Released June 2010 by RCA Records
Bionic may be the most perplexing release by a major artist yet in 2010. Buried in a landslide of overdone, labored efforts to be intensely sexual and titillating are some truly outstanding tracks. Unfortunately, half of them are only included as bonus tracks on the deluxe edition of the album. This is not the first time Christina Aguilera has delivered an album that careens from truly stunning work to astonishingly dull or offensive songs. It is also unlikely to be the last.
How To Make Sex In Music Sound Dull
For an album with varieties of sex as its centerpiece, the bulk of the standard 18 track Bionic is astonishingly dull. It is a curious thing when a performer like Christina Aguilera who is obviously publicly comfortable with her sexuality can make sexually focused music that causes the attention to wander. "Desnudate" (that's "naked woman") is a repetitive Latin-inflected club track complete with horns that somehow never really adds fire to the smoke. "Glam" sounds like a reworking of Madonna's classic "Vogue" by a disinterested ice queen. "Sex For Breakfast" aims for slow burn R&B sexuality, but again it comes off as a half-baked effort that leaves the listener a bit cold.
A Reconstruction of the Album With Music Well Worth Hearing
There is an album's worth of very good to great music present on the 24 track deluxe edition of Bionic. The six tracks on the iTunes extended version make a truly outstanding EP. The Santigold collaboration "Monday Morning" is a pop gem with hints of Tom Tom Club style bouncy fun. The Ladytron produced "Birds of Prey" manages to sound epic and ethereal at the same time. Two additional beautiful ballads co-written with Australia's Sia are included as bonus tracks. "Stronger Than Ever" soars with the best of Christina Aguilera's big ballads. The bonus closer "Little Dreamer," again produced by Ladytron, is an effortless electro-pop effort. Take the bonus tracks, add in the singles "Not Myself Tonight," and "Woo Hoo" as well as the gorgeous Sia ballad "All I Need" plus the effortless party track "My Girls," and we have a solid, high quality album.
Top Tracks on 'Bionic'
- "All I Need"
- "My Girls"
- "Monday Morning"
- "Birds of Prey"
- "Little Dreamer"
So what direction next musically for Christina Aguilera? It appears that the single "Not Myself Tonight" has landed with a resounding thud worldwide reaching the top 10 only in Belgium as this review is being written. Musically, the sexed up dance-pop direction does not bear quality fruit. However, the glowing pop collaborations with Ladytron and beautiful, slightly left-field ballads with Sia are illuminating. It seems all but guaranteed Bionic will be a significant commercial disappointment, but Christina Aguilera continues to possess one of the most stunning instruments in pop music. Now, she needs to search for a consistently engaging application of that instrument.