In a recent cover story interview with Billboard magazine, Christina Aguilera says that Lotus, her seventh studio LP, “represents a celebration of the new me.” Regarding the title, she explains that “the lotus has always represented this unbreakable flower that withstands any harsh weather conditions in its surroundings, that withstands time and remains beautiful and strong throughout the years.”
Aguilera also acknowledges that Lotus is similar Stripped, the 2002 album spawned that the iconic hit “Beautiful” — the album that many believe is still her best. “Now I’m at a place at 31, where the last time I felt this way was when I was 21 with Stripped and I had a lot to say and a lot to express.”
The end result an enjoyable — although also predictable — pop record that borrows from several genres, including dance, RnB, and country.
Standouts: “Let There Be Love” is such a smash, you’d have to wonder why it wasn’t the first single. Granted the song is too similar to Usher’s “Scream” (Max Martin had a hand in both songs), but the song has a positive message and it sounds like a hit.
“Just A Fool” featuring CMA 2012 Entertainer of the Year Blake Shelton showcases Xtina’s voice without being too grating. Also, Shelton’s voice is sexy (I didn’t know this). The song doesn’t necessarily fit in with the album, but it’s a highlight.
Skip these tracks: “Army of One” — a.k.a. “Fighter” 2.0 — isn’t as epic as it should be. Over-singing may have something to do with that. Same goes for “Sing For Me.”
The album’s second half is ballad-heavy, and by the time you get to “Empty Words,” you’re just ready for Aguilera to shut up.
Final thoughts: Lotus draws from too many influences, and the result is a group of songs that collectively don’t make sense. In “Circle”, Christina Aguilera borrows from Pink; in “Blank Page,” she’s borrowing a page from Adele‘s playbook.
It’s not surprising to see why Lotus and Stripped are getting a lot of comparisons — in may ways, this record is Aguilera’s comeback to a true pop album.
But while Stripped sounded fresh and exciting when it came out in 2002, Lotus sounds a little too shallow and uninspired. Lyrically, the two records have similarities, but the vibe isn’t the same. In Stripped, Christina convinced us that she’s beautiful; in Lotus, Christina is trying to convince us — and herself — that she is (still) the voice of this generation. I’m not sure I buy it this time.
Rating: 3 out of 5