle notes near the end of the song. Like an angel. Dang, I have come to appreciate this song so much more now.

She might look a lot classier for this album’s concept, but in Still Dirrty Christina claims she still ‘[…] got that dirrty degree‘. Trying a little too hard honey? Regardless, she makes her statement to some amazing music, borrowing from the older funk music. The horns are so incredibly catchy you just can’t stop listening to this. At least I can’t. Very much in the style of the first tracks, I can’t help but liking it.

I didn’t always really like Here To Stay but now I know the song a little better I can describe it in just one word: breeeezy. That’s probably due to the lighthearted and uplifting sound of the strings in the background and how they work together with the heavier sound of the percussion. I like how that balances the track. Christina gives that right in your face performance that the song needs, so this turns out good after all.

Thank You (Dedication To Fans…) is a sweet surprise for Christina’s fans, and I love how it brings back a sample of her first single ‘Genie In A Bottle’ right from the start together with some really catchy vinyl scratches. The recorded phone calls by fans are a very creative addition to the track as well, with them expressing their love to Christina.

On to [DISC 2], which brings in the circus themed style. It already starts with Enter The Circus, which is quite a creepy and yet exciting introduction to this part of the album. That ringleader scares the hell out of me with his maniacal laugh, and especially when he says ‘So sit back, relax | It’s going to be a bumpy ride… To the other side…

Welcome continues the circus theme the introduction brought along, but in a much less creepy way. It’s always one been one of my favorite tracks, and a little too short to my liking tbh. Christina is being accompanied by a huge orchestra with a big part for the strings, and it makes such an epic track. The last part of the song brings back the melody from Enter The Circus, so to me the two tracks almost make one.

Candyman is such a fun song! It brings back the 1940s in a great way with some amazing brass elements throughout the track. I really like how they incorporated ‘Tarzan & Jane Swingin’ On A Vine’ by Run To Cadence With U.S. Marines, and made it quite a sexy song with lyrics like ‘He’s a one top shop, with a real big ‘uh’ ‘. The video for this song is amazing, I can’t stop loving both the vid and this song, especially when Christina does that crazy high and extended belting near the song’s end. Like, WHAT.

I actually feel pretty uncomfortable when listening to Nasty Naughty Boy, this song oozes sex and erotics, really. It’s slow, very cabaret and burlesque, and Christina’s vocals are very sensual (she also moans quite a lot). I automatically turn down the volume a little bit when this track comes along, like, she’s singing ‘I’m gonna give you a little taste | Of the sugar below my waist | You nasty boy‘. Not that I’m prude or anything, but you know what I mean. I actually like this track for the guts Christina showed, very… original haha.

I Got Trouble is the most vintage song on the entire album, it really sounds like the old 30s and 40s blues songs. It was recorded with an old microphone, and I always thought Christina’s vocals sounded very nostalgic in themselves so that gives twice the fun of an old feel. It has a good spot on the album right after Nasty Naughty Boy for it has the same (however toned down) cabaret sound, and it’s still sexy but not as erotic.

The song that always makes me cry is Hurt, I can’t even perform it without crying myself (believe me, I tried). This is her most tragic and emotional song to date, the strings and piano working together on making one of the most heartbreaking melodies ever. The song builds up until you can almost feel the tension getting too strong, with Christina emotionally belting out her lyrics and her regrets to someone. The most emotional part to me is the end, with the lone violin melody and Christina’s vulnerable and almost breaking vocals. Perfect, dramatic but perfect.

Now we get to a part of the album I have always skipped pretty much. Mercy On Me is a dark gospel song about sins, Christina pretty much begs religious figures such as Jesus Christ and Mother Mary to forgive her her sins, so that almost creeps me out a little bit (such a heavy topic). And because it’s such a heavy song, it’s not one I would regularly listen to. But I gotta hand it to her, Christina does some amazing belting again in this track.

It’s crazy how Save Me From Myself is one of my favorite tracks, since it’s her most simple track to date. I mean, there’s just an acoustic guitar, some soft strings and Christina singing in a very vulnerable way with her light and angelic head voice. In my opinion, this is just what she needed after a couple of tracks where she (let’s admit it) oversung a bit. I love her high falsetto note near the end of the song.

Christina meets classical wedding music in The Right Man (and apparently Jordan Bratman wasn’t even the right man because they devorced). It’s weird how Christina is singing both melancholic and happy lyrics, I don’t know what to make of it. The choir makes things very dramatic again, and we’ve had like.. 4 melancholic/slow songs in a row now? Not my favorite this one, it has actually never been and it’s not really a good album closer either.

Constantly re-inventing herself, it’s amazing how Christina always manages to pull it off as well! Okay I have to admit, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this album just like I’ve had with her latest album Bionic, but after a while I got used to both of them and now I love them. That’s definitely the story of Back To Basics, I think the world needed experimental music like this that would bring back the legends of the past, and Christina needed music that really fit her vocals like a glove. She has a perfect voice for the old jazz genres, like soul, funk, blues and cabaret music (and she showed it again in the movie Burlesque in 2010). Just a few flaws here and there, but it doesn’t matter since the rest of the album is perfection, and that for a full tracklist of 22 songs!!

Favorite songs: Makes Me Wanna Pray | Back In The Day | Ain’t No Other Man | Understand | Slow Down Baby | Without You | Still Dirrty | Welcome | Candyman | Hurt | Save Me From Myself

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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