When Christina Aguilera dropped her latest single “Not Myself Tonight” last week, the Polow Da Don-produced dance workout written by songwriter Ester Dean was quickly dissected by the blogosphere. After all, Aguilera stands as one of the most impactful pop stars of the last decade.
But not even her much-lauded vocal pipes and nearly 50 million albums sold could tame the piano-playing “Poker Face”-singing elephant in the room: Is Christina Biting Lady Gaga? In 2008, after pop culture blogger and Lady Gaga booster Perez Hilton called out the “Dirrty” vocalist for ripping off his girl’s style, Aguilera bristled at the comparisons, stating, “I’m not quite sure who this person is, to be honest. I don't know if it is a man or a woman."
Needless to say, Aguilera and the rest of the world is now aware of Gaga's existence. See: her six straight No. 1 singles on the Billboard Pop Charts and 8 million copies sold of her 2008 debut The Fame.
Pop/R&B hit maker Claude Kelly (Kelly Clarkson's “My Life Would Suck Without You,” Britney Spears' “Circus,” R. Kelly's “Echo”) isn’t buying the comparisons. The busy songsmith, who wrote four tracks for Aguilera’s upcoming Bionic project and has penned songs for Gaga mentor Akon, insists Christina deserves more respect.
“That’s crap to me…it’s really bullshit,” Kelly tells VIBE. “Christina Aguilera has been around for over 10 years now. As far as pop goes, she is the defining voice of today’s music. She can do things with her voice that I haven’t heard anybody else do. She’s constantly reinventing herself. As fans, as soon as an album is done and an artist disappears for a while, we tend to write them off as over or no longer relevant.”
Kelly continues: “In the time that she has been gone, Gaga, who I know pretty well, has had an unbelievable run. Christina has an album that’s going to slap people in the face. The music still has her signature, big note vocals and emotions, but the sound is definitely more aggressive, more futuristic than the last album.”
When pressed about how Aguilera intends on proving the naysayers wrong, Kelly points to his work on Bionic.
“I wrote this crazy ass song with Tricky Stewart called 'Glam,'" he says. “It’s a hard club song that’s about high fashion. It’s really for the ladies about getting dressed and looking your best, working it in the club and getting glam and sexy before you go out. Christina wants to talk about getting sexy and independent, but being strong at the same time. It will surprise people. I’m calling it a modern day ‘Vogue.’ I wouldn’t say it unless I believed it.” —Keith Murphy