Christina Aguilera has found success as one of the coaches of ‘The Voice,’ helping others to try to achieve their dreams of superstardom. She returns to her roots with her new album “Lotus,” her seventh studio release. After the commercial and critical failure that was her last album “Bionic” and a canceled tour as a result, many wondered if she would be able to bounce back and reclaim her throne on the pop music mountain.
Even though she insists that people didn’t “get” “Bionic,” I think she learned her lesson as the problems that plagued that album aren’t here on “Lotus.” For one, producers like Max Martin and Alex da Kid are used better here than some of the people she worked with on “Bionic.” The latter of whom she worked with on T.I.‘s “Castle Walls,” one of the best songs she’s done that isn’t her own. Although I’m much more of a fan of artists like M.I.A. and Goldfrapp, maybe it was for the best that she went more mainstream for this one even though it gives the album my only real issue, it sounds too much like what’s popular these days.
Christina has been accused of “chasing hits,” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. and it’s good that she did it with some of the most capable hit makers in the business right now. “Lotus” opens with an intro that samples M83‘s ubiquitous “Midnight City,” where she sings “To the sky I rise/ Spread my wings and fly” before going on a spiel about the lotus flower which inspired the album’s title and imagery. I put this up there with the intro from “Stripped,” it perfectly sets the tone of the album.
I was hoping the next cut “Army of Me” was a cover of Bjork‘s song, how great would she sound doing something like that! It is however, a good kiss off song, perhaps aimed at her ex-husband Jordan Bratman. The next track “Red Hot Kind Of Love” details her starting over and trying to win over a guy. There’s too much going on vocally here, but the beat is fun and I love the way she sings the “coooools.”
Cee Lo Green makes an appearance on the chorus of “Make the World Move“. I do wish they would have really sung together, as they both know how to belt it out. Her lead single “Your Body” might not have gotten the love I think it deserved but it works as a sassy bridge to songs like “Let There Be Love“ which is much more radio friendly.
It wouldn’t be a Christina Aguilera album without some soaring, piano driven ballads. The best of which is “Blank Page,” which was co-written by Sia Furler, showcases her voice the way songs like “The Voice Within” do. The other big ballad, “Best of Me,” features the line “I won’t let you bring me down.” Sound familiar?
Christina also duets with Blake Shelton on “Just A Fool,” one of the later tracks that has a bit of a Country feel to it. They sound great together and surprisingly she doesn’t overpower him on the song. The closer “Light Up The Sky,” which is on the deluxe edition along with a remix of “Your Body,” ends the album on a positive note. Christina has earned a reputation for being a Bitchy McBitch, but damn if she can’t deliver some emotional and uplifting songs.
The standout track for me, and in my opinion the best on the album is “Circles” where she repeats “Spin around in circles on my middle, middle finger” in the chorus and coos out “motherf***er” throughout. It reminds me a lot of “Make Over” from “Stripped” which was kind of an underrated gem. I wouldn’t rank this up there with “Stripped” or her debut, but “Lotus” is a much more cohesive and mature record for her that I hope fans and naysayers embrace.