The Real Mes

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I bought Christina Aguilera’s Stripped Live in the UK DVD because, and only because, it was on sale at Astrovision Glorietta. If you think about it, self, the only time you ever buy Xtina is when she’s on sale which happens to be all the time. She’s cheap lately. I got Back to Basics, Bionic and Greatest Hits CDs at bargain basement prices. I was also given a Burlesque soundtrack CD as a gift because it was on sale and because the giver is poor. Joke.

The DVD starts with Stripped Intro from the album Stripped, and it’s just the sort of concert intro you’d expect from her from a song called ‘Stripped’. In it are the proclamations of breaking free, independencehood and barriers overcomings, blehlehleh, the ceremonious pop star outpouring of true feelings and the image-peddling (no make-up, no hype, no gloss, no pretense, just me… stripped…). K. It was all expectedly edgy and okay because it was a pre-taped video of the Aguilera that’s about to unfold before the probably unwitting London Wembley Arena crowd and myself, since I bought and secured for myself the company of Xtina, even though I know money is precious.

The intro nicely (or whateverly) segues into Dirrty, probably my favorite Xtina song because it has a great, ear-oppressing beat and lyrics that I like, and suddenly I’m back at a place where I don’t find her super annoying. I like Dirrty live performances because I know in my heart that each time Dirrty gets a stage performance, the result will never be short of sluttily attired ladies and gentlemen gyrations. It is for me the Xtina song that just will never stop giving.

But by the time I get to Voice Within, the song which has a Positive Message, I realize and tell myself as if I haven’t already a million times before, why I find it hard to not mock her whether in my mind or with people with the same hobby, and here are the reasons why:

1. She really oversings. It’s true what the 1,723 music critics and blog trolls have been saying. I have no freshness in my thoughts right now so let this be my contribution to that movement.

2. She flickers her fingers in her mic which I find distracting. If that was meant to give her performance some sort of character, congrats for the attainment of just such a goal.

3. Her platitudes are outrageous. They are excessive and only ever slightly less irritating than her outrageous growls. She propels causes such as female empowerment – specifically that of being allowed to behave sluttily and being regarded not as such (slut) but as equals of slutty guys. She expounds the merits of an equal opportunity-giving society while showing ass and singing semi-filthy lyrics to a crowd of thousands.

4. She’s smug. Stop me with the ‘show don’t tell’ horseshit. I’m not the DVD.

5. It’s not her exclusive territory, the spouting of The Real Me grand announcements, but she is maybe the least convincing pop star to ever profess to the public that the real me is this nose pierce having growler and not the record label’s manufactured pop star that you see in your screens or wherever. This reminds me of the one and only Glitter, specifically the sequence where the music video director tells Billie Frank’s music video people, ‘the glitter must not overcome the artist!’ (or something), which unfortunately for Mariah, the Glitter overcame her in 2001. For ‘Tina, the goth aspirations era overcame the artist.

I really, really would rather have affectionate feelings for her instead of saying all these, but she makes it so hard. She almost wins me over for things like Get Mine, Get Yours aka Skank Persons’ Theme. I would say that UK Live is maybe the first time I ever appreciated Fighter as there were some great dancing in it. It’s usually hard for me to do, not hate Fighter, because when you listen to a Xtina song called Fighter you know there will be haterade renouncements, which if that’s your thing, you’ll get plenty of in Lotus. But what really bugs me about Xtina is the I don’t give a shit posing. The problem with acts and pronouncements of non-shit givings is that the shit tends to leak one way or the other. In short, she gives some version of shit whether she’s conscious of it or not. It is my hope that she commit.

Someone once told me that I am secretly a fan of hers. Two people, actually: myself and someone keenly observing my DVD/CD-buying patterns (which is basically guided by ‘say yes to cheapness’). I reason that the Christina Aguilera-hoarding is so that I can hate her more but actually it feels more like hope. Christina Aguilera is maybe the person I encounter everyday that I don’t exactly want to tolerate because my heart is clearly a forgiving and tolerant heart, and so I tolerate anyway. None of which matters because loudly and clearly, words won’t bring Xtina down.

Glitterific


I’m secretly fascinated by Christina Aguilera. She’s the kind of putrid I can’t take my eyes off of. I am both amazed and annoyed by her huge voice. But more annoyed than amazed. What is said of her penchant for big, showy belting, that she’s doing it to impress not express, I wholeheartedly agree. The fascination is due to the most obvious fact of all time: Christina Aguilera’s career trajectory is a drag queen impersonation of Mariah Carey’s. Guess which singer had the same criticism about her huge voice being all about impressing than expressing? That’s right, it’s not Britney.

But Christina fails so constantly and I almost feel sorry for her. Burlesque was her shot at making the expensive, explosive bomb of her career and she nixed it with a decent but still unremarkable performance. She had the benefit of precedents for pop star movie disasterpiece: Madonna’s Swept Away, Britney’s Crossroads, and the one and only Glitter, which should explain why she turned out okay in this. And through no fault of her own, she was backed by interesting supporting actors to anchor what should have been the Christina Aguilera addition to the Big Fat Flop cannon. It shatters me even that Express is so much better sounding than Loverboy could ever hope to be.

You can smell the desperation of some critics to declare this movie as the second coming of Glitter or Showgirls, two movies which should be offended for being associated with this limp dick. Burlesque just isn’t bad enough. It’s very trashy but also highly enjoyable. I find it difficult to find fault in a movie that has about 8 Cell Block Tangos in it. The Express number alone is worthy of the price of admission. Kirsten Bell in a bitcherrific role who gets to speak the movie’s outstanding contribution to film bitchery, ‘I will not be upstaged by a bitch with mutant lungs!’ is just a bonus. For lack of a Rob Marshall dance flick to satiate my basest desire for movie musicals, Burlesque comes as a gift from baby Jesus.

That Glitter was a huge flop is a distinction I’m actually fine with because its alleged awfulness at least had character. It flopped tremendously and so it belonged to history. It will not be forgotten. Christina and Burlesque is sadly not of the caliber of the Truly Awful which is a pity. She could have had her very own Glitter but she failed by doing just fine. She didn’t even get a Razzie nomination. She failed to fail spectacularly but at least she failed with Cher.

The Mariah parallel is really not so bad. Look no further than the bestsellingest album of 2005 for proof that great artists can transcend Glittery career setbacks. Christina Aquilera is a good singer. She’s one of the most beltingest hence one of the most well regarded singers, and if she is seriously devoted to following the footsteps of her most obvious predecessor, she will make her own The Emancipation of Mimi. And if she’s really, really serious, she will find her own Lee Daniels and make him cast her in a dowdy social worker role, and star in her own Precious. She may not get an Oscar nomination for it but it will get her back on track. But the way things are going, she will probably star in a comedy with Adam Sandler and do okay and that will be it. She has a way of watering down things to her disadvantage. She is half-assed through and through. But I won’t lose hope just yet. There’s a tiny part of me that roots for the lately underdogging Christina. She long ago launched an alter ego – Xtina. She’s getting there. But in terms of on-screen persona (alleged) awfulness, Ali is no Billie.

Girls and Boys, Slut and Junkie

It doesn’t look like Tori Amos is going to be making the type of songs she used to make. Sarah McLachlan looks happy lately which doesn’t bode well for those who yearn for the angsty Sarah of old. Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson fill the void for the meantime and Ingrid Michaelson in particular fills the Sarah void with the singer-songwriter sincerity that’s been missing from pop lately. I’d buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair is one of the sweetest things I ever heard in a song because you can tell it’s an actual situation where she’s getting that and it’s a sentiment close to me because some of my hair is falling. The feeling I get from her Girls and Boys is the same feeling I had when I first heard Surfacing and Candy-coated Waterdrops by Plumb. This instantly goes to my list of if Emergency Albums to Listen to If I Had One Day to Live.

For the last few days, I allowed myself to get harassed by Christina Aguilera’s Bionic which is quite the epic failure. Because it’s out there begging to be appreciated for its artistry, I permitted it to assault me with its sexiness. For lack of prominent things to download, I did Bionic and what an assault to the senses that was. What it does best, if anything, is it makes you appreciate all the musicians you used to take for granted, ie Madonna, who she apes in a song called Glam, a song that wishes it were Vogue. That and much more. Bionic is such an embarrassing thing to listen to. Pussy songs and baby songs sit side by side each other. I wish I’m just trying to sound clever but it really is an awkward thing to slog through. Christina thinks no one has ever heard of Santogold so she does her and thinks no one will notice. It’s such a shame because I had high hopes for her! Burlesque the movie is one of my most anticipated things this year and I’m hoping it turns out really bad/good but more bad. I hope Christina skanks it up to unprecedented heights in that movie.

Alanis Morrisette’s The Couch could be a movie. In the same way that Aimee Mann’s songs were turned into Magnolia. The Couch would be about a dysfunctional family that spans generations of therapist-seeing children and parents, set in a mood that is as haunting and as colorful as the song’s mood and tone. I really can’t tell mood apart from tone and it is for albums such as this that makes me wish I know how else to say How Gorgeous. Alanis herself can star in it, maybe play the role of the therapist or whoever. Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie could be a musical even. It would of course be a high art, high concept type of musical that would be beautifully worded and sung and people wouldn’t mind the artiness of it because it would be meticulously crafted just like its source album which is one of the bestest things I ever heard ever.