In the 'Intro'
we hear a man say "That's how music should sound"
. That's generally the point of the album, to make an album full of proper music it's OK to like and if you don't like it you don't music. Christina seems to sneer at her contemporaries and let's the phenomonal success of 'Stripped'
go to her head. She thinks she's better than everyone else. With 'Makes Me Wanna Pray'
, I really want to believe her, as her voice is on top form and the song rocks my socks.
Then with 'Back In the Day'
the true cuntiness of Christina's campaign is revealed as she namechecks every soul artist that everybody should like, hoping they can rub off on her. Whilst looking down her nose that her contemporaries who won't embrace an old sound, she sings "when the originators, innovators were alive"
. Which is ironic, as had she been around when these innovators had been around, she'd've sneered at them and adopted a more traditional sound, just as she is here.'I Got Trouble'
is the song played at the beginning of the 'Ain't No Other Man'
video and is probably the most jazz filled soul-tastic moment of indulgence, in the middle of the second disc. I was actually pleased they kept the tinniness and static sound throughout. It adds to the authenicity of the song.'Still Dirrty'
seems to be Christina justifying her actions from the last album. She declares "I still got the dirrty in me"
, whilst wearing her polished Monroe-esque, blonde look. 'F.U.S.S.'
then namechecks her songs from 'Stripped'
. I don't know what point she's trying to prove here, perhaps that though her sound has changed, apparently, and she's grown, she's still that same person she was four years ago. She still carries the hurt around. And most importantly, she's still very good at the sex, but now she saves it for her husband. In contrast to the pain of 'Stripped'
, 'Back To Basics'
is a much happier album.
For example lead single 'Ain't No Other Man'
and 'Candy Man'
are joyful celebrations of life and love and work the soul sound to perfection. 'Ain't No Other Man'
has a kick to it, and is a horn-fest (in more ways than one!). 'Candy Man'
is debauched Christina being retro to the extreme. This should be a single at some point. It hits every mark, it's sexy, it's retro, it's cool, it's naughty, it uses sweet-analogies and Aggy's vocals are on top form. 'Without You'
is also a happy song about being loved up. Let's remember that since 'Stripped'
Christina has found love and got married. But rather your typical Christina-let's-have-sex ballad, 'Without You'
shows maturity and devotion. 'Understand'
swings silkily with a Kanye West style annoying high pitched sample. However, though Christina claims to be going back in the day, 'Understand'
and 'Slow Down Baby'
really don't sound that far away from what she was doing anyway. Once you see past the pretentious sentiment, the album isn't half bad at all, 'Slow Down Baby'
is another slinky number, this time empowered and uptempo.
As if 'Still Dirrty'
wasn't enough to convince us that Christina is still dirty, we get an intrusion into her bedroom with 'Naughty Nasty Boy'
in which Aggy sings "You want a taste of the sugar below my waist"
and "put your icing on my cake"
. Which is just classy. Horns blast through out making the whole thing even more boudoir-esque. Quite frankly, I feel queasy. And remind me never to bake a cake with Christina.'Hurt'
is the next single. It's the obligatory inspirational, chilling, sensational, tortured ballad which pushes Christina's vocals to the limits. As I said, it's chilling and sensational full of strings and pianoes and pain. 'Save Me From Myself'
is equally tortured, and beats 'Hurt', and just about any other Christina song ever, for vocals. Both so growth and progression from 'Beautiful'
and 'The Voice Within'
.'Back To Basics'
is 22 songs long (that's double 'B'Day'
) and is spread over two discs. Though two discs seems insane, one of the main complaints of 'Stripped'
was that it went on for two long, that being 20 songs long (with interludes). It appears Christina is literally splitting an overly long album into two halves, making it more manageable. That has to be commended. The debate, however, is whether or not 22 songs are needed in the first place...
is amazing if you are one of the fans on it, I'd imagine, and it once again takes Christina back, even further this time, to 'Genie In A Bottle'
. But it really could've been left for a bonus edition or re-issue. And surely a real 'Thank You'
would be one you wouldn't have to pay for? The intros, 'Intro (Back To Basics)'
and 'Enter The Circus'
make for a great live show I'm sure, but again, aren't really necessary.
I'd've got rid of 'On Our Way'
too. It's very similar melodically to 'Without You'
and it's very nothingy. 'Here To Stay'
and 'Mercy On Me'
are the same. They are both non-entities of songs that we've heard before from Christina, her vocals were on top form, I can't deny her that, but the lyrics are very inspirational and cliche and the songs goes nowhere fast. And 'Mercy On Me'
proves once and for all that Jesus should stick to alchemy and keep his nose out of pop music.
I could do without 'The Right Man'
too. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with it at all, but at the end of disc 2, I just want the whole thing to end as soon as possible. It's about her marriage but she doesn't sound too pleased about it. Poor Jordan.'Oh Mother'
on Disc 1 is just 'I'm OK'
rehashed. Not only is it about her abusive father, but it sounds practically the same. But whereas 'I'm OK'
was shunted to the end of a 'Stripped', 'Oh Mother'
sits in the middle of the album, drudging along, spoiling the arse-kicking joie de vivre of the rest of the album. Let's hope that the next abusive father song gets left on the cutting room floor.
It's obvious the two discs were used to combat listeners getting tired of a very long album. However next Christina should just use the 13 best tracks and make a short album rather than padding it all out with filler. If she were to do that, she might have a sensational album on her hands, but as she doesn't it's nothing more than "occaissionally promising but ultimately dissappointing". Which is a shame.
Best Songs: 'Ain't No Other Man', 'Candy Man', 'Slow Down Baby', 'Save Me From Myself', 'Hurt'