Christina Maria Aguilera (born December 18, 1980) is an American pop singer and ex-Mouseketeer who rose to fame in 1999 with her debut hit song "Genie in a Bottle". As of 2004, she has achieved four number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, two US top 5 albums and won three Grammy Awards.
Christina Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York, but grew up primarily in Wexford, Pennsylvania. Her father, Fausto Aguilera, is of Ecuadorian descent and her mother, Shelly Kearns, is from Newfoundland and of remote Irish descent; both are fluent in Spanish. They met while he was serving on Earnest Harmon Air Force Base in Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador.
As a teenager, Aguilera sang the National Anthem before Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates games. In 1990, she appeared on Star Search but she didn't win. Her breakthrough came in 1993 when she joined The New Mickey Mouse Club. Her co-stars included Britney Spears, as well as Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez, who went on to join NSYNC, and Keri Russell, who would go on to become the star of Felicity.
Her first song was recorded in Japan, but she only caught the attention of Americans when she released the song "Reflection" for the Disney animated production of Mulan (1998). The video clip featured a young Christina with a bob hair cut. The song prompted RCA to offer her a contract.
Christina Aguilera: debut
Her self-titled album, Christina Aguilera, was released in 1999 and reached the top of the Billboard 200 and Canadian album charts, selling eight million albums in the US. "Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants" and "Come on Over Baby (All I Want is You)" all reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999 and 2000 and "I Turn to You" went top 5 in the US. Aguilera won the "Grammy Award for Best New Artist" in the Grammy Awards of 2000.
In the year 2000 she emphasized her Latino heritage, following the Latino trend of the time, by releasing her first Latin album, Mi Reflejo. This album was a version of her debut album in Spanish and reached number 27 on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Latin album charts. The single "Falsas Esperanzas" from the album reached the top 40 in Argentina in 2001. Ricky Martin asked her to a duet with him on "Nobody Wants To Be Lonely" on his Sound Loaded album released in late 2000. The song was released as the second single in 2001 going top 5 in the UK and Germany, top 40 in Canada, Switzerland and Australia.
The move towards a raunchier image was shown in her appearance in the video for "Lady Marmalade" which showed her, Lil Kim, Pink and Mya dressed in lingerie. The track was produced by Timbaland and Missy Elliott and appeared on the soundtrack for the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge!. The song, a remake of the 1975 hit by LaBelle, went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. The song also topped in Australia with the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack being the best selling album of 2001 in that country.
Stripped: career development
Her second official English language album was Stripped. This features many interludes, one before the track "Infatuation", which features her speaking Spanish, and a duet with Alicia Keys; however, Aguilera cannot speak Spanish fluently yet.
By the year 2002, however, her previously heralded vocals were much overlooked as she began to change her fresh, youthful image into that of a highly sexualized woman with hip-hop and porn-star influences. After the release of that album, she has taken part in photo shoots for the magazines Maxim, Rolling Stone, and Cosmo Girl. Many of these photographs featured her nude or semi-nude. At the same time, Aguilera began to cultivate a more sexually provocative image. She denied that this change was a matter of publicity, claiming that the erotic emphasis better reflected her true personality than did the image she cultivated in 1999. She told German paper Netzeitung, "I like having sex. It's fun....I love experimenting with my sexuality. I want to try out as much as possible. It would be wrong of me to hide this side of my personality. I have fun being sexy and tough at the same time."
The video for her 2002 single "Dirrty" featured her writhing with members of both sexes including a female-only shower scene in which she was wearing only a thong and a bra. As she puts it, "I like the way I am. This is how I bring out my sexuality."
The "Dirrty" video also made the news when the government of Thailand banned the video from national television, because a pair of posters that appear in the background of the boxing ring advertise, in the Thai language, the sex tourism and underage girls of Thailand. The producers and director of the video claimed to be ignorant of the meaning of the posters. She is currently banned from entering Thailand as it is considered to have offended the Thai people.
Musical peers such as Shakira, Jessica Simpson, and Kelly Osbourne criticized the video, but Aguilera responded by pointing out, "I may have been the naked-ass girl in the video, but if you look at it carefully, I'm also at the forefront. I'm not just some lame chick in a rap video; I'm in the power position, in complete command of everything around me. To be totally balls-out like that is, for me, the measure of a true artist."
Ironically, the new raunchy image seems to have negatively affected the sales of the album at least in the US when released in late 2002. While the album debuted at number 2 on the UK album charts and number 3 in Canada, it made a low entry given the success of her debut album. However, the success of subsequent singles off the album meant that Stripped reached a peak of number 2 on the Billboard 200 in 2004. The staying power of the album was also shown in the UK when the album was consistently in the top 20 of the album charts between late 2002 and mid 2004. The album is quadruple platinum in Australia despite only reaching a peak of number 7 - again a reflection of its consistency between late 2002 and 2004.
There have been a number of hit singles from Stripped including:
"Dirrty", the first single featuring rapper Redman went to number one in the UK, Ireland and was a top ten hit in the Netherlands, Spain and Australia - it only reached number 68 on the Billboard Hot100 reflecting the early sales backlash;
"Beautiful" went to number 1 in the UK and Ireland as well as the US top 40 and adult contemporary charts.
"Fighter" went to number 30 in the US and reached top 10 on world airplay charts.
"Can't Hold Us Down" another collaboration with Lil Kim was another top 5 hits on world airplay charts and reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100
"Beautiful" earned Christina Aguilera the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards of 2004. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) presented a special award for inclusion to her in February 2003 for the positive images of gay and transgender people.
Aguilera went so far as to condemn her work on her first album, telling an interviewer, "I was playing a part dictated by my then manager and my record company. I hated who I was back then..." The Stripped album contains a number of songs based on personal development themes including "Beautiful", "Fighter" and "I'm OK".
In early 2003 Aguilera aroused much comment when she gained a noticeable amount of weight. Aguilera was quoted as saying, "I couldn't care less about stupid diets. Eating is sensual and fun. I'm not going to let it be spoiled by calorie counting." Whether she will be able to reconcile this attitude to her sexually-charged image remains to be seen.
On June 4, 2003, she joined Justin Timberlake on his final portion of his international "Justified" tour, held in the United States. The tour became a co-headliner called the "Justified & Stripped" tour. In the 4th quarter of that year, Christina continued to tour internationally without Justin, and changed the name of the tour to only "Stripped" tour. During the tour she dyed her hair black. The tour was one of the top grossing tours of that year, as it sold out most of its venues. It also was named by Rolling Stone readers as the best tour of the summer.
In light of the tour's success, another United States tour was scheduled to begin in mid 2004 with a new theme and featuring Chingy as an opening act. This tour was scrapped due to Christina suffering vocal chord injuries shortly before its opening date. It was later reported by The Sun tabloid that low ticket sales and lack of new material were the major factors in the tour's cancellation.
2003 through 2004
Aguilera opened up a new vein of controversy in Autumn 2003 by viciously attacking fellow teen-pop musicians. She told Blender magazine, "Look at people like Beyoncé or Britney. They're desperate to come across as sweet, good little girls, but then you see them in photo shoots that are extremely sexual—tight little booty shorts, and not much else. So why do they try to be virginal in interviews?" Concerning her most formidable rival, Britney Spears, she claimed, "These people aren't artists; they're just performers—fake and superficial...I was up for kissing Britney, but Britney wasn't. She was....she seemed very distant, even during rehearsals. Every time I tried to start a conversation with her—well, let's just say she seemed nervous the whole time. I wanted to reach out to her, because I feel she needs somebody in her life right now to help guide her."
In a January 2004 interview with ZOO Magazine, it was revealed that Aguilera is possibly gay or bisexual. In the interview, she said that she enjoys kissing women, and that looking at women arouses her more sexually than looking at men. "I love to see a girl with a good booty," she said.
Aguilera decided to take on a more mature image; this move was widely praised by critics everywhere, who used punchlines like "from crass to class". She eventually dyed her hair cherry blonde. Aguilera recorded a jingle, "Hello", for a Mercedes-Benz ad, and became the new face of Mercedes-Benz. Shortly after, she dyed her hair blonde and cut it short, and took on a Marilyn Monroe look; she is believed by many of her fans to be one of the front-runners of the bringing back of the old Hollywood look trend, along with Gwen Stefani and Ashley Judd. She also appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards to premiere her new single with Nelly.
Christina Aguilera hosted Saturday Night Live on February 21, 2004. She was praised for her impersonation of Kim Cattrall's Sex and the City character Samantha. Then, in April, Christina was forced to cancel her upcoming US summer tour. Many critics shouted that the tickets were selling poorly and therefore Christina decided to cancel it. But Christina struck back that it was because of her doctor's instructions to rest her strained voice. Later, Christina admitted that the real reason for cancelling the tour was because she didn't like the set-up. She said it was too much like the "Stripped" tour and didn't see any point in doing another tour exactly the same.
In the run-up to the 2004 election, Aguilera was featured on billboards for the "Only You Can Silence Yourself" online voter registration drive run by the nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign, Declare Yourself.
In late summer, she released, almost consecutively, two singles. The first one, "Car Wash", was taken from the soundtrack of the hit movie Shark Tale which flopped. It is a collaboration with popular rapper, Missy Elliott, and is a cover version of Rose Royce's disco hit. The second is also a collaboration, but this time as a second single from one of Nelly's double release albums, Sweat, titled "Tilt Ya Head Back". Both singles flopped in US, but did considerably well in other parts of the world; the latter reached number 1 in a few countries like Philippines. "Tilt Ya Head Back", formerly rumored to be "Tilt Cha Head Back", was well-received in the US at first, but quickly deteriorated mainly due to its lack of radio appeal. "Tilt..." recently turned platinum in Australia, for selling over 40,000 singles, while "Car Wash" was Gold for selling only 25,000 copies of the single.
After much delay, Christina's first live recording DVD was released in November, excluding her performance of Make Over. In late December, she officially released a new perfume, Xpose, which has only been available in a few selected European countries not being accepted worldwide. Stripped also reappeared on the UK and Ireland album charts throughout the course of 2003 and 2004, mainly during Christmas.
After a failed relationship with Latin dancer, Jorge, which she chronicles in her song "Infatuation" from her sophomore album "Stripped", and an unnamed producer speculated to be Dallas Austin, she started dating music executive Jordan Bratman. After dating him for almost 2 years, their engagement was announced in February 2005.