“Dave, have you lost your mind?!” Oh yes, I hear you. That’s what you’re thinking, don’t try to deny it. Based on everything else you’ve ever read on Reselect, you wouldn’t think I was a fan of Christina Aguilera. Well, you’re right — I’m not.
However, I’m all about good songs, and frankly, if I hear a great song, even by an act that you wouldn’t normally catch me within miles of voluntarily listening to, I’ll admit it’s a great song. Thankfully, the situation doesn’t come up very much, since most stereotypically crappy bands and singers just don’t have it in them to come up with a great song that would put me in a position of such psychological dissonance.
But . . . about Christina Aguilera. Despite her being lumped into the teen pop category with Britney Spears, I had, prior to the release of “Ain’t No Other Man,” at times been overheard accusing her of actually having talent. And who knew what would happen if that voice were only applied to better songs? Whereas you had (and still have) the Britneys of the world, who merely fit a mold for the record companies, regardless of lacking any talent — nothing that a little AutoTuning can’t take care of, right? — it’s pretty hard to honestly deny that Christina has a very powerful voice. It’s a bit sad that she has in recent years become today’s equivalent of Cher (minus any acting abilities) — more of a self-parody now than a celebrity who could be taken at all seriously (if she happened to do anything worthy of that). Her issues with weight have also unfortunately distracted from her talents, since the public tends toward being unrelentingly cruel when it comes to their attractive pop-culture icons putting on the pounds.
But I wouldn’t even be posting today talking about her if Aguilera hadn’t come out in 2006 with what I felt (and still feel) was easily one of the best singles of that year: “Ain’t No Other Man.” Finally, here was a perfect vehicle for her voice that I could get behind, marrying it to a classic James Brown-style horn section and funky rhythm, and bringing it into the present with some deft “scratch” effects to give it a coolly retro feel. And her powerful vocals were kept up front, taking her song-stealing performance on the 2001 combo cover of “Lady Marmalade” and making an entire song out of it. I sincerely doubt that she’ll release anything this good again, but if she does, I’ll be ready and willing to admit it once again.