It’s been a long time since we’ve heard a truly great Christina Aguilera vocal—a vocal that demonstrates her range and nuance and silky tone. Instead, she’s spent her last few albums (not to mention “Moves Like Jagger”) hollering hard over anonymous dance beats. She’s demonstrated her vocal power, but power is not the same as craft, you know? Shouting for the hills is not the same as shaking the sky with a beautifully sung phrase.
That’s why I’m so excited to hear “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” her new duet with the timeless Tony Bennett. The light jazz arrangement of this classic song requires her to rein in some of her most flagrant tendencies, and instead, she delivers a rich, beautiful performance:
This song will be on Bennett’s upcoming duets album (his third), and you might remember that he and Xtina have performed the song together before. But it’s nice to have an official recording.
Is anyone else wishing that Christina would go ahead an release an entire album of standards? If she wants, she can sass them up with modern pop production. That would probably be awesome, actually. After all, her last great single was “Ain’t No Other Man” from the first disc of her double album Back to Basics. That record ruled because she kept flirting with big band sounds, but she also updated them to sound current. Along with “Man,” she also delivered “Candyman,” “Oh Mother,” and “Still Dirrty,” which are all fantastic.
And let’s not forget Aguilera’s life-changing, world-shaking performance of “I Love You Porgy” at the 2008 Grammy nomination concert. If nothing else, this mess should convince you that my girl needs to dive into the American songbook.
Lord have mercy! Christina! That is the shit!My girl has never shown this kind of craft in her pop recordings, but I pray that someday she will. Because honestly? She’s amazing, and I really want her to release a record that reminds us why.
Previously: WHOA! New Jem dolls!
It’s been four years, but Mark Blankenship still cannot get over that “I Love You Porgy” performance. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship