Shhh… You hear that? It’s the sound of Christina Aguilera headed for a career freefall. At least that’s what seemingly the entire blogosphere would have you believe. Indeed, it’s been a tough month for the powerhouse vocalist. Aguilera’s lurid first single “Not Myself Tonight” limped to the no. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, an unusually low placement for the multi-platinum, chart-topping veteran performer. The track’s equally brazen video was collectively dismissed for its over-the-top sex shop fantasies. Meanwhile, an early preview of Aguilera’s upcoming electro sound clash-centered album Bionic (due out June 8) only intensified talk amongst critics and fans that X-tina was merely swagger-jacking nemesis Lady Gaga—the same pop-dominating behemoth she recently chided as “fun to look at” in Out magazine. When Aguilera announced plans to postpone her summer tour on May 25, just days after tickets went on sale, citing the oft-used term “prior commitment,” the knives were out as skeptics blamed the performers’ poor box office returns.
But Aguilera’s detractors would do well to remember that there’s a reason why she has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide in just 10 years. Still, VIBE recognizes no one is above receiving a bit of career advice, which is why we rounded up some of the most respected (and feared) bloggers, editors, and music industry powerbrokers in the biz. Amos Barshad, assistant editor at New York Magazine’s Vulture site; Billboard’s associate editor Monica Herrera; in-demand songwriter and Aguilera collaborator Claude Kelly; and the notorious Perez Hilton all give their diverse takes on how Christina Aguilera can prove the doubters wrong.—Keith Murphy
7. Let’s (Not) Get Dirrty
During Christina’s two-year sabbatical from the dizzyingly evolving pop music landscape, blush-inducing “it girl” antics were being raised to Madonna-like levels. Indeed, the naughty daughters of the Material Girl were intent on playing a game of top this, bitch!!!: Britney Spears offended pro-censorship lobbyist the Parents Television Council with her slyly-titled, did-she-just-spell-'f*ck'? track “If U Seek Amy”; a sneering Rihanna, clad in S&M wear, cursed like a sailor on shore leave in Las Vegas on her latest album Rated R; and Lady Gaga… hell, is there even enough space here? Which is why Aguilera’s oversexed Euro-pop-driven first single “Not Myself Tonight,” with its freaky bi-sexual imagery and F-bomb (surprise!), came off as a transparent bid to play catch-up to the rest of the bad chick pack. And that’s before you even take a gander at the song’s erotic bondage-and-fetish-wear-obsessed video.
But when you are blessed with glorious vocal chops that makes Mariah Carey ball up in a corner and cry at night, there’s no need for you to one-up the leather-chap wearing, bump & grind theatrics of 2002’s “Dirrty.” “When a pop star has their first child and they say that the new album is inspired by birth and family, you really don’t expect your first single to be about kissing on boys and girls,” Billboard’s Herrera says. “It seemed a little out of synch with what she was talking about.”