Twenty years ago, Christina Aguilera released her self-titled debut album. The late 90s were all about teen pop acts, with Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and NSYNC dominating the charts. 18-year-old Christina fit right in, but at the same time her incredible voice made her stand out from the crowd. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and went 8x platinum. Let’s rank its 12 tracks.
12. When You Put Your Hands on Me
You know what Christina Aguilera doesn’t need? Auto-tune. Yes, the sound effect was very popular at the time (thanks, Cher), but that doesn’t mean it should have been used. It makes the song sound dated and cheesy.
Blessed equals boring. It’s a nice song, but far too simple and slight. I’d listen to this one if I needed something to help me sleep. Zzzzz
10. Somebody’s Somebody
A frequent problem with this album is that the songs sound like they were written for an older artist. “Somebody’s Somebody” is a prime example. I would expect to hear this on a Celine Dion album. No, I’m not calling Celine old. I’m just saying this adult contemporary track is more up her alley than a teen pop star’s.
9. Love Will Find A Way
Christina sings about getting through the bad times in a relationship. Don’t worry about the bumps in the road, love will find a way. Eh, I don’t believe it. But it has an ok breakdown/bridge, making it kind of danceable. This could be someone’s jam.
This was the featured song in the animated film, Mulan. Not surprisingly, it sounds very Disney. A grand, sweeping track about trying to find your way in the world. It doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the album though. This feels like she’s going backwards to her Mouseketeer days.
7. I Turn to You
The third single released from the album and the weakest in my opinion. It’s a very Whitney-like ballad, circa 1991. Nothing’s wrong with that. But Whitney had better material. There’s nothing special here.
6. Come on Over
After the release of the album, Christina went back into the studio and souped up “Come on Over”, adding some new lyrics and a breakdown. It was definitely an improvement. But if I’m judging the original, with all its hollow generic pop sound, it lands at #6.
Sometimes you don’t need a lot of production for a song. Just Christina’s voice and some keyboards will do. This ballad is uncomplicated, yet powerful, and quite beautiful.
4. So Emotional
“So Emotional” is a enjoyable playful song. I like the layered vocals and easy mid-tempo beat. It was originally intended to be released as a single and I wish her record company had done so. It would have been a better choice than “I Turn to You”.
3. Love for All Seasons
Christina promises to be there for her man through winter, spring, summer, and fall. That’s ambitious and versatile. Another great example of a strong vocal that keeps amping up and enriching the song. It sounds like something Babyface would have produced.
2. What A Girl Wants
A close runner-up to the top spot. “Girl” was the second single off the album and her second #1. It’s a fun blend of pop and r&b. This is the song you blast on the radio and “car dance” to. Yes, that’s a thing. It’s what a girl…or a boy wants.
1. Genie in a Bottle
This has to be number one, there’s no contest. It has sultry vocals, lyrics full of innuendo, and a timeless melody. Definitely the song you want for your introduction to the world and ultimately one of your signature tracks.