Along with Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera was one of the biggest stars to emerge from the late-Nineties teen-pop explosion. Aguilera initially stood out from her fellow teen poppers thanks to her operatic, rafter-rattling voice and its huge range; later she would delve into pre-rock sounds and make attempts at adult-pop classiness in a way her contemporaries didn't.
An army brat, Aguilera spent her early childhood traveling with her family from Texas to Japan to New Jersey. She began singing young, dominating the talent shows in Wexler, Pennsylvania, where she moved at age seven with her mother and sister following her parents' divorce. Aguilera's father was abusive, a topic she's explored in songs, including "I'm OK" from 2002's Stripped, and she no longer speaks with him.
In 1990, Aguilera made her first TV appearance, performing "A Sunday Kind of Love" on Star Search (she lost), and began regularly singing the national anthem at national hockey, baseball and football games in Pittsburgh. Three years later, she joined the cast of The New Mickey Mouse Club TV show, where she appeared alongside future stars Timberlake and Spears, as well as 'N Sync's JC Chasez and actors Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell, and earned the nickname "the Diva." After the show finished in 1994, Aguilera made occasional recordings, including a song, "Reflection," for the 1998 Disney film Mulan, shortly after which she was signed to RCA.
"Reflection" was nominated for a Golden Globe and became an Adult Contemporary hit, hitting Number 19 on that chart, but with Christina Aguilera (Number One, 1999), the 19-year-old singer aimed for, and got, an audience closer to her own age. The album spun off four big hits in 1999 and 2000, three of them Number Ones: "Genie in a Bottle," "What a Girl Wants" and "Come on Over Baby (All I Want Is You)," with "I Turn to You" going to Number Three. Aguilera's rendition of the Nat King Cole staple "The Christmas Song," from her holiday album, My Kind of Christmas (Number 28, 2000), went to Number 18. Aguilera also released a Latin pop album, Mi Reflejo (Number 27, 2000). A year later, Aguilera teamed up with Lil' Kim, Mya, Pink and Missy Elliott to record "Lady Marmalade" (Number One, 2001) for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, and made a guest appearance on Ricky Martin's "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely" (Number 13, 2001).
With Stripped (Number Two, 2002), Aguilera reversed her good-girl image by adopting a hot-and-horny persona that initially led to public ridicule and the album's lead single, "Dirrty," accompanied by an aggressively raunchy video, stalled at Number 48. But Aguilera bounced back with the ballad "Beautiful" (Number Two, 2002), co-written by former 4 Non Blonde turned song doctor Linda Perry, followed by "Fighter" (Number 20, 2003), "Can't Hold Us Down, featuring Lil' Kim (Number 12, 2003), and "The Voice Within" (Number 33, 2004). She also collaborated with Missy Elliott on a cover of Rose Royce's "Car Wash" (Number 63, 2004) for the Shark Tale soundtrack, and appeared on Nelly's "Tilt Ya Head Back" (Number 58, 2004).
In November 2005, Aguilera married music exec Jordan Bratman and began to tone down her bawdy image. With Back to Basics (Number One, 2006), Aguilera's persona found a mature middle ground that wore its sexiness lightly. The double CD, with tracks produced by Gang Starr beatmaker DJ Premier as well as contributions from Linda Perry, also found the singer demonstrating her breadth of range, and generated chart-friendly material in "Ain't No Other Man" (Number Six, 2006), "Hurt" (Number 19, 2006), and the Andrews Sisters homage "Candyman" (Number 25, 2007). Aguilera said the album harkened back to the jazz and blues music she grew up with from the 1920s to the 1940s and conjured a retro vibe on her Back to Basics tour. Aguilera stole the show at the 2007 Grammy Awards with her performance of "It's a Man's Man's Man's Man's World," in tribute to the late James Brown and nabbed a vocal-performance Grammy that year for "Ain't No Other Man."
On January 12th, 2008, Aguilera gave birth to her son, Max, in Los Angeles. Aguilera's live collaboration with the Stones on "Live With Me" was featured on Rolling Stones concert film, Shine a Light, released later that year. In November, RCA marked the singer's ten years in the music industry with Keeps Getting Better: A Decade of Hits, including the new single "Keeps Getting Better," which peaked at Number Seven on the charts. In April, 2010, Aguilera will release her fourth studio album, Bionic, featuring production from DJ Premier and collaborations with M.I.A. and Santigold.
Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Evan Serpick contributed to this article.
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