2 Can't Hold Us Down
3 Walk Away
5 Primer Amor (Interlude)
7 Loves Embrace (Interlude)
8 Loving Me 4 Me
12 Make Over
15 Get Mine, Get Yours
17 Stripped, Part 2
18 The Voice Within
19 I'm OK
20 Keep on Singin' My Song
Gosh, I very remember, when Christina Aguilera hit the scene. Her huge hit "Genie in a bottle" was inescapable and boy, I hated it with a passion. The music was the typical pop of the times and Ms. Aguilera herself also didnt strike me as very attractive (as if that matters). The following years I was without a TV so whatever happened to her and her music didn't reach me. Well apart from "Beautiful" from this very album, which I always liked.
Can't even tell when or why, but Spotify recommended this album to me and since this was a time I opened up to some Pop I gave it a try - and was pleasantly surprised. Normally this kind of music needs a lot of listens for me, simply because it's not my cup of tea. But "Stripped" immediately captured my attention.
There is one unbelievably bad song on this record and it was even released as the first single ("Dirrty"). The song and the video are so crap and cheap critics smashed it for good reasons. The collaboration with Redman did the rest for this one.
But the actual album sounds nothing like that song. There are two more features here: Lil Kim raps on "Can't Hold Us Down" (I could have done with this part) and Alicia Keys plays piano on her self-written song "Impossible". (Which is a definite highlight).
There is no clearly defined sound on this album. The album starts off with the mentioned Lil Kim feature, which shines with its slight influences from the rap culture. It is followed by "Walk Away" which is a breathtaking song. It's a ballad, that is driven by a rather simple piano hook and a rather jazzy tone. Ballads, as it turns out are what Christina does best. This one is one for the books.
It is followed by a rather surprising song. "Fighter". Surprising because it's a pure Rock Song. Relatively heavy guitars create the base for this satisfying song.
The genre roundabout goes on and the next songs go from flamenco ("Infatuation") over pure urban ("Loving Me 4 Me") to "Impossible" which I mentioned above. It's no big surprise that this one sounds like an Alicia Keys song and that in itself makes it a gem. But Aguilera makes one thing clear: She can sing. Really sing. It's such a joy to hear her create melodies, changing from soft to rough voice and back again. On later albums (and especially live) she overdid the singing. Here it's just spot-on.
The highlights and genres don't stop here. "Underappreciated" is a funk song full of hooks and is followed by the best-known song of this album. "Beautiful" is just that. Even the Lemonheads were captured by this song and covered it on one of their albums. A modern evergreen and nothing less.
It's followed by the indie-rock hymn "Make Over" and two Soul songs, all plain brilliant. "Soar" builds up intensely building up to an impressive choir-driven ascendo.
After the disgusting "Dirrty" the album ends with three highlights. "A Voice within" is a pop-ballad in the veins of Mariah Carey and it's possibly one of the best ballads ever written. (By the way, you've got to watch the video for this one, she looks stunning) "I'm OK" is another acoustic guitar driven ballad and another highlight, before the album ends with the last number. Another Soul song, which again builds up nicely and leaves the listener very satisfied.
Best of all: The lyrics on this album are partly sultry, but never dumb (with the mentioned exception). Most times they are even serious, trying to take a shot on society issues. While Aguilera will never be an activist, it's a brave step to even try.
Anyway - if you have just the slightest open spot for good pop music, get this one. If it weren't for the one song, I'd call this a perfect album. But since this leaves 15 great to brilliant songs (three songs are interludes/intros) I can't help but to give this one a