The Problem With... Christina Aguilera's "Not Myself Tonight"

Anyone who knows me or has read my stuff would notice that I am a huge nerd. I look forward to any music that reminds me of science-fiction that I watch, play, read, or dream about.

Well, last week, Xtina released her new album, the robot-themed Bionic. It includes a great deal of notable electronic artists from the past decade--acts such as M.I.A, Peaches, Ladytron and Santigold (the last two are on the deluxe edition of the album only).

Sounds promising, right?

We all know Christina Aguilera for her marvelous voice--best expressed in the piano ballad "Beautiful"--and the sultry marketing that undermines said talent, and consequently, the message of "Beautiful." But let's take a look at the leading track, "Not Myself Tonight." It's been around for a couple months, and the videos for it has been out for a while.

The song has a well-produced beat and plenty of synths to boot. But it's nothing distinctive or notable in a time where everyone has old synths in their tracks. Honestly, if this song didn't have Christina's trademark voice, would any of us have noticed it? Tough to say.

Which seems to be Xtina's problem, actually: Her lyrics here tell of someone temporarily lifting their inhibitions, or the coming back with a new face. Between Em and Xtina, it seems the stars of 10 years ago are really trying hard to reinvent themselves lately. And Aguilera tries to do just that in her video, which has a few sets and scenes of sexual fetish bound to provoke anyone who hasn't paid attention to the glut of sexually provocative music videos in the last few years.

Sure, it's easy to say that Christina swiped Lady Gaga's conventions and style for this track.

But I think that misses the point. She's not swiping from Gaga; she's swiping the same stuff that Gaga appropriated for her avant-garde chic. The only difference is Christina summoned all those notable electronic artists for spots on her album in a gamble to add authenticity to this endeavor.

And, really, it seems like something I should like--you know, robots and driving dance tunes, all that.

So why my hesitation? Was it because this just reminds me of "Keeps Gettin' Better"--a track also knocking off the electroclash sound? Both?


The sucker in me still wants to check out this album, if only to check out the prominent names on it. I just worry that Bionic's less likely to be a riveting sci-fi piece like Janelle Monae's The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) and more a disappointment like the new V show.

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Shahryar Rizvi
Contact: Shahryar Rizvi

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