Christina Maria Aguilera (born December 18, 1980) is an American recording artist and actress. Aguilera first appeared on national television in 1990 as a contestant on the Star Search program, and went on to star in Disney Channel's television series The Mickey Mouse Club from 1993–1994. Aguilera signed to RCA Records after recording "Reflection", the theme song for the animated film Mulan (1998).
In 1999, Aguilera came to prominence following her debut album Christina Aguilera, which was a commercial success spawning three number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100—"Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants", and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)." Her sophomore and her debut Latin-pop album, Mi Reflejo (2000), a Christmas third studio album, My Kind of Christmas (2000), and several collaborations followed which garnered Aguilera worldwide success, though she was displeased with her lack of input in her music and image. After parting from her management, Aguilera took creative control over her fourth studio album, Stripped (2002). The album's second single, "Beautiful," was a commercial success and helped the album's commercial performance amidst controversy over Aguilera's image. Aguilera followed up Stripped with the soul, jazz and blues inspired, Back to Basics (2006), released to positive critical acclaim. The album had three commercially successful singles: "Ain't No Other Man", "Hurt" and "Candyman". Four years later Aguilera released her sixth studio album, Bionic (2010), which incorporated aspects of R&B, electropop, and synthpop and was met with mixed reviews and low sales.
Aside from being known for her vocal ability, music videos and image, musically, she includes themes of dealing with public scrutiny, her childhood, and female empowerment in her music. Apart from her work in music, she has also dedicated much of her time as a philanthropist for charities, human rights and world issues which include her work as a UN ambassador for the World Food Programme. She made her feature film debut in the musical Burlesque (2010), earning Aguilera a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song. Aguilera's work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, four Grammy Awards and one Latin Grammy Award, amongst seventeen and three nominations respectively. Rolling Stone ranked her number fifty-eight on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, ranking as the youngest and only artist on the list under the age of thirty. She was ranked the 20th Artist of the 2000–09 decade by Billboard and is the second top selling single artist of the 2000s behind Madonna. Aguilera's albums sales are estimated at over 50 million units worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
1980–98: Early life and career beginnings
Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York, to Fausto Wagner Xavier Aguilera, a sergeant in the US Army at the time, and Shelly Loraine (née Fidler), a Spanish teacher. Aguilera's father was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and her mother is of German, Irish, Welsh, and Dutch ancestry. Her father was stationed at Earnest Harmon Air Force Base in Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador and Japan. Aguilera lived with both her father and mother, up until their divorce when she was seven years old. Aguilera then lived with her mother, and her younger sister Rachel, at her grandmother's home in Rochester, Pennsylvania, a town outside Pittsburgh. According to both Aguilera and her mother, her father was very controlling, as well as physically and emotionally abusive. In an interview with Rolling Stone Aguilera revealed, "there was so much domestic violence going on when I grew up with my dad travelling in the military. I think the reason that my drive was so strong and I was so passionate about music was because I grew up in an environment of domestic violence." She later sang about her difficult childhood in the songs "I'm OK" on Stripped, and "Oh Mother" on Back to Basics. Even though he has made several attempts to reconnect with her, Aguilera ruled out any chance of a reunion. Since then, her mother has married a paramedic named Jim Kearns, and has changed her name.
As a child, Aguilera aspired to be a singer. She was known locally as "the little girl with the big voice", singing in local talent shows and competitions. She attended Rochester Area School District, Marshall Middle School near Wexford and North Allegheny Intermediate High School. On March 15, 1990, she appeared on Star Search singing "A Sunday Kind of Love", but lost the competition at number 2. Soon after losing on Star Search, she returned home and appeared on Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV's Wake Up With Larry Richert to perform the same song. Throughout her youth in Pittsburgh, Aguilera sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, Pittsburgh Steelers football and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games, including during the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. Her talent was kept a secret to avoid bullying of other children. Following her television appearances Aguilera experienced resentment and bullying including an incident in which her peers slashed the tires on her family's car. Following several incidents Aguilera was later home schooled. Aguilera recalls, "doing what I did and maybe being a little smaller, I was definitely picked on and bullied for the attention that I got. It was definitely unwanted attention and there was a lot of unfairness about it."
In 1991 Aguilera auditioned for a role on The Mickey Mouse Club; however, she did not meet the age requirements. Two years later, she joined the cast, performing musical numbers and sketch comedy, until the show's cancellation in 1994. Her co-stars included Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell where they nicknamed her "the Diva" for her performance style and voice. At the age of fourteen, Aguilera recorded her first song, "All I Wanna Do", a hit duet with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi. In 1997, she represented the United States at the international Golden Stag Festival with a two-song set. Aguilera entered talent contests on "teen night" at the Pegasus Lounge, a gay and lesbian nightclub in Pittsburgh,and later at Lilith Fair. In 1998, Aguilera sent in a demo of her singing Whitney Houston's "Run to You" to Disney who were looking for a singer to record the song "Reflection" for their animated feature film Mulan (1998). The demo caught the attention of producer and label executive Ron Fair who would later mentor her throughout her career and led to Aguilera earning a contract with RCA Records the same week. "Reflection" peaked within the top twenty on the Adult Contemporary Singles Chart, and it was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
1999–01: Christina Aguilera, Mi Reflejo and new management
Under the exclusive representation of Steve Kurtz, Aguilera's self-titled debut album Christina Aguilera was released on August 24, 1999. It reached the top of the Billboard 200 and Canadian album charts, shipping eight million copies in the US and over seventeen million copies worldwide. The album is also included in the Top 100 Albums of All Time list of The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) based on US sales. Released during the teen pop era of 1999 the album was well received by several critics, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic writes that Aguilera's debut "remains firmly within the teen-oriented dance-pop genre, but done right." Concluding that the album is "lightweight in the best possible sense – breezy, fun, engaging, and enjoyable on each repeated listen. Out of the deluge of teen-pop albums in 1999, this feels like the best of the lot." Her debut single, "Genie in a Bottle" was an instant hit reaching No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in several countries worldwide. Her follow-up singles "What a Girl Wants" and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" topped the Hot 100 as well during 1999 and 2000 while "I Turn to You" reached number three. She is one of the few artists to have multiple No.1 singles from a debut album in Billboard's history. She made a cameo appearance on an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, performed on MTV's New Year's Special as MTV's first artist of the millennium, and the Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show. Aguilera wanted to display the range and audacity in her voice during the promotion of the album, and performed acoustic sets and appeared on television shows accompanied only by a piano. At the 42nd Grammy Awards Aguilera received a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy nomination for "Genie in a Bottle" and despite earlier predictions, she won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
In 2000, Aguilera began recording her first Spanish-language album with producer Rudy Pérez in Miami. Later in 2000, Aguilera, first emphasized her Latin heritage by releasing her first Spanish album, Mi Reflejo on September 12, 2000. This album contained Spanish versions of songs from her English debut as well as new Spanish tracks. Though some criticized Aguilera for trying to cash in on the Latin music boom at the time. According to Pérez, Aguilera was only semi-fluent, while recording. She understood the language, because she has grown up with her father, who is a native of Ecuador. He added "Her Latin roots are undeniable". The album peaked at number twenty-seven on the Billboard 200 and went No.1 on the Billboard Latin charts for a record 20 weeks. In 2001, it won Aguilera a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. The album was later certified Gold in the US Aguilera won the World Music Award and Billboard award as the best selling Latin artist that year. Aguilera also released a Christmas album, My Kind of Christmas, on October 24, 2000 and performed "The Christmas Song" at the White House that year. The album's only single, "The Christmas Song" made Aguilera one of three artists to take the song into the top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100. The single and My Kind of Christmas were both certified Platinum in the US Aguilera was Billboard's top female artist for 2000.
Aguilera's first concert tour, Christina Aguilera: In Concert (also known as "Sears & Levis Tour ") began in the summer of 2000 in the US and ended early 2001 where she toured South America and Asia. A concert special aired on ABC titled My Reflection and was released to DVD and certified Gold in the US. Aguilera was rumored to have dated MTV VJ Carson Daly. Rumors of their relationship were fueled after the release of Eminem's song, "The Real Slim Shady" in which he also insinuated a romance between her and rocker Fred Durst. Aguilera responded saying the lyrics were "disgusting, offensive and, above all, not true." Their feud ended two years later backstage at the Video Music Awards after Aguilera presented the rapper an award onstage. She dated Puerto Rican dancer Jorge Santos. Santos appeared on her tour and music videos throughout 2000. They dated for nearly two years until the relationship ended on September 11, 2001. He remained her dancer well into 2002.
Ricky Martin asked Aguilera to duet with him on the track "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely" from his album Sound Loaded; released in 2001 as the album's second single. The single reached No.1 on the World Chart and top ten in several countries. In 2001, Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Pink were chosen to remake Labelle's 1975 single "Lady Marmalade" for the film Moulin Rouge! and its soundtrack. The song peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks and was the most successful airplay-only single in history. It also reached number one in eleven other countries and earned all four performers a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Aguilera's appearance in the music video was compared to that of Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider. The video won two MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year in 2001, where Aguilera accepted the award saying, "I guess the big hair paid off."
That same year, the single "Just Be Free" emerged into record stores which was one of the demos Aguilera recorded when she was around fifteen years old. When RCA Records discovered the single, they advised fans not to purchase it. Months later, Warlock Records was set to release Just Be Free, an album which contains the demo tracks. Aguilera filed a breach of contract and unfair competition suit against Warlock and the album's producers to block the release. Instead, the two parties came to a settlement to release the album. Aguilera lent out her name, likeness and image for an unspecified amount of damages. Many of the details of the lawsuit remain confidential. When the album was released in August 2001, it had a photograph of Aguilera when she was fifteen years old.
Although Aguilera's debut album was commercially successful, she was dissatisfied with the music and image her management had created for her. Aguilera was marketed as a bubblegum pop singer because of the genre's upward financial trend. She mentioned plans of her next album to have much more depth, both musically and lyrically. Aguilera's views of Steve Kurtz's influence in matters of the singer's creative direction, the role of being her exclusive personal manager and overscheduling had in part caused her to seek legal means of terminating their management contract. In October 2000, Aguilera filed a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against her manager Kurtz for improper, undue and inappropriate influence over her professional activities, as well as fraud. According to legal documents, Kurtz did not protect her rights and interests. Instead, he took action that was for his own interest, at the cost of hers. The lawsuit came about when Aguilera discovered Kurtz used more of her commissionable income than he was allotted, and had paid other managers to assist him. She also petitioned the California State Labor Commission to nullify the contract. She revealed while recording her then upcoming album, "I was being overworked. You find out that someone you thought was a friend is stealing money behind your back, and it's heartbreaking. I put faith in the people around me, and unfortunately, it bit me in the butt." Kurtz was terminated as her manager. After terminating Kurtz's services, Irving Azoff was hired as her new manager. Kurtz countersued later that month for breach of contract, claiming that the singer violated the same agreement she had sued to void. In the lawsuit, he included others close to Aguilera, alleging their intent to sabotage his business relationship with her. He also singled out Azoff for being in violation of the terms of Kurtz's contract.
2002–05: New image, Stripped and marriage
On October 26, 2002, Aguilera's fourth studio album, Stripped, was released. The album sold more than 330,000 copies in the first week and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. Unlike her previous work, the album showcased Aguilera's raunchier side. The majority of Stripped was co-written by Aguilera (who had recently signed a global music publishing contract with BMG Music Publishing), and was influenced by many different subjects and music styles, including contemporary R&B, gospel, soul, balladry, pop rock, and hip hop. The majority of the album was produced by Scott Storch and singer-songwriter Linda Perry who produced her more personal records. Rockwilder and singer Alicia Keys also contributed a track each. Upon initial release, the album was very well-received by critics, although Aguilera's vocals were overlooked as she began to cultivate a more sexually provocative image. After the release of the album, she took part in photoshoots for magazines, many of these photographs featured her nude or semi-nude. Her cover for Rolling Stone, featured the singer only wearing boots and a well-placed electric guitar. It was during this time Aguilera referred to herself as "Xtina", even getting a tattoo of her nickname on the back of her neck and several piercings.
Initially, the raunchy image had a negative effect on Aguilera in the US, especially after the release of her controversial "Dirrty" music video. She denied that this change was a matter of publicity, claiming that the image better reflected her true personality than did the image she cultivated back in 1999. She defended the video stating it was about power and control adding, "I'm also at the forefront. I'm in the power position, in complete command of everything around me." While the video for "Dirrty" became very popular on MTV, it disappointed on the US singles chart. However, the single was a hit worldwide, reaching No.1 in the UK and Ireland. The second single, "Beautiful" received critical praise. The classically influenced ballad reached number one in several countries and peaked at No.2 in the US. "Beautiful" earned Aguilera the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Three more singles ("Fighter", "Can't Hold Us Down" featuring Lil' Kim, "The Voice Within") were released in the following two years and were hits that helped the album stay on the charts for the next two years. Stripped stayed on the U.S. and UK album charts well into 2004, and went on to be certified four-times platinum in the US with over thirteen million copies sold worldwide. It appeared at number ten on Billboard's year-end album chart and Aguilera was the top female artist for 2003. Kelly Clarkson's second single "Miss Independent" was co-written by Aguilera, having been half-finished for Stripped.
Aguilera joined Justin Timberlake that June on the final leg of his international Justified tour, held in the US. This portion of the tour became a co-headliner called the Justified/Stripped Tour. In August, an overhead lighting grid collapsed from the ceiling of the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, causing major damage to the sound and video equipment below. Because the collapse occurred hours before the show, only a few stagehands were injured, but a few shows were cancelled or postponed. In the fourth quarter of that year, Aguilera continued to tour internationally without Timberlake, and changed the name of the tour to the Stripped World Tour. She also dyed her hair black. It was one of the top-grossing tours of that year, and sold out most of its venues. Rolling Stone readers named it the best tour of the year. That same year she hosted the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards and was a special guest performer with the Pussycat Dolls' dance troupe performing at the Roxy Theatre and Viper Room in Los Angeles. She also appeared on a Maxim spread alongside them, her second Maxim cover that year set record sales for the issue making it the top selling issue to date. By the end of the year she topped the annual Hot 100 list saying, "we had fun working with certain clothes, or the lack thereof."
Aguilera's first DVD live-recording from a concert tour, Stripped Live in the U.K., was released in November 2004. In light of the tour's success, another U.S. tour was scheduled to begin in mid-2004 with a new theme. The tour however was scrapped because of the vocal cord injuries Aguilera suffered shortly before the tour's opening date. In a tribute to Madonna's performance at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards, Aguilera performed a kiss with the singer-actress at the 2003 edition of the ceremony in August. The incident occurred during the opening performance of Madonna's songs "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood" with fellow popstar Britney Spears. Also in 2004, she hosted a Saturday Night Live episode which included a Sex & The City skit where she portrayed Samantha Jones revealing to everyone she was a man the entire time.
Aguilera later decided to embrace a more mature image; this move was met with more praise than criticism, with articles using punch lines such as "From Crass to Class." She eventually dyed her hair cherry blonde and recorded a jingle, "Hello", for a Mercedes-Benz ad. Shortly after, she dyed her hair flaxen blonde and cut it short, and took on a Marilyn Monroe look; she is one of the main proponents (along with Dita Von Teese, Gwen Stefani, and Ashley Judd) in bringing back the 1920s–1940s Hollywood glamour look. In late summer 2004, Aguilera released two singles. The first, "Car Wash", was a remake of the Rose Royce disco song recorded as a collaboration with rapper Missy Elliott for the soundtrack to the film Shark Tale. She voiced a small singing part in the film playing a Rastafarian jellyfish in the film's closing musical number. The second song was also a collaboration, but this time as a second single from one of Nelly's double-release albums, Sweat, titled "Tilt Ya Head Back". Both singles failed commercially in the US, but did considerably better in other parts of the world. Aguilera collaborated with jazz artist Herbie Hancock on a cover of Leon Russell's "A Song for You" recorded for Hancock's album Possibilities, released in August 2005. Aguilera and Hancock were later nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. She helped open the 50th Anniversary for Disneyland performing "When You Wish upon a Star", and she also collaborated with Andrea Bocelli on the song "Somos Novios" for his album Amore. Aguilera began dating music marketing executive Jordan Bratman in 2002. Their engagement was announced in February 2005, and they married on November 19, 2005, in a Napa Valley estate.
2006–09: Back to Basics, motherhood and greatest hits album
Aguilera's fifth studio album, Back to Basics was released August 15, 2006. The album debuted at No.1 in the US, the UK and eleven other countries. Aguilera described the double CD as "a throwback to the 20s, 30s, and 40s-style jazz, blues, and feel-good soul music, but with a modern twist." The album received generally positive reviews, although many critics commented on the album's length saying, "At one disc, this would have been nothing short of masterful." A review in AllMusic adds, "Back to Basics also makes clear that Stripped was a necessary artistic move for Christina: she needed to get that out of her system in order to create her own style, one that is self-consciously stylized, stylish, and sexy." The critically acclaimed lead single "Ain't No Other Man" was a substantial success, reaching No.2 on the World Chart, No.6 in the US, and No.2 in the UK. Producers on the album included DJ Premier, Kwamé, Linda Perry, and Mark Ronson. The follow-up singles did very well in different regions, "Hurt" in Europe and "Candyman" in the Pacific. She co-directed both music videos, the former with Floria Sigismondi who directed her "Fighter" video, and the latter, "Candyman", with director/photographer Matthew Rolston which was inspired by The Andrews Sisters. Back to Basics has sold 4.5 million units worldwide, with over 1.7 million sold in the US.
In late 2006 Aguilera collaborated with Sean "Diddy" Combs on a track, titled "Tell Me", from his album Press Play. She also began the Back to Basics Tour in Europe followed by a 41-date North American tour in early 2007. After this, she toured Asia and Australia, where it was supposed to end on August 3, however she canceled her dates in Melbourne and her final two in Auckland due to an illness. Her extravagant arena tour included cabaret, three-ring circus and juke joint sets and 10 piece costumes designed by Roberto Cavalli. She released her concert DVD Back to Basics: Live and Down Under the following year. The tour grossed nearly 50 million by the end of the year in North America and an additional 40 million worldwide in her Europe and Australia dates, grossing almost 90 million by the end of the tour. It was the most successful US tour by a female in 2007.
At the 49th Grammy Awards, Aguilera again won the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Ain't No Other Man". She made a noteworthy performance at the ceremony paying tribute to James Brown with her rendition of his song "It's a Man's Man's Man's World". In January 2007, she was named the 19th richest woman in entertainment by Forbes, with a net worth of US$60 million. Aguilera performed "Steppin' Out With My Baby" with Tony Bennett on his NBC special Tony Bennett: An American Classic and on Saturday Night Live. They performed at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards where both specials received Emmys. "Steppin' Out" was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.
Aguilera confirmed she was pregnant on November 4, 2007, though Paris Hilton accidentally revealed her pregnancy several weeks prior during a party Aguilera hosted. She gave birth to her son, Max Liron Bratman, in Los Angeles on January 12, 2008 and held a bris for him with Bratman, who is of Jewish descent, where the baby was circumcised in accordance with Jewish practice. Aguilera was reportedly paid $1.5 million by People for her son's baby pictures—the sixth most expensive celebrity baby photos ever taken.
In 2008 Aguilera appeared in the Martin Scorsese documentary Shine a Light which chronicles a two day Rolling Stones concert in New York City's Beacon Theatre. The film features Aguilera performing "Live With Me" alongside Mick Jagger. Shine a Light premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and was released worldwide on April 4, 2008. She also had brief cameo in the comedy film Get Him to the Greek, and appeared as a guest judge on the sixth season of Project Runway on Lifetime Television. She and designer Bob Mackie were the inspiration for the challenge in which they had to design a stage outfit for Aguilera. To commemorate Aguilera's ten years in the music industry, RCA Records released, Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits on November 11, 2008 exclusively at Target stores in the US. The greatest hits included her first three number one singles, and other songs released from her previous three albums. "Lady Marmalade" and several Spanish singles from Mi Reflejo were included in the worldwide releases. The album's only single, "Keeps Gettin' Better", was premiered at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, and debuted and peaked at No.7 on the Billboard Hot 100, her highest debut on the chart. Following the greatest hits, Aguilera took over a year hiatus in 2009 working on her then upcoming album and film. She was one of Billboard's Top 20 Artists of the Decade in their year-end charts.
2010–11: Bionic, Burlesque and The Voice
Aguilera's sixth studio album Bionic was released on June 8, 2010. The album's producers included Tricky Stewart, Samuel Dixon, Polow da Don, Le Tigre, Switch, Ester Dean, songwriters Sam Endicott, Sia Furler, Claude Kelly, Linda Perry and collaborations with M.I.A., Santigold, Nicki Minaj, and Peaches. Two of the album's three singles, "Not Myself Tonight" and "You Lost Me" peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Charts but were unsuccessful elsewhere. "Woohoo", featuring rapper Nicki Minaj, was also released as the album's second single. Bionic's material consisted of many mainstream and pop records along with electronic and dance music. The album was released to mixed reviews from music critics, with Jon Pareles of The New York Times writing that the singer's new music direction "makes her sound as peer-pressured as a pop singer can be." Allison Stewart of The Washington Post described the album as being "noisy, robotic and overstuffed" adding that the disc's "greatest disappointments" is its "virtual abandonment" of Aguilera's voice. She concluded that Aguilera attempts "to do it all," which was to try to "revel in her newfound domesticity, to wrest her crown from Gaga and to reestablish her sex kitten bona fides." Dan Martin of the NME wrote, "Perhaps best of all is ‘Monday Morning.' Written with Santigold and The Bravery’s Sam Endicott, it’s a Day-Glo disco jam that sounds like Gwen Stefani doing "Borderline". Sales of Bionic were underwhelming in the US compared to her previous releases selling 110,000 copies in its first week landing at No.3. It has since sold 295,000 copies in the US. Shortly after the album's release, further promotion ended and a scheduled summer tour for the album was cancelled due to "inadequate rehearsal time". "You Lost Me" was her first single to not chart the Hot 100 while Bionic was her first English studio album not to receive a Grammy nomination. Aguilera later responded in an interview saying, "I was really proud of that record. I think there was a lot of promotion issues, coming from a standpoint of how everything resulted. Nothing is ever a setback. If anything, it just motivates you for what’s next."
Aguilera announced that she and Bratman had separated, saying in a statement, "Although Jordan and I are separated, our commitment to our son Max remains as strong as ever." Aguilera filed for divorce from Bratman on October 14, 2010, seeking joint legal and physical custody of their son, and specifying September 11, 2010 as the date of separation. They later reached a settlement agreement and custody deal, details of their agreement were private. Their divorce was finalized on April 15, 2011. The following month, Aguilera appeared as herself on the Entourage season seven finale as a client/friend of Ari Gold. On November 15, 2010, Aguilera received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In November 2010, Aguilera appeared in her first feature film, the musical Burlesque. She portrayed a small town girl, Ali Rose, who finds love and success in a Los Angeles neo-burlesque club. Aguilera performed eight of the musical numbers on the film's soundtrack released on November 22, 2010 and co-wrote a number of the tracks working with producers and writers including Tricky Stewart, Sia Furler, Samuel Dixon, Linda Perry, Claude Kelly, Danja, and Ron Fair. The remaining two tracks were sung by Cher, who co-starred alongside Aguilera. The soundtrack was certified Gold in the US. The film was written and directed by Steve Antin who wrote the part of Ali specifically with Aguilera in mind. Aguilera's co-stars also included Cam Gigandet, Eric Dane, Kristen Bell and Stanley Tucci. Several critics praised Aguilera's performance. A review in TIME states, "Aguilera might not be to your taste, or mine, but in terms of sheer power, she's impressive. If Ali were real, she'd have already been discovered on American Idol." While Variety wrote, "Aguilera, while undeniably entertaining when her character is onstage, cannot spin the slight backstory into anything resembling a full-blooded person." Though Burlesque was released to mixed reviews from critics, the film received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy and earned Aguilera, writer/producer Sia Furler and Samuel Dixon, a nomination for Best Original Song for the track "Bound to You". The soundtrack also earned Aguilera a Grammy nomination for Best Compilation Soundtrack. Burlesque has grossed over $90 million worldwide.
Following the release of Burlesque, Aguilera collaborated with rapper T.I. on the track, "Castle Walls" which is included on his album No Mercy. Aguilera performed the U.S. national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner", during the Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 and created embarrassment when she omitted a line of the anthem and messed up the song's lyrics. She later apologized, telling CNN that "I got so caught up in the moment of the song that I lost my place. I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through." The following week, Aguilera, alongside Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams, and Florence Welch opened the 53rd Grammy Awards paying tribute to Aretha Franklin.
Aguilera began dating musician and production assistant, Matt Rutler whom she met during the filming of Burlesque. Her personal life was the subject of scrutiny; and reports over out of control behavior, excessive drinking, and a reported confrontation with her co-star Julianne Hough. On March 1, 2011, Aguilera was arrested for public intoxication in West Hollywood as her boyfriend was arrested for DWI. She was later released on bail and no charges were filed. Although the L.A. Sheriff's office stated Aguilera's mug shot would not be released to the public, E! News obtained the mug shot which circulated social networks and the media shortly after her release. Rutler's DWI charge was dismissed due to insufficient evidence, after his BAC at the time of arrest was determined to be at .06%, below the legal limit in the state of California.
Aguilera signed to be a judge on The Voice, which debuted on NBC in April 2011. Aguilera, alongside other musicians Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green serve as judges and coaches, with Carson Daly as the show's host. The show's first episode was well-received, and delivered the strongest ratings for a series premiere on a major network since Undercover Boss debuted after the Super Bowl in February 2010. The show's first season was a ratings success for NBC following its debut. Aguilera performed "Moves Like Jagger" on The Voice – the single with Maroon 5 on which she is featured, off their album, Hands All Over (Deluxe Edition). The song was an instant hit reaching No.2 in the UK, No.1 on the World Chart and earned Aguilera her fifth No.1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, a decade after her last No.1, "Lady Marmalade". The single became the first 3 million-seller for both artists and marks the first time two former Best New Artist Grammy Award winners have collaborated on a Hot 100 hit. "Moves Like Jagger" was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the upcoming Grammy Awards.
2012–present: Seventh studio album and current projects
The second season of The Voice is set to premiere February 5, 2012 following Super Bowl XLVI. In regards to her upcoming album, Aguilera stated that she is recording a new studio album in an interview with Live with Regis and Kelly. No official date has been announced but the album is expected to be released in 2012.
Aguilera possesses a soprano vocal range and has been referred to as the "voice of her generation" and a blue eyed soul singer. Aguilera also topped COVE's list of the 100 Best Pop Vocalists with a score of 50/50 and came fifth in MTV's 22 Greatest Voices in Music. Her rendition of "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" at the 49th Grammy Awards ranked third in the Grammy's Greatest Moments List behind Celine Dion's performance of "My Heart Will Go On" and Green Day's performance of "American Idiot". In an interview, Dion described Aguilera as "probably the best vocalist in the world." Rolling Stone ranked Aguilera at 58 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, the youngest singer on the list.
Describing Aguilera's voice, singing teachers Phyllis Fulford and Michael Mailler said, "The low register is light and tired, the belting register is ample and full, but very scratchy because she screams; and head voice as well as whistle register are light, pure and bright. Her vocal range extends from G below middle C; one octave above soprano high C. She can belt to F one octave and a third above middle C. She possesses a good-sized technical arsenal. Her trill is solid, she has a big mastery of melismas, and can sustain very long notes." Los Angeles Times writer Margaret Wappler adds Aguilera can deliver "a well-executed legato." However, countertenor Philippe Jaroussky said: "She has no breath support and often sings out of tune. People say she can cover four octaves, but it's not true because below A3, the low notes are forced, unsupported, her belting voice is throaty and forced, for her highest notes she doesn't use head voice but falsetto or whistle register, they are disconnected registers. So, she can only hit good notes from A3 to B4. Her melismas are always show-off, they are almost never connected with the rhythm and the structure of the songs."
Since her debut in 1999 Aguilera has been compared to the likes of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. David Browne of The New York Times writes, "Aguilera has been one of the foremost practitioners of the overpowering, Category 5 vocal style known as melisma. 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 review in the Los Angeles Times compared Aguilera's vocal stylings to Barbra Streisand, Gladys Knight, and Aretha Franklin adding, "Aguilera's Streisand-esque tendencies are a good thing; they're helping her 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." Although praised for her vocals, Aguilera has been labeled for oversinging in her songs and concerts. Longtime producer and writer, Linda Perry, commented on working on the record, "Beautiful", saying, "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 first take saying, "She had a hard time accepting that as the final track. It's not a perfect vocal – it's very raw. She knows her voice really well, and she knows what's going on. She can hear things that nobody else would catch."
Themes and musical style
The constant theme in Aguilera's music and lyrics is love, although she has written on other subjects including spirituality, female empowerment, and grief. Aguilera has also written about her childhood in two of her records which dealt with domestic abuse. In an interview Aguilera admitted she feels responsible to reveal her most vulnerable feelings and to share the darker sides of her life adding "People that can relate might not feel as alone in the circumstance." She has been noted to constantly changing her sound in her music and lyrical content. Originally marketed as a bubblegum pop singer during the late 90s pop scene, she quickly departed into a broad range of musical genres for her follow-up album Stripped. A review states, "Clearly afflicted with Premature Serious Artist Syndrome, Aguilera wants to demonstrate the range of her interests – vampy soul, quasi-metal, piano-bar intimacy, quiet-storm R&B, bounce-bounce hip-hop, and semi-exotic rock, all of it dutifully accomplished."
The majority of the songs are characterized by Aguilera's loud vocals, though she has used breathy and soft vocals. Her 2006 release, Back to Basics included producer DJ Premier. The New York Times exclaims, "Her decision to work with the low-key DJ Premier was also a decision to snub some of the big-name producers on whom pop stars often rely." Aguilera has often cited that she prefers working with producers that are not in popular demand, saying "I don't necessarily go to the main people that are the No.1 chart-toppers in music." The album included live instrumentation and samples of past jazz and soul records. Some tracks on the album included non-traditional forms of pop music such as swing jazz and big band, drawing comparisons to Madonna's I'm Breathless and the musical film Cabaret. Her first feature film, Burlesque, influenced by Cabaret, featured mainstream producers Tricky Stewart and Danja on the soundtrack where several established songs were updated and worked into dance numbers, a style similar to 2001's Moulin Rouge! "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" was performed by Aguilera in the film, a musical number also performed by Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!
One of Aguilera's major influences and idol is blues singer Etta James, whose classic song "At Last" has been covered by Aguilera throughout her career. Aguilera says, "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. I mean, all of Etta's old songs, countless songs I could name, I grew up listening to." The majority of her album, Back to Basics, pays tribute to James and other pop standard singers who many originated from the 1950s. In her early years she listened to vintage jazz, blues, and soul music. The album included an unreleased song, "Slow Down Baby", which sampled a Gladys Knight & the Pips song. A review in The Guardian declared, "Practically everything recorded before Aguilera was born blurs into one amorphous genre, which she categorises, somewhat inadequately, as "fun music". Aguilera has also named Madonna and Janet Jackson as two of her biggest influences "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." Her other musical influences include Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Nina Simone.
Aguilera cites the musical The Sound of Music and its lead actress, Julie Andrews as an early inspiration for singing and performing. She mentioned the "Golden age of Hollywood" as another inspiration in which she says, "I'm referencing Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, Greta Garbo, Veronica Lake". Ironically, her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located near Julie Andrews and is next to Greta Garbo. In her music video for "Ain't No Other Man" she plays her alter ego, "Baby Jane" in reference to the film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. The film's stars included actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The third single off Back to Basics, "Candyman" was inspired by the 1941 song, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by The Andrews Sisters which was played during World War II. She was also inspired by pin-up girls and several paintings by Alberto Vargas. Aguilera has expressed interest in cultural icons Nico, Blondie and artists Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. She has often worked with photographer and close friend, David LaChapelle who once worked with Warhol. Chapelle has shot many of Aguilera's music videos, magazine shoots and advertisements. She is also a fan of graffiti artist Banksy. In 2006 she purchased three of Banksy's works during a private art exhibition, one of them included a pornographic picture of Queen Victoria in a lesbian pose with a prostitute. She has mentioned in several interviews that she is a fan of actress Angelina Jolie, and her Burlesque co-star, Cher. Fashion has also been a part of Aguilera's music career and image which she has used as a form of expression during performances and music videos. In 2003 she became the muse and inspiration for Donatella Versace's 2003 fall line. Versace also designed pieces her tour the following year. Aguilera is also a fan of Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander McQueen whose designs she has worn throughout her career.
In 2000, Aguilera was the face for make-up line Fetish where she worked in choosing colors and packaging for the line. She ended her contract the following year. Throughout her career Aguilera has endorsed several brands, including Skechers, Mercedes-Benz, Verizon Wireless, and soft drink giants Coca-Cola in 2001, and Pepsi in 2006. She became the muse and model for fashion house Versace appearing in a campaign for the 2003 fall line. In 2004 Aguilera earned £200,000GBP (about $300,000USD) for opening the summer sale at London's Harrods store which took in record breaking profits during the four week period. In 2005 she was reportedly paid $3.6 million to sing a three song set for Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko's wedding. Aguilera signed a contract with European cell phone operator Orange to promote the new Sony Ericsson Walkman phone during the 2006 World Cup. In 2010, Aguilera was paid $1 million by investor Charles Brandes to perform at a private party.
In 2008 jewelry designer Stephen Webster and close 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 saying, "Working together on this campaign and collection has been an incredible experience. I am honored to be a part of it all." 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.
Aguilera released two fragrances throughout Europe, the first one Xpose, was released in late 2004 and sold relatively well. Through Procter and Gamble Aguilera released her signature fragrance, Simply Christina in 2007. In Christmas 2007, the fragrance became the number one perfume in the UK, and later in 2009 it became the 4th best selling perfume in the UK, and Germany where it topped sales for the year. The perfume won as the people's choice for favorite celebrity fragrance at the annual UK Fifi Awards 2008. She released her third fragrance, Inspire, accompanied with a body care collection, on September 1, 2008. The perfume hit shelves in the US, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Northern and Eastern Europe. It was Aguilera's first fragrance released outside of Europe. Her worldwide ad campaign included a television ad shot by David LaChapelle and was released in the US through 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, which became the third best selling fragrance in the UK in 2009. Both “By Day“ and “By Night“ were nominated for Best Perfume of the Year at the FIFI Awards 2011. The range was further augmented by Royal Desire in 2010, and Secret Potion the following year.
Throughout her career, Aguilera has been involved with several charities. She signed a letter from PETA to the South Korean government asking that the country stop its alleged killing of dogs for food. During her 2007 tour she unknowingly wore a fur stole during the beginning of her tour, which designer Roberto Cavalli provided without informing Aguilera. After receiving a video from PETA Vice President Dan Mathews on the treatment of foxes, she replaced the stole with faux fur for the remainder of her tour. Aguilera was reportedly upset adding, "I only ever wear fake fur". In 2010 Aguilera auctioned off tickets for her upcoming tour for Christie's A Bid to Save the Earth. Proceeds benefit nonprofit environmental groups Conservation International, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Central Park Conservancy. Aguilera also supports Defenders of Wildlife, Missing Kids, National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations, Women's Cancer Research Fund, and Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Research Institute. She has also worked alongside nonprofit organization Do Something saying, "Every individual has the power to inspire young people across the country." In 2010 she was nominated for a VH1 Do Something Award for her work with the organization and her efforts in the response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. She was featured in the campaign for photographer, Brie Childers with the goal of helping women of all ages, races and lifestyles feel beautiful and confident about themselves and the body and skin they were born with. Proceeds from benefit several women's charities nationwide. Aguilera is still a major contributor in her hometown of Pittsburgh contributing regularly to the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. According to her official website, she toured the center and donated $200,000 to the shelter. She also has auctioned off front row seats and back stage passes for the Pittsburgh-based charity.She has continued her donations and visits to the shelter, and plans to open an additional one. She also supports the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Refuge UK. Since then she has worked with Lifetime Television's 'End violence against women' campaign. Her work there included a public service announcement which aired on the network and during her 2007 tour.
Aguilera is a supporter of the LGBT community and is considered a gay icon by many. She was honored at the GLAAD Awards for using gay and transgender images in her music video for "Beautiful". When accepting the award Aguilera said, "My video captures the reality that gay and transgender people are beautiful, even though prejudice and discrimination against them still exists." In 2005 she appeared on a compilation album titled, Love Rocks, proceeds benefit the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to fighting for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. In 2008 she publicly spoke out against California's Proposition 8 which eliminates same-sex marriage in California saying, "Why you would put so much money behind something [aimed at] stopping from people loving each other and bonding together? I just don't understand it. It's hard for me to grasp. But I would've been out there with my rally sign as well." In 2011 Aguilera was honored at The Abbey, a gay club in West Hollywood, for her contributions to the gay community as the first honoree on their Gay Walk of Fame joining Dame Elizabeth Taylor in being immortalized forever.
Aguilera contributes in the fight against AIDS, by participating in AIDS Project Los Angeles' Artists Against AIDS "What's Going On?" cover project. In 2004, Aguilera became the new face for cosmetic company M·A·C and spokesperson for M·A·C AIDS Fund. Aguilera appeared in advertisements of the M·A·C's Viva Glam V lipstick and lipgloss, and was featured on Vanity Fair in recognition of her campaign work. In addition, Aguilera contributed to YouthAIDS by posing for a joint YouthAIDS and Aldo Shoes campaign for "Empowerment Tags" in Canada, the U.S. and the UK. She was featured with one of three ubiquitous slogans, "Speak No Evil?" and stated, "HIV is something that people don’t want to talk about, hear about, or face." Singer Elton John featured Aguilera in his charity book titled "Four Inches" benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Elton also hand-picked Aguilera, for his annual "Fashion Rocks" charity concert which accompanies music and fashion to benefit the fight against AIDS/HIV.
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. She appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the importance of voting. In late 2007 Aguilera became the spokesperson for "Rock the Vote" where she urged young people to vote in the 2008 presidential election. In partnership with "Rock the Vote", she appeared in a public service announcement which aired in summer 2008. The advert showed Aguilera with her son, Max Bratman, wrapped in an American flag, while singing "America the Beautiful".
In November 2005, all of her wedding gifts were submitted to various charities around the nation in support of Hurricane Katrina victims. That year she also performed at "Unite of the Stars" concert in aid of Unite Against Hunger in Johannesburg, South Africa and at the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at the Coca-Cola Dome. In March 2007 Aguilera took part in a charity album (remaking Lennon's "Mother"), proceeds benefit Amnesty International's efforts to end genocide in Darfur. The album titled, Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, was released June 12, 2007 and featured various artists. In 2008 she headlined London's Africa Rising charity concert at Royal Albert Hall which raises awareness for finding substantial issues facing the continent. Later that year she appeared on the Turkish version of Deal or No Deal, where proceeds were donated to a charity program for orphans.
In 2009 Aguilera became the global spokesperson for World Hunger Relief appearing in advertisements, online campaigns and a public service announcement. Aguilera and her then-husband traveled to Guatemala with the World Food Programme to bring awareness to issues such as the high malnutrition rate in that country. She met with families of the villages and some of the beneficiaries of WFP's nutrition programs. Aguilera adds, "The people of WFP do such a great job helping hungry children and mothers. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful project." Since becoming a global spokeswoman Aguilera has helped raise over $22 million which helped provide over 90 million meals. She was honored at Variety's annual "Power of Women" luncheon in late 2009 alongside other women in entertainment for her contribution to philanthropic and charitable causes. In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Aguilera donated a signed Chrysler 300 which was auctioned for relief efforts. She was one of the many artists who appeared on the Hope for Haiti telethon on January 22, 2010, donations directly benefited Oxfam America, Partners In Health, Red Cross and UNICEF. She later appeared on a second public service announcement alongside sports icon Muhammad Ali to raise funds for the World Food Programme's efforts to bring food to survivors of the earthquake. Later that year Aguilera made her first visit to Haiti as an ambassador against hunger where she visited two schools in the town of Léogâne. During her time there she assisted in the ongoing efforts to help the badly damaged town where she served meals and highlighted reconstruction efforts in the country. That year, Aguilera was appointed UN ambassador for the WFP.
- from Wikipedia.org
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