Christina Aguilera's 'Lotus': What the Critics Are Saying
Christina Aguilera has had a lot on her plate recently, from hosting The Voice to overcoming a divorce in 2011, all of which is reflected in her most recent release, Lotus.
Included in the 13-track disc are duets with Voice co-hosts Blake Shelton ("Just a Fool") and Cee-Lo Green ("Make the World Move") to more emotional pieces expressing heartbreak.
The album's cover depicts the pop diva emerging from a lotus flower, signaling a rebirth for the singer. Some critics praise Aguilera for a more "raw" and "personal" sound compared to her previous album Bionic, while others argue that Lotus has yet to blossom.
Read below to see what top music critics are saying about the album:
Andrew Hampp of Billboard is a fan of the album's militant sound: "With song titles like 'Army Of Me' and 'Cease Fire,' military drums serving as percussion for tracks like 'Around The World' and 'Best Of Me,' rampant references to being a fighter and plenty of ammo for her haters, Aguilera is on the warpath for reclaiming her pop stardom. And rightfully so, after a rough 2010 that saw her album Bionic flop and the cancellation of its accompanying tour; a divorce from husband Jordan Bratman; and the disappointment of her movie Burlesque and its Aguilera-heavy soundtrack. But after rebounding as a coach on The Voice and scoring her first No. 1 hit in a decade with the Maroon 5 duet 'Moves Like Jagger,' the stage has been set for a comeback."
L. A. Times' Mikael Wood comments that, "Yet the singer regained her footing with her role as a judge on The Voice, and it's the work she's done in that capacity — advising young hopefuls on how to connect with an audience — that seems to have most informed Lotus, her seventh studio album. (That tally, FYI, includes Christmas and Spanish-language discs, further indication of Aguilera's thousand-facedness.) Full of collaborations with hitmakers such as Max Martin, Sia Furler and Alex Da Kid, Lotus feels like an honest attempt to get back into the mainstream; it forgoes any grand concept that might cloud the music's radio-ready sheen."
Melinda Newman of Hitfix says, "Christina Aguilera has a manifesto and on Lotus, it’s upfront and center. Her new album, out Nov. 13, opens with a self-important, autotuned declaration set to a trance-like chant, that her rebirth is here: 'submerged from her pain, broken pieces,' this 'songbird' is beginning again and she needs to speak her truth: 'I say goodbye to the scared child inside. I sing for freedom and for love. I look at my reflection, embrace the woman that I’ve become. The unbreakable lotus in me, I now set free.'"
Newman later comments: "Too often, though, the album feels labored, especially first single, the salacious 'Your Body.' Even on luscious dance twirler, 'Let There Be Love,' co-written by Shellback and Max Martin, the seams show. It clearly takes a village to create an Aguilera album: some of the songs have seven co-writers. She makes like Gwen Stefani as she adopts a patois for the shape-shifting 'Circles' and it feels like she just is desperately grabbing for hipness when she says 'Motherf***er' at the end. Hey Xtina, do you kiss your son with that mouth?"
Jo Abeyie of Entertainmentwise is ecstatic about the album, saying "The album, that’s only been out a couple of days has already been branded 'the rehabilitation of Christina Aguilera.' It looks like this time Christina, 31, has pulled out all the stops to impress fans and has, collaborated with the likes of Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton."
The Washington Post 's Sarah Godfrey of praises Aguilera's vocals: "Say what you will about Christina Aguilera, but you can’t say the girl can’t sing. If you’re a fan of technically proficient power vocals, you’re likely a fan of her singing — if not always her work. Aguilera’s voice is flawless, so the success of her albums typically depends on how willing the public is to buy in to whatever persona she is trying on, be it sexy, empowered bad girl (2002’s Stripped), sexy jazz baby (2006’s Back to Basics) or sexy cyborg (2010’s edgy commercial failure Bionic)."
However, Godfrey isn't a fan of the album collaborations and expresses that "Two of the album’s stranger tracks feature her fellow judges on the NBC talent show The Voice. 'Make the World Move,' with Cee Lo Green, sounds like a fun-house dance version of Buffalo Springfield’s 'For What It’s Worth,' while 'Just A Fool' with Blake Shelton is a straightforward country-pop piece tacked onto the end of the album. The voices are great, of course, but the song selection could use a little work. "
Mike Wass from Idolator' gives it a 3.5 out of 5 rating and adds "While the boulder on Xtina’s shoulder is exhausting at times, Lotus (out today, ) is indeed a return to form. The four-time Grammy winner pulls together a cohesive set of songs that showcase her powerful pipes and remind us why she once shared the top rung of the pop ladder with Beyonce, Pink, and Britney. Christina back-pedals from the polarizing experimentalism of Bionic this time around. Lotus is by no means boring, but it does sound safe by comparison. There are a few blinding dance-pop gems, there’s a sprinkling of lite-rock and even the occasional urban influence. But the emphasis is overwhelmingly on ballads. Team Aguilera knows that the big-lunged diva’s voice sets her apart from the competition, and they’ve taken every opportunity to show it off. With an instrument as powerful as this, there is an understandable temptation to over-sing but — with a couple of notable exceptions — The Voice judge manages to keep it under control. As a result, she turns in some of the best vocal performances of her career."
Lotus was released on Nov. 12.