At some point in life we’ve all been told to not judge a book by its cover. Well, no other expression can be more applicable to Christina Aguilera’s sophomore release “Stripped.”
Let’s just say your initial first impression of the controversial first single “Dirrty”, gives no indication of what’s to come. “Stripped” not only symbolizes the scantly-clad Aguilera that graces the album’s cover, but the exposition of ‘the real Christina.’
Aguilera narrates over a soulful beat in the album’s intro, “Want you to come a little closer / I’d like you to get to know me a little better / The real me.”
The new or “real” Aguilera boasts 11 bodily piercings, tri-colored hair, skimpy outfits and lots of attitude. To say the least, she is a far cry from the pop princess persona that helped her gain notoriety.
It seems as though Aguilera is taking her cue from her fellow pop stars by attempting to break away from that bubble gum mold that confines them. But how does a teen sensation go about doing that?
Simply, by enlisting an assortment of cutting edge collaborators and being part of the creative process, thus giving the album credibility.
Aguilera co-writes several of the tracks and produces one cut of “Stripped.” To put it plainly, she took chances on the record but put in the effort to make those chances work.
“Stripped” is a timely evolution from her debut album that was filled with sugary pop hits that ruled MTV and had her in heavy rotation on every Top 40 radio station.
Tracks range from the piano-based ballad “Soar,” the guitar-driven mid-tempo of “Fighter,” and the distinctive neo-soul of “Loving Me 4 Me.”
She calls on fellow diva-in-training Lil’ Kim on the hip-hop rooted “Can’t Hold Us Down,” a female empowerment anthem reminiscent of the recent Destiny’s Child hit “Independent Women.”
Aguilera kicks it up, criticizing society’s blatant double standard;
“If you look back in history / It’s a common double standard of society / The guy gets all the glory, the more he can score / While the girl can do the same, yet you call her a wh-re.”
Aguilera also gets personal on “I’m OK”, a ballad powered by a chilling guitar in which she describes her father’s abusive behavior.
Despite all of Aguilera’s musical experimentation on “Stripped” she still manages to stay true to her talent, her vocal prowess.
This could be no more apparent than on the emotionally charged track “Impossible,” written by Alicia Keys.
Aguilera exhibits remarkable vocal control as she exercises her range and prowess effortlessly over Keys’ soulful piano grooves.
Christina Aguilera’s “Stripped” is sure to surprise anyone curious enough to give it a chance.
There’s no doubt that her most devoted teeny-bopper fans will turn away from parts of this album simply because they’re not ready for them.
Unlike counterpart Britney Spears, Aguilera doesn’t show reservations about possibly alienating those fans that jolted her to stardom. “Stripped” displays tremendous growth for the singer.