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Critics go for Christina's blonde ambition

Friday, August 25, 2000

Like most of the Mouseketeer-turned-pop-star brigade that's taken over Top 40, Christina Aguilera's got an identity crisis: She's not quite sure whether to act like the "artist" she's referred to as, or like the naive teenager she's probably never had the opportunity to be. This duality is reflected in her stage show: She's a singer with sizable range and a somewhat mature taste in influences, but she's also got the stage presence of a Barbie doll, and is given sprinkling her stage patter with Valley Girl-isms like "Oh my gawd, guys! Thanks for making my dreams come true!"

So it was no surprise that at the United Center on her first headlining tour the comely newcomer borrowed a bit from everywhere to make her dream real: Her long tresses came straight out of Madonna's Blonde Ambition Tour; her song-ending vocal riffing right from Mariah Carey's sky-high multi-octave schtick; and the starkly modern stage was more 'N Sync than Nickelodeon. Playing to both sides of her image, she left her belly button exposed, and flirted conservatively -- if there is such a thing -- with the vague sexuality of the music penned for her.

In song Aguilera undoubtedly aspires to emulate Carey's slick mishmash of R&B and pop, but in performance the 19-year-old seems indebted to Shania Twain, dolling up her songs with instrumental flash and a healthy dose of the youthful energy that her recorded output lacks. The fact that she worked so hard to put her material across was a telling sign that Aguilera acknowledges the transitory nature of her own music -- and it was probably the first time this summer that a teen artist has tried substance over style in a concert setting.

-- Brad Cawn,
Chicago Tribune
(Aug. 21)

Thrilled at Omaha county fair

Christina Aguilera may not be able to grant fame and fortune, but this genie can still turn a sedate Midwestern crowd into a screaming mob. The 19-year-old blonde tantalized a crowd of about 6,000 with her seductive moves and sultry voice Friday night at Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum as part of the Douglas County Fair's concert series.

Fans seated on the floor were on their feet for most of the two-hour concert, yelling such adulations as "We love you, Christina" ... Aguilera, who has been compared to Mariah Carey, is one of those rare performers whose live sound is equal to, and even exceeds, her studio-perfected recordings. Her incredible range and powerful voice is surprising from one so petite, and her moves, as well as those of her dancers, captivated the audience.

-- Kim Roberts,
Omaha World-Herald
(Aug. 5)

Give the Genie some songs

It must be tough to be Christina Aguilera, suffering the pain that comes with being so beautiful, blond, thin, talented and successful.

She has a Best New Artist Grammy and a self-titled CD that has sold 6 million copies, but she's dogged by that CD's long-running success. Aguilera is ready to move on past pop piffle like "What a Girl Wants" and " Genie in a Bottle," ready to prove she's more than a runner-up to Britney Spears (she has publicly stated how she's over her debut CD).

On her first headlining tour, which came to Riverport Amphitheatre on its second stop, Aguilera played the pop tart role she's forced to endure despite her desire to stretch. Watching Aguilera during her skimpy, hour-long concert that was low-key and frills-free, it was clear she's a great singer trapped beneath not only everyday material, but the need to stay competitive with Spears. . .

Her big moment to break out came with her pull-out-all-stops cover of Etta James' "At Last" -- a song she's been working to death the last several months in her attempt to prove her capabilities. When Aguilera gets to the point in her career where she can do the music she really wants, she'll be a threat to many.

-- Kevin C. Johnson,
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
(Aug. 3)

Whirlwind of energy

Save for the ballads, during which she sat on a stool or paced slowly at the centre of the stage, Aguilera was a whirlwind of energy, wiggling her hips, strutting and engaging in some dirty dancing.

And it's during ballads like I Turn To You and Reflection that her voice really shone. It's big, soulful and boasts an impressive range. But, while Aguilera says she'd rather let her music speak for itself, you can't help but draw parallels to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.

Like Houston and Carey, Aguilera has a penchant for embellishing every note and engaging in vocal histrionics that grate on the nerves.

It's a small quibble and one that might disappear if Aguilera gets rid of intrusive, dictatorial producers and goes for a "fresher, edgier twist" that she's been promising in her interviews.

-- Errol Nazareth,
Toronto Sun
(July 8)

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