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album review: Christina Aguilera's Bionic

On Friday I was challenged, or ordered, to listen to Christina Aguilera's new album Bionic, after offhandedly mentioning that I had no idea she had a new album because she's outside my usual musical interests. However, I know she's popular and supposed to be actually good and talented, so I figured I might as well take the challenge and give it a try. 

My short polite response after listening to Bionic is: it's not my thing.

Here's my longer response. It was written, rewritten, and expanded a bit stream-of consciousness, so it's not properly structured as a regular review, but I'm leaving it as is.

"Sex for Breakfast" was the first track that made me take notice and admit "hey, this is not bad" during my first listen. Note that it's halfway through the album, and not one of the three singles they've released.

"Elastic Love" is okay, on second listen. "Glam", "Lift Me Up", "I Am" are all passable. The singles—"Not Myself Tonight", "Woohoo", and "You Lost Me"—are weak at best. "You Lost Me" actually made me angry the first time I heard it, so that one doesn't even get a pass as "inoffensive"; hearing it again when I went through the album in order, it was just ignorable.

"My Girls" really ought to be better for a song co-written and produced by Le Tigre—musically at least it's probably the most interesting, at least to start, but then the lyrics/vocals come in and it's a third-rate Le Tigre rip-off. Still, it also gets a grudging "not bad".

Overall, the best I can say is the album's mostly inoffensive, ignorable, and forgettable. Like I said, "Sex for Breakfast" was the one track that kind of stood out on first listen, and "My Girls" started out promising but didn't really hold up, and the rest... meh.

I mean really, This Island by Le Tigre is a far far better album than Bionic. It's also mostly a different style though, so it's not a fair comparison. But Aguilera got their help on a song, she worked with Ladytron on three songs—which are on the deluxe edition, so I haven't heard those—and she worked with Goldfrapp on a couple that apparently she didn't finish and put out... She's going to musicians I highly respect, and obviously she's working with them because she values what they do, not as some kind of move to be trendy or pull some kind of cred. So I'm going to expect more than I might otherwise, and I'm going to judge this partly in comparison to the work of those musicians even though it's a different style. And in my judgment, the electropop/synthpop aspects of this album are weak, the R&B isn't any better, and, yeah, there's a reason I don't listen to top-40 pop, because it's bland mediocre crap.

Which is not to say all the music I listen to is sparkling gold, but—man, I can't help it, this just brings out my hipster music snobbishness no matter how hard I try to be diplomatic. I find it difficult not to just offhandedly dismiss the whole thing as a load of shit. And it makes me think that, if on the one hand this is the kind of crap the major labels are pushing at the mainstream public, and on the other hand this is the kind of crap that the mainstream public actually buys in preference to more musically interesting or challenging or accomplished work, then it's no wonder the music industry is dying.

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( 1 wrote — Write )
(Anonymous)
Jul. 12th, 2010 09:34 am (UTC)
Musically, Shakira's latest is more interesting — particularly "I Did It Again," whose video is equally compelling. Lady Gaga's record has become Jen's workout record of choice and that is also bearable (though, I'm sick of it).

You should definitely read the 33 1/3 book on Celine Dion. Absolutely fascinating.
( 1 wrote — Write )

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