Christina María Aguilera (born December 18, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, actress and television personality. Born in Staten Island, New York and raised in Rochester and Wexford, Pennsylvania, she appeared on the television series Star Search and The Mickey Mouse Club in her early years. After recording "Reflection", the theme for Disney's 1998 film Mulan, Aguilera signed with RCA Records. She rose to prominence with her 1999 self-titled debut album that spawned the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles "Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants", and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)". The following year, Aguilera released two studio albums; the Spanish-language album Mi Reflejo and the holiday album My Kind of Christmas.
Aguilera at the London premiere of Burlesque in 2010
|Born||Christina María Aguilera
December 18, 1980
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
(m. 2005; div. 2011)
|Partner(s)||Matthew Rutler (2010–present; engaged)|
She assumed creative control for her fourth studio album, Stripped (2002), which produced "Dirrty", "Beautiful", and "Fighter". Aguilera's fifth studio album, Back to Basics (2006), debuted at number one on the album charts of ten countries and spawned the tracks "Ain't No Other Man" and "Hurt". In 2010, Aguilera released her sixth studio album Bionic and starred in the film Burlesque. The following year, she debuted as a coach on the reality competition television series The Voice; she has since appeared on six of its twelve seasons. Her seventh studio album, Lotus, was released in 2012. Aguilera has also been featured on several successful collaborations during her career, including "Lady Marmalade", "Moves like Jagger", and "Say Something".
Aguilera has been recognized as a pop icon and earned the title "Pop Princess" in her early years. Her work has earned her five Grammy Awards, one Latin Grammy Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has sold over 39.9 million records in the United States as of 2014 and 100 million records worldwide as of 2015. In 2009, she ranked at number 58 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, thereby becoming the youngest and the only artist under 30 to be named. Billboard recognized her as the 20th most successful artist of the 2000s, and Time listed Aguilera among the top 100 Most Influential People in the World of 2013. Aside from her work in the entertainment industry, Aguilera is involved in charitable activities through human rights, world issues, and her work as a UN ambassador for the World Food Programme.
Life and career
1980–1998: Early life and career beginnings
Christina María Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York, on December 18, 1980, to Shelly Loraine (née Fidler), a musician, and Fausto Xavier Aguilera, a United States Army soldier. Her father is Ecuadorian, while her mother has German, Irish, Welsh, and Dutch ancestry. Her family moved frequently because of her father's military service, and lived in places including New Jersey, Texas, New York, and Japan. Aguilera and her mother alleged that her father was physically and emotionally abusive, claims which he denied; Aguilera used music as a form of escape from her turbulent household. Following her parents' divorce when she was six years old, Aguilera, her younger sister Rachel, and her mother (who later remarried Jim Kearns and gave birth to one more child, Michael 'Mikey' Kearns), moved into her grandmother's home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Rochester, Pennsylvania. After several years of being estranged, Aguilera expressed interest in reconciling with her father in 2012.
Growing up, Aguilera, known locally as "the little girl with the big voice", aspired to be a singer, singing in local talent shows and competitions. She won her first talent show at the age of 8, in which she performed Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)". In 1990, she appeared on Star Search singing "A Sunday Kind of Love", and was eliminated during the semi-final rounds. She later performed the same song during an appearance on Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV's Wake Up with Larry Richert. Throughout her youth in Pittsburgh, Aguilera sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, Pittsburgh Steelers football, and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games, in addition to the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. She attended Rochester Area School District in Rochester and Marshall Middle School near Wexford, and briefly attended North Allegheny Intermediate High School before being home schooled due to bullying.
In 1991, Aguilera auditioned for a position on The Mickey Mouse Club, although she did not meet its age requirements. She joined the television series two years later, where she performed musical numbers and sketch comedy until its cancellation in 1994. Her co-stars included Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake. When she was fourteen, Aguilera recorded her first song, the duet "All I Wanna Do" with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi. She later sent her cover version of Houston's "Run to You" to Walt Disney Pictures in hopes of being selected to record the theme song "Reflection" for their animated film Mulan (1998). "Reflection" peaked at number 19 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart.
1999–2000: Christina Aguilera, Mi Reflejo and My Kind of Christmas
After recording "Reflection", Aguilera signed with RCA Records and the label quickly began coordinating her debut album, which was set to be released in 1999. Aguilera's self-titled debut album, was released in August 1999. The album was a commercial success in the United States, peaking at number one on the Billboard 200 and was certified octuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for having shipped eight million copies. It has sold over 8.2 million copies in the United States and 14 million copies worldwide. The album's lead single, "Genie in a Bottle", peaked atop the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and record charts of twenty other countries. It became the top-selling debut single of 1999 in the United States, selling over 1.4 million units. Follow-up singles "What a Girl Wants" and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" also topped the Billboard Hot 100, while single "I Turn to You" reached number three. At the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in February 2000, Aguilera won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Aguilera's second studio album, Mi Reflejo, which contains Spanish versions of "Reflection" and her first four singles from her debut album alongside new Spanish material, was released in September 2000. Producer Rudy Pérez, with whom Aguilera recorded the album, noted that Aguilera did not speak Spanish fluently when recording the album, but understood the language, having grown up with an Ecuadorian father. The record topped the Billboard Top Latin Albums for nineteen consecutive weeks, and was certified sextuple platinum in the Latin field by the RIAA. It has sold 480,000 units in the United States, and has moved three million copies worldwide. Mi Reflejo won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album and two Billboard Latin Music Awards for Pop Album of the Year by a Female Artist and Pop Album of the Year by a New Artist in 2001. Aguilera's Christmas-theme third studio album, My Kind of Christmas, released in October 2000, reached number 28 on the Billboard 200 and has sold over one million copies in the United States. In December 2000, Billboard recognized Aguilera as the Top Female Pop Act of the Year. In support of her albums, Aguilera embarked on her first concert tour, Christina Aguilera in Concert, beginning in May 2000 in the United States. During the tour, Aguilera dated Jorge Santos, a dancer whom she hired.
Despite her international success with first three studio albums, Aguilera was dissatisfied with the music and image her management Steve Kurtz had created for her, having been marketed as a bubblegum pop singer because of the genre's financial trend. Aguilera's views of Kurtz's influence in matters of her creative direction, the role of being her exclusive personal manager, and over-scheduling had in part caused her to seek legal means of terminating their management contract. In October 2000, Aguilera filed a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against Kurtz for improper, undue and inappropriate influence over her professional activities, as well as fraud. After terminating Kurtz's services, Irving Azoff was hired as her new manager.
In February 2001, Aguilera appeared on Ricky Martin's single "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely". It peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, while reaching the top ten of several countries including Australia, Spain and Switzerland. Later that year, Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Pink covered Labelle's 1974 single "Lady Marmalade" for the accompanying soundtrack of Moulin Rouge! The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks and became the first airplay-only track in history to stay number one for more than one week. "Lady Marmalade" earned all four performers a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards. That August, Warlock Records released Just Be Free, an album containing eleven demo tracks recorded by Aguilera in 1994 and 1995. Aguilera filed a suit against Warlock Records and the album's producers to stop the release. The two parties came to a confidential settlement to release the album, in which Aguilera lent out her name, likeness, and image for an unspecified amount of damages. On September 11, 2001, Aguilera and Santos ended their relationship.
When planning her fourth studio album, Aguilera leaned towards a new artistic direction that she felt had more musical depth. She named the album Stripped and explained that the album "is a new beginning, a re-introduction of [herself] as a new artist in a way". Aguilera cultivated an increasingly provocative image while promoting the record, at which time she adopted the nickname "Xtina", dyed her hair black, and debuted several tattoos and piercings. Aguilera claimed that the new persona better reflected her personality than the previous image she felt forced into by RCA Records. Aguilera drew inspiration from R&B, soul, rock and hip hop. The album was produced primarily by Scott Storch and singer-songwriter Linda Perry. Aguilera co-wrote and partially completed the track "Miss Independent" for the album; it did not make the final track list and was later completed and released by Kelly Clarkson. Released in October 2002, Stripped debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 330,000 copies. The album was certified quadruple-platinum by the RIAA, in recognition of having 4.3 million copies in the United States as of September 2014. As of 2015, it has sold 10 million copies worldwide.
"Dirrty" featuring Redman was released as the lead single from Stripped in September 2002. Its accompanying music video generated controversy due to its sexual content, and sparked protest in Thailand. The single peaked at number 48 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached the top five of multiple countries in Oceania and Europe. The second single, "Beautiful", reached number two in the United States, and peaked atop the charts of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The song earned Aguilera the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in 2004. The album spawned the follow-up singles "Fighter", "Can't Hold Us Down", and "The Voice Within" in 2003, all of which managed to reach the top 20 of charts in several European and Oceania regions, including Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland. That June, Aguilera co-headlined the Justified and Stripped Tour alongside Justin Timberlake before embarking on her solo The Stripped Tour later in 2003. Aguilera was the host of the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards, where she won an award for Best Female. During the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards in August 2003, Aguilera and Britney Spears garnered significant media attention after kissing Madonna during their performance of "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood". The performance was listed by Blender magazine as one of the twenty-five "sexiest" music moments on television history. MTV listed the performance as the number-one opening moment in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards. Billboard named Aguilera the Top Female Pop Act of 2003.
2004–2009: First marriage, Back to Basics and first child
Opting for a 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s-inspired sound, Aguilera began working on her follow-up album in 2004. She embraced an image inspired by public figures including Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Mary Pickford to "capture the authenticity of the Old Hollywood glam era". That year, Aguilera recorded "Hello" for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class car advertisement, and a revised version of Rose Royce's "Car Wash" with Missy Elliott for the animated film Shark Tale, where she also voiced a Rastafarian jellyfish. She also appeared on Nelly's single "Tilt Ya Head Back", and Andrea Bocelli's song "Somos Novios". After dating for more than two years, Aguilera became engaged to music marketing executive Jordan Bratman in February 2005. The couple married on November 19, 2005 at an estate in Napa County, California.
In 2006, Aguilera contributed vocals to a cover of Leon Russell's "A Song for You" by Herbie Hancock, which was included on Hancock's album Possibilities and earned Aguilera a nomination for the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in 2006. She later described her fifth studio album, Back to Basics, as "a throwback to the 20s, 30s, and 40s-style jazz, blues, and feel-good soul music, but with a modern twist". The double album was released in August 2006 and debuted atop the charts of thirteen countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands. On the US Billboard 200, it opened at number one with first-week sales of 346,000 copies. According to RCA front-man, Clive Davis it has sold approximately 5 million units worldwide as of November 2013, 1.7 million of which were sold in the United States. The lead single "Ain't No Other Man" reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100, charted within the top three of several countries in Europe, including Hungary, Ireland and the United Kingdom, and has sold 1.7 million digital copies in the United States. The track won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in 2007, where Aguilera performed a rendition of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" in tribute of its original artist James Brown.
In September 2006, Aguilera released the second single from Back to Basics, "Hurt", and was featured on Diddy's single "Tell Me". "Candyman" was serviced as the third international single from Back to Basics and peaked at number two in Australia and New Zealand. "Slow Down Baby" was released exclusively in Australia, while "Oh Mother" was released in Europe as the final single. In November 2006, Aguilera supported the album through the Back to Basics Tour; with 81 dates, it ended in October 2008, visited Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. According to Billboard Boxscore, it was one of the ten highest grossing tours of 2007, as well as the top grossing solo female tour of that year, with US$48.1M grossed.
Aguilera performed "Steppin' Out with My Baby" with Tony Bennett at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2007. According to Forbes, Aguilera was the nineteenth-richest woman in entertainment as of January 2007, with a net worth of $60 million. In January 2008, Aguilera gave birth to her first child, a son. Later that year, she appeared in the Martin Scorsese documentary Shine a Light chronicling a two-day Rolling Stones concert in New York City's Beacon Theatre, in which Aguilera performs "Live with Me" alongside the band's member Mick Jagger. In commemoration of a decade-long career in the music industry, Aguilera released her first greatest hits album, Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits on November 11, 2008 exclusively through Target in the United States. It included Aguilera's previous singles and four new songs, two of which are remade versions of two previous singles. The release peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200, and entered the top ten charts of countries including Australia, Finland and France. Its only single, "Keeps Gettin' Better", peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold 1.1 million digital copies in the United States. In December 2009, Billboard ranked Aguilera the twentieth most successful artist and the twenty-sixth most successful Billboard Hot 100 artist of the 2000s.
2010–2011: Bionic, Burlesque and The Voice
Aguilera announced that her sixth studio album would be "a very futuristic approach to music", drawing inspirations from electronic genres. Bionic, was released in June 2010. The release struggled to match the chart impact and sales of her previous albums, peaking at number three on the Billboard 200, and has sold 315,000 copies in the United States. The lead single, "Not Myself Tonight", charted at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold 368,000 copies in the United States. "Woohoo" featuring rapper Nicki Minaj was released as a single in the United States and several European countries, while "You Lost Me" was the second single internationally. The last song serviced from Bionic was "I Hate Boys", which was sent to Australian contemporary hit radio in July 2010. That year, Aguilera made a cameo appearance in the comedy film Get Him to the Greek.
In November 2010, Aguilera starred alongside Cher in the film Burlesque. The film was written and directed by Steve Antin, and grossed $90 million. It was met with mixed reviews from critics, who criticized it for being "campy and clichéd", yet praised Aguilera's acting. Aguilera contributed eight tracks to the film's accompanying soundtrack, while Cher performed the other two. The soundtrack reached number 18 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA. It has since sold 707,000 copies in the US. At the 68th Golden Globe Awards in 2011, Burlesque received a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, while "Bound to You", a song performed by Aguilera, earned Aguilera a nomination for Best Original Song, which lost to Cher's "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me", which also appeared on the Burlesque soundtrack. In December 2010, Aguilera appeared on T.I.'s song "Castle Walls" from his album No Mercy.
Having separated in September, Aguilera filed for divorce from Bratman in October 2010, requesting joint legal and physical custody of their son Max. After reaching a private settlement and custody deal, their divorce was finalized on April 15, 2011. In late 2010, Aguilera started dating Matthew Rutler, whom she met during the set of Burlesque. On March 1, 2011, the couple was arrested for public intoxication in West Hollywood. They were later released on bail and no charges were filed.
At the Super Bowl XLV, Aguilera omitted a few lines while performing the U.S. national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner". She later apologized, saying, "I got so caught up in the moment of the song that I lost my place. I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through". The following week, Aguilera, alongside Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams and Florence Welch opened the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, paying tribute to Aretha Franklin. From April 2011 through December 2012, Aguilera served as a coach on the television series The Voice for its three first seasons. In June, she was featured on Maroon 5's single "Moves like Jagger", which peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100. In 2011, the single sold 7 million copies worldwide, becoming the ninth best-selling single of the year.
2012–present: Lotus, second child, television projects and upcoming eighth studio album
In March 2012, Aguilera released the Spanish-language track "Casa de Mi Padre" as the title song for the soundtrack and film of the same name. Later that month, Aguilera confirmed that she was working on a follow-up to Bionic, which she named Lotus and described as a personal "rebirth". Released in 2012, Lotus became her least successful album, debuting at number seven on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 73,000 units. As of August 2014, the album has sold over 290,000 units in the United States, as reported by Nielsen SoundScan. Its lead single, "Your Body", peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and entered the top 40 charts of several regions including New Zealand, Spain and Sweden. The second single, "Just a Fool", a duet with Blake Shelton, peaked at number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In late 2012, Aguilera appeared on the tracks "Steppin' Out with My Baby" with Tony Bennett from his album Viva Duets, and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Cee Lo Green from his album Cee Lo's Magic Moment. Upon the conclusion of the third season of The Voice in December 2012, Aguilera was replaced by Shakira for the fourth season because Aguilera was focusing on promoting Lotus. In January 2013, Aguilera was featured on Pitbull's single "Feel This Moment", which peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. She appeared on Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández's cover of "Hoy Tengo Ganas de Ti" from his album Confidencias that May. Aguilera returned for the fifth season of The Voice in September 2013. That October, Aguilera recorded "We Remain" for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. A month later, she appeared on the re-recorded version of single "Say Something", a duet with A Great Big World from their debut studio album Is There Anybody Out There?; it peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified quadruple-platinum for shipments of over 4 million units in the United States. In January 2014, Aguilera was featured on a remix version of Lady Gaga's single "Do What U Want".
Aguilera became engaged to Rutler in February 2014. The couple has one child together, a daughter, born in August 2014. In April 2014, Aguilera announced she had started working on her eighth studio album. For the sixth and seventh seasons of The Voice, Aguilera was respectively replaced by Shakira and Gwen Stefani. However, Aguilera continued to serve as a coach in the eighth and tenth seasons, which the latter she won with her artist Alisan Porter and became the first female coach to win the show. In January 2015, Aguilera confirmed to Extra that she was working alongside The Voice co-star Pharrell Williams on her album, stating: "I just have to make sure it's right, and it's genuine and it's heartfelt, and I'm very excited to pour my heart out into this record fully. I've been gathering and writing and coming up with these amazing ideas for different parts of how I was feeling the past year, so I'm really excited to vocalize all of it and make it all come together." Aguilera will also be releasing a Spanish album in 2016. At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2015, Aguilera won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Say Something" with A Great Big World. In April 2015, Aguilera had a recurring role as singer Jade St. John on the third season of ABC's musical drama series Nashville. In March 2016, Aguilera and Rutler were announced as executive producers for a new music-based game show, Tracks, to air on Spike TV. The show is hosted by Bow Wow.
In June 2016, Aguilera released a song titled "Change" dedicated to the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, as well as Christina Grimmie, who was fatally shot in Orlando the day before the nightclub shooting. The proceedings were donated to the National Compassion Fund to benefit the victims' families. She expressed sadness for everyone involved in these two incidents over social media. In August 2016, Aguilera released a disco song titled "Telepathy" featuring Nile Rodgers for the soundtrack of the Netflix original series, The Get Down. The track topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, becoming Aguilera's ninth number-one.
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Aguilera is a soprano, having a vocal range spanning four octaves (from B♭2 to C♯7), four notes, a semitone and the whistle register. Since the start of her career Aguilera's voice has been compared to that of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. David Browne writing for The New York Times noted that Aguilera's vocal performance was highly influenced by Carey and Houston, sharing that "Aguilera has been one of the foremost practitioners of the overpowering, Category 5 vocal style known as melisma", and "Ms. Carey, Ms. Houston and Ms. Aguilera, to name its three main champions, are most associated with the period from the late '80s through the late '90s". A journal by Ann Powers for the Los Angeles Times said there are influences of Barbra Streisand, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin on Aguilera's vocal style, opining that the "Aguilera's Streisand-esque tendencies" "[help Aguilera] figure out how to become the 'great singer' she's been dubbed since she released her first single, the wise-beyond-its-years 'Genie in a Bottle', at 18". Sasha Frere-Jones wrote in The New Yorker, "Aguilera doesn't need to reincarnate Sarah Vaughan to be a serious singer. She already is one, in the tradition of nineteen-nineties pop and R&B, skillfully deploying melisma for razzle-dazzle". In 2003, Aguilera was placed 5th on MTV's "Best Voices in Music Ever" list, while ranking atop both COVE and Latina magazine's best Pop and Latina vocalist of all time in 2004 and 2013 respectively.
Aguilera has, however, been criticized for her excessive use of melisma and oversinging on songs and in concerts. John Eskow of The Huffington Post named Aguilera a main proponent for "oversouling", described as the "gratuitous and confected melisma". Lucy Davies, a writer for BBC Music, opined that although Aguilera had "a stunning voice", she "could be more varied, simply by cutting out some of the 'y-e-e-eeeh, woah yeh's'". Longtime producer Linda Perry, who wrote the song "Beautiful", revealed about the recording sessions with Aguilera, "I tried to keep it straight. I told her to get rid of the finger waves. Every time she'd start going into 'hoo-ha', I'd stop the tape. I'm like, 'You're doing it again'". Perry ended up using the song's first take adding, "She had a hard time accepting that as the final track. She's a perfectionist. She knows her voice really well, and she knows what's going on. She can hear things that nobody else would catch." An editor from Entertainment Weekly, Chris Willman, stated that the oversinging on Aguilera's albums was inspired by Carey, writing that "the Mariah venerators don't get away with it so easily. Aguilera, for one thing, has a slightly nasal tone that really only becomes obvious when she's overselling a song".
Aguilera has credited blues singer Etta James as her main influence and inspiration, elaborating, "Etta is my all-time favorite singer. I've said it for the last seven years – since I had my first debut record out – in every interview". Following James' death in 2012, Aguilera was asked to perform "At Last" at James' funeral. Prior to the performance, Aguilera revealed, "There's a line in this song that says 'I found a dream that I could speak to.' And for me that dream, all my life, has been Etta James". Other classic artists, including Billie Holiday, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and Ella Fitzgerald, are also Aguilera's major influences; her fifth studio album Back to Basics is inspired by vintage jazz, blues and soul music records by them.
Aguilera mentions Whitney Houston as another influence, having performed many of her songs in her early years during talent shows. She also cites Mariah Carey and Celine Dion as an inspiration, and covered the latter's songs: These Are the Special Times on My Kind of Christmas, and The Prayer on the NBC reality singing competition The Voice. Aguilera's debut album producer Ron Harris revealed that Aguilera during her recording sessions for Christina Aguilera would constantly listen Brandy's music, studying and trying to replicate her adlibs. According to author Pier Dominguez of the book Christina Aguilera: A Star is Made, Aguilera stated that Carey and her debut single, "Vision of Love" (1990), had the biggest influence on her vocal style. Aguilera points out the musical film The Sound of Music and its lead actress, Julie Andrews, as her first inspiration for singing and performing. At the age of six, the film helped Aguilera cope with her violent childhood, "Bad things happened in my home; there was violence. The Sound of Music looked like a form of release." Aguilera credits Madonna and Janet Jackson as two biggest inspirations for her image, "for being re-inventive and being brave as strong females, to explore whatever, even if they do get bad press. It's just like they were fearless." During the promotion of Back to Basics, her image was also inspired by the "Golden age of Hollywood" actresses including Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, Greta Garbo and Veronica Lake. Aguilera is also inspired by her Burlesque co-star, Cher: "I have always had tremendous respect for her. She is a woman who did everything before anyone else did it. She is an icon and she inspired me through some of my career. We've had similar costumes too!"
Musical style and themes
Aguilera frequently blends elements of pop, R&B, dance-pop and soul music into her projects, her records typically include a combination of ballads and uptempo tracks. Christina Aguilera (1999) prominently displayed teen pop and dance-pop music, while Mi Reflejo (2000) takes inspiration from Latin music. Her first Christmas album, My Kind of Christmas, combines covers of Christmas standards and several original dance-pop tracks. Aiming for musical diversity and artistic growth, Aguilera worked with R&B, rock, hip hop, and Latin music for Stripped (2002). David Browne from Entertainment Weekly credited the release with distancing Aguilera from her pop contemporaries. Aguilera leaned towards R&B, blues, jazz, and soul on Back to Basics (2006).
In contrast, Bionic (2010) sees significant use from futuristic electronic music, described as an electropop album. The soundtrack for her 2010 feature film Burlesque (2010) was influenced by Cabaret, and featured several established songs that were redone as dance numbers in a fashion similar to Moulin Rouge! (2001). Aguilera partnered with mainstream producers including Shellback and Max Martin during production of Lotus (2012); when discussing her interactions with the latter, she commented that "He's known about me but we haven't crossed paths," adding "Those records were the kind I wanted to stray apart from. If you look at what I did in the past (after my debut), I always try to do things that will challenge me and challenge the listener, too."
Aguilera has commented that she feels a sense of responsibility to reference portions of her personal life so that "people that can relate might not feel as alone in the circumstance." Many of her works consequently discuss love; she has also co-written two tracks which dealt with the domestic abuse throughout her childhood. Aguilera has frequently mentioned feminism in her music; she has expressed her belief that sexuality is "very empowering", and has commented that "If I want to be sexual, it's for my own appreciation and enjoyment! That's why I like to talk about the fact that sometimes I am attracted to women. I appreciate their femininity and beauty." "Can't Hold Us Down" from Stripped denounces gender-related double standards, in which men are applauded for their sexual behaviors, while women who behave in a similar fashion are disdained. The main theme of Bionic was also about woman empowerment; Hermione Hoby from The Guardian opined that "she incites more of a sisterly spirit of collaboration, including riot grrrl feminists Le Tigre. Aguilera's not shy of the odd feministic declaration herself." In regards to production, Aguilera has often verbalized her preference of working with more "obscure" collaborators, and noted that she is not necessarily inclined to contact "the No.1 chart-toppers in music" because of their popular demand. The New York Times' Kelefa Sanneh described her decision to work with DJ Premier on Back to Basics as "a decision to snub some of the big-name producers on whom pop stars often rely."
Aguilera has reinvented her public image on numerous occasions throughout her career. In the later 1990s, her then-manager Steve Kurtz marketed her as a bubblegum pop entertainer to capitalize on the genre's financial lure, which earned her recognition as a teen idol. Aguilera introduced her alter ego "Xtina" during 2002 and 2003, which presented an increasingly provocative persona. During this time, she dyed her hair black, debuted several piercings, and participated in several nude pictorials for publications. In 2004, Aguilera embraced a more "mature" image with retro-styled hair and makeup, which was inspired by classic movie stars including Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Mary Pickford. This reinvention was named "Baby Jane" in 2006, an alter ego which was taken from the 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Aguilera received widespread criticism over her curvy figure from gaining weight in 2012. She later received favorable media attention after a significant weight loss in 2013.
Aguilera is considered a pop icon, and has frequently garnered comparisons to Britney Spears. David Browne of Entertainment Weekly said that Aguilera is "too eager not to offend" in her mild-mannered music, making her a "good girl pretending to be bad", and also said that Spears' "artificial-sweetener voice" was a welcome change of pace from Aguilera's "numbing vocal gymnastics". Matthew Horton from Virgin Media suggested that Aguilera was a more impressive performer than Spears despite her lower sales figures. Aguilera has also been regarded as a sex symbol. A 2003 issue of Maxim magazine that she covered became its best-selling issue; Aguilera was named "Sexiest Woman of the Year" by its subscribers later that year, and also earned the magazine its best-selling issue after posing on the cover that year. Additionally recognized as a gay icon, she was the first honoree on The Abbey's Gay Walk of Fame for her contributions to the LGBT community. The music video for "Beautiful" earned Aguilera a GLAAD Media Award for its positive portrayal of the LGBT community.
Fashion has also been a part of Aguilera's music career and image. She has frequently worn clothes designed by Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander McQueen. During the Back to Basics Tour in 2006, Aguilera performed in a stole made of fur designed by Roberto Cavalli, unaware that it was made from real fur of a white fox. After receiving a video about the treatment of foxes from PETA vice president Dan Mathews, Aguilera replaced it with a faux-fur stole, further stating that she was "very upset" because she "only ever wears fake fur". Aguilera's costumes from Burlesque were featured in the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition. Wax figures of Aguilera are located at Madame Tussauds wax museum in London and New York City.
Aguilera has sold 39.9 million records in the United States, and 100 million records worldwide. Gregory Hicks from The Michigan Daily opined that "Aguilera deserves to be known as one of the greatest artists to ever hit the pop industry." In 2012, VH1 named Aguilera the eighth greatest woman in the music industry. Aguilera has also been recognized as one of the greatest vocalists of all time, and is commonly referred to as "The Voice of a Generation". Aguilera topped Cove magazine's list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists". She was ranked fifth in MTV and Blender magazine's 2003 countdown of the 22 Greatest Voices in Music. In November 2008, Rolling Stone placed Aguilera at number 58 on its list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, writing that "[Aguilera] has had the finesse and power of a blues queen ever since she was a child star". At the 2013 People's Choice Awards, Aguilera was awarded the People's Voice Award, which recognized Aguilera's ability to reach millions of people across various genres. In 2013, Aguilera was one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World. In the article for the magazine, Celine Dion wrote, "Without a doubt, [Aguilera]'s one of the most talented artists the world has ever seen and heard, and I think she's going to continue to amaze us for many, many years to come."
Aguilera is also well known for her television and music video impact; in 2012, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times commented that Aguilera "will be remembered for her glamour, her scandalous take on femme-pop and her Brobdingnagian voice, and ... as the person who almost single-handedly reshaped music-competition reality programming". She was considered as one of the greatest women of the music video era by VH1. Aguilera's use of sexual imagery has catalyzed public discourse on sexuality and feminism. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, co-founder of The Vagenda, opined that the provocative dance routines in Aguilera's music videos are "empowering". Writing for The Hampton Institute, critic Terry Young, Jr. commented that Aguilera "redefined the 21st century female pop performer". He added that following the release of Stripped, "artists like Spears and Beyoncé became more comfortable expressing sexuality and no longer felt the need to sell the notion of innocence". Aguilera's works have earned her numerous awards and accolades, including five Grammy Awards. In November 2010, Aguilera was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In October 2012, Aguilera's costumes and video collection was included on the "Women Who Rock" exhibition by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Aguilera has inspired various artists, including: Ariana Grande, Tinashe, Meghan Trainor, Jordin Sparks, Demi Lovato, Camryn, Kelly Clarkson, Alexandra Burke, Charli XCX, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Ashley Tisdale, Charice, Sam Smith, Sabrina Carpenter, Candice Glover, Jasmine Trias, Karmin, and Jessie J.
Lady Gaga cited Aguilera and her cover of All-4-One's "I Turn to You" as an inspiration for Gaga's vocal range, elaborating; "When I was 15, I was singing "I Turn to You" at the top of my lungs. She was an inspiration to me to have a wider vocal range." Demi Lovato explained that she was inspired by Aguilera's themes, "I had a lot of respect for Whitney Houston, and Christina Aguilera, on some songs where she was really amazing and wasn't trying to be sexy or anything like that. I just found that I had more respect for artists that didn't talk about that stuff, and those were the ones that were more successful." Aguilera's works has also inspired some athletes, including American figure skater Johnny Weir and American swimmer Dana Vollmer.
In 2000, Aguilera supported a program called Come on Over and Do Something, which aimed to "encourage kids to get involved in their communities and make a difference." A year later, she signed a letter from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to the South Korean government requesting that the country stop its alleged killing of dogs for food. In 2010, Aguilera auctioned tickets for her planned tour for Christie's A Bid to Save the Earth, which benefited the non-profit environmental groups Conservation International, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Central Park Conservancy. Aguilera contributed US$200,000 to the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh in December 2003, and has worked with Lifetime Television's "End violence against women" campaign.
In 2005, Aguilera contributed "Beautiful" to the compilation album Love Rocks, which proceeds benefited the Human Rights Campaign. Aguilera participated in the AIDS Project Los Angeles' Artists Against AIDS "What's Going On?" cover project, and became the face for MAC Cosmetics and spokesperson for MAC AIDS Fund in 2004. Singer Elton John featured Aguilera in his charity book 4 Inches, which benefitted the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
In the run-up to the 2004 United States presidential election, Aguilera was featured on billboards for the "Only You Can Silence Yourself" online voter registration drive run by the nonpartisan, non-profit campaign "Declare Yourself". In these political advertisements, shot by David LaChapelle, Aguilera was shown with her mouth sewn shut to symbolize the effects of not voting. In late 2007, Aguilera became the spokesperson for "Rock the Vote", through which she encouraged young people to vote in the 2008 presidential election. In 2005, Aguilera donated her wedding gifts to American charities in support of Hurricane Katrina victims, and performed at "Unite of the Stars" concert for Unite Against Hunger in Johannesburg, South Africa and for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at the Coca-Cola Dome.
In 2008, Aguilera headlined London's Africa Rising charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall, which raised awareness for finding substantial issues facing the continent. That year, Aguilera appeared on the Turkish version of Deal or No Deal, Var mısın? Yok musun?, and donated proceeds to a charity program for orphans. In 2009, Aguilera became the global spokesperson for World Hunger Relief; she and Bratman traveled to Guatemala with the World Food Programme to bring awareness to issues including its high malnutrition rate, and met with local families and beneficiaries of WFP's nutrition programs. Aguilera has helped raise over $148 million for WFP and other hunger relief agencies in 45 countries.
In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Aguilera donated a signed Chrysler 300 which was auctioned for relief efforts. She additionally appeared on the Hope for Haiti telethon that January, where donations directly benefited Oxfam America, Partners In Health, Red Cross and UNICEF. She was featured on a public service announcement alongside former boxer Muhammad Ali to raise funds for the World Food Programme's efforts to bring food to survivors of the earthquake. Aguilera was nominated for a VH1 Do Something Award for her work with the organization and her efforts in response to the earthquake. In 2010, Aguilera was appointed UN ambassador for the World Food Programme. Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Aguilera performed "Beautiful" to open the Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together benefit telethon; all proceeds went to the American Red Cross. That year, Aguilera and David Novak received the George McGovern Leadership Award. The following year Aguilera was honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Products and endorsements
In 2000, Aguilera was the face for make-up line Fetish, where she worked in choosing colors and packaging for the line. That same year, an interactive CD-ROM was produced called Christina Aguilera: Follow Your Dreams released by Simon & Schuster Interactive which features games and quizzes, plus Aguilera herself talking about accomplishing her goals. Throughout her career, Aguilera has endorsed several brands, including Sears, Levi's, Skechers, Mercedes-Benz, Versace, Virgin Mobile, Orange (UK), Oreo, Sony Ericsson  and soft drink giants Coca-Cola, and Pepsi in 2001 and 2006, respectively. In 2004, Aguilera earned £200,000 (about $300,000) for opening the summer sale at London's Harrods store and appeared in an advertisement for MAC Cosmetics Viva Glam V campaign. Following the birth of her son in 2008, she was reportedly paid $1.5 million by People for her baby pictures, which became the ninth most expensive celebrity baby photographs ever taken. In 2008, jewelry designer Stephen Webster and friend of Aguilera released "Shattered", a collection of sterling silver pieces, through Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. Aguilera, who inspired the collection, was featured as a Hitchcock heroine. They reprised their work together for Webster's 2009 spring line. In 2011, Aguilera attended São Paulo Fashion Week to premiere her new line of clothing for Brazilian department store C&A, which launched in April.
Aguilera's first fragrance, Xpose, was released in Europe in late 2004 and sold relatively well. Through Procter & Gamble, Aguilera released her signature fragrance, Simply Christina, in 2007. In Christmas 2007, the fragrance became the number one perfume in the United Kingdom, and later in 2009 it was the country's 4th best selling perfume. The perfume won as the people's choice for favorite celebrity fragrance at the annual UK Fifi Awards 2008. She released her third fragrance, Inspire, accompanied with a body care collection, in September 2008. It was Aguilera's first fragrance released outside of Europe. Her worldwide ad campaign included a television ad shot by David LaChapelle and was released in the United States in Macy's department stores. The release coincided with Macy's 150th anniversary which featured Aguilera in commemorative photos. She released her fourth fragrance, By Night, in October 2009, which became the third best selling fragrance in the United Kingdom in 2009. The range was further augmented by Royal Desire in 2010, Secret Potion in 2011, Red Sin in 2012, and Unforgettable in 2013.
Tours and concerts
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