Under Review

Christina Aguilera

Back to Basics (RCA)

Review By Mono Brown

We were on our way home from Homo-A-Go-Go in Olympia when I first heard “Ain’t No Other Man,” the newest single from Christina Aguilera’s double disc retrospective, Back to Basics. Due to an excess of FM radio stations along the I-5, our party was having trouble transmitting an iPod through the rental car’s stereo system and had resorted to Top Forty radio, where “Ain’t No Other Man” currently ranks third best. Ignorant of Aguilera’s ability as executive producer of Back to Basics, I remained firm in my stance that for “Ain’t” Aguilera earned her spot at the top of the pops. So certain was I of Aguilera’s pop rock prowess that I saw Will Brown’s review copy of B2B in the Discorder office as a winning chance to share the fortitude of her music with the people.
“Ain’t No Other Man,” it turns out, is a deceptively good hit single, a red herring for a diluted, misguided tribute to the musical legends of R & B—assuredly anyone but Aguilera. Coupled with Aguilera’s inability to recognize her professional limits before she tackled the production of B2B, the album’s greatest flaw is Aguilera’s’ indecision about whose basics she wants to return us to. “Ain’t” set aside, Aguilera seems only able to return the majority of her fans to the time before we liked her, for me sometime during the summer of 1999 when I was going to smash the radio at my part time job if “Genie in a Bottle” came on one more time during my four hour shift. Aguilera’s short, modestly remarkable musical career may not merit a retrospective like Back to Basics just yet, but “Ain’t No Other Man” actually deserves the customarily excessive radio airplay that has defined her divahood since Christina Aguilera. It’s just so good. Ugh.