Back to Basics
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2006, Volume 13, #9
Written by Matt Parish
Christina Aguilera has talent, pure and simple, but her latest effort Back to Basics is a considerably flawed affair. Although it is intended to be a clever, retro-morph that fuses the styles of legendary jazz and blues artists from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s with more modern freestyle club and dance beats, one is left with the feeling that the outing is little more than an ego-driven, vanity project. For proof, look no further than the songs’ titles — four of them (Makes Me Wanna Pray, I Got Trouble, Mercy on Me, and Save Me from Myself) are stuck in a first-person perspective. As for the intro, it not only unimaginatively is titled Intro (Back to Basics), but it also regurgitates the same "prizefight" beginning the she utilized on the far superior Stripped.
Back to Basics spreads 22 songs across two discs, and as with almost all double albums, there is more filler than killer. In fact, only Candyman, Ain’t No Other Man, and the gorgeous Oh Mother are unequivocally successful. Still Dirrty is a decent song, but it suffers from the same self-absorption that plagues the rest of the affair. F.U.S.S. is a "diss" that was intended for former producer Scott Storch, but Aguilera’s lyrics, which essentially list a bunch of song titles, read more like a text message than like poetry. Even the self-serving Thank You (Dedicated to the Fans), which appears at the end of the first half, struggles to fuse its Genie in a Bottle sample with the gushing adulation of a fan’s phone messages. The remainder of the beautifully produced Back to Basics is a mixture of vintage album crackling and stomping brass arrangements that would have worked more effectively had the endeavor had more than one subject as its focus. It’s the aural equivalent of the old joke, "Enough about me, let’s talk about you…How do you think I look in this dress?" ½
49th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance
Ain't No Other Man
Back to Basics is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box