Album Review: Christina Aguilera, “Stripped” (2002)

Through the years, Christina Aguilera’s public persona has gone`through various transformations. She started off as the sweet and innocent pre-teen on MMC, to a belly-baring pop princess, to now- Dirrty X-Tina.

In a world where sex sells, it may seem that Christina has sold out. While I don’t have a solid opinion on that subject, one thing I cannot say about her is that she isn’t talented.

She’s definitely out to prove that with her fourth album (including her self-titled debut album, a Spanish-language album, Mi Reflo, and a Christmas album, My Kind Of Christmas), Stripped. Full of autobiographical tracks (like Fighter and my favorite song off the album, I’m Ok), and catchy hits, I’m betting on a couple of Grammy wins come next year.

Christina takes control on this album and writes a majority of the songs, and shows the world that she’s more than just a sex symbol (but at the same time, in typical Christina style, shows off plenty of skin).

The album begins with “Stripped (intro).”  It starts off with various controversial media clips involving Christina and goes into her singing. Reminds me of Alicia Key’s intro on Songs In A Minor, but it’s still pretty awesome. “Can’t Hold Us Down” is the fourth single off the album, and features Lil’ Kim (whom you may note that she worked with for the Lady Marmalade remake in 2001). It’s a decent R&B type song about double-standards, but not one of my favorites.

In the teen-pop world, Christina Aguilera is the queen of ballads. She’s done plenty of them, from I Turn To You and Reflection (both off her debut CD), but “Walk Away” is by far my favorite. The song starts off with a lone piano melody, and tells the tale of someone who is stuck in a bad relationship, but is too weak to walk away. Christina’s vocals are strong, and you feel like she means every word that she’s singing. Definitely one the best songs off the album.
“Fighter” musically starts where Walk Away left off, and the lyrics sort of provide a prelude to its predecessor. Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) lends his guitar talents to the song, giving it an awesome rock flair. This was also the third single off the album.

I’m not a fan of interludes, but “Primer Amor (interlude)” is OK. Christina speaks entirely in Spanish, and thanks to the fact that I took Spanish my Freshman and Sophomore year in High School, I can understand what’s she’s saying. Es execelante. Some of you may remember Christina singing “Infatuation” at the Winter Olympics back in early 2002 and announcing it as her first single. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but either way this song is a good effort. Not the best on the album, but it’s a fun, poppy, song that probably would have fit in just fine on her debut album.

“Loving Me 4 Me” is another one of my favorites. This is a straight-up R&B song, which I think would even get played on R&B and hip-hop stations. It’s all about love, but doesn’t come off as mushy or annoying- just very sweet. There is a break towards the end, in which Christina reads a poem, which in itself, is a little strange, but she pulls it off. “Impossible” is a track that Alicia Keys wrote and produced, and definitely is something that would be on Songs In A Minor. The song itself is good, but I don’t really feel like Christina makes the song her own. To me, it comes off as Christina singing an Alicia Keys cover.

“Underappreciated” is probably the worst song on the album, and a complete waste of space. I’m not sure what went wrong in production, because the lyrics are fine, but this song is pretty bland and horrible. This definitely should’ve been scrapped.

Linda Perry (of 4 Non Blondes fame) wrote and produced “Beautiful”, which also served as the second single. Although a tad-bit played out (thanks to MTV and my local radio stations), this song is still listenable, and the lyrics are powerful and uplifting. Christina does a great job, as usual, vocally.

Christina experiments with “Make Over”, and the result is her screaming her lungs out in this song that’s about not confining to what someone else wants her to be. I didn’t know what to think about it at first, but after a few listens, I personally love it. “Cruz” is yetanother of my favorite tracks on the album. This is a mellow, soft rock song, which allows the listener to “escape” and “cruise off” somewhere as Christina sings.

However, “Soar” is another waste of space, IMO. This song is an up-tempo ballad about having faith in yourself, but just sort of falls flat (wow- no pun intended! lol). Although Christina’s vocals are outstanding (she hits an amazing high note somewhere towards the middle), this song is easily forgettable. “Get Mine, Get Yours” is one of those songs where I can’t decide if I like it, or not. It’s a decent R&B/pop track about a physical relationship with no emotional strings attached, but just lacks something to make it a favorite.

“Dirrty” is the controversial first single featuring Redman. I actually like this song. It’s great to dance to, and provides the perfect soundtrack to a girl’s night out. Redman’s rap adds that something extra that makes the song memorable. “Stripped Pt.2 (interlude)” is the second installation to the Stripped intro at the beginning of the album. Christina continues to sing about the image that the media portrays her of having, and I’m left thinking that they could’ve put the two interludes together and created a whole song, which would have still been a whole lot better than both Underappreciated and Soar.

“The Voice Within” is another ballad. Although slightly boring, it’s worth listening to because of Christina’s stand-out vocal talent. The theme of this song is oddly reminiscent to that of Soar, but this track is ten times better. “I’m Ok” starts off with the sounds of a young girl crying, and you are immediately pulled in. A few seconds later, Linda Perry comes in with a haunting guitar melody. Christina’s vocals are hushed, and the listener feels every emotion she conveys in this autobiographical song about the physical and emotional childhood abuse she received from her father. With lyrics like: “It’s not so easy to forget/all the marks you left along her neck/when I was thrown against cold stairs/and everyday afraid to come home in fear of what I might see next”, it’s hard to not tear up (I’ll admit that I did on my first listen).

“Keep On Singing My Song” is great, positive song after I’m Ok. Here, Christina is a stronger person, who doesn’t let other people’s opinions about her bother her. The song itself is a bouncy, bluesy up-tempo track (which’s sound can best be compared to the title track of Kelly Clarkson’s Thankful. And Christina holds a killer note for a full 13 seconds! A great end to a great album!

Rating: 200px-4_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Stripped [Intro]
2. Can’t Hold Us Down – (featuring Lil’ Kim)
3. Walk Away
4. Fighter
5. Primer Amor [Interlude]
6. Infatuation
7. Love’s Embrace [Interlude]
8. Loving Me 4 Me
9. Impossible
10. Underappreciated
11. Beautiful
12. Make Over
13. Cruz
14. Soar
15. Get Yours Get Mine
16. Dirrty – (featuring Redman)
17. Pt. 2 Stripped
18. The Voice Within
19. I’m OK
20. Keep on Singin’ My Song

*This is a brittpinkie “classic” review. I have edited this review for content and formatting, though retained my original opinion of the product.


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