11 years ago today, Christina Aguilera released Bionic, an album that arguably threw her superstar career into disarray. Some fans loved it, others went off her, a few critics praised her creative new musical direction but many undeservedly slandered her for it. As I have previously written about it, it did however still have an impact on the music industry more than some are aware of or are willing to admit.
This top 10 list – following on from my list of favourite tracks from The Emancipation of Mimi – runs down my favourite tracks from this eclectic electro-pop album. Ones that cemented her as an artist to keep an eye and ears on, ones that continued to show she still had it as a powerhouse vocalist, and ones that are simply just great bangers! Honestly, there were many from the 24 tracks (18 including 3 interludes on the first disc, 5 on the second disc and one Apple iTunes exclusive) to choose from that didn’t make the cut – just as many tracks didn’t make the cut of the final album she released – including the album’s lead single Not Myself Tonight, Glam (described by many as a Vogue 2.0), Sex For Breakfast, Bobblehead, and the bittersweet Little Dreamer. Take a look at and listen to my top 10 below:
10) Birds of Prey
Co-written with electronic band Ladytron, who Aguilera said inspired part of the album’s style, this eerie track is one that intrigued fans and critics alike – they loved this very authentic sound that pretty much embodied the electronic pop direction she always described the album as going down. Taken from the second disc, which many people preferred and wished there were more tracks on, Birds of Prey’s lyrical meaning is not quite clear but it’s a song that would have fitted in with the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack, which was actually released that same year. A commercial marketing opportunity missed? I think so!
9) I Am
One of several songs co-written with Sia Furler and Samuel Dixon, I Am is a typical self-empowering Christina song. Soft and vulnerable but also assured and confident with pretty, light vocals, there’s not much to not like about the song. There are two versions – one on the first disc and a “Stripped” version on the second, which is a lot more musically subtle and is definitely a beautiful closer to the whole album.
8) Prima Donna
A real throw down of a club banger that I truly believe could have and should have been the album’s lead single if Not Myself Tonight hadn’t been presented to Xtina after the album was already finished. Her vocals are cocky, sassy and have a real air of confidence – just as the title suggests – as you imagine her strutting her way through a stage or a club in the music video showing everyone she’s in charge. Her punchy “I’M A PRIMA DONNA” line in the chorus is a delivery anyone would find hard not to get up and get down to.
A song that really set the album’s tone and another hot contender for what could have been the lead single – a fun, electric pop sound that rode the wave of what was popular at the time but was also unashamedly and unmistakably her own voice and style. As well as the lyrics and song’s elements having an almost camp sci-fi vibe, she further embraced the futuristic style of it with her head-turning galactic getup she donned for The X Tour in 2019.
Feeling her Latina roots, Desnudate sounds like something that would have taken Eurovision by storm. A real thumper of a Euro-dance-pop track, it’s sexy and catchy and has her exercising her Spanish tongue, which she unfortunately rarely does. It would be amazing to hear the full song in Spanish.
5) Stronger Than Ever
Hailed as Fighter 2.0, lyrically Stronger Than Ever is indeed very similar to one of Aguilera’s biggest hits. Another track co-written with Sia and Sam, this sweeping pop-rock ballad that burns and flares throughout would have done well as a radio-friendly single if she had given the album a chance and a bigger push.
4) Woohoo, featuring Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj can credit much of her mainstream success to Xtina, as Woohoo started to put her on the map when it was released to radio. A classic sexual Christina track with a Dirrty dancehall vibe and plenty of naughty lyrics, Woohoo is like the Candyman of the 21st Century. The twerkable beat near the end of the song is FIRE.
3) Lift Me Up
A favourite of many, especially because of the above performance which is praised as one of her best on a technical and emotional level, Lift Me Up is the only track from Bionic written by Linda Perry. A beautiful soft-rock song that talks of helping and supporting one another, it may be quite different to Beautiful and not quite on its level of simplicity and brilliance, but it’s certainly a standout on the album.
Vanity’s abrasiveness had a lot of Christina Aguilera haters out in full force nitpicking it. Of course, she called it simply a great song to get ready for a night out and have fun to, and it definitely is. It’s hilarious, full of sass and attitude, and just purely tongue-in-cheek – a “fuck you” to those haters who called her stuck-up, she wore the shoe that fits loudly and proudly. If you thought she was cocky after listening to Prima Donna then you were only being prepared for what the closing track of disc one had in store for you. But of course, the ultimate message of the song is that self-love is extremely important. The final nail in the coffin to the naysayers of the album in general comes towards the end when she belts the big glissando note – proving she still had it within her and was saving to let that big voice loose at the very end.
1) You Lost Me
Heartbreaking and heartstring-pulling ballads are an Xtina speciality – in fact any ballad where she lays her emotions on the table are a winner. You Lost Me, another masterpiece co-written with Sia which helped propel her to international solo stardom as an artist and songwriter – unfortunately failed to make an impact on any chart except the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart (which is an impressive feat considering its minimal success elsewhere) but was universally loved by fans and critics. If the album and Not Myself Tonight hadn’t already been sabotaged, You Lost Me may have fared better by the time it was released but of course, not long after breaking news of the end of her marriage came out so the song’s lyrical content was further scrutinised more than the song itself was given its due. The above remix of this song is an amazing must-listen to version.
So there you go both Fighters and non-Fighters. What are your thoughts on this list and how would you rank your favourite tracks from Bionic? Let me know in the comments below! #JusticeForBionic