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Liberation: Christina Aguilera’s New Beginning

It’s been over a month since Christina Aguilera, 37, released her eighth studio album, Liberation, after a six-year hiatus. With a new look and sound, she’s ready to embrace her musical genius and share it with the world again. It’s no surprise to huge fans of Xtina that she often jumped from genre to genre throughout her career since her debut in 1999. This time around, however, the pop queen looked towards hip-hop as an inspiration. Among these sonic changes, Aguilera went back to her creative story-telling roots to dig deep into her mental, professional and personal life. And with these characteristics, Liberation feels not only like an empowering movement, but an artistic breakthrough that contains ballads, dance tracks and great vibes that old and new fans can both enjoy – a clear indication that a new, liberated Xtina has truly emerged.

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Track Reviews (interludes are skipped):

Maria:
produced by Kanye West & Che Pope

Inside of my own mind, I believe my own lies. I’m facing the mirror. Where is Maria?”

With a smooth beat accompanied by a young Michael Jackson’s ad libs, Maria is a bold opener to Liberation that packs powerhouse vocals from Xtina with lyrics that tell the emotional story of stepping back into your own after feeling lost for so long. “I don’t know which way to go at this crossroads…” sings Aguilera as she struggles to find Maria, or her inner creative genius that has had a dream of reliving her days as a passionate artist. With six years of no music released, it’s no wonder Xtina feels this way. But with Maria, it’s clear that she’s fighting her way back to her artistic nature. 5/5

Sick of Sittin:
Produced by Anderson .Paak

I can’t live with these chains on me. I have to get free!”

Sick of Sittin’ feels like a playful track initially, but after several listens, it’s clear that Christina was sick of not singing as her tone exudes passion paired with a killer beat that has rock-n-roll feel to it. The lyrics showcase exactly what she’s sick of, and that ranges from the naysayers and haters all the way to the users and abusers. It’s certainly not “radio-friendly,” but this track is brilliantly placed after Maria and reveals to its listeners with absolute certainty that Christina Aguilera is back and here to stay. It just takes a couple of listens to receive the message. 3/5

Fall in Line ft. Demi Lovato:
Produced by Jon Bellion

“I got a mind to show my strength, and I got a right to speak my mind… I’ve got a fire in my veins. I’m never gonna fall in line.”

As the second single of Liberation, Fall in Line had a lot to overcome and accomplish. But with its powerful lyrics and vocalists, including 25-year-old songstress Demi Lovato, it would soon capture the hearts of many pop fans. What’s so great about Fall in Line is that it’s a continuation of Christina’s repertoire of inspiring songs for young women all over the world. Furthermore, its soulful sounds release such energizing and motivational sensations, that it makes you want to go out into the world, be bold, speak your mind, and stand up for what you believe in. 4.5/5

Fall in Line Music Video

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Right Moves ft. Keida & Shenseea:
Produced by Bryan “Composer” Nelson & Kosine

“Chills are running up my spine ’cause you got me to feel. All the thoughts I made up in my head, you’ve made ’em real with the right moves.

Right Moves is probably the most fun you’ll have in this album. Christina Aguilera isn’t afraid to bring back her sensual, sexy and fun vibes yet she incorporates a Caribbean backdrop with hip hop sounds while maintaining her pop roots. It’s a great sound for her and certainly expands her creative complexity to new heights. And with guest verses from Keida & Shenseea, the track is sure to get you dancing, and it’ll have you making all the “right moves” which includes listening to this song over and over again. 4/5

Like I Do ft. Goldlink:
Produced by Anderson .Paak

“This feeling is legendary. Welcome to my sanctuary. Every time like the first time, but baby, girls like me ain’t temporary.”

An intricately-produced song with a fiery beat, Like I Do is a winner, plain and simple. The song features an intro rap verse from Goldlink that is masterful. His flow works so well against the heavy bass and drums in the background with clever lyrics that roll off the tongue. And by the time Aguilera’s vocals arrive, the song soars into a groove that makes it one of the best vibes of the album. You can tell Xtina had fun with this one with a tone, ad libs and lyrics that usher in a playful nature to the song. And ultimately, her confidence seeps through which makes Like I Do that much more enjoyable. 5/5

Deserve:
Produced by MNEK

Sometimes we can’t kick the habit of being dramatic. It’s almost becoming a sickness.”

Perhaps the most commercial song on the album, Deserve feels the most radio-ready. Not only does it hit the right and appropriate pop waves, but it’s a smooth cluster of emotion that makes it stand out from a hip hop-inspired compilation of songs. Xtina’s voice is superb on this track as she very easily sails from the lyric-heavy verses to the slower-tempo, catchy chorus. It’s the perfect blend of multiple genres with a classic beat that “deserves” recognition and its spot on radio stations. 4.5/5

Twice:
Produced by Kirby Lauryen

“Sometimes I wonder what is the meaning of my life. I found the price of love and lost my mind.”

Twice is a stripped-back ballad with a beautiful melody sang to a simple piano tune on Liberation’s upbeat-heavy track list. It feels like the true winner of the album and the core of its intention, which is all thanks to Xtina’s wonderful tone and emotionally piercing lyrics that  express the understandable fear of losing yourself in love and life. The harmonies carry the intensity so well and the song feels like it reflects on where Aguilera has been emotionally in this six-year hiatus. Of all the songs on the album, Twice is the most pure and comes from a place of honesty, which is Christina Aguilera at her best. 5/5

Accelerate ft. Ty Dolla $ign & 2 Chainz:
Produced by Kanye West, Che Pope & Mike Dean

“All my boss ladies, go get your Mercedes. No matter long as you get there, just don’t let it drive you crazy.”

As the first single released from the album, Accelerate is very entertaining and ambitious. The lyrics are simple, but the supporting beat amplifies the song into one that could easily find its way into dance clubs. The song features Ty Dolla $igns, the first voice you hear on the track, and 2 Chainz, whose intro blasts through boldly, and is accompanied by a sick bass and trap beat. One of the best parts of the song, however, is the outro which contains smooth ad libs from Aguilera in a pattern that’ll have you “bopping” your head to its flow. In short, it’s great. 3.5/5

Accelerate Music Video

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Pipe ft. XNDA:
Produced by Sango & Neenyo & Che Pope

“I need some receipts. All that shit that you said you was gon’ be doing to me last week.”

This is it. Pipe is the best song on the album with the perfect combination of hip-hop & R&B, Xtina’s classic sultry sound and a tempo that puts you in the best mood. The song comes later in the album at track #13, where a spot like this often feels like a “throw-away.” Luckily for long-time fans of Aguilera, the track provides angelic, soft-toned vocals with a beat that is sure to have you repeating this song often. And perhaps more subtly, it includes some beautiful background runs in the intro & outro that lets its listeners soak up the smooth and seductive lyrics… It’s HOT! 5/5

Masochist:
Produced by Darhyl “Hey DJ” Camper Jr & Tim Anderson

The more I stay in this madness, the more the hurt is my comfort and release. And maybe I’m just too damaged to really know what’s good for me.”

Compared to other tracks on the album, Masochist feels the most different on Liberation, sonically. What saves it from being a stand-out (in a negative way) is certainly the lyrics, whose heavy connotations of self-harm from love feels familiar and relatable for those who’ve endured heartbreak. And though it feels a little out of place and like it doesn’t belong on the album production-wise, the song holds true value because it gives meaning behind lyrics that can pierce anyone’s heart. Plus, it’ll be hard to NOT sing along. 3/5

Unless it’s With You:
Produced by Ricky Reed

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the way that people change. The most beautiful beginnings can go down in flames; it’s inevitable, and that’s what’s got me so afraid. I’d rather be alone.”

Unless It’s With You is Aguilera at her finest. She beautifully taps into her emotional side, and reminds us that it’s OK to be vulnerable. The song is about her fear of remarrying because of the fairy tale it so often portrays in the early stages of a relationship; but as it progresses, it often leads to sadness. Of all the songs on Liberation, Unless It’s With You has the most depth to it with lyrics that pinch at your heart. We’ve all at one point felt apprehensive about love, so it won’t be difficult to connect to this song. But it’s Aguilera’s crystal clear vocals that provide a sentimental ambience to close out the album – a song that beautifully captivates her breakthrough and grip on her “new-found” freedom and creative direction. 5/5

Overall, Liberation, Aguilera’s eighth studio album, is an expressive body of work that contains songs full of life, love and fun. The album contains hit after hit with lyrics that display all sides of the pop queen, resulting in a project that is vulnerable Xtina at her best since Back to Basics. It’s so refreshing from a creativity standpoint, and when you compare it to modern pop music. And ultimately, Christina Aguilera reminds us that vulnerability, honesty and sensuality are all part of being human and necessary to truly feel liberated.

Liberation is available at all streaming services and in stores now!

Categories: All Reviews, Music

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