If anyone knows anything about me, they’d know I’m a big Christina Aguilera fan. Since she first sang Reflection for the Mulan soundtrack back in 1998 and every step of the way throughout her 24-year-long career so far, I’ve been enraptured by her and advocated for and supported her.
And if anyone knows much about what it’s like being a fan of hers, they’d know it’s always been a tough time. Constantly grappling with her being compared by the media and other fan bases to artists who came before her, are her contemporary peers and even those who came after her, waiting too many years for even a hint of new music being written let alone hearing the actual new music, and knowing she is quite shy and reclusive when it comes to having a social media presence – which for some others appears to be an essential ask if you want to stay “relevant”. Then there’s the sad reality that due to those big gaps in her music releasing career and other reasons, she has unfortunately struggled to regain much of the popularity and chart success she once had.
But if anyone knows much about Christina herself, they’d know she has repeatedly said that she no longer worries herself with trying to sell millions of records or having chart success. Of course, naysayers who only measure people by recent numbers and recent success will disagree, but that’s beside the point.
It can be sometimes be a little frustrating. She will release great new music that gets little recognition and the vast majority of the public will not even know it’s out. Such as when I heard she was coming back to the UK again to tour after she was last here in 2019 and in 2006 before that, people would say “I didn’t know she had new music out!” or “is she still going?” The answer to that statement and question is YES.
The new music in question is her second Spanish-language album Aguilera, originally released as three separate EPs. It’s been an extremely long time coming since her first in 2001, Mi Reflejo, and one I remember her first promising back in 2004 after the success of Stripped… So while of course she is now touring to promote it – which includes a few shows in Spain, as you would expect – it almost seemed a little bizarre that she is even performing in the UK or at least using the same setlist. Though perhaps not quite as bizarre as deciding to do a show in Scarborough… Alongside sunny Scarborough is a show in London, Brighton Pride (which she is headlining), and Liverpool, where I saw her.
As I said in my last review in 2019, one thing that certainly continued to pleasantly surprise me this time is how excited so many people were to see her live in what was an almost sold out show. Of course, many will have been excited because they were maybe a similar age to her or younger when she first came out on the scene in the late 90s and may not have had the chance to see her live before (understandable seeing how little she has toured here). But now this was their chance to see the powerhouse pop Princess.
However, what I can imagine many were thinking is that they were not expecting to listen to her sing songs in Spanish. And as I said before, most probably never even knew about Aguilera. Perhaps, if in a similar vein to The X Tour in 2019, the UK leg of this tour should have been more like a greatest hits show. And in a way it was, but many big hits were missing. My main gripe with The X Tour and this was that many songs – especially more ballads – could have been added to the setlist. Hurt, Reflection (particular now she’s since re-recorded a new version) and You Lost Me are just a handful of songs she has once again missed off. And she may be a fan of performing the title song from Bionic a lot but Not Myself Tonight needs and deserves some justice!
Others from the previous tour not in this one include The Voice Within, Come On Over (All I Want is You) and Accelerate but at least there were fewer songs given less than a minute’s airtime. Somos Nada from Aguilera might have been nice to hear too. But Christina, hun, nobody really wants to hear Feel This Moment or Moves Like Jagger anymore! I would have also loved her to perform Car Wash, which she did for first time ever at LA Pride recently.
In addition, the staging and even her costumes were downsized from the previous tour. I wasn’t expecting a Pride flag coloured leotard and a She-Hulk-esque getup complete with a great green dildo like at her LA Pride performance, but some of her outfits on The X Tour were certainly still eye-popping. Here they were more demure – for her anyway – and a little less flashy, from metallic silver chaps for the opener of Dirrty and Can’t Hold Us Down to the racy sequinned bodice for Express and Lady Marmalade, Christina is known for her love of body-hugging bodysuits that accentuate her nature Latina curves and bust up her bust.
But while Xtina may minimise the staging for her shows to be less high tech and stylised, or simply less busy compared to the likes of Lady Gaga, she makes it up with her fun and sexy stage presence and her ability to mesmerise and wow with impressive and often gorgeous vocal moments – it’s all eyes and ears on her rather than an overload of senses, people, props and sets on a huge stage.
And talking of vocals, Christina continues to prove why she is so often considered “The Voice of her generation”. From the climatic D5 run in Dirrty to the blasting C#5 note kicking off Ain’t No Other Man, from the angelic high falsetto in What a Girl Wants to the roaring run at the end of Lady Marmalade and from the pretty tone used in Say Something and Beautiful, Aguilera never fails to please crowds.
If there’s one thing about Xtina people should not underestimate, it’s her power – whether that’s her staying power, her vocal power or her inspirational power as a woman who has been through a lot, come out the other side stronger than ever and continues to spread love to her fans – she’s still a superstar worthy of the love, worthy of the respect and worthy of the success.