Album review: Christina Aguilera - Bionic

Album review: Christina Aguilera - Bionic | Random J Pop
Christina had teased and mentioned on numerous occasions how her Bionic album was a departure for her and was adopting a futuristic sound. And whilst at least three of Bionic's tracks give me that that vibe; most of the album leaves me with this feeling of what exactly Christina means by futuristic when so much of the album sounds outdated. And not intentionally so in the good sense like Back to basics.

So let's start with the songs that actually showcase this futuristic departure first. The album title track "Bionic" sounds like Santigold. No bad thing. But for all of the loudness, over production and reggae 'n ska influences that run for the songs' three and a half minutes; the track never feels like it's taking off. "Elastic love" is "Bionic"'s other half and the better song of the two. It's funky, catchy and is super soaked in late 80's, early 90's electro. As cool as the song is, it really does stink of M.I.A. You listen to the song and it's like M.I.A is smothering her p**sy in your face. Christina's imitation of M.I.A is good. Almost too good to the point where you forget she's singing the song. "Bobblehead" see's Christina back on the Santigold swag. And who knew Christina Aguilera had mad flow?! A bitch can rap! These three songs sounding M.I.A and Santigold-ish is no surprise, given they co-wrote the songs (Santigold is responsible for "Bobblehead" and "Monday morning", and M.I.A for "Elastic love") and that their partners in crime John Hill and Switch also produced them. They're not bad songs, and I have to give it to Christina for trying something different. But you won't remember them in the long run because they don't really sound like Christina at all. I would have much preferred more of "Monday morning" - Christina being Christina on a song written by Santi and M.I.A, as opposed to Christina imitating M.I.A and Santigold on a song written by Santi and M.I.A.

Christina also dabbles with electro, and the results are plain bad. "Birds of prey" and "Little dreamer" are awful. Ladytron and Christina should never work together again. The songs are not catchy, and Christina does not sound good singing them. I'm not sure what happened with these sessions. I would have thought electro pop producers behind the boards, Cathy Dennis on songwriting duties and a vocalist like Christina would yield magic. Wrong! This is an angle Christina needs to leave to Britney. Because honest to God, she does it better.

Now let's talk about the uptempo stinkers. "Not myself tonight" is just crap. It could have been more palatable if it had an actual chorus and a better bridge section. But the song is neither here nor there. If it comes on in the club, you'll dance to it, and probably act a skank all up on some boy or girl. It is the perfect song to channel your inner slut and stick your tongue down somebody's throat to. (I know I acted wrong to this song once or twice). But you won't be remembering it years from now. "Prima donna" and "Vanity" both sound like a cross between some left over song from a Timbaland Shock value album and bonus tracks from a The Pussycat dolls. "I hate boys" and "My girls" are filler. If Christina was going to go the juvenile pop route for these two songs, she should have swallowed her damn I ain't doing' what Britney do pride and just gone to Max "If U seek Amy 'n' 3" Martin. Because both songs sound like rip-off's of his work over the past three years any way. And at least he would have penned one hell of a hook for Aguilera to work with. "I hate boys" starts off like Katy Perry's "I kissed a girl" and "My girls" sounds like a horrendous homage to The B-52's "Love shack".

Christina does come through on some of the up-tempo's at the very least. "Woohoo" is nonsense. But it's nonsense that I defy anybody to tell me doesn't knock hard and make them wanna go eat downtown in the middle of a dance floor. Christina's never done anything like this before (though not for want of fans trying to get her to) and she delivers. Nicki Minaj gets a guest spot on the song, and she does not waste a single bar. She genuinely sounds as though some dude is French kissing her p**sy during the second half of her rap. "Woohoo" would have made a much better lead single than "Not myself tonight". The album version has the added bonus of being longer than the radio edit, and featuring a cool instrumental section at the end to which ladies can pop their woohoo to until a guy's hungry enough to stick his tongue in it. (Most always are).

"Desnudate" is my jam! Riding the Spanglish train that has secured the likes of Pitbull a number 1 hit on the charts and mainstays in the clubs. Christina sounds amazing on this song. As with "Woohoo" the song is about sex nonsense, but the beat (despite being much of what we've heard before) is absolute fire. Especially when things switch up and goes all synth-Latino towards the end. Tricky Stewart did an amazing job with the production to ensure the song never bores.

"Glam" is Christina's take on Madonna's "Vogue". At first I hated the song flat out. But the hotness of the beat and Christina's killer vocals won me over eventually. I don't love this song. But I take it for what it is: a song purposely created for gay guys to snap fingers, pose and perfect their walks to in the clubs. Whilst "Glam" works and succeeds in its mission, the song does feel like it's lacking. The song goes on for longer than it should and there are sections where you feel as though there should be more vocals, an extra verse or some beat switches. Once Christina's vocals fade on a delay, you're left feeling Oh shit, is that it!? But "Glam" is a good song. And whilst it certainly wasn't destined to be a lead single, it would make a good single late in Bionic's cycle.

Whilst the uptempo's are patchy, the slower numbers are more consistent. "Sex for breakfast" is the closest that fans of Stripped's "Lovin' me 4 me" and Back to basics' "Without you" will get here. It sounds almost out of place on the album sandwiched directly in-between sex rampant up-tempo's and ballads. Christina's vocals sound lovely as she always does on these types of songs.

"I am" is a nice evolution of Aguilera's hit "Beautiful", whilst "You lost me" is Bionic's definitive ballad hand down. It's heartfelt, it's beautiful, it's tragic, it's as big as it needs to be: it is single material. The slow songs are nice, but have trouble standing out amongst the club filler, and ironically: themselves ("All I need", "I am" and "You lost me" all bleed into a dreary sense of samey-ness). Sia and Samuel Dixon did a great job with bringing out Christina's vulnerabilities in a way only Linda Perry seemed to be capable of doing. Do not be surprised if Sia's name starts popping up with regularity in album credits from here on out. I bet Gwen Stefani and Beyoncé are already on the blower to their A&R's to book studio time with her after hearing "You lost me".

Christina has always avoided the usual suspect roster of producers who are hot at a given time. And whilst she caved to the likes of Tricky Stewart - I feel as though Christina could have gone to Bloodshy & Avant, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Benny Blanco and Danja and gotten much better songs for Bionic; given most of the up-tempo's sound like they're cut from the cloth of their productions anyway. Sure, people would have called her out for working with a squad who worked with Britney. But the difference always would have been that Christina can actually sing. And that the producers have an artist which allows them to be versatile with their style, knowing she'll be able to sing absolutely anything they throw at her. Not to say that Polow Da Don and Tricky Stewart didn't do a good job with Christina, because they came through with "Woohoo" and "Desnudate". But I feel as though they squandered some of their chances with Christina. She's an artist who can sing anything. So why not raise the bar and give us something a little different and unique? And why is Switch's idea of Christina being unique having her sound like his protégé's? The songwriting on this album also doesn't feel up to scratch. All of the uptempo's are pretty much about the same thing and it wears thin. I wanna f**k. I'm the baddest bitch. I do what I like. Kiss my ass. F**k you. I'm drinking. I look good. What is Christina trying to prove!? I love that Christina had fun with writing these songs, and she has a great chemistry with Claude Kelly who co-wrote the majority of the songs with her. But did we really need so many of these types of tracks? People called out Beyoncé for "Diva" and "Video phone", but honest to God: some of the tracks on Bionic are no better. Some of them aren't even as good.

When you're checking for an artist who makes a conscious effort to steer from big name producers and zig when people expected you to zag for three albums (I'm including Mi reflejo to the list alongside Stripped and Back to basics - because Britney sure as hell couldn't sing in Spanish) you can't help but feel deflated that after three steered albums and 2 year gaps in-between releases, Bionic is all you're left with. Christina wanted to get the conformist club joints out of her system after ten years of avoiding them; and that's fine. But none of the uptempo's will be remembered ten years from now. As much as I love "Desnudate", we'll see how memorable it is when some miscellaneous chick drops a Spanglish joint featuring Pitbull and Daddy Yankee which tears up dance floors. The album just feels buggered. The slow songs (as nice as a couple of them are) bring the album to a halt once they kick in. The uptempo's are okay, but they're not defining enough. As I was listening to the album I was waiting for Christina's "Get me bodied", "Upgrade U", "Poker face", "Gimme more" - and it never came.

Bionic sounds like an album Christina would have released years ago had she been more inclined to follow her peers. I'm not knocking Christina for going in a different direction back then, because it paid off. But when half an album you've put out in 2010 is sounding like something that should have released in 2003, you've got a bit of a problem.

The album also feels like an un-focused focus. You can hear Christina had a vision of what she wanted to do with the album, but the final tracklisting and the order of the tracks jumbles it into an inconsistent run through. In true Christina fashion she pads the album out a little too much. I love that a bitch doesn't do less than 15 tracks an album, but she needs to master the art of trimming the fat for a leaner tracklist. The extra songs just kill the direction of the project as a whole. It's honestly like Christina didn't know whether she wanted to go Urban, Euro-electro, Alternative or Pop - and at no point was able to make these styles meet in the middle and form a cohesive record. Stripped was overlong, but at least it managed to tie together nicely. I can't say the same about Bionic. It feels too all over the place and doesn't flow as well. You have half an album of club bangers and then slow songs (as good as they are) killing the pace. And then a bunch of whack uptempo's tacked on at the end. If there was any album that called for a I am... Sasha Fierce style divide across 2 discs, it was this one.

The only one aspect of this album I cannot fault is what Christina delivers vocally. She sounds amazing and has never played with her vocals the way she does on this album before. It's great that Christina has seen the light of less being more because she honestly sounds better on the likes of "Desnudate" and "Glam" than she does on the songs where she belts her heart out.

Long time Aguilera fans will love the hell out of Bionic. And because the album is so hedonistic; girls and gay guys will go mad at the thought of how amazing the songs would sound in the club, and all the freaky shit they could do on the floor to the songs. But for those who have never really been hot on Christina, there's not much with this album that's going to sway you into buying it and falling in love with her.

Bionic is one of Christina's weaker albums. I prefer more of the songs on Bionic, but as a body of work, Back to basics felt like it had more integrity and heart to it. And I'm not enough of a deluded fan to chalk that up to playing up to the album title. As for where the album stands in relation to Stripped: Bionic doesn't touch it. The only lasting impression this album leaves me with is how hot the album cover is (made even better in actuality as it's 3D). The best way I can describe Bionic is as: the album where Christina conformed and ended up coming up shorter than her peers as a result. Christina is better than this album. So much better.

4 out of 10
Album highlights:
■ Woohoo
■ Elastic love
■ Desnudate ★ J's fave
■ Glam
■ I am
■ You lost me


  1. *locks self in underground bunker*

  2. *joins J in underground bunker*

    I brought food and water!

  3. Got some tomato, pineapple, and mushroom right here. ;)

  4. you know i'm gonna spread some shit all over this when i can be bothered to write an essay ^_~ lol

  5. Junlee! Abort the pizza!! Abort the pizza!!!

  6. Goddammit...and I was just about to bust out the garlic butter.

    *aborts pizza*

  7. you two are such wind up merchants ~_~ smh

  8. You were gonna use garlic butter?

    *stands and thinks for a bit...*

    Continue the pizza!! Continue the pizza!!!

  9. Got'sta use garlic butter! ^_^

  10. Her bonus track, Bobblehead was good though!

  11. Don't hang me but I actually loved this album. It has good tracks. I just think that if she would've brought this album 2 years before when she said she was going to, it would have been better. But I think, this album was just an excuse to gain time and money before releasing Burlesque, because we all knew she was working in this project since 2009 or 2008. There are so many tracks that I loved.
    In my point of view, this album was for everyone to pick the style that they liked. I loved I hate boys, Sex for breakfast, lift me up, stronger than ever, Glam, Vanity, You lost me, bobblehead, birds of prey, desnudate... I see this album, more than a revolutionary greatselling album, a fun album where you can pick the tracks you like, pick the fun looks of a woman.
    As a woman myself I feel this album is exactly what a feminist, secure, hurt, vulnerable, fun, friend, mother, would think in their deep thoughts. For example, when a woman becomes a mother that doesn't mean she stopped being a woman... a woman wants a great guy who loves her back and treats her right, a woman wants pleasure, assurance, a girl's night, to feel desired, to protect others of her kind... etc.

    It may have been not great music from your point of view (and for many others point of view) and her team did not put too much effort in promoting it... plus all that dark campaing against her it was a fast dropping album, it delivers the sole purpose: to be a fun album.
    More than a top selling I see it as a form of expression from her.

    It's not bad to pressure an artist to make the right decision on releasing a track, but, if she wants to have fun and experiment with other type of sounds, good for her.... mmmm that's all. Don't hang me pleaseeeee T_T it's just what I think.


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