Music News

X-Tina on Main Street

Christina Aguilera's new double disc, Back to Basics (RCA), is a sonic nod to the music of the '20s, '30s and '40s. But a closer look reveals how the album also draws inspiration from classic double albums of the '60s, '70s and '80s.

Blonde on Blonde (1966)
On Back to Basics, Aguilera links herself to pop culture past by name-checking Louis Armstrong, Etta James, Nat "King" Cole, Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday, much the same way Bob Dylan linked himself to pop culture past by name-checking Achilles, Queen Mary, Mona Lisa, Shakespeare and the Kings of Tyrus.

The Beatles (1968)
Mirroring the Fab Four's practice of recording solo sessions in adjacent studios, Aguilera employed one producer for the raunchier hip-hop/R&B on disc one, and another for the jazz and torch ballads on disc two. In "White Album" terms, disc two is "Honey Pie" to disc one's "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"

Electric Ladyland (1968)
Both Jimi Hendrix's and Aguilera's double set feature guest appearances by Traffic's Steve Winwood and Chris Wood (Aguilera samples "Glad" from Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die). Since Wood's been deader than John Barleycorn since 1983, he probably doesn't remember either session. Hey, it was the '60s!

Exile on Main Street (1972)
The Rolling Stones buried their double disc of new tunes under a murk of crude production. Thoroughly modern Aguilera buries her double disc of new tunes under a layer of digitally captured vinyl pops and surface noise.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
This set's nostalgic album art and lyrics celebrate old Hollywood icons while running down common whores. But it's "Candle in the Wind" in its various incarnations that led Keith Richards to mock Sir Elton John for "writing songs for dead blondes." Aguilera's nostalgic album art celebrates old Hollywood icons while reminding us that she's now a tastefully toned-down whore, sans assless chaps. Her painstaking re-creations of Lana Turner, Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Veronica Lake may lead Keith Richards to mistake her for an actual dead blonde.

London Calling (1980)
The Clash's retro cover art rips off Elvis Presley to illustrate they've moved beyond punk, while Aguilera's cover art rips off Marilyn Monroe to illustrate she's moved beyond The Mickey Mouse Club.

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Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic