Christina Aguilera Lotus

Christina AguileraLotus
Unlike most faceless pop stars today, Christina Aguilera's voice is unmistakable. Ridden with adlibs and vocal aerobatics fit for a musical Cirque du Soleil, the pop veteran's strength is something that most hits on the radio today lack. Her fifth album, Lotus, springs back from the flop of 2010's electro-femme experiment, Bionic, demonstrating a reinvigorated Aguilera, one who's vowed to teach the new generation of voices a lesson or two. Lotus opens with Aguilera's new mantra, as she tells the listener on the opening intro, "I sing for freedom and for love/I look at my reflection, embrace the woman I've become." The singer shines most when she's direct, honest and vulnerable. "Sing for Me" and "Blank Page" (the latter written by Australian performer Sia) are both gorgeous piano ballads that let Aguilera's dynamic voice take the spotlight, hearkening back to some of the star's biggest hits to date, such as "Beautiful" and "I Turn To You." Where Aguilera falls flat on this album are with some of her more upbeat pop anthems, which often come off as b-list tracks passed down by Rihanna or her other contemporaries. "Make the World Move" (featuring Voice co-star Cee-Lo Green) and "Let There Be Love" are exceptions to the rule, but a track like "Around the World" could easily be written off as another forgettable number by anyone. This might not be the golden, triumphant comeback Aguilera had hoped for, but it's pretty close and, let's face it, it's better than most Top 40 music right now. (RCA)