Christina Aguilera cleans up in her new video. Is it too late?
Can Christina Aguilera’s Bionic be saved? In six weeks on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart, the set, which debuted at No. 3 with 110,000 copies sold in its first week, has fallen all the way to No. 59 (this week plummeting a steep 25 notches). Meanwhile, both Bionic singles have tanked. The first, “Not Myself Tonight,” topped out at No. 23. Its follow-up, “Woohoo,” did even worse, peaking at a lowly No. 79.
So far so bad.
In what might be a last-ditch effort to save the album, which is miles away from platinum and in danger of failing to go gold (500,000 copies sold) in the U.S., Aguilera is back to doing what she does best: singing. Releasing the delicate ballad “You Lost Me” as the album’s third single might be the smartest move Aguilera has made since 2002, when “Beautiful” rescued Stripped — which had been similarly marred by “Dirrty,” an under-performing first U.S. single — from commercial mediocrity. The song is a delicate ballad in which Aguilera allows her voice to be center stage where it belongs, not shrouded in overdubs and overpowered by over-production.
The new video (watch the full clip here) might be problematic, though. While it’s refreshing to see Aguilera looking beautiful and demure — no traces of “skanky,” nor of Madonna, nor of Lady Gaga — nothing much happens. Though it undoubtedly cost a fortune to make, the video looks a little cheap and homemade, like it could have been filmed with a $200 digital camera. The “visual effects” are sort of cliché, with some sequences appearing to be over-lit or under-lit, and there’s not a single “wow” moment in its nearly 4:30 running time. I understand that Aguilera probably was aiming for minimalist after nailing over the top, but as she proved with “Beautiful,” low-key need not mean boring. More primary colors would have livened things up, or she could have gone for the dramatically bare but striking look of Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” At least its pretty dull, not ugly dull.
Even if the video and the song fail to reverse Bionic’s chart direction (and I suspect, fear, that they won’t), at least they’re solid reminders that when it comes to delivering a power vocal, no pop diva can match Aguilera. May her career live to see another massive hit.