mercredi, août 02, 2006

A Pop Star Leading the Pack

“Just because I have this newfound love in my life, that doesn’t mean I’m going to play it any softer, or that I’m going to change my point of view on sexuality... I still got the nasty in me”
--- Xtina

I've never really been a fan of Christina Aguilera. In saying this, I mean that I have never really embraced the totality of her star image, i.e. her overbearing, gauche sense of fashion characterized by the changing texture and extremist color choices she chooses for her varying coiffures, her outrageously tight outfits of little fabric, and her 15-20 pound makeup requirement for each red carpet or concert appearance. Combine this with her too frequent use of melismas when she sings and her referring to herself as Boricua in her records (I thought Boricuas were Puerto Rican???, which she is not) and I was quickly disillusioned with her.

Now snap back into 2006 and while, I don't necessarily like her, I respect her and the musician that she has become. Her "Back to Basics", which is due out this month, is poised to be one of if not the most impressive and stellar albums by a musician this year. Christina's talent is undeniable. Back when she and another fellow alum of the Mouseketers, Britney Spears, first arrived on the music scene, Christina was unanimously voted the greater talent but Britney was the bigger star. Fast forward a few years and Christina has grown into a huge star in her own right. Her pipes are undeniable, she has new love, a new look (which I approve of, although I don't think she needs that much makeup) and a more evolved, mature sound. Making no bones about her adaptation of the sounds, styles, and appearances of her idols ---Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and Eartha Kitt --- this new album is her homage (or appropriation depending on how you look at it) of the blues and jazz of Black female soul stars in the '20s, '30s, and '40s. In fact, for the making of this album she wore bright red lipstick and her hair in the style of '30s Blues artists at every recording session to stay in "character".

While I have always had a problem with white stars (which also includes white looking or stars packaged as white) appropriating Black music for monetary and celebratory fame, Christina's "Back to Basics" may turn out to be more like an homage or ode to rather than appropriation (we'll see when the album comes out).

Christina also seems like a woman who knows what she wants and has a clear vision and essence that she wants on her records, asserting a type of control over her image and sound that I see from few young female musicians today. In this week's New York Times, Lola Ogunnaike writes "DJ Premier was shocked to get her call, but Ms. Aguilera said she was drawn to him because of the jazzy sound he gave the rapper Gang Starr in the early 90’s. 'He searches through his vinyl, finds the obscure pieces and reinvents the old,' she said. 'You never know if you’re going to vibe with someone, but we immediately hit it off.' She said it helped that he maintains a much lower profile than many of today’s celebrity producers. 'Isn’t it enough to just make the beats anymore?' she asked, mildly annoyed. 'What are you, starved for attention?'
She likes that his sound is not ubiquitous. 'I have no interest in working with the Neptunes,' she said of the omnipresent producing team. 'A lot of what’s on the radio sounds the same because everyone is using the same producers. Music is suffering because nobody wants to step out on a limb and go for something different. Everyone wants to stay in their safety box,' which Ms. Aguilera said she has absolutely no interest in doing, even if it means upsetting her label.

Though other female pop stars are paving through their own spaces in the pop music realm i.e. Pink (vocally gifted and outspoken, but not a huge revenue builder), Beyonce (vocally skilled with incredible stage presence but extremely co-dependent with no real idenitity outside the men in her life) and many copies and look-alikes but Christina stands out. I have a feeling that she will come to develop what all the great pop musicians have --- longevity.

*If you would all be so kind, please vote for me on the Black Weblogs Awards site*.

malapropos -- adj: 1. Unseasonable; unsuitable; inappropriate; adv: 1. In an inappropriate or inopportune manner; unseasonably

"Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act" --- Truman Capote



Anonymous Anonyme said...

I love the message in her music. She is truly a skilled song writer. I also like the fact that she doesn't necessarily buy into the pop princess image (note, the rebellious "dirty" stage she went through. Of all the girls they were promoting at that time Christina had the most talent and the most powerful vocal range. I can't be mad at her. She held her own singing "A Song 4 U" with Herbie Hancock (at true musician) so there is somethign there.

4:06:00 PM  

Enregistrer un commentaire

<< Home