Call her a slut or call her superficial. For now, let’s just call her stellar. Christina Aguilera has just unleashed her new album titled “Stripped,” but that is not the end of it. This album has enough songs to keep us listening for a while.

“Dirrty” caused a controversy all over the world with its raunchy video and a scantily-clad Aguilera humping everything in sight. Everyone seems to be ready to label her a slut or whore, but so what? She can do whatever she pleases and if she decides to throw her clothes off ? just like she did for the Rolling Stone magazine cover ? why can’t she do it?

The naysayers will find the answer to every single question on the feminist anthem “Can’t Hold Us Down” suitably featuring the one and only Lil’ Kim, where Aguilera sings with her sharp voice celebrating sexual liberation, “You’re just a little boy. . .you must talk so big to make up for smaller things.” Who is she singing to, Eminem or Fred Durst? Whoever it is, I am sure the lyrics apply to both. Then she walks away and goes into “Fighter,” a rock song about survival while under scrutiny.

“Stripped” is so interesting in the sense that it incorporates many different genres of music, yet is not choppy. The scrumptious Latin-beat “Infatuation” rules and then “Love Me 4 Me” comes in jamming like Jill Scott. Then, our hearts are stolen by Aguilera’s dominant voice with “Beautiful” ? a positive ballad.

Out of nowhere, Aguilera comes on hard with “Make Over” where she starts out like the Sugababes but then turns into a full-fledged pre-Hollywood angry Courtney Love. All of this shifting, however, does not harm the record as a whole.

Unlike her counterpart, Britney, Aguilera’s record is actually soulful. This is a complete entity, rather than a collection of singles and would-bes. And also, instead of wearing her thong over her jeans, Aguilera just wears her red undies with chaps attached to them.

The highlights of the album are two tracks. First, the Alicia Keys penned and arranged “Impossible,” which is reminiscent of Aretha Franklin ? a beautiful urban ballad. The other highlight is a carefully crafted track about sexual encounters with no strings attached titled “Get Mine Get Yours.” This song has a hook like they don’t make them nowadays.

“Stripped” then takes a turn into the dark with the Jewel-sounding “I’m OK,” where she tackles her father’s violent abuse of her mother in an almost acoustic setting. A magnificent effort.

This album is proof that Christina Aguilera is here to stay for a long time. At times, while listening to this record, she sounds really close to, dare I say, a young Mariah Carey.

If you are expecting another album that sounds like her debut, you are in for a shock. “Stripped” is a departure for the better from the debut and reveals Aguilera as an iridescent talent.

Al-Qatami can be reached at nalqatami@campustimes.org.



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