Christina Aguilera's Lotus

It wasn’t critically acclaimed. It failed to reach Bionic sales, which were incredibly low themselves. But is it really that bad of an album? Christina Aguilera’s Lotus raises the bar for other albums released in 2012, lyrically and sonically. As always, Aguilera brings edginess to her music, making it an improvement over the other pop records released in 2012. Huge vocals, (mostly) deep lyrics, and danceable beats define the record. It’s Christina Aguilera. What more can listeners expect?

1. Lotus (Intro) 4/5

After Bionic, listeners would expect her to stay far, far, far away from the genre of electro-pop. Instead, she opens the record with a pure electro-pop song. ‘Lotus (Intro)’ is done much better than the electro-pop on Bionic, however. The lyrics are simple, but beautiful. The chant at the end is absolutely incredible. It’s far from single material, but it is still a great introduction. It opens the gates to the album, in which strength is a central theme.

2. Army of Me 5/5

It was described as ‘Fighter 2.0’, which it really isn’t, sonically. It’s a pop track, while ‘Fighter’ is rock. Everyone had great expectations for ‘Army of Me’. It didn’t meet the expectations, simply because it’s nothing like the original, bar the lyrics. Instead, ‘Army of Me’ is its own song. It’s a classic Christina Aguilera song. The lyrics are empowering, “one of me is wiser, one of me is stronger, one of me is a fighter, and there are 1000 faces of me.” It’s lyrical edginess and the radio-friendly melody could make the song a massive hit.

3. Red Hot Kinda Love 3/5

‘Red Hot Kinda Love’ gives Aguilera the chance to do another genre, this time reggae. It’s unpredictable, as it’s one of the few genres she hasn’t done. It has a very catchy chorus, but the song itself is lackluster for a Christina Aguilera song. Because of her past works, I hold her to incredibly high standards. While the song is far from a bad song, it’s far from her best. Most people regard it as one of the highlights from the album. It’s fun.

4. Make the World Move 3/5

I think this was a really good attempt at whatever she was trying to accomplish. I, like most, find it to be an unnecessary track. With songs like ‘Army of Me’, ‘Best of Me’, or ‘Empty Words’ on the album, ‘Make the World Move’ fade into one of the weakest songs on the record. Like the previous track, it’s a good song, but she has the capability to do better. I have a good feeling that it was for promotion for her show The Voice, as CeeLo Green has a part in the song. The lyrics are empowering, but the cheesiness might overpower the empowerment she was going for.

5. Your Body 4/5

'Your Body’ was advertised as her comeback song. Was it? Nope. As a listener, it’s a really great track. Why radio didn’t play it, I’m not sure. It’s catchy, fun, and it’s a Max Martin song. It’s a classic top 40 radio pop song. As a fan, I can’t help but have a certain negative feel towards it, because it was a Max Martin song. It was an important song, as she needed (and still needs) a hit to prove that she is still a superstar. But Max Martin doesn’t give room for as much creativity. That said, it’s certainly one of his highlights. Some other singers who collaborate with him more often could only dream of singing this. It’s a really fun song, though.

6. Let There Be Love 4/5

‘Let There Be Love’ is another Max Martin collaboration. Unlike ‘Your Body’, it doesn’t quite give her as much room to showcase her huge voice. It could potentially be sung by a musician with much less musical integrity. That said, it’s a much more radio-friendly song than the previous, and much catchier. It’s ready for radio. I think it should have been the lead single, rather than the previous track.

7. Sing for Me 5/5

Christina Aguilera is known for ballads like ‘Beautiful’, ‘The Voice Within’, and ‘Hurt’, and for a good reason. She does them so much better than dance songs. ‘Sing for Me’ is no exception. The lyrics are very deep and personal. As a listener, I connect to the lyrics ‘Sometimes when I’m sitting all alone feeling so so lonely wishing someone knew me, all I have is three notes playing”. Songs like ‘Sing for Me’ are the reasons I’m such a fan. Her ability to write songs and connect to them is incredible. I love every second of this raw, introspective ballad.

8. Blank Page 5/5

To many, this is the highlight of the album. I can’t say they’re wrong. ‘Blank Page’ is one of her best songs to date. It has a very simple feel to it. It could almost fit on Back to Basics, which I consider the best album of all time. It’s no wonder that I consider this one of the highlights on Lotus. The lyrics are very personal to her. She sings it with such emotion. It’s possibly one of the best songs ever. The song has its soft moments, which are gorgeous. Of course, it has its powerful spots, which are amazing in a completely different way. When I listen to Christina Aguilera songs, this is exactly what I expect.

9. Cease Fire 5/5

This is a new sound for Christina. I’m not sure what genre it is considered. Whatever it is, she should do more of it. It’s easily my favorite song on Lotus. It’s everything a song could be. It’s powerful, deep, emotional, and even catchy! Even though it’s a ballad, I had it stuck in my head more than ‘Let There Be Love’ or ‘Your Body’. It’s truly a musical masterpiece. This is a song more people need to hear. It’s not advertised as an album highlight by her label, but it is easily the best song she’s done in over half of a decade. It’s a perfect song.

10. Around the World 5/5

‘Around the World’ is a dance song. It’s on a completely different level than any of the Max Martin songs, however. While it’s radio friendly and catchy, it strays outside the boundaries of a normal pop song. It has an urban feel to it, a side she hasn’t shown since Stripped, which was a decade ago. It doesn’t have the shine of the other dance tracks, but it has Christina written all over it. It’s one of those songs that only she could sing. Give it to another pop singer and they would fail at a song like this. It’s a classic Christina song.

11. Circles 3/5

This song is so… different from the rest of the album, which talks more about praise than hate. This is definitely a message to her haters. She certainly does a great job of letting her haters know what she thinks about them. But it’s one of the more irritating songs on the album. The chorus is repetitive and a tad annoying, as much as I don’t want to admit it. The idea was genius. The execution could have been improved. It’s a pop-rock song, but not nearly as epic as ‘Fighter’.

12. Best of Me 5/5

‘Best of Me’ is the most emotional song on Lotus. It’s a less in your face message to her haters. It does its job perfectly. It’s a very beautiful song, and is very different from her other ballads. It isn’t polished, which makes it much more emotional. It’s also her best vocal performance since 2006’s Back to Basics. As said earlier, she does a great job connecting to a lyric. She proves that again here.

13. Just A Fool 5/5

Up until this point in her career, she had experimented with every genre except for one. That is country. After this point, she has experimented with even country. How amazing this song is surprised me, and I had very high expectations for the song. She connects with the lyrics so well. I’m not a country fan by any means, but I’ve always thought Blake Shelton had a great country voice. He proves it in this song. Unlike the other collaboration (‘Make the World Move’), this is done perfectly. It’s such an amazing song!

14. Light Up the Sky 5/5

‘Light Up the Sky’ is a bonus track. I’m not sure why. I prefer it over half the standard album, even most of the ballads. This is just behind ‘Cease Fire’ for my favorite song on the album. It starts off with just her and a piano, a sound we don’t hear near enough. However, the chorus is an explosion. Even through some autotune (which is obviously not needed, but is used surprisingly well in this song), her voice proves to be simply perfect. It also includes my favorite lyric on the entire album. “We can have wings; We can fly. We can be kings; You and I; Wipe away the tears from our eyes; We light up the sky”.

15. Empty Words 4/5

A lot of people compare ‘Empty Words’ to her iconic hit ‘Beautiful’. I don’t see the similarities at all. I also fail to see why this was a bonus track instead of ‘Circles’. The lyrics are the most empowering on the album, beating some very strong competition for this award. It’s a very uplifting track. Sonically, it’s a tad lackluster. It is a bit slow, but not quite a ballad. It’s not catchy, either. The lyrics definitely make the song special, not the melody.

16. Shut Up 2/5

I’m being generous giving this trainwreck a 2/5. It’s bad, and I’m a huge Christina Aguilera fan. I’m not really insulting her though. The chorus is made up of a choir, with no vocals from the vocal queen herself. I’m sure there were some other songs recorded that were better than this, like ‘Easier to Lie’? It’s just a bad song. There’s nothing good I can say about it, except for the notes after the bridge, which at least make the song somewhat tolerable.

Lotus is a cut above any album released this year. It has its fun moments. It has its personal moments. Like most albums, it has its really bad moments. Is it the best album released in 2012? Without doubt, it is. However, I feel like Aguilera held back from what she can do to get a hit, which ultimately failed. I still believe she’ll get a hit with ‘Just a Fool’, ‘Blank Page’, ‘Army of Me’, or maybe even ‘Cease Fire’. It’s a great album though. Although it seems the Lotus era will be cut short do to its commercial failure, the introduction is correct when it states this is only the beginning. Even after over a decade in the industry, she still has amazing work to come.

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