Well, OK. May be that's overstating it a bit. In fact I suppose I never really think much one way or the other about Christina Aguilera. Sometime back, on the Bob Dylan forum, Expecting Rain, I posted in response to something someone said about something - you know how those forms are - and rewrote the lyrics of Dylan's "Sara" to
Christina Aguilera, Christina Aguilera
What ever made you want to change your mind?
Christina Aguilera, Christina Aguilera
So easy to look at, so hard to define
And that was pretty much the beginning and end of my Christina Aguilera phase, what it was.
I've been doing some freelance writing for a Cleveland paper, The Cleveland Scene. This morning I found an email from the music editor asking if anyone had any ideas for a semi-comic feature on Christina Aguilera, who has a show coming up when her current tour hits Cleveland.
Mornings are a great time to write because the cloud of semi-and-sub-conscious thoughts and images are still floating a bit around your head until maybe eleven, eleven thirty, and its possible to do whatever the literary equivalent of "catch a wave" might be.
I started thinking about Christina Aguilera.
And I remembered an interview I saw with Prince and that he was asked if he remembered the early 80s when Michael Jackson was the clean cut kid and Prince was the freak, the pop-funk werido.
If you can remember that, try to hold that memory when you think about the early careers of slut-next-door Christina Aguilera and good-girl-gone-only-very-slightly-naughty Britney Spears. Now fast forward to a more recent Britney history of bad underwear decisions, lost weekends with bad heiress-slash-crack whore companions, and more-information-than-any-of-us-needed all-body shaving (think of it as Britney's mime version of The Vagina Monologues).
And at the same time, miles away from the set of the next white-trash Behind the Music installment, Christina Aguilera, in a ball gown complete with knickers (OK, I’m assuming some stuff here) trips the light fantastic with Tony Bennett (possibly the coolest white man of the past century) to the sounds of a swing band and with nary a tattoo or piercing in sight.
Here’s what I’m wondering as I think about Christina Aguilera: How has the very existence of Britney Spears managed to interfere with, to pollute in fact, any thoughts I may attempt to have about Christina? Fame and celebrity, things that as I get older I really don’t wish on anyone I like, now wear on Spears and Co. like notoriety and wealth wear on the poor tweaked stars of a special “Lottery Winner” episode of COPS.
I don’t listen to Christina Aguilera, and, with a global fan base that crosses generational, racial and gender lines who’ve lined up to buy over 25 million albums I have to think that Christina Aguilera loses no sleep over this. But these juxtaposed images of Britney’s chemo-survival-chrome-dome and Christina belting out a duet with Bennett, while not causing me any sleepless nights either, have, I will admit, given me pause.
I don’t have any immediate plans to buy the new Christina Aguilera album (or “download” it, which I believe means giving money to someone to confirm that my computer is incapable of doing pretty much anything) but from what I can gather that album, Back To Back, explores a throwback hip-hop blend of beats and jazz orchestra that aims at a sort of Billie-Holiday-backed-up-by-The-Roots-conducted-by-Nelson-Riddle territory that, all things considered, seems a better way to spend your time than pummeling your ex-husband’s SUV with an umbrella while making "Here's Johnny!" faces with your ugly bald-ass head at the assembled paparazzi.
I’ve never seen an interview with Christina Aguilera so I have no idea how articulate she is. But, if I imagine an articulate Christina Aguilera, I imagine her explaining that people of Irish and Ecuadoran heritage brought up in a military family in the blue-collar confines of Staten Island and Pittsburgh, PA (think Cleveland but with a mess of rivers instead of the lake) tend to grow up centered in a way that the $50,000 per rehab stay kids aren’t.
Anyway... that's the pitch I made my editor. I'll keep you posted.